Security and insecurity may mean different things to different people depending on context and perspective. Too often, however, security agencies and policy makers on various levels treat “security” from a purely physical perspective. Examples of this include securing a territory against external aggressions or placing focus solely upon protecting the state and its people from physical harm caused by insurgents, militants, and the like. With this understanding, security is connected more to the state than to its people. While physical security and the security of the state is important, there are at least three major problems associated with an exclusive focus on it:
- An uncritical focus on strengthening state security has historically led to the support of repressive regimes or elites, and even genocide or massacre.
- A narrow focus on physical security overlooks the broader range of insecurities experienced by people in their everyday lives, including economic, health-related, and environmental insecurity.
- A physical security-based perspective promotes the development of police as a force trained in military tactics, rather than a service with a responsibility to protect the broader rights and interests of local populations.
For Community-Oriented Policing to be effective, we must expand our understanding of security and insecurity. A Human Security perspective, which considers the interconnectedness of the many types of insecurities, is useful in this regard. See also this article.