Intro to Police Work, Professor Phifer
March 3, 2010
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The idea of policing has become misinterpreted over the years. People think of policing as what they see in the entertainment world. Without realizing that, the entertainment world serves the purpose of entertaining and amusing. So, yes, they will make it seem exciting and fun. They have you think of policing as the ultimate action job; fighting crime and arresting the bad guys. Even though such is portrayed, there is much more to policing then what is put out by the entertainment world. Today in media we see shows such as; COPS, America’s Most Wanted, CSI, Law & Order, and Criminal Minds. In these shows, and many others, the police officers are shown as the almighty crime fighters. They show officers chasing the bad guys, in car chases, in shoot outs, and also officers arresting potential suspects as part of their day to day routine. As entertaining as it may seem by far is this true. Those are just myths about the works of an officer’s duty. Policing is surrounded by many myths and stereotypes. The most common of them all is that police are primarily crime fighters. This “crime fighter” title deals with the police, devoting most of their time and efforts to enforcing the criminal law meaning; patrolling to deter crime, investigating crimes, and arresting criminals. Only about one-third of an officer’s activities are devoted to criminal law enforcement (Walker & Katz, 2008). The average police officer rarely makes a felony arrest and almost never fires a weapon in his or her entire career (Walker & Katz, 2008). The majority of their work consists of peacekeeping, order maintenance, or problem solving. In reality, police play a major and complex role. They have an ambiguous role which consists of a lot of discretion and many conflicts. The reason being for their ambiguous role is because they are entitled to a number of many different tasks. Their service is completely available to the community 24 hours a day and everyday of the week. Everyone calls the police for their problems, when they do not know where else to turn; the police are always their last result. Being that it would be more complex and expensive to maintain a number of specialized agencies everything just kind of falls back on the police. Many of the phone calls that the police take do not require arrests and physical force. Some calls require someone of professional expertise, for example, in the case of mental ill incidents. Being that the police are generalists, they handle a wide range of situations, but with limited training and expertise. So in calling them they hear out one’s situation and direct them to who it is that can actually help them with their issues. Twenty-one percent of police calls, the majority, are from citizens just wanting information; seventeen percent of their calls are for nonviolent crimes, and twelve percent are for traffic problem (). Another part of their vague role is the fact that they possess a tremendous amount of discretion. It is in the power of police officers to determine how to handle a situation and what actions to take in handling that particular situation. For starters, when they go out on calls and are called to a domestic dispute, first they would decide; is this even the time. Then, they go on to figure out whether making an arrest would be suitable or whether they should just remove one of the parties from the household. Not only is a tremendous amount of...