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U.S. Justice System and Policing

Three components make up the US Criminal justice system: police, courts, and corrections. The joint function of these components is to prevent crime or inhibit criminal actions. US justice system operates in parallel with a single federal court system and autonomous courts in each country’s fifty states, four federal territories, and Columbia. Each of the American states has its own court system. Most often, a system of general courts consisting of two or three levels operates here, and they are supplemented by all kinds of courts with particular or limited jurisdiction. Small states usually have a two-tiered court system, with courts of the first instance and a higher court. A three-tier system with intermediate and appellate jurisdictions is typical for states with a large area and population. When a person is convicted of a crime in court, the person is involved in the next branch of the criminal justice system, i.e., corrections. This system entails jails or prisons, probations, and community service. The function of this component is to ensure justice by carrying out an offender’s sentence.

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At first glance, the answer to the question about the police functions of a modern rule-of-law state is quite obvious: as a law enforcement agency, it must ensure the protection of public order and public safety. However, this is only the first step in understanding the police functions. Indeed, it is precisely combating crime in a broad sense that, to the greatest extent, reflects the specifics of the activities of police organizations. However, there are other functions related to ensuring and protecting the rights and freedoms of citizens. As Bohm and Haley (2017) state, the main functions of the police in the United States can be reduced to the three most important groups. First, the prevention and counteraction of crime and other antisocial manifestations. Second, ensuring personal safety, including assisting individual citizens. Finally, the organization of the normal movement of people and transport.

Community policing is a practice of cooperation between police and communities for the common goal of preventing crime and solving community problems. The community members become active participants of enhancing the safety and quality of neighborhoods. Reevaluation of traditional policing methods began in 1960s with organizations such as the Police Foundation, the Police Executive Research Forum, and others (Aiello, 2018). Currently, community policy strategies include organizational transformation, community partnerships, and shared problem solving. Future trends will involve adaptation of rapid technological development to policing, including usage of social networks and artificial intelligence technologies (Aiello, 2018). Thus, community policing will be expanded into digital realm.

To fulfill their official duties, the police personnel are entitled to use physical force, special means, firearms in the cases, and the manner prescribed by law. The abuse of such rights is a real threat to the quality of a community’s life. This aspect requires additional guarantees from the police of legitimacy, rationality, good faith, and common sense. They are the rule of law, official discipline, and the norms of professional ethics. Where representatives of a certain profession, by virtue of its specificity, are in a constant or even continuous contact with other people and enter into moral relations with them, there are specific professional “moral codes”. Their existence is evidence of social progress, the gradual humanization of society. Police ethics requires doing everything for citizens’ safety, despite difficulties and even neglecting their own safety. Professionalism and ethics are critical to policing since this profession deals with people’s lives in the most direct manner.

Law enforcement is one of the most stressful professions, influencing the formation of professional personality deformations and creating the prerequisites for the accumulation of negative emotional states of the employees. The latter include such negative states as anxiety, frustration, tension, and stress. Stress is the final phenomenon on this list of conditions and represents the body’s response to adverse environmental influences. It manifests itself in protective reactions, maladjustment, negative experiences, decreased productivity in activities, and health disorders. To reduce the impact of stress on the psychological and physiological state of a police officer, stress management is necessary.

Reference

Aiello, M. F. (2018). Policing through social networking: Testing the linkage between digital and physical police practices. The Police Journal, 91(1), 89-101. Web.

Bohm, R. M., & Haley, K. N. (2017). Introduction to criminal justice. McGraw-Hill Education.

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