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Police Power and Effective Policing Essay

Effective policing techniques are playing a major and an increasingly significant role with regards to keeping and maintaining peace in society. From this point of view, it seems that policing techniques are set to grow and develop in the years to come especially as the global society and community searches to develop and practice the principle of rule of law and to reform security establishments in the United States in order to recover from disagreement and conflict. Police are agents who are authorized to implement the law and to enforce social and public order by means of legally using force (http://www. tymonline. com/index. php? term=police).

They are generally linked and associated with departments and agencies of the state that are empowered to observe and exercise police power of a particular state within a legal and defined area of responsibility. Police power is officially regarded as an intrinsic supremacy, controlled and limited by exclusions defined in the constitution of a state which makes it the most extensive, expansive and unrestrained certified power applied and implemented by the state (Hunter, 1994).

The intent of writing this paper is to attempt to understand the idea of police power and effective policing that is being observed and exercised nowadays, mainly in the United States. Moreover, related literature about such a principle will be reviewed to better understand its concept and its role for maintaining peace and order in the society and community. Conclusions and recommendations will be generated from the existing literature.

The idea of police power in English common law (1) dates back at least four centuries ago (http://www. un. org/apps/news/story. sp? NewsID=25538&Cr=UN&Cr1=police) and approximately concurs with the collapse of social order in Europe and the growth and expansion of both rural and urban areas. Police power is generally described as the ability of a state to control or standardize actions and conduct of its citizens and implement rules within its region which then includes aspects of security, safety, morality and public wellbeing. Also this kind of authority is not confined to the suppression of what is disorderly or offensive but encourages what is for the nation or state’s greatest welfare.

Because the police power is the least limitable of the exercises of government, such limitations as are applicable are not readily definable. These limitations can be determined only through appropriate consideration to the subject matter of the practice or observance of that power. The police power is subject to limitations of the federal and State constitutions, and especially to the requirement of due process. In many countries, crimial law procedures have been developed to regulate officers’ discretion, so that they do not randomly or unjustly use their powers of “arrest, search and seizure, and use of force” (Walker, p. 43).

Police power has a particular importance for understanding the constitutional division of power. The United States Supreme Court in the Nineteenth Century has confirmed that the national government had specific authority delegated by the constitution. However, all the undefined or specified regulatory powers rested with the states. The idea was extended in the new deal era to provide police power to the federal government under the commerce clause of the constitution, expanding it to the terms of services to promote public welfare.

The United States courts are not based on a balance of interest’s principle to agree issues over police power (Walker, p 143). Controversies arise regarding the observance and practice of police power, specifically the utilization of physical means when it disagrees with the rights of individuals and states or social freedom such as the police power of American states or police violence or brutality. Since the 1960s in the United States, concerns over such matter has increased and reflected on law enforcement agencies, courts and legislatures at every level of government (Walker, p 143).

Local governments and police agencies that supervise these officers in some aspects have tried and aimed to lessen or diminish some of these issues by means of community policing and community outreach programs (http://www. ncjrs. gov/App/Publications/abstract. aspx? ID=198029). This is to make the police more available to attend to the concerns of local communities by increasing diversity upon hiring, updating the training of these agents in their responsibilities to the community under the law and by improved supervision within the department or agency or by resident commissions (http://www. di. ucl. ac. uk/publications/short_reports/problem_oriented_policing. php).

The United States Department of Justice will be bringing civil law suits against local law enforcement agencies which are authorized under the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. This has obliged local agencies to create organizational amendments and changes, enter into consent decree agreements to assume such changes and will be presented to the Department of Justice to be controlled and standardized (http://www. jdi. ucl. ac. uk/publications/short_reports/problem_oriented_policing. php).

Today the police power of a state embraces systems that are designed to uphold public security and convenience as well as those to support public safety health and morals. Though police power is said to be the greatest authority a state could ever gain, this type of control also has its limitations. Police powers are restricted by state constitutions. The notion of police power is utilized by federal courts which do not have power to interpret state constitutions: from the federal constitutional law’s point of view, states have universal police powers except where restricted by the federal Constitution.

Because congress as a body has restricted authority granted in the Constitution, the Federal government does not have a universal police power, unlike the states. The exclusions are laws concerning Federal property and the military. Police forces also find themselves under criticism for their use of force. In this case, the police departments in the United States have devised programs such as outreach programs and further training for police officers to better review their responsibilities in the community in order to address and eventually mitigate this issue. This illustrates the effectiveness of policing in their nation.

Training and further development are being planned to assure their community’s orderliness and wellbeing. However, since police power being granted to officers differs in their region or area or responsibility, it is suggested that their power or authority will be well defined and calibrated to avoid any discrepancies. Moreover, this idea may also help elevate the impression of some people in the society that some police officers are using their authority unjustly. With this is mind, a pleasant environment will be created with the use of an effective way of controlling and manipulating the citizen’s behavior.


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