The criminal justice system helps in the enforcement of the laws by ensuring that any individual who breaks the law is arrested and charged for the wrongs done. The police are part of the criminal justice system and are responsible for the arresting of the law breakers and gathering evidence of the crimes committed before the individual is charged in a court of law. The establishment of the police force in the United States took place in the mid-nineteenth century and since then the police have taken different responsibilities. The ways that the police have operated in history have differed and this has led to many reforms in the police force meant to enhance work of the force and led to the introduction of community policing in the United States. The laws that have been enacted in the history have many effects on the social lives of different individuals in the United States. Some of the problems that exist today still existed in the history and these are just repetitions of the events. This paper will seek to analyze the history of the police work in the criminal justice system in America.
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Injustices, Discriminations, and Corruption Cases in the Police Force
The relationship between the community and the police force was not that good in the United States due to cases of corruption and other injustices to some races. There were numerous cases of corruption where the police could arrest an individual having committed a crime only to release him or her for money (Lawrence 2002). Those who had money to bribe the police were never worried of committing crimes since their money offered them protection against the laws. Those who didn’t have enough money were mistreated and even if they proceeded to the police officers, no justice happened on their side. The individual could be arrested but within a short period of time, the individual would be set free and even mistreat the victim more. This led to frustrations on the part of the poor people and eventually hatred to the police because all the injustices happened to them as a result of the corruption in the police force. The poor people could not see the importance of the police force in the country and if anything, it led to more oppression than its absence.
In recruiting the policemen, some genders and races were not qualified to join the police force (Gary 2000). The African-Americans found it very hard for them to join the police force just because of racial discriminations. Women on the other hand were not allowed to join the police force with an argument that they were weak and their capacity was low to join the force. Other injustices were seen when the police were arresting the individuals where the African-Americans could be arrested for a crime and a white be left. This not only took place in the arresting but also in determining cases in courts where the African-Americans received long sentences or fines while the whites could receive a shorter sentence for a similar case. Poor management and unqualified officers in the police force could have contributed to these cases in the police force.
To try and reduce the cases of corruption, a method in which a policeman was not to spend much time in one center was introduced. There was an argument that the policemen were involved in cases of corruption because they got used to individuals in the communities due to too much exposure to the individuals. Transferring the officers after a short period of time was seen as a way of reducing the vulnerability of the officers to corruption. As a matter of fact, it is quite hard to find a police officer asking or accepting a bribe from some very new people to him or her and more so in a community where he or she doesn’t know the trends. The establishment of a nonpartisan police board was meant to help in improving the management and governing the police force. This would reduce the many claims made by citizens about the actions by the police officers. In search of professional qualified officers, a fair system of promotions within the department was adopted where the individuals to be promoted within the department was to be on merit and not on friendly basis (Jeffrey 2008). The process of recruitment was also to be enhanced and the salaries were to be increased so that professional officers could be attracted.
Other reforms took place aimed at freeing the police force from political interference so that their actions could not be affected by the party that was in authority (Jeffrey 2008). The roles of the police were also changed whereby they were now not required to take social work but to concentrate on law enforcement. All these in combination with the enhancement in technology where the telephone, automobile and the radio were introduced helped in reduction of crime by the policemen.
Emergence of Other Crimes
The introduction of professionalism did work very well for the local police officers. Professionalism was not being practiced at the local level which led to criticism on the issue. Other issues of crime started erupting where riots took place in urban areas, cases of assassinations were reported, and violence by gangs was also common (Jeffrey 2008). The force was extensively blamed for the vices and many individuals complained about the way that the police responded to their calls. The police force was seen to fail in implementing its duty to serve and protect the citizens and other individuals complained on the difficulties that they experienced in accessing the police services.
Other strategies were assumed where in some cases police-community relations were established aimed at reducing the difficulties that the minor individuals experienced (Lawrence 2005). This took place in the 1960s but a problem erupted where the issue of trust between the police and the members of the community was the problem. This led to the adoption of team policing in the 1970s which introduced the more police officers traveling in patrol cars and few patrolling on foot. A team of officers was assigned a certain region to manage and protect. This brought an isolation of the officers from the individuals and reduced corruption. However, this method made control quite difficult for the policemen. Community policing led to the introduction of a system where the police officers and members of the community get a closer relationship. The police officers not only arrest criminals and respond to emergency calls by individuals but also perform social work with an aim of creating solutions to the problems that exist. The policemen work closely with the minor individuals and aims at improving their conditions in the society.
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Problems Associated with Community Policing
Community policing has been adopted by many departments just because the funds required to sponsor it are available. Many departments do not take time to plan on how to implement it. Another issue is the specific individuals to be served where the police are at times not sure of whom to serve. Complaints from residents on ignorance by the police officers are common and this may lead to resentment in the community. The abolishment of the foot patrol reduced the possibility of the required efficiency in offering services. Community policing is also likely to increase corruption cases since it brings the officers closer to the citizens leading to vulnerability and temptations to corruption. The involvement of the police officers in community policing may reduce the capacity of the policemen in fighting crime since the officers are involved in several activities at the same time (Marvin 1996).
The police force is an important arm in the criminal justice system and has the major responsibility of fighting crime. The police force has gone through major reforms with an aim of improving the way that it offers its services to the members of the community. Cases of corruption have been common and several steps have been taken to help reduce these cases. Some of the strategies assumed include transferring officers from one station to another so as to reduce vulnerability to cases of corruption. Other issues of concern have been the treatment of the minor in the community where some ways of improving the status of these individuals have ban adopted. Some other reforms have taken place in the history of the police force such as changing the roles of the police officers where they can control crimes and perform social work on behalf of the individuals in the community. Some of the initial reforms did not materialize very well and the results were riots, violence by gangs, assassinations, etc. this led to the emergence of other trends such as police-community relations, team policing, and community policing. Community policing has been extensively used and has brought some changes.
Gary, Marx T. Undercover: Police Surveillance in America. New York: University of California Press, 2000.
Jeffrey, Patterson. Community Policing: Learning the Lessons of History. 2008. Web.
Lawrence, Friedman A. A History of American Law, 3rd Ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.
Lawrence, Friedman M. American Law in the Twentieth Century. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
Marvin, Dulany W. Black Police in America. New Jersey: Indiana University Press, 1996.