Now I should go ahead and put out the disclaimer -- drilled into me by SNLII, who wrote pretty extensively on this subject on the old Abu Muqawama (and this is a good thread on that) -- that there is a huge difference between policing and COIN, and a huge difference between police and soldiers. Their methods are different, their operating environments are different, their desired endstates are different, their legal authorities are different, and so on and so on. We don't want to live in a world where we think of our police as counterinsurgents (though imagining our counterinsurgents as police is a bit more desirable, at least when we're a little further along the spectrum of conflict and into Phase 4 and 5 scenarios).
Having said that, there are some undeniable parallels when it comes to things like patrolling, presence, and the necessity for dependable, timely information/intelligence. This passage from Moskos stood out for me.
One officer complained: "Nobody here will talk to police. Half the public hates us. The other half is scared to talk to us. I would be, too. But we can't do anything without the public. They know who's dirty and who's not. They know who's shooting who. We don't know. They live here. We just drive around in big billboards..." [emphasis mine]This is obviously the same rationale behind combat outposts (COPs) and joint security stations (JSS) in counterinsurgency: presence among the populace, access to current intelligence directly from the source, and the credible promise of protection from retaliation by those who would prefer silence.
I think there's also an interesting parallel to be drawn between the attitudes of the run-of-the-mill, generally somewhat moralistic and socially conservative police officer fighting the drug war (to the extent that we can generalize, and Moskos does) and the perhaps reluctant counterinsurgent, the specialist or lance corporal who signed up to drive tanks and shoot bad guys and instead ends up sharing a tent with a foreigner who doesn't shower very much, or building a school, or vaccinating goats. The way that the organization helps its personnel to understand the broader context of the mission, and tries to avoid stigmatizing mission-essential tasks that are often derided by the rank and file, is vitally important to relating mission performance to objective effectiveness. (Here's a great example of a senior leader trying to do exactly that, emphasizing the change in mindset that is necessary to institutionalizing security force assistance as a core mission of the U.S. Army.) A big reason that modern policing seems not to negatively impact crime rates to the extent that it could or should is a complete lack of buy-in on the part of patrol officers when it comes to concepts like community policing, foot patrol, reconciliation, or (even more out there) legalization/decriminalization of drug use.
NOTE: Don't get into drug politics here, because I'm not interested. Or crazy race-baiting. Please and thanks.