Reactive police patrol is a practice or policy used by the police to engage with a community when citizens call upon them. Proactive police patrol, on the other hand, involves officers patrolling neighborhoods or providing their services without being asked or summoned.
Reactive police patrol is the more traditional way of policing a community. When reactive policing is in effect, an officer goes to the scene of a crime only when someone calls in a problem. An outside force makes the officer react and perform services for the community. In proactive police patrol, officers go into a community with the intent of lowering the crime rate through undercover operations, asking questions and other tactics.
Research suggests that both styles of policing contribute to lowering crime rates. Proactive policing, however, likely does a better job because in reactive policing, officers know there is a crime happening only if a citizen calls it in. Proactive policing usually involves officers getting to know the community they serve on a personal level. Officers ask questions and find out what sorts of concerns citizens have. The personal approach associated with proactive policing is designed to encourage police to view citizens as customers and to promote a sense of teamwork between citizens and police.