The Role of Police

Topics: Police, Crime, Constable Pages: 6 (2113 words) Published: November 29, 2006
The Role of Police.
People depend on police officers and detectives to protect their lives and property. Law enforcement officers, some of whom are State or Federal special agents or inspectors, perform these duties in a variety of ways, depending on the size and type of their organization. In most jurisdictions, they are expected to exercise authority when necessary, whether on or off duty.

Police officers have general law enforcement duties, including maintaining regular patrols and responding to calls for service. They may direct traffic at the scene of an accident, investigate a burglary, or give first aid to an accident victim. In large police departments, officers usually are assigned to a specific type of duty. Many urban police agencies are involved in community policing—a practice in which an officer builds relationships with the citizens of local neighborhoods and mobilizes the public to help fight crime.

The role of police goes far beyond what initially meets the eye. Whether a police officer if carrying out his/her duties appearing in court to testify in a criminal case. If they need to chase the bad guy down on foot and forcing him into custody. Something as routine as writing a speeding ticket to something as unorthodox as driving by and checking a citizen's house for them well they are on vacation. In all of these scenarios the officer is carrying out their role in the criminal justice system.

As Bryan Vila claims in his writing, The Role of Police in American Society "Policing addresses one of the most fundamental problems of social living --- how to deal with those who violate group customs, norms, rules, and laws that enable cooperation. Cooperating together in large groups enables us to take advantage of one another's strengths and to compensate for individual weaknesses. The resulting sum can be much greater than the parts and, all else being equal, the largethe social group, the larger the potential benefit. But social living also provides opportunities for people to cheat. Instead of cooperating to produce a shared benefit, people can use force, fraud, or stealth to obtain valued resources. Once again, generally speaking, the larger the social group, the greater the opportunities for cheating. Cheaters weaken the cooperative bonds that enable productive social living and, like parasites in an animal, too many cheaters can kill or cripple a society." (Vila, xxiii)

In 1822, Robert Peel who was the founder of the British system of policing explained the role of police to be "The basic mission for which the police exist is to reduce crime and disorder." Maybe that would sum up the role of police in 1822 but nowadays one would find it much harder to put the extensive obligations that a police officer has from day to day into a single sentence. (Andersen, 1)

The United States of America utilizes a system of policing that has an officer focusing on many different tasks. These tasks can range anywhere from enforcing a law to providing a service but generally include about 5 basic principles. Enforcing and supporting the law, investigating crimes and apprehending offenders, preventing crime, helping to keep domestic peace, and providing services. When these qualities come together they represent what it is to be a police officer today. (Schmalleger, 110)

Looking at the mission of police, any aspect can be examined to great detail. For example, enforcing the law and supporting the laws. A police officer has the obligation to enforce laws whether they be federal, state, or local. For example, writing a speeding ticket is enforcing the law. When a law is clearly broken in the view of an officer the officer has to use discretion to decide what steps should be taken.

The more serious a crime, the less discretion an officer has over whether or not he should act on the crime. Should the police officer pull over the speeding driver, the officer will then have to decide wether or not...
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