Free Research Paper On Policing In America
Policing went through a long evolutionary process. From the self-organized voluntary groups of citizens to keep watch over the peace and order of their communities in the early days, policing today boasts of highly professional officers capable of mingling and collaborating with members to community to solve problems even before the turn into crimes. Today, community policing is the buzzword – an approach at policing that integrates the community into crime fighting. This report looks at the history of policing, the several distinctive eras it went through, as well as the elements and components that make up modern policing to fully understand what modern policing is all about.
Policing: Political and Reform Eras
Policing in America had roots in the English policing system. Kin policing was a very early form of policing in England where members of the community themselves took care of peace and order. Similarly, in colonial America, communities organized watch groups and subsequently, night groups to maintain peace and order within communities. Since these systems were voluntary in nature, policing then was not very effective. The rioting and civil unrest in the late 1700s and early 1800s in both England and America compelled authorities to institute a formal form of policing, In England, Sir Robert Peel pioneered the modernization of policing by establishing the London Metropolitan Police. He believed that the primary goal of policing should be to prevent crime rather than simply reacting to it after its occurrence. The modernization of policing advocated by Peel made its way to America. From slave patrols that were created to ensure that slaves did not run away from their masters, publicly funded police departments began to emerge around early to mid-1800s (Archbold 2012).
Policing in America went through several distinctive eras, which can be divided into the political era, the reform era and the community policing era (Miller et al 2012). The political era covered the years from the 1840s to the 1930s during which policing was closely linked to politics and politicians. The police and the politicians maintained a symbiotic relationship to keep each other alive. Politicians made the important calls relegating chiefs of police to secondary roles. Police corruption and misconduct characterized this era (Archbold 2012). Nonetheless, police officers had close connection to the community because foot patrol was the usual police strategy, but they had no discipline because of the lack of authority of the chief over them and were, thus, often characterized as clumsy and bunglers (Miller et al 2013). .
The reform era covered the years from 1930 to 1980 and was spurred by the findings of the Wickersham Commission Report of 1931 that noted the inefficiency and widespread corruption of the police. Two of the noted reformers in this era were August Vollmer – often referred to as the ‘father of American policing’ - and O.W. Wilson. Vollmer instituted reforms such as the use of technologies – radios, fingerprinting and handwriting classification, motorcycles and bicycles for patrol - in policing and professionalizing police manpower. On the other hand, O. W. Wilson established the School of Criminology at the University of California and his book Police Administration is considered the bible of modern policing. It was during this era that policing was gradually severed from politics and politicians, but it was also during this time that policing distanced itself from public service to turn into itself into the serious business of fighting crime (Miller et al 2013).
The last of the three eras, the community period, began in 1980 and continues to the present. The evolution to this era was precipitated by the ‘war on crime’ necessitating the expansion of policing from purely crime fighting to crime prevention. It was also believed that the Kerner Commission Report caused the transition of policing into this era. The Report condemned racism and recommended the use of community policing. Community policing entails the close collaboration between the police and the community not only to solve, but prevent crimes in the first place. Community policing is, this, characterized by its proactive nature, rather than merely reactive. It is more akin to the characteristics of the political era, except for the role of the politics and politicians, because of its return to community service and close relationship and the foot patrol strategy (Miller et al 2013). .
Police Training: Knowledge and Skills
After acceptance of application for police work, a new police recruit undergoes several months of intensive training to prepare him or her for the job. Recruit training begins at the police academy, followed by field training and ends with the completion of the probationary period. About 90% of police academies are operated by big cities and 3% are operated by some police departments themselves. In the academies, new recruits are taught state laws and procedures. In academies, police recruits spend hundreds of hours in academy training, learning about criminal law and procedures, traffic enforcement, cultural awareness, communication skills, emergency vehicle operator’s course, firearms, crisis intervention, patrol procedures, criminal investigation and defensive tactics (Dempsey and Forst 2012).
After graduating from police academies, new recruits are made to undergo field training. This is actual phase of the training and often conducted by selected patrol officers. This training usually lasts for more than 300 hours for big police departments and lesser hours for small ones. The recruits are evaluated on a daily and weekly basis. A field training model called the PTO program or Reno model had been adopted by some departments in field training to integrate the basics of community policing. After a recruit passes the field training, he or she is then integrated into the police department as a regular (Dempsey and Forst 2012).
Important elements of implementation and evaluation phases
The elements of community policing and problem-solving are scanning, analysis, response and assessment (Palmiotto 2011). These components represent a complete process of community policing and problem-solving as together they form a complete circle that begins with the identification of the problem, looking at all its elements, responding to it in accordance with the analysis of its components and finally, by evaluating whether the response was effective in solving the problem. This full-cycle process makes room for improvement because of the integration of the assessment phase without which there is no way of knowing whether the entire strategy works or is effective at all.
Community Policing versus Traditional Policing
Community policing is a philosophy and an attitude towards policing where the police considers members of the community as their partners, and closely interacts with them to ferret out and identify problems in the community that can lay the ground for criminality and together, find solutions to them. Thus, community policing is essentially characterized by the close collaboration of the police and community members.
Top Five Qualities of Detectives and Undercover Officers
Detectives and undercover officers operate covertly to effectively investigate cases. To be effective in their tasks, they must possess certain characteristics and qualities. There are many qualities detectives and undercover officers must have, but the top five are the following: analytical, open-mindedness, excellent coping skills, strong communication skills, and sense of integrity (Heibutzki 2015). An analytical mind is important when a person is confronted with several suspects and leads to be able to narrow them down to the most logical and probable ones, otherwise, investigation can take a very long time. Open-mindedness is also important because inability to consider other theories may result in the failure to see important leads that do not fit in with the working theory, but actually leads directly to the solution of the case. Coping skills are necessary to be able to immediately react to situations, especially those that are unexpected and unwarranted. Moreover, strong communication skills are primary skills used for interviewing people and suspects. Lastly, a sense of integrity is very important to prevent detectives and agents from haphazard work leading to wrongful convictions (Heibutzki 2015).
The police perform a very important role in keeping society whole and alive. Policing also understands that the cooperation of society is important to its job. The goal of community policing is, thus, to keep the community and its members as partners not only in its fight against crime, but to prevent crime from happening in the first place.
Archbold, C. (2013). Policing: A Text Reader. SAGE Publications.
Dempsey, J. and Forst, L. (2012). Police. Cengage Learning.
Heibutzki, R. (2015). “Characteristics of an Effective Investigator.” eHow. http://www.ehow.com/info_8291074_characteristics-effective-investigator.html
Miller, L., Hess, K. and Orthmann, C. (2013). Community Policing: Partnerships for Problem Solving. New York: Cengage Learning.
Palmiotto, M. (2011). Community Policing: A Police-Citizen Partnership. New York: Routledge.
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