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Modern Day Policing and Society: Where Are We Headed?

5 pages
1313 words
Wesleyan University
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Policing has changed a lot since the inception of the first police force in 1829. Policing in this era is very different from that of the preceding eras. Policing policies have been continuously changing through the different policing eras. The different policing eras have their strengths and weaknesses. Despite the efforts to improve policing, the department is still facing several challenges such as law enforcement issues and distrust from the community. Problems facing law enforcement has an impact on social order. As it looks now, policing is taking a new direction of encouraging the participation of the community in not only the control but also the prevention of crime, promising a better future for policing, in which the community is actively involved.

Since 1829, four eras of policing have been experienced. They include the political era, reform era, community era, and the new era in the respective order. The community era was from the 1970s to 2001. In this era, there was a focus on fostering a customer friendly element in the delivery of services by the police force and retaining the traditional police functions such as investigations, patrol, e.t.c. The era can be regarded as one of contemporary law enforcement (Alpert, Dunham & Stroshine, 2015). The competent community partnership of this age was one of its strengths as this is crucial in crime prevention. Also, the police in this period were aware of the communitys needs hence fostering trust. The weaknesses of this period include its failure to address problems pertaining discrimination particularly racism and lack of enough efforts toward the prevention of crime.

The new era of policing started in 2001 to date. The reason for the changes in policing was driven by terrorist attacks in September 2001. Several organizations changes were made within the police including the emergence of state agencies such as Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). The era has seen the scope of policing go beyond law enforcement to incorporate crime and terrorism prevention and intelligence-based policing (Alpert, Dunham & Stroshine, 2015). The strengths of this era include utilization of intelligence and technology to prevent crime and also a good partnership with the community which makes the collection of actionable intelligence possible. The weaknesses of this era include the perceived discrimination of some minority groups specifically the African Americans by the police and excessive use of force by the police.

One of the issues facing law enforcement is civil unrest of the public in response to actions or decisions of law enforcers. Demonstrations and protests following a verdict or a public encounter between law enforcers and citizens have been witnessed a lot in the recent past. The unrest is usually characterized by a reaction to an incident followed by a demand for the resignation, prosecution or termination of the people involved. An example of such an occurrence is the prosecution of a person involved in a controversial murder case. Protests and demonstrations disrupt social order and on most occasions turn violent. The effect of this is that the police and other law enforcers such as the judiciary are not independent to ensure that the rule of law is upheld but are swayed by the masses (Lum, 2014).

Excessive use of force by the police is another issue facing law enforcement today. Several videos have gone viral in which the police are seemingly using too much unnecessary force. On most occasions, the excessive use of force is associated with the existing prejudice in the police force that profiles specific groups of people. Such incidences are a problem to law enforcement as although the police are permitted by the law to use force to some extent, the rule of law should protect the citizens from those in authority (Lum, 2014). The use of excessive force by law enforcers disrupts social order and creates distrust between the public and law enforcers.

From the current trend, the face of policing will be different in the next five years. Law enforcement will start making use of data analysis in the future to anticipate and prevent crime. Data analysis will transform the role of policing to include more than just respond to crime. It may, however, come with some issues, but on overall it will improve policing services.

The future of policing will entail the use of technology to process data from disparate sources and therefore be able to anticipate, respond to, and prevent crimes. Predictive policing will complement the older policing techniques instead of replacing them to enhance the delivery of services by the police by ensuring they have the right information to be at the right place at the right time (Thompson, 2016). Actionable information which is accurate is at the core of effective policing. In the future, cooperation between the police and the community will be critical. The participation of the community can only be encouraged by having privacy policies in place that will protect informants and promote the development of trust. The future of policing will be centered upon the capability to utilize information within the constitutionally permissible limits to save lives, prevent crime, and create a safer environment for all. It is necessary that the appropriate laws are in place to ensure the proper use of information and also there ought to be policies to address the privacy concerns.

The cooperation between the police and the public is significant in facing future challenges to policing and ensuring effective policing. For this reason, mutual trust between the two is essential. The police rely on the public to give them information regarding ongoing criminal activities or any information that may be useful to prevent crime. The willingness of the public, on the other hand, to provide the police with information depends on whether or not they do trust the police to reflect values of the community and to integrate the principles of legitimacy and procedural justice (Nalla, Mesko & Modik, 2016). The public has a role to play in ensuring that there exists a good relationship between them and the police to create an optimal environment for the working of the two groups to tackle future challenges to policing. One such challenge is the provision of actionable and accurate information to prevent crime. The public needs to acknowledge that there have been issues with trusting the police in the past due to incidences of excessive use of force by the police and cultural incompetence. There is a need for the public to lay these issues to rest and be able to cooperate with the police to promote efficient policing. Also, the police should look into these issues that may impede effective cooperation between the two groups by putting measures in place to make it possible for a one police officer to intervene when one is using too much force or doing anything else outside the law. In a nutshell, the public needs to put effort into developing a relationship of mutual trust with the police for the optimum working of the two groups.

In conclusion, policing has undergone a lot of changes since the beginning of the first police force in the nineteenth century. The role of the police has transformed since then to involve the community and also to prevent rather than just respond to crime. The future of policing will be centered on data analysis to anticipate and prevent crime. The public has a crucial role to play to ensure they work together with the police optimally to face challenges in the future.


Alpert, G., Dunham, R., & Stroshine, M. (2015). Policing. Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press.

Lum, C. (2014). Policing at a crossroads. Policing, 8(1), 1-4.

Nalla, M., Mesko, G., & Modic, M. (2016). Assessing policecommunity relationships: is there a gap in perceptions between police officers and residents?. Policing and Society, 1-20.

Thompson, M. (2016). Analyzing the Efficacy of Predictive Policing in Law Enforcement. SSRN Electronic Journal.

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