Police Officer Research Essays

This article examines the roles played by police officers in contemporary society. The author first looks at the development of the modern police force. This is followed by an examination of philosophies of policing. The article then details the major social factors facing police in their jobs from day to day. The article is concluded by a discussion of differential treatment of suspects based on race and corruption in police forces.

Keywords Amateur Labelers; Broken Windows Policing Model; Censorship Region; Community Policing Model; CompStat Policing Model; Corruption; Evidence Based Policing Model; Hot Spots Policing Model; Laws; Problem Oriented Policing Model; Professional Labelers; Publicity Region; Pulling Levers Policing Model; Racial Profiling; Secrecy Region; Third Party Policing Model; Working Personality

The Police


The Role of the Police in Society

Early in the history of every society, its members develop sets of rules of varying degrees of severity that are based on the values held in that society. These rules, or norms, can be classified into two types: folkways and mores. Folkways are those common rules of etiquette. Violating these rules does not result in strong reprisal, but rather in a minor loss of status. Mores are stronger rules that are usually enforced by more severe sanctions. Once an elite, such as a priest class, aristocracy, or group of elected officials, comes to power in society, it will seek to enforce mores in order to ensure social order and the maintenance of the status quo. An elite does this by recording mores as official rules and setting specific punishments for violations of these rules. These set rules with set punishments that are based on mores are known as laws.

Once laws are put into place, law enforcement officers must be recruited. The exact roles of these individuals and their status in society have varied greatly over the ages. One could easily exhaust herself with the study of law enforcement officers over the ages. For this reason, we will focus our energies on the development of and the role played by the police in American society.

As mentioned above, the concept of law enforcement officers is ancient and can be found in the records of the ancient Romans, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians (Barkan, 2001). In pre-modern times, however, the stated purposes of police forces is quite different from those of ancient times. The job of pre-modern law enforcers was to guard influential nobles, protect property, and generally serve society's elites. In the grand scheme of history, the concept of a police force that serves the average citizen is still very new.

The modern model of law enforcement developed in Great Britain in the early 1800s (Barkan, 2001). Early British police, known as watchmen, were charged with security and the enforcement of religiously based morality codes. These watchmen were assigned to specific posts, and the bulk of their function was to keep order in their small farming villages. As the population of Britain became more urbanized, so did police forces (Rubinstein, 1973). During the early Industrial Revolution, England was at the forefront of industrial development and experienced an explosion in the urban population rate. This rapid increase in urban population led to what amounted to urban chaos, and police forces were formed to quell the frequent urban riots (Barkan, 2001).

Just as industrialization spread across the globe, so did urban police forces. Boston and New York were the first cities in the United States to form urban police forces. These early American police forces were notoriously corrupt and ineffective (Barkan, 2001). The departments did not hide the fact that they primarily existed to serve the upper and middle classes; their primary job was to keep poor immigrants and drunkards in check (Adler, 1994). Starting in the early 1900s, police departments across the country experienced a great influx in their numbers. This increase was caused by the use of police to protect the private property rights of wealthy factory owners. Workers of this era frequently went on strike to protest horrible wages and working conditions (Barkan, 2001). The sheer number of strikers forced police departments to greatly expand their departments.

Since the late 1960s, policing has gone through a period of significant innovation. This period was spurred on by the needs of a changing society and social strife. The populations of many cities in the United States were undergoing a crisis in confidence in the ability of the police to do their job, and crime was perceived to be increasing. In response to this crisis of confidence, police forces were compelled to reconsider the fundamental ways in which they served their communities. The traditional model of law enforcement held that police were the sole guardians of law and order; seeking civilian assistance was seen as unprofessional and a waste of time. During this period of crisis, several new models of policing were developed. These models are not so much instruction books for police on how to do their jobs as they are philosophical backdrops upon which policing occurs.

The first innovative model available to police today is the community policing model. This model states that the community should play a central role in defining the problems that police commonly address and that these problems should extend beyond conventional law enforcement (Weisburd & Braga, 2006). The broken windows policing model states that there is a link between social disorder and crime. Since unintended behavior tends to break down into the loss of mores and other social controls, under this model behavior such as loitering, drunkenness, and loud parties become a concern of police. The problem oriented policing model requires police to deal with a wide range of behavioral problems in the community, such as a high dropout rate. The pulling levers policing model calls for a comprehensive combination of multiple community problem solving strategies. Through this model, criminal justice intervention, social services, and community resources might all be utilized to resolve a single case. Through the third party policing model resources are expanded to third parties that are believed to offer significant new resources for preventing or controlling crime and disorder.

By using third parties such as civil courts, community organizations, and civil organizations, the police recognize that social control requires and can benefit from institutions other than themselves. Under the hot spots policing model, police are clustered in discrete areas that need the greatest amount of attention. The logic behind this model is that crime clusters itself is certain areas. Therefore, in order for patrols to be effective, they must be more tightly focused on the hot spots. The CompStat policing model, which was developed by the New York City Police Department in direct response to its interdepartmental challenges, states that failures stem from the fact that forces are poorly organized. This system seeks to strengthen the police command structure. Under this model, each level of the command structure, starting with the very top, takes an interest in whether its subordinates are motivated, assessed, and successful. In this way, discipline and hierarchical relationships are maintained. Finally, the evidence-based policing model states that crime control practices should be rooted in the collection of evidence and scientific analysis of that evidence. This model makes the assumption that police cannot be more effective than they already are. Rather, it argues that the reliance on evidence will lead to more effective criminal apprehension and crime prevention (Weisburd & Braga, 2006).


The Day to Day Work of a Police Officer

Police officers are endowed with extraordinary power when compared to the average citizen. They wield powerful physical weapons such as guns, batons, and Tasers, as well as social weapons like the ability to arrest individuals, the state sanctioned ability to use violence, and the power to create an official record of an event (Rubinstein, 1980). However, the modern police officer uses this power sparingly. According to Ericson, police spend relatively little time directly protecting persons and property against criminal threats (1994). In fact, they spend most of their time as knowledge brokers and expert advisors. They give directions, instruct the public on how to prevent bicycle theft, or host antidrug programs such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) (Ericson, 1994). Of course, they also do the "real police work" of apprehending suspects, but a single criminal event can result in hours of paperwork. In this way, police spend far more time recording an official version of an event for the public record than they do actually fighting crime (Ericson, 1994). Obviously, different activities are associated with varying amounts of rewards and prestige. Catching a crazed serial killer will merit a plaque, but most other tasks are viewed as simply part of the job (Rubinstein, 1973).

In much the same way that different policing activities are seen as more prestigious than others, so is the pursuit of different crimes. While ideally all crimes would be pursued with equal levels of vigor, in the real world this is not the case. Police departments simply do not have the resources to treat all crimes equally. Because any given force only has so much personnel time per week, low priority crimes will be pursued less vigorously to allow high priority crimes to be pursued more vigorously. More resources may be put into a case if the crime is against a police officer, especially repugnant, or one of high publicity (Rubinstein, 1973).

A large part of crime fighting is the work of rooting out liars. For this reason, officers must often work with little more than suspicions. They may be verbally and physically assaulted by individuals who were cooperative but a minute before. As a result, the average officer comes to deal with this high degree of uncertainly by holding a sense of constant suspicion (Barkan, 2001). For this reason,...

Police Career Research Paper

Career Research Paper

Police officers have played a major role in society by protecting us from crime. Their responsibilities include not only preserving the peace, preventing criminal acts, enforcing the law, investigating crimes, and arresting those who violate the law but also directing traffic, community relations work, and controlling crowds at public events.

Law enforcement officers are a part of our communities to protect and serve us from danger and to apprehend criminals that disobey the law. It is their job to apprehend criminals and respond to calls from the people. Most enforcement officers have to stay in their designated areas, or jurisdiction, and respond to any calls or monitor the area. They are there to catch any suspected criminals, resolve problems within the community, and enforce traffic laws. When they aren't on patrol, police spend a lot of time filling out reports for each of the calls they were on. The purpose of the reports is basically to record the incidents just in case the police need to bring up the case again. Not all law enforcement officers have the same particular duties however. Their responsibilities and duties all depend on their specific job specialty (FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 2011.).

There are many types of law enforcers but the two main types of police are the local and state police. Local police deal with urban policing while the state police deal with mostly highway patrol and safety. The state police are mainly for catching criminals statewide and highway patrol in which they give tickets, or citations, to people who disobey speed limit laws or any other traffic laws in general. State police are also available to direct traffic in the incident of an accident as well as giving first aid and calling for emergency equipment (FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 2011).

There are many other positions in the police force other than just being a plain officer. In many cities, officers can have jobs such as police chiefs, precinct sergeants and captains, desk officers, booking officers, police inspectors, identification officers, complaint evaluation supervisors and officers, and crime prevention officers. There are also specialized police officers such as undercover police who work in plain clothing for criminal investigation divisions. There are also internal affairs investigators who are employed to police the police to help prevent corruption. Other specialized police officers include police commanding officers, who act as supervisors in missing persons and fugitive investigations, and officers who investigate and pursue non-payment and fraud fugitives. Also many police departments hire police clerks who perform administrative and community-oriented tasks. There are many other jobs that one can go into the police force for. It all depends on...

Loading: Checking Spelling


Read more

Critically Discussion of the Issue of Stop and Search

1884 words - 8 pages The issue of stop and search is considered to be an extremely controversial area. There is significant debate on the legitimacy and the accountability of police powers when conducting stop and search, which has led to concerns about the effectiveness of policing. Reiner (2000: 80) has stated that policing is ‘beyond legitimation’ as a result of consistent complaints concerning the abuse of police powers within stop and search. The cause for...

Women in Criminal Justice: Attorneys and Law Enforcement

2512 words - 10 pages During the late nineteenth-century, women went to court to continue to secure their rights to participate in public life: to vote, to be a justice of the peace, to be a notary public, to serve as school district directors, school committee officers, school officers, and prosecuting attorneys, an of course to practice law (Drachman, 1998). The criminal justice system is a male dominated occupation. For many years women have...

Discrimination in the British Police

2336 words - 9 pages An equal opportunity is and should always be a non-racist and non-sexist philosophy, but also a non-sexual orientation notion as well. It would appear that despite British Society acknowledging these problems, British policing is, and will remain, a long way behind the search for true equality, both within law...

Law enforcement

1693 words - 7 pages When I was a young child, I can remember that a lot of shows and movies were based on the exciting lives of police officers. Both shows and movies often portrayed police work as exciting with a new adventure everyday. For this reason I think a lot of children, such as me, had a desire at one point or another to be a police officer. The TV shows and movies focus only on the exciting parts of police work; the truth is that most police work is...

The Law Enforcement Hiring Process

1325 words - 5 pages Introduction This paper will show four different police departments that are currently hiring or recruiting for police officers. There will be a summary on the research found on the process used to recruit police officers. It will also show their current hiring trends and what hiring practices they have that are successful or not successful. The paper will also go over the different methods departments use to train their new officers and their...

The Police Force

1838 words - 7 pages Throughout history the police force has severely changed, with the first forms of policing appearing in the Anglo-Saxon period in England; where the king would provide protection to the civilians for a tax (Mawby, 1999). Centuries later and the principles of protecting the people are generally the same. However, in recent times crimes and perpetrators are becoming more sophisticated; the need for higher abilities to control and manage these...

The Principles of Police Leadership

2922 words - 12 pages All organizations, especially law enforcement agencies, require leadership. Maintaining a dependable leadership structure is key to the success of any organization. The philosophy of the modern style of police leadership involves a leader who is strong, competitive and unreceptive to change. Police leadership is based from an autocratic style which is founded on integrity and courage, embracing teamwork, involvement and shared leadership...

The extent and ethics of racial profiling

6064 words - 24 pages Public opinion polls reveal that racial profiling is a concern to a clear majority of Americans. A recent Gallup poll found that 81 percent of Americans thought racial profiling to be wrong and that 59 percent felt that racial profiling was widespread (Ludwig, 2003). The poll also revealed the expected differences between the perceptions of Whites and African-Americans, a solid majority of White (56 percent), and more than three out of four...

Police Brutality

2248 words - 9 pages Introduction:Studies has shown that police are more likely to abuse blacks rather than whites and this is caused by racial profiling. But through the history of police brutality, police brutality was first used after a police officer was described beating a civilian in 1633. Police brutality is the abuse of force and it is usually through physical. But there are other ways to abuse which are verbally and sometimes psychologically and...

Negative 'old' police attitudes and practices towards rape victims is still very much part of modern day policing. Critically assess the evidence available to support this statement.

1425 words - 6 pages Introduction Today, far too many rape victims continue to encounter the old sexist and racist responses to rape from family, friends, acquaintances, and even the police. This is not to say that practices are not changing. Today our society is in the midst of making great changes in its understanding of the injuries and injustices of rape victims. Only a generation ago, as recently as 1970, there were no rape crisis centers and no...

Officers with High School Diplomas vs. Officers with College Degrees.

1011 words - 4 pages High school and college are tremendously vital for preparing people for the real world. High school prepares students for college or the workforce. College expands ones general knowledge and skills, such as the ability to express ones opinion orally and written. Post secondary education also increases the understanding of the community and society. CollegeBoard says that more and more employers want employees who have education beyond high...


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *