Critical Issues in Policing
Police officers are indispensable to the execution of the law. However, this employment is dangerous because police officers must regularly interact with criminals in the course of their responsibilities. Nonetheless, in order to make their jobs easier, police personnel typically employ community policing. Community policing consists primarily of engaging with local residents to make areas safer. The purpose of this paper is to examine the history of policing as it relates to public communication, compare interactions between police and a homogeneous American society to interactions between police and a multicultural society today, and explain the potential problems with the current structure and design of police departments. The conclusion of the study will address the essential difficulties that police administrators have faced historically and relate them to the critical concerns of today.
The history of police communication with the general population.
Communication is essential for public safety effectiveness. Constables carried a rattle or hand bell, sometimes referred to as a ratchet, for communication purposes, according to the earliest records of police interactions with the public. If he needed to communicate with the public, he would use the ratchet to inform those in the area. This was an obsolete mode of communication with obvious limitations. In the 1870s, the police department improved their communication routes (signal lights) and renamed “call booths” “Private Boxes” (Giles, 2002). A key to the private box would only be provided to a reliable citizen or an officer. Inside was a telegraph equipped with a device that resembled a clock with a bell on top. The officer or citizen would shift the telegraph’s pointer to one of eleven stated options (riot, drunkard, homicide, fire, thieves, violation of city ordinances, fighting, forgers, testline, accident, and arson) and pull a handle. This would inform police headquarters about the presence of criminal activity in a certain zone. In the 1880s, telephones were introduced to the call booths, connecting the officers/citizens to the police department (Giles, 2002).
30 years later, the first portable radio system was developed and implemented (1928). The radio equipment provided two-way contact between police cars and the headquarters or district station for more efficient law enforcement. Portable radios were launched decades later. Despite this, a new deficiency was detected using this strategy. There were numerous occasions in which members of the public either did not know their local police department’s seven-digit phone number or wasted valuable time trying to locate it. This prompted the creation of the 9-1-1 system (Giles, 2002). The system has improved over the years, and the public can now dial the phone number with confidence. The Public Safety Dispatcher then asks a series of questions and enters the emergency’s priority into a computerized dispatching system.
Historical encounters between police and a homogeneous American culture are contrasted with contemporary interactions between police and a multicultural American society.
The connections between police and a homogenous American community may be traced back to colonial times, when centralized policing and slave patrols made them possible. The former was a response to increased public drinking, population growth, and gambling, while the latter was motivated by the desire to apprehend escaped slaves and inspire fear to prevent rebellions and maintain obedience (McGhee, 2008). Consequently, confrontations with the police during this time were marked by ruthlessness and brutality. Slave patrols were officially dissolved over time and with the eventual enactment of constitutional amendments that made slavery illegal. However, it took a considerable amount of time for the situation with police encounters to improve. Some Americans continued to be intimidated and assaulted by the police.
The relations between the police and a multicultural society in the present day are highly distinct. Science, technology, and social justice developments have had positive effects on law enforcement. Policing originated as a reactive strategy but has since evolved into a proactive model with an emphasis on crime prevention (McGhee, 2008). As a result, the interactions between the police and the multicultural society are geared toward crime prevention. For example, instead of responding to public intoxication or gambling brawls, there are now police protocols and legislation in place to prevent such activity. Additionally, police personnel have engaged with the public and implemented policies together to combat corruption and increase accountability.
Problems with the current organization and design of police departments as they relate to community trust-building
There are a number of possible concerns with the current organization and design of police agencies in terms of establishing trust with the community. First, police departments are organized bureaucratically. Objective credentials, specialization of responsibilities, adherence to rules and regulations, and a hierarchy of authority characterize the organized administration of police forces. This type of organization is characterized by rigidity and disregard for human needs. Therefore, the community has difficulty trusting these departments since they lack empathy towards them.
Furthermore, quasi-military characteristics are a potential source of issues. Police officers must wear uniforms, carry firearms, display ranks, and operate under a dictatorial command system (Daft, 2015). This military paradigm has persuaded the police that they are engaged in a war against crime, and as a result, they have been influenced to be ruthless and violent against the public. This has made it difficult for the people to have faith in them. Some police management methods can impede efforts to establish community trust. For example, the service model emphasizes the need to prioritize community over law enforcement (Daft, 2015). Instead of detaining all suspects, cops are encouraged to redirect them to social assistance organizations. This undermines public confidence in the ability of law enforcement forces to maintain peace and order by arresting offenders.
Comparing the historical critical difficulties faced by police management with the contemporary critical concerns of immigration, use of force, technology, and policing in a multicultural society
Throughout history, police administrators have encountered numerous crucial difficulties. One such issue relates to police brutality, in which the police are notorious for using excessive force on citizens. High rates of violent crime (such as robbery, murder, rape, and serious assault) were also a major concern. Conventional police tactics were ineffective in addressing the issue. Consequently, the crime rate in the 1960s was 1887 per 100,000 people, but in the 1980s it soared to 5224 per 100,000 people, a nearly triple rise. Different populations (such as African-Americans and women) across the nation struggled for their rights in the past, resulting in frequent civil disturbances. The past was rife with racial discrimination, which police administrators also had to contend with. Currently, police supervisors must deal with immigration concerns, and they are increasingly expected to enforce immigration laws (Daft, 2015). The use of force is still prevalent, and the public increasingly accuses the police of use violent force even when it is not warranted. To get good outcomes in policing a multicultural community, the police must utilize technology such as mobile phones, social media, and computer systems, among others.
Clearly, the activity of the police is essential. Through their dedication, police officers have significantly contributed to the improvement of community safety. However, law enforcement has not fully succeeded in gaining the public’s trust. This is primarily due to the bureaucracy of police departments, their quasi-military characteristics, and their managerial approaches. Despite obstacles, the police continue to work to protect the public’s best interests.
Daft, R. L. (2015). Organization theory and design. Cengage learning.
Giles, H. (2002). Law Enforcement, Communication, and Community. Amsterdam,
Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing.
Hodari, A. K., Krammes, S. B., Prescod-Weinstein, C., Nord, B. D., Esquivel, J. N., & Assamagan, K. A. (2022). How to read the Snowmass white papers on power dynamics in physics, informal socialization in physics training, and policing and gatekeeping in STEM. arXiv preprint arXiv:2203.11523.
McGhee, D. (2008). The End Of Multiculturalism? Terrorism, Integration And Human
Rights: Terrorism, Integration and Human Rights. Milton Keynes, McGraw-Hill Education
Mawby, R. I. (2023). Comparative policing issues: The British and American experience in international perspective. Routledge.
Critical issues in policing are a major concern in society, and the police play a crucial role in enforcing the law. In the history of policing, communication with the public has evolved from using a rattle or hand bell to sounding a signal light, to using the telegraph in private boxes, telephones, and the 9-1-1 system. Interactions between police and the public have also changed over time, from being characterized by ruthlessness and brutality to a proactive model that aims at preventing crime. However, the current structure and design of police departments still pose potential problems in building trust with the community, such as bureaucratic structure, quasi-military features, and some management styles that undermine efforts to build trust. Critical issues faced by police managers today include police brutality, racism, and lack of accountability, among others. These critical issues need to be addressed through policy changes, community policing, and better training for police officers to ensure a safe and secure society for all.