FUTURE OF POLICING
What is meant to be governed by a set of ideals known as the rule of law?
The rule of law is said to mean that supremacy can only be accorded to “law” and not to
an arbitrary entity. Therefore, everyone is uniformly and equally subject to it and the law in turn
applies universally. This idea stands in total opposition to the concept of an autocratic ruler who
supposes he is above the law for any number of reasons (birth, lineage, divinity etc. )
The generic nature of the term has left it wide open to interpretation however. There is
the formal or the thinner interpretation and there is the substantive or the thicker meaning.
Formalist tradition does not emphasize on the correctness or the justness of the legislation being
enforced (for example, Nazi laws here would be just as good as a modern law). They only lay
out a compliance solution. On the other hand, a substantive interpretation would take into
account certain substantive rights as well and look at the law in the light of that right.
Order Maintenance Vs Law Enforcement
Order maintenance and law enforcement are two principle functions of the police force
but they are quite different. Order maintenance is defined as intervention and curbing of
situations that threaten or could threaten public order and peace or could be offensive. These are
overwhelmingly concerned with resolution of disputes of a public nature between individuals.
However, order maintenance concerns with a wide variety of issues and problems. The biggest
point is that the law enforcement has wide discretion in tackling these situations (from arrests, as
in protests, to neutralizing a suspect as in a violent confrontation).
Law enforcement on the other hand concerns with civil as well as criminal (violent)
aspects in a general fashion. It concerns a few members of the society that are engaged in
FUTURE OF POLICING
promoting the rule and enforcement of the law. Violators are subjected to punishment contingent
upon the nature of the violation.
Wilson’s Styles of Policing
Wilson’s three styles of policing are as follows: watchman, legalistic and service. The
watchman style allows broad discretion to the police to be able to overlook a variety of low level
crimes. This brings in the aspect of potential discrimination, if it is felt that the police acted
favorably to a certain community or race. This style is prevalent in poorer, blue collar areas.
The legalistic style is on the other end of the spectrum as it seeks to employ a singular
standard toward everybody. The portrayal of professionalism dominates other aspects and law
enforcement is stressed. This style can be overly harsh (rightfully) against some communities
who come in contact with law enforcement more often. In the service style, the “service” aspect
of the job is more focussed on. This finds traction in suburban homogenous communities where
crimes are lower and more obvious, allowing for police to focus on individual service (Dubber &
Police organizations tend to act in a legalistic theme because their representation is a vast
body of officers and employees. On the other hand, police officers employ discretion in many
aspects of their jobs. Almost on a basis of equilibrium, police officers adapt to styles that most
fits the region they are assigned to.
Police Stress and Suicide
Sources of stress include the confrontational situations that they are routinely and greatly
exposed to. As law enforcement officers, they are also under pressure to uphold all aspects of
FUTURE OF POLICING
law themselves and try and present model conduct. They also come under pressure because they
are singled out as targets of violence often by suspects. They are always to be prepared to enter a
dangerous situation. Irregular work hours and over times are also responsible for adding to the
stress. They could also be called in the middle of the night for an emergency situation.
Besides, they are not averse to frequent incidents of death or serious injury to their
colleagues. Law enforcement officers are more susceptible than the ordinary population when it
comes to pressures from their bosses, studies have revealed. Diverse police forces have also
reported racial pressures inside the department (for example, black police officers in the
Philadelphia Police Department sued to take down DomeLights.com, where white officers of the
department were posting disparaging remarks against minorities including blacks.) Their
averseness to stress factors and increased relationship issues (in part from stress) has resulted in
greater suicide rates.
Five Assessment Areas
Five assessment areas include professional demeanor (& courtesy), knowledge of
applicable law and knowledge helpful in the situation, response time to the situation, clarity and
fairness. These five qualities determine the quality of service that the officer can render.
Affirmative action has made the laying field level for officers of all backgrounds and broken the
inertia of racism that continued to cause great social rift in our society. It has enabled minority
officers to break the proverbial glass ceiling and compete more fairly with the majority (Ong,
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