Police Mission – Fighting Crime or Public Service

There roles of the police has been changing since the inception of the profession in the United States. The roles of the police have been under progression since their introduction to the public in 1840s and 1900s (Kelling & Moore, 1998). The political era defines the time when the police were introduced to the public in 1840s and early 20th century. Then followed the reform era that occurred in the late 20th century, the modern community policing introduced in 1970s, which defines the roles of the police in the modern American society. The modern policing have moved from the old roles of police officer of crime prevention to include a cohesive community that works in partnership with the police department in roes that go beyond just fighting crime to include public service.

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            The police departments are not entities to themselves but exist for the purposes of serving the public for which they should bear some responsibility. According to (Gaines & Worrall, 2011), being responsible means the act of responsiveness to the problems and challenges facing the citizens. Moreover, the author asserts that the responsibility extends to effective management of the police resources. The police obtain the mandate from the consent of those they serve and thus their acts should replicate and act of public service and not just crime prevention.

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            The public have a number of diverse problems, in addition to the crimes, for example emergencies in case of fire breakouts and accidents. According to (Gaines & Worrall, 2011, p. 22), police sole focus on the crime prevention will not help in dealing with the diverse problems that confront the police officers and the public. Moreover, the emphasis on the pursuit of administrative efficiency and capability to fight crime isolated the police from crime and lead to ineffective responses to the disorders and crimes affecting the citizens. The police can help in preventing crimes and disorder through a coordinated police strategy that incorporates the public. Such police public service strategy makes the public as police partners and this helps in reporting of crimes and thus assists in prevention of crimes.

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            Most crimes emanate from the social ill embedded in the American society. The development of trust between the police and the public is important in quelling of conflicts (O’shea, 2000). For example, if the youths show some distrust in the police, they are less likely to share information of a crime that is being planned. Moreover, such distrust prevents such youths from testifying in cases that involve crimes. This calls for a shift in change of the basic position of the police officer. For example, rather than react to incidences, a police officer must plan, analyze, and take appropriate initiatives. However, planning and analysis process can only be successful if public participation is encouraged. Through public involvement, effective crime prevention strategies, responses to emergency social crises and dispute resolutions can be achieved.          

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The resources and methods of police officers extend beyond citations and arrests (Fielding & Innes, 2006).  The changing policing strategy has altered the content of jobs of a police officer into that of public service delivery. They should be able to make decisions that encompass questions of honor or dishonor. Through public service delivery, the police shift the scope of their work from crime prevention into service to the interests of the public. Such shifts are pertinent in crime prevention and incorporation of public views into the execution of their mandate and this ensuring effective maintenance of order in the society. In conclusion, the service of the police officers must extend beyond crime prevention into public service for effective policing.

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