Police Professionalism and Responsibility

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  • Topic: Police, Crime, Law enforcement
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American Military University
April Marshall
CMRJ201 Criminal Justice Administration
Final– Research Paper
Professor Charles Russo

The purposes of this paper are identity and explan in depth history of Law Enforcement professionalism and responsibilities. The analytical content and data collected for this paper was obtained from a literature review of peer reviewed scholarly articles within the American Military University’s online library, as well as from scholarly texts.

Professional Policing comes to America
As reforms efforts gained momentum and politics played a less obvious and less intrusive role in policing, law enforcement in America began to be viewed as a profession. The so called professional phase of law enforcement began in the 1920s. The professional phase can be analyzed and best understood using three general perspectives: the law enforcement role, the bureaucratic model, and science and technology. Professional Law Enforcement Role

The political spoils era emphasized the service role for obvious reasons. American policing did not adopt a law enforcement or crook catching role until the 1920s and 1930s. Police departments continued to move towards a more professional model as a result of various reform efforts. During the decades of the 1920s and 1930s two significant events occurred that helped orchestrate a move towards law enforcement. Passage of the Eighteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution often called the Volstead Act and the Great Depression which lead to a massive crime wave (Gaines & Kappeler, 2008, p. 195). Prior to t Volstead Act police officers allowed public opinion to dictate police enforcement policies regarding vice and victimless crimes. The police tended to enforce laws haphazardly, as they encountered criminal activity, rather than planning and concentrating on crime problems. Police officers were more concerned with order maintenance and maintaining relationships with citizen within their beats. The Volstead Act changed this relationship. Police officers as a result of the Volstead Act were expected to take a proactive approach to laws that many citizens opposed. These expectations forced police to choose between upholding the law and maintaining a good rapport with citizens. Bureaucratic Model of Policing in America

By the 1950s there had been meaningful and considerable changes in law enforcement to the point that policing was moving into the pinnacle of the professional phase. O.W. Wilson published the first edition of his Police Administration text, which very quickly became the bible for police administrators. Wilson and other professional police chiefs of the time preached that police departments should be centralized so as to exert more control and to thwart potential external political influences. Wilson and his contemporaries essentially adopted the military model for policing that was first advocated by Sir Robert Peel in 1829 when he was organizing the London Metropolitan Police Department. Professionalism was viewed as organization efficiency and crime fighting (Gaines & Kappeler, 2008, p. 191). Classical organization principles that produced the appearance of greater control and efficiency were adopted. Police departments operated under the military model with officers being closely supervised and directed. Police departments abolished foot patrols in favor of motorized patrols. Science and Technology in Professional Policing

The introduction of science and technology really fascinated police officials. Police officials believe that policing could not truly achieve professional status without technology. The human aspects of police work were abandoned for science. Police officials pursed technological innovations on all fronts: police records system, fingerprints, chemistry, serology, toxicology, evidence collection, and radio communications. Police chiefs and their...
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