American policing continues to develop as it helps maintain order, protect citizens and prevent and solve crimes. Basically, there are three ears of policing: the political era, the reform era and the community era. The political era began in 1840 and ended in 1930. During this era, local government agencies mainly controlled the police departments. The major strength of this policing era was the close relationship between the police and the community. Police officers at this time did more than preventing crimes and chasing for criminals but they also helped the community by providing homeless with shelters, helping people manage soup kitchens and finding jobs for immigrants (Bond, 2016). The only weakness of this era was extreme corruption. Police brutality was also common in the latter part of this era.
1930s marked the beginning of the reform era. The intimate relationship between police officers and the community became professional during this era. Technology had progressed so police officers no longer had to use bicycles when patrolling. Police vehicles became available as well as 911 emergency systems. Technological advancement made the job of police officers faster and easier but it also made them disconnected to the community. People started to mistrust police officers who became even more aggressive and brutal.
From political era to reform era, policing was developed to a community era in 1930. The main strength of this era was the improvement of crime control. Police departments focused again on building intimate relationship with the community. More community services were offered and police officers went back to helping the citizens with their daily endeavours (Stewart, 2017). The only downside of this era, which is a problem up to this day, is the fact that police officers were losing focus on fighting crimes because of doing too much community work.
One of the many challenges law enforcement faces today is corruption. This had been an issue in policing since the political era and has not been addressed until today. There are many types of police corruption such as extortion, chiselling and accepting bribes (Thompson, 2017). All these shameless acts of the police create social disorder and injustice. A lot of police officers today use their power and influence to harass and trick innocent people. With the continuous issue of corruption, it is difficult to achieve social order and justice because many police officers accept bribes from wealthy criminal officers instead of putting them into prison.
Another common issue in law enforcement is lack of training among police officers. Lack of funds for police departments affects the quality of the training provided for police officers. Hence, it leads to police incompetence which can also jeopardize people’s lives. Apparently, the increasing number of police shootings is a result of the impulsiveness and lack of training of some police officers. What is worse is that most of these shootings caused the death of innocent and unarmed suspects (Johnson, 2015).
Because of the many issues and challenges faced by the law enforcement today, it is difficult to say that the law enforcement system will be better in the next five years. Considering the present problems in police ethics, it is apparent that the behaviours of many police officers are not going to change in a way people expect them to be. Corruption and power abuse will remain the most common problems in policing and the government will need to establish more laws to address these issues. However, there are also positive changes that may occur in policing especially with the advancement in technology. In the next five years, data analysis will even more improve. New technologies will help police officers predict and prevent crimes. It will also be easier and faster to gather necessary information for various cases. Even artificial intelligence may help police officers ensure safety and security through the use of security bots. Training of police officers may also improve in the next years if present law enforcement leaders will voice out their needs for ample training funds.
While police officers are responsible for providing the community with safety and security, the public also has a role in achieving peace and harmony. The public should cooperate with the police and help them fulfil their duties. The police and the public should have a give-and-take relationship but not for selfish purposes. Members of the community can help police officers in criminal cases by providing truthful information. It is important to acknowledge the effort of police officers in battling crimes and the public should show their appreciation instead of letting them down.
Moreover, people have to admit that it is also their fault why corruption still exists in policing. Wealthy and influential people are the ones who bribe police officers when they commit crimes and sometimes, police officers accept those bribes not because they are greedy but because they are threatened by those people more powerful than the police. People should not blame the police all the time because not all of them are crooked. Despite the negative image of police officers, there are still ethical and loyal ones. Concisely, the role of the public in maintaining the safety of everyone is vast. They should not let police officers do all the work because their actions and behaviours may also affect the performance of law enforcement. As long as there are uncooperative and selfish people, the challenges and issues in policing will remain. This is why the intimate, respectful relationship between the community and the police is necessary to achieve the law enforcement’s objectives.
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