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The Law Enforcement Community

[The law enforcement community has a vast number of agencies, from federal, state and local systems. They have gone through many transitions over the almost two hundred years of organized police agencies. In this paper we will discuss the organizational structures of policing agencies, communication patterns within and outside of the agencies, and the trends in the approach to the policing function. In exploring this issues we can identify the changes to the field over the years and changes that may continue in the future.

In the past, traditional approaches to law enforcement were centered on responding to crime after it occurred. Therefore, before police departments were established, self-protection was organized in communities. These communities were responsible for each other, citizens from them were called when crime occurred. The villages were divided into ten family groups called “tithings” that were headed by a constable (CJ ch 5). The villagers went after the criminals and they would then turn them into the constable.

If the law breakers were caught the villagers turned them into the crown, if they were not caught the villagers would be penalized by the crown (CJ ch5). The groups of tithings, to make a hundred, were formed together to form a “shire”. Each shire had a supervisor labeled a shire reeve, this later developed into the term sheriff (CJ ch5). Eventually, this system became antiquated and change was necessary. [The watch and ward system followed, again emphasizing the communities responsibility for crime control.

In this system, the males in the community took turns standing watch, after being captured offenders were turned over to the constable for trial. The Justice of the Peace position was created at this time in history, they acted as the sentencing body prior to cases being heard in court (CJ ch5). Similar to the earlier system of justice, the watch and ward system focused on the community’s participation for law enforcement. As individuals stopped showing up for their duties the system began to fail.

Citizens with available funds hired private security to protect them, while poorer citizens remained at the mercy of the watch and ward system. Additionally, in London a grain surplus began the manufacture of gin, this caused additional problems in the city due to individuals drinking and being drunk on the street (CJ ch5). The system was expanded to add additional watchmen and expand the patrols to include a mounted patrol named Bow Street Runners. Even so crime continued to increase and the need for more crime control was clear. [Therefore, the system moved to became more structured organization.

The Metropolitan Police of London was the first preventive police agency established in 1829 (cj ch5). For the first time a law enforcement group was centered on a military approach rather than a civilian one. The force was assigned territories to patrol and were supervised to avoid problems that occurred in the watch and ward system, like sleeping, drinking, or loafing on the job. Unfortunately, the new system of policing was not without its issues, lack of work ethic on the job was still a problem and many officers were fired in an effort to maintain a functional police force.

The colonists in the new world followed the lead of the London Police. [Unfortunately, the colonies also made the same mistakes and experienced the same problems that they did in early years in England. The problem was that the efforts did little to prevent crime, not until 1838 did Boston create a police force to supplement the watchmen ( CJ ch5). This did not prevent continuing problems in the early police departments. Therefore, efforts to improve policing have gone through several models.

The political model, the reform model, the professionalization model and the community policing model (ch 15). The different types of policing were attempts at finding the best method at protecting the community and preventing crime. The model prevalent in the past thirty-five years is the community policing model, this is focused around engaging the community in the effort of crime prevention and community protection (ICJ ch5). Similar to the ideas of two hundred years ago, the community is now an important part of policing in all levels of enforcement.

Although the model may be similar, a major change in the twentieth century of policing is specialization ( ICJ ch 5). Large departments used task specialization to assign officers into divisions or units, like traffic, homicide, or vice (ICJ ch 5). Additionally, most departments or agencies are organized in a military style chain of command. The hierarchy of most large departments with several levels between the patrol officer and the chief of police. In these cases the rank and file officers must follow the chain of command up the ranks to get orders from the command or to file a complaint (ch 5).

The other model of organization which “flattens” the levels of hierarchy, this model is consistent with the community-oriented policing philosophy (ICJ ch 5). However, there are few departments that have changed from the military style chain of command. [The law enforcement community in the United States is made up of federal, state, and local agencies. The United States has no national police force, unlike other countries (CJ ch4). Due to a reluctance of Americans to have a system of centralized power (CJ ch 4). Instead, there are federal agencies who employ over 93,000 employees (CJ ch 4).

These agencies have specific duties and missions, there are twenty–seven different agencies that employ federal law enforcement officers from The Administrative Office of U. S. Courts to the Unites States Postal Inspection Service (CJ ch 4). These agencies and those like them are under the budget of the federal government. The state agencies also have a level of law enforcement, state police are usually responsible for the highway system, assisting small local departments with investigations, and criminal activity that may move across county lines.

In addition, gun registration, driver’s license issuance, wilderness and wildlife enforcement are all part of state police duties (CJ ch 4). The other level of enforcement is local, municipal, or county agencies. These agencies are the local police for most towns, they range from small departments with few officers to large departments in bigger cities. The agencies deal with everything from traffic control, and street patrol to jail duties. There are some agencies that have specially trained groups for things like domestic violence or mental illness (CJ ch4).

The departments that are part of local law enforcement are the most likely to interact with the public. However, law enforcement agencies often need to work together to be successful in resolving a case. [Therefore, law enforcement agencies must communicate with each other and other agencies to complete their jobs. So communication is an important part of what they do, within the department communication follows a chain of command in most departments. The messages move from the top of the hierarchy to the bottom and are dispersed to the patrol officers at role call.

For the patrol officers they receive there calls through dispatchers who communicate with them by radio. They also use cell phones, and computers in their cars to check on driving records, warrants, and arrest records of suspects. In addition, police officers have to communicate with the public on a daily basis, this is where good communication skills become essential. The ability of an officer to discuss an incident and interview a witness is very important to all police officers.

Another important part of communication for any law enforcement officer is to be able to read non-verbal communication from individuals they encounter. This could help them decide if a person is calm, angry, telling the truth, or lying. With all the new technology that is being produced the future of policing is ever changing. [Current trends in the approach to policing functions are focusing on community-oriented policing, which considers it necessary for the community to partner with the police to impact crime (CJ ch 4).

The theory states that when neighborhoods appear “rundown” criminals assume that there is a lack of caring in the neighborhood and believe that they can commit crime there safely. Officials believe that if the community is invested in the neighborhood the less likely that the neighborhood will be taken over by individuals selling drugs, robbing people, and violence. The police work with the community if possible to target areas for problem-oriented policing, zero-tolerance policing, to gain greater information about communities and their problems.

The hope is that the community will invest in the approach however, that does not always happen. Another trend is to make a more diversified police force that accepts more minority and female officers in the community, and police that patrol on bikes or on foot. Additionally, police agencies are becoming more professionalized and require a higher level of education (CICJ 15). The departments are also looking for individuals with good social skills, including conflict resolution, and have respect for citizens and the policies of the department they work for (CICJ 15).

Hence, the more well trained and educated an officer is the more likely that they are able to mediate disputes and be a problem solver, not just arrest people. [In conclusion, the law enforcement community in the United States is a vast and diversified group. It began in colonial times and has made many transformations over the years, the job of policing has gone from community protection to a professional career. Most of the departments and agencies are organized around the military chain of command model whether it

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