Reactive policing is one of two main types of policing, the other being proactive policing. In contrast to reactive policing, proactive policing involves using intelligence gathering and community engagement to prevent crimes from occurring in the first place.
Reactive policing involves responding to calls for service, which is why it has also been called “call-driven.” The idea behind this style of policing is that officers are supposed to respond quickly when a call comes in so that they can solve the problem as soon as possible and prevent it from happening again.
The problem with reactive policing is that it doesn’t necessarily solve crime in the long term. For example, if an officer responds to a call about someone loitering in an alleyway and issues a citation, then that person can return later. If there’s no ongoing effort by police and other agencies (like social services) to address the underlying problems contributing to criminal behavior, then those problems will just keep coming up again and again.
Some people argue that reactive policing can also contribute to racial tensions between police departments and communities because officers will be more likely to stop or detain people who look like they might be committing crimes based on racial profiling rather than asking them questions or gathering information about them before making contact with them.