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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Essay on Policing in the Future

Essay on Policing in the Future

The law enforcement officers are perhaps one of most misunderstood public servants.  The misunderstanding stems from the fact that many of the police officers share the same character traits which are secretive, strict, indifferent, apathetic, and formal.  They are perceived as individuals who are emotionless and unmoved by the hardship of others.  However, the public does not know that due to the nature of the job of police officers they are required to be indifferent and apathetic.  The police department trains its members to develop these character traits since experience has taught then that these character traits can help protect a police officer while in the performance of his duties.  In fact, these character traits can be used to help save the life of a police officer Thus, though these character traits are the reasons why the public and the law enforcement officers do not have a very good relationship with each other. 

However, in view of the implementation of the Community Oriented Policing, the police officers are poised to take on a new and different role.  Under the Community Oriented Policing, the law enforcement officers are required to take on a new and different role.  They are now more required to focus on establishing a positive relationship with the community and to concentrate their efforts on problem solving.  This is a substantial deviation from the traditional task of law enforcement officers whose functions have in the past been limited to the search and arrest of the suspects in a crime.  Under the Community Oriented Policing, the focus is the partnership with the community so that crime will be prevented and the other problems of the community may be immediately addressed with the help of the law enforcement officers. 

The federal government has indicated that the law enforcement officers will also take on a bigger role in the fight against domestic and international terrorism. It must be stressed at the onset that domestic or international terrorism is not different from any other crime committed within the territory of the United States.  Aside from the fact that terrorism’s main purpose is to spread fear, it also involves the disturbance of peace within the community which the police officers are tasked to immediately address. 

Terrorism prevention is something that the law enforcement officers can be tasked to participate in (Clark & Newman, 2007, p.1). With the help of Community Oriented Policing, law enforcement officers can establish a better relationship with the community which can play a bigger role in terrorism prevention. 

It must be stressed that when there is a strong partnership between the local police and the community the reporting of strangers and unusual activities become easier.  The police officers are the ones who are familiar with the people within the community.  They also regularly communicate with the locals within the community.  They are more likely to be familiar with the people who live within the community.  In theory, they are also more likely to be familiar every time there is a new person within the neighborhood.  They are also more likely to be alerted when there are subtle changes in the community.  Through their dealings with the community, they are more familiar with individuals who have a record of past criminal activities.  Through the help of the community, the law enforcement officers’ functions can be enhanced.  Individuals who may fit the description of known or suspected terrorists can be easily disseminated in the community.  The public can also easily report them to the local police department. 

Second, the Community Oriented Policing empowers the police officers, broadens their functions and authorizes them made decisions (Scheider & Chapman, 2003, p.1).  With these changes the law enforcement officers can quickly respond to emergencies in order to prevent a terrorist attack.  It also dispenses with the need for the police officers to get the permission of higher officers before they make their decision.  Third, when the police officers are in contact with the community the public can easily advise them of the locations and areas where the terrorist may want to attack.  For instance, the public can communicate to the police if there are dams, warehouses, and electrical facilities within the community where the defenses are weak and needs added protection by the local police.

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II. Use of Technology
Technology is closely tied with the concept of innovation.  There was a time when law enforcement officers utilized the wooden batons as their only weapons against violent individuals who resisted arrest (Scott Oldham, 2005, p.1).  In view of the lack of effective weapons that they can use to apprehend and subdue suspects, encounters between law enforcement officers and suspects often lead to a bloody fight.  As a result either the police officer or the suspect ends up getting seriously hurt or killed. 

There was also a time when law enforcement officers had to rely on their recollection of the events during dangerous situations.  They had to record the license number of the suspect’s getaway vehicle, remember their faces and the kind of weapons used.  If they were able to arrest the suspects after a dangerous situation, suspects often filed suits against law enforcement officers alleging brutality and violence they experienced in the hands of the police officers.  There being no other witnesses, the police officer had always been placed in jeopardy of being maliciously sued by a suspect he had arrested in his line of duty. 

With the use of technology, man was able to control and modify nature for the purpose of satisfying his own needs. Law enforcement officers have found simple solutions to their everyday problems.  With the use of stun guns police officers were able to harness the power of electricity.  They were able to control the volt and use it to apprehend violent suspects by incapacitating them temporarily.  With the discovery of stun guns, police officers no longer have to worry about getting hurt or hurting anybody in the course of the arrest.  In case a suspect resists arrest and becomes really violent, the law enforcement officer only has to press this gun against the body of the suspect.  It will release an electronic charge that is high in voltage that can disable the suspect for 20 to 30minutes enough time for them to place handcuff on the suspect. 

Police officers no longer have to worry about the possibility of them forgetting the suspect’s face or the license number of the vehicle or the kind of weapon used.  He also need not fear that suits for excessive violence and brutality may be filed against him because there is physical evidence that can be presented before the court.  Law enforcement officers only have to produce the recording of his patrol car video surveillance and present it in court to disprove the false and malicious accusations against him. 

Just like any technology, however, it can be abused.  In the hands of an abusive law enforcement officer, stun guns may cause serious injury against a suspect if not used properly.  According to United Nations Committee use of stun guns by the police may cause extreme pain and in certain cases may lead to death.  (David Morgan, 2007, p.2)  It has been reported that since 1999, 80 people have died and others have been seriously injured by police using electronic stun gun which negate the claims that they are non lethal weapons.  (Greg Mathis, 2005, p.1)

Use of police car video surveillance may be advantageous for some but it may pose a serious constitutional challenge for others.   Lawyers have challenged the legality of the act of police officers using their video camera as proof to apprehend those who commit over speeding and those who run against red lights.  Their contention is that the owners of the car are automatically considered guilty and imposed a penalty even if it may be possible that the car owners were not driving the vehicles at the time the infraction was committed.  Aside from constitutional violation of presumption of innocence, some police officers may use the video camera for the purpose of invading the privacy of private individuals. 


Law enforcement officers deal with the criminal elements in the society.  In arresting and investigating these criminal elements, they oftentimes use violent force in order to elude the police officers that are pursuing them.  As a result, some police officers are forced to use violent force in order to protect themselves and the public from harm against these criminal elements. 

Because police officers use force they are oftentimes accused of police brutality in the performance of their duties.  Police brutality is a term used to describe the excessive use of physical force, assault, verbal attacks, and threats by police officers and other law enforcement officers.  It may come in the form of unjustified shooting, severe beatings, fatal choking, and unnecessarily rough treatment, misuse of baton, and chemical sprays.  Police brutality happens not only in the streets but it may also happen inside the prison walls involving convicted defendants.  Cases of police brutality have been reported not only in rural areas, but also in suburban and urban areas as well.  Research shows that between Dec. 2005 and Dec. 2006, police misconduct complaints received from around the country have increased by 40 percent, from 239 to 336.  (Hazel Trice Edney, 2006 p.2) 

Use of excessive force in the performance of duty is a sensitive issue.  This is because it undermines the trust and confidence of the public in the law enforcement officers.  Police officers have the weapons necessary to protect peace and defend themselves.  They are also empowered to employ appropriate force to protect society.  The society trusts that these weapons and this power given to the police officers will be used to protect the society and the public, most especially the ethnic and the racial minorities.  When this trust is abused by any act of employing excessive physical force or even verbal attacks, the public will lose their trust on the police officers.  The possible repercussion of this is that the public may no longer cooperate with the police. 

It must be emphasized that law enforcement officers have the license to employ force, or even deadly force if necessary, in making an arrest.   According to John C. Hall, Federal constitutional standards permit law enforcement officers to use deadly force to apprehend criminal suspects when there is probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer or to others and if deadly force is necessary to effect the apprehension.  The public however due to high emotions fail to recognize that while there are instances of excessive use of force among some police officers it does not happen as a standard procedure among law enforcement officers.  In fact, it happens only in extreme cases when the person to be arrested continuously refuses to surrender to the law enforcement officers to the point that they become dangers to the police officers and the public. 

In conclusion, the future is bright for the law enforcement officers.  The trend is now towards an improved relationship between the public and the police department.  Efforts are now being undertaken by the state and the Federal government to incorporate the concept of Community Oriented Policing as a philosophy in the police department.  There are also efforts being made to modernize the equipment used in policing.  They are now better equipped to meet the challenges imposed upon them which is to prevent terrorism.  

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