Table of Contents
Policing refers to the local force that is responsible for upholding law and order in society (Emsley, 2014). Police officers are responsible for the detection and prevention of crime while still enforcing the laws that govern a particular state. There are several categories of policing which include:
Police officers are law employee’s sworn to an oath to protect the public and the property. They are usually assigned to specific jurisdictions in local, state or federal level. Police officers are required to patrol areas allocated to them, answer help calls from distressed individuals, arrest lawbreakers, conduct traffic and sometimes testify in court cases.
Detectives are part of the policing category with the sole aim of investigating crimes committed against people and the society. Their work revolves around gathering facts and evidence against criminals. They interview suspects, detain criminals and examine records that are related to the cases. Detectives are assigned to specific cases till they are solved.
Traffic cops are responsible for handling direct vehicles on the main and minor roads in a country. They monitor the speeds of motorists, issue fines for violations and enforce traffic rules.
They also referred to as traffic wardens. They work in close collaboration with the traffic departments. Their sole responsibility is to issue tickets to individuals who violate parking rules.
These are police officers who are responsible for prevention, detection, enforcement and investigations on people who violate laws that govern public health, safety, public nuisance, building standards and business activities.
History of policing
Slavery institutions and control of the minority in the American society was the new facets hat led to policing. The slave patrols and community night watches define the modern police department (Dunham & Alpert 2015). The first slave patrol in the American society was established in 1704 at the colony of Carolina. The slave patrols at this time had only three primary duties which included; chasing and apprehending runaway slaves and giving them back to their masters; they provided a form of fear with the aim of stopping any uprising and to maintain law, order, and discipline to the slaves if they violated the rules. These patrols also protected the rights of slave owners. There is a significant similarity between the modern form of policing and the ancients slave patrol standards and regulations. It is clear that the slave patrols established the foundation that led to modern policing in America. In 1838, Boston was the first city in America to establish a fully functional police force (Dunham & Alpert 2015). The police departments at the time had a broad public support and followed the bureaucratic form of leadership. The police officers employed were no more volunteers but full-time employees. They had rules and procedures that governed their work and had to answer to the central government at that point. The work and characteristics of the police department at this era are quite similar to the police departments now.
The police departments in America were created to respond to specific crimes in the city. However, the creation of bureaucratic and centralized agencies led to the focus on alleged offenses. Police officers began to emphasize on preventive measures to control crime. The precautionary measures were defined as the use of force and compulsory observation to stop crime before it started (Dunham & Alpert 2015). Police officers at this era became so brutal and corrupt. The police departments became corrupt institutions that received payoffs to allow prostitution, gambling and illegal drinking in the society. At around 1933 organized crime syndicates had emerged and were working hand in hand with the police officers. The police officers instead of protecting the public and their property led crime gangs, killed civilians and planted fake evidence and sent innocent citizens to jail (Hirschfeld, 2015). For example, the LAPD Rampart scandal was one of the biggest police corruptions and brutality cases that threatened the existence of the entire police force in the United States. One officer Rafael Pérez testified that his fellow officers were responsible for killing civilians, arresting people on false crimes and giving doctored testimonies in courts. There was a public outcry for reforms that led to the formation of the investigative commissions to look into police departments. Some of the inquiry police commissions include; the Lenox Committee created in 1894 to investigate police involvement in extortions, prostitution, and gambling. The Knapp Commission in 1972 investigating corruption in drugs and gambling, and the Mollen Commission formed in 1993 which led to the discovery of theft organized by police officers, drug corruption cases, police brutality and substance abuse by some of the police officers.
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Policing in the 21st Century
However, policing now is entirely different from what it was back in the 20th century. Police recruitment agencies scrutinize the people they employ to serve as policemen, their capability, and patience to handle civilians and the technologies that will be used in the police departments (Rose-Ackerman & Palifka 2016). Incorporation if new technological devices have helped significantly to transform the policing. The two-way radios, telephone, and patrol cars have built technology cameras and phones that support in the supervision of the police officers. This, in turn, has led to the improvement of service delivery to the citizens. The patrol cars had an indirect benefit to the members of the community the police officers serve. Back in the 19th and 18th century, officers did their patrols on foot. This led to one on one engagement and conversations with the citizens that led to unprofessionalism. After the introduction of Patrol cars, police officers are stuck in their cars, and there is a minimal personal relationship with residents that may breed bad behavior. The 20th century has also brought an increase of women and minorities in the policing field. Diverse integration of all races of people in the police forces has led o appreciation of other races thus reducing racial injustices in the police departments and towards the citizens.
Police departments have introduced new managerial strategies with the aim of improving police relations with the citizens. The most efficient and prominent model is the community-oriented policing. Community policing is a design that revolves around the citizen’s responsibility and partnerships with police officers to develop, implement and assess programs that will help with law enforcement in their areas of living (Maximino 2015). It is a managerial model that seeks to strengthen community partnerships, build up problem-solving skills and transform police organizations. Several studies state that community policing is an important aspect of the police force since citizens developed and increased their confidence in police officers. Residents also feel that the police office treat them fairly after the introduction of community policing. Community policing has also helped in the reduction of crimes in the police departments and the communities at large.
Measures That Will Help Reform Law Enforcement
As much as there are actions that have been put to reform law enforcement, there is still much work to be done to reinforce the measures. The shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 is as a result of lack of reinforcement, evaluation, and monitoring of the strategies that have been placed. There have been many questions about police conduct and the body that governs their behavior. The federal government should be involved to provide oversight over the police. The Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights solely conducts investigations about police misconduct and fails to put measures to create reforms. The federal government should partner with the department of justice office of civil rights to ensure that the police officers follow and stand by the laws that govern them. The federal government should take a more proactive approach when it comes to punishing police officers accused of misconduct and civilian harassment.
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Police officers should be subjected to training to help them understand consciously about the effects of bias, especially racial prejudice. It should be mandatory training for all police officers regardless of their department. Research studies conclude that when an individual is aware of the effects of unconscious bias, then they reduce the habit of bias. It will be interactive forums that will help police officers identify situations that bias arises and then devise ways of dealing with the situations without manifesting bias of any kind.
In conclusion, policing evolved from an error that was ruled by racial injustices and brutal force from law enforcers. This vice became a culture that many officers developed creating problems within the department. However policing has grown and faced reforms that have significantly changed the police departments and the attitudes of the officers. The citizens, police officers and the government need to work in partnerships to ensure that the reform efforts made are implemented and work towards building an active police force.
- Dunham, R. G., & Alpert, G. P. (2015). Critical issues in policing: Contemporary readings. Waveland Press.
- Emsley, C. (2014). The English police: A political and social history. Routledge.
- Hirschfeld, K. (2015). Introduction. In Gangster States (pp. 1-22). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
- Maximino, Martin. (11 March 2015). Community-oriented policing strategies:Meta-analysis of law enforcement practices.
- Retrieved from: https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/the-impact-of-community-policing-meta-analysis-of-its-effects-in-u-s-cities
- Rose-Ackerman, S., & Palifka, B. J. (2016). Corruption and government: Causes, consequences, and reform. Cambridge university press.