Checkpoint: Police and Law Enforcement Response A police officers role in society is to effectively enforce laws, arrest offenders when a crime has been committed, prevent crime to their best ability, preserve the peace whenever possible, and provide services to community citizens in their time of need. Over the past 25-30 years, police departments have proactively been enforcing the Community Policing Theory, developed by Professor Herman Goldstein, on their staff and officers. Community policing promotes relationships between officers and society.
In order to prevent crime, officers and communities need to work together to address the problems that encourage or cause criminal activity. In order for this theory to work properly, police officers and the community must understand and respect each other as well as the principles of community policing. The basic principles are: colleagues, partnerships, implementation, and long term. Colleagues refer to effective communication between the community and police; therefore making relationships stronger between them both.
Partnerships consist of relationships between the police and different organizations such as: schools, neighborhood groups, families, merchants, etc… Implement is a primary principle that relates to the specific needs of a community and examining different programs that might be effective. The Long term principle refers to police and members of community taking a long-term perspective and approach to improve. Accepting the realization that trust and effective relationships take time and resources to develop and maintain. The community policing theory has become an efficient and helpful tool to police and their communities everywhere.
It would be easy to conclude that if we hypothetically lessened police involvement in the community policing theory, the results would be devastating. The members of the community would still be reporting crime; however, there would be less police officer’s to respond and handle it. The crime rates would escalate quickly and chaos would occur in certain parts where police involvement was declined. The system would basically fail, due to taking away a key piece to its foundation. Overall, it takes community members and police together to make the theory work effectively and maintain its balance.
Not only is balance crucial between officers and its community; it is crucial for an officer to have balance internally too. There is many restrictions and guidelines placed on an officer when on or off duty. They don’t have the equal amount of freedom a regular citizen is entitled too. These restrictions come from their department, Bill of Rights, and Constitution. It is imperative that the officers follow a strict rule of ethics, while on or off duty to set an example for the rest of community. A tricky restriction is a term called Probable Cause.
Probable Cause is defined as the logic, experiences, and circumstances that lead ‘a prudent man’ to believe a crime has been committed, or an individual may have been involved in a crime. This term, also known as a citizens fourth amendment, has quite a bit of power behind it. It truly does impact a police officer on a daily basis, by the amount of power to either make or break a case. It directly is linked to how evidence is searched and seized, or how a citizen is searched. Probable cause has the ability for a Judge to find evidence crucial for a conviction, either admissible or inadmissible in a court of law.
If a police officer violates the rights or privacy of a citizen, it can have some grave consequences such as: loosing a case, fined, sued, setting a criminal free or legal action brought towards his/her self. So in order to prevent these consequences from occurring, officers should take the proper precautions and remember the guideline; that there must be sufficient or sensible reason to justify the intrusion of a search or seizure. The best way to ensure safety is to not conduct any searches without a warrant, signed by a neutral judge.
Even though this is not very realistic or practical; however, the purpose of a warrant is to provide that protective layer between the exuberance of the officers and the privacy of the public. At the end of the day, the court is responsible for reviewing the actions of the police in their everyday life; this is when they balance the interest of law enforcement against the interest of personal liberty. Then they determine whether or not probable cause existed for the search or arrest. In conclusion officer’s can avoid these issues by not falling into corrupted ways.
Officers should respect their position and not violate their power; this will build a trusting relationship between the community and them. Another solution to prevent issues from occurring would be for officers to get involved more with their communities. Going to games, meeting people, setting up time for the youth, establishing friendships; would not only build the strength of the officer to the community but prevent crime before it starts. Exploring being a proactive officer, instead of a non-proactive officer is the best way to aid police and their organizations in combating crime.
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