Critical Issues in Policing - Free Essay Example

Published: 2023-08-20
Critical Issues in Policing - Free Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Police Multiculturalism Diversity Social issue
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1230 words
11 min read

The police force is a well-coordinated civil force that maintains order, prevents crime, and enforces laws. The relationship between the police and the citizens is crucial. Policing strategies and the interactions between police and individuals have evolved as society has transitioned from being a homogenously white society to a multicultural society. These changes in the structure and design of police departments have brought about several challenges. Also, they have raised the alarm on the critical concerns facing the police.

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The history of policing

In the early history of policing, all members of society were in charge of providing protection and ensuring law and order among themselves. The people that acted as constables were volunteers. This was informal policing. After some time, came the transitional policing phase. Individual society members were informally assigned police duties. Then came the formal policing. Particular people were officially responsible for maintaining law and order. Generally, the history of police evolved from informal policing to formal.

The community has transitioned from being mechanical to being organic. That means, the society evolved from one which its members shared common ideologies and principles but fulfil their essential requirements independently to one that the members depend on each other due to specialization. Thereby maintaining order became more complicated. In mechanical communities, there was a minimum need for specialized policing. While organic communities need more specialization for social control, these organic communities have become states and governments. The responsibilities of the police in this model are maintaining order, administrative duties, and controlling crime.

Police interactions with the homogenous American society vs. with the multicultural community.

Before the civil war, preserving white supremacy was the basis of the formation of a police force. In New England were the Indian constables were explicitly appointed to police the Indian communities situated around the settlers. In St Louis, the constables had the responsibility of patrolling Native Americans that were in the vicinity of the western settlers. In the south, their primary function was to maintain and enforce slavery, that is to catch runaway slaves. The book slavery by another name written by Douglas Blackman

Currently, the police departments are using laws as tools to criminalize black people. The drug law uses racial profiling as a tool to criminalize the blacks and browns. Drug use is more popular with white people than black people. But the enforcement of the law specifically targeted the black people. These laws drive profit towards the private prisons. For example, when the police shot and killed Keith Scott, who was unarmed and not aggressive towards the police, they said he had marijuana on him. Here they used drugs to criminalize black people. The experiences black and brown communities have with the police show the police as a tool of social control between races. In contrast, in white society, the police are portrayed as public servants and people that can be trusted.

Potential Challenges in the current structure and design of police departments

No centralized authority

In an article published by the Washington Post, a former police officer states that the biggest problem in law enforcement is the lack of a central police authority. Some police departments focus on improving the community, while others do terrible jobs since there is no supervision. The United States federal has defined regulations, but the individual states are permitted to make their policies. This means that the state doesn't control the police departments. Therefore, these departments often find themselves redundant or serving across purposes, thereby resulting in inconsistent regulations between various states and within state borders. In case a police officer is corrupt, it’s difficult to explain who is in a position to do anything about it.

Institutionalized discrimination

Claims about the colored population being aimed at by the police officer have been there since time immemorial. However, there are more truths to it. Not all police officers are racist, but they are, at times, forced into racism. Sometimes, cases of racism encouraged by superior officers. When brave officers come out and talk, this comes to light. Take an example of a police lieutenant from St Louis who was fired after a half a year of investigation because he was instructing his police officers to target the minority specifically. He went as far as ordering for a black day, whereby they arrested the brown and black. In order to fight crime, states such as New York, New Jersey, and Boston implemented the stop and frisk initiative. However, the program was found to target the minority and innocent people to an absurd degree. In New York, in 2011, over six hundred people stopped, eighty percent were innocent while over eighty-two percent were Blacks and Latinos.

Officer related Homicides

The federal government has put in effort in tracking down officer-related homicides. However, police departments have been reluctant to report them. Probably, because of the lack of a centralized police authority. The Federal Bureau of Investigation documents an annual report of homicides but can't account for the police shootings since most go unreported. Despite them encouraging the police to report all shootings, whether they are justified or unjustified, only a few are submitting the information. This makes it difficult to properly analyze these departments and the jobs that they are doing across the country. It implies that even though the number of officially realized cases of homicides are only several hundred thousand, they could be more.

Critical issues encountered by the police

Historically, suicide among police officers and PTSD cases were the major issues. However, different problems are facing the modern police force. The immigration issue is such a mess. Some states are approving laws that sabotage the federal law, and the local municipalities are passing laws that cripple state regulations while the federal government is intimidating the people that break the federal laws and suing the police (Cappitelli, 2018). Technologies like Next Generation 911 allow communication centers to accept videos and photos from citizens and Artificial Intelligence for 911. Despite these two generate mind-blowing possibilities, it makes it challenging to observe the images streaming into call centers. Another issue is the use of force in response to mass gatherings during demonstrations, political rallies, and densely populated regions.


The police department has majorly transitioned. This transition has come with its own set of challenges, especially with the number of reforms that have taken place in the United States. Historically, the police mainly interacted with the homogenous American community. With the passing of several policies that allowed for multiracial immigration and settling, the police have had to deal with a multicultural society. There has been a strained relationship between the police and the colored community. The police department, too, is facing several crucial issues, such as laws on immigration and the use of force. Citizens are actively solving these issues through peaceful demonstrations and social media to air their grievances, but it may take some time.


Cappitelli, P. (2018, December 14). 5 of the biggest issues facing law enforcement in 2019. PoliceOne.

Critical Issues Facing Law Enforcement Today - YouTube. (2020, May 23). Police: History. Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice.

PoliceOne Staff. (2018, December 11). 19 on 2019: Expert predictions on the top police issues in 2019. PoliceOne.

The Racial History of Policing in America | BK Live - YouTube.

Top 10 Problems the United States Police System Needs to ...

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