to provide police community support (lowercase intentional), it would be easier to see that the PCSO role is redundant."
I think this is the core issue. It's no good us abdicating responsibility for law and order, and expecting the Police to deal with everything in some kind of bubble - we're all partly responsible for the way our neighbourhoods work or don't work. It's the same thing with education - we can't sit back and expect teachers to handle the whole thing, as parents we should all become involved.
What we put in we'll get back, and if we're not prepared to put anything in....
A couple of weekends ago I was in my driveway, and a female Police officer walked up. She introduced herself as one of my local home beat officers and asked if there was anything I wanted to discuss about the way the area was being policed. She left me a form on which I could voice any concerns, and said 'you can expect to see me and my colleagues walking the streets from now on - just stop us for a chat if you have any concerns'.
It made me feel involved, and struck me as the right way to go about community policing - face to face with the people you'll be dealing with. It fills me with optimism.