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Policing Issues of the Future Essay

In the post-911 world, urgent issues involving the criminal justice system have been vaulted into the public spotlight. Whether it is the threat of terrorism, domestic or foreign, issues of civil liberties, or issues involving the functions of criminal justice administration, controversy surrounds the future of law-enforcement not only in the United States but around the world.

As much as the future offers new challenges, it also offers many of the same challenges which have been facing law-enforcement in the United States almost from its inception. Three key issues of the past: crime prevention, cultural diversity, and police management will continue to play important roles in shaping the reality of law enforcement in future years. On the issue of crime prevention: the post-911 climate has promoted a renewed interest among the public regarding the possible benefits of preventative law enforcement.

Although futuristic conceptions of such ideas are far from the science-ficitonal ideas of “precognitive” police who can actually identify potential criminals and stop crimes before they happen, concrete, real-life law-enforcement will have to confront the issue of preventative enforcement sooner than later as the future unfolds. A recent “FBI precrime unit using data-mining programs to filter through databases of private information looking for suspicious activity” (“The FBI’s Department of,” 2007, p. ), in fact, seems poised to approximate the fictional capacity of precognitive crime-fighting at least as mush as is possible given constrictions of reality. New types of crime demand new crime-fighting measures.

Therfore, that “the Justice Department is using data mining to track “identity-theft gangs, Medicare fraud, staged automobile accidents, online pharmacy scams and illegal housing sales. ” (“The FBI’s Department of,” 2007, p. 9) should come as no surprise to anybody. This type of data-mining and computer-based investigation is likely to continue in some form far into the future.

The hazards of such programs are obvious: with issues of civil liberties taking front and center-stage. There is already some good reasons to suspect that programs such as “System to Assess Risk (STAR)” (“The FBI’s Department of,” 2007, p. 9) which is a “data-mining program that will let a user enter the names of terrorist suspects into a computer and calculate, based on 35 factors, how likely each person is to be a terrorist threat. ” (“The FBI’s Department of,” 2007, p. 9) have already misfired resulting in the harassment and false-identification of innocent citizens as terrorists.

In fact, this same tendency has ” plagued federal security programs like the embattled terrorist watch list maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The ballooning number of names on that list now includes hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent Americans. ” (“The FBI’s Department of,” 2007, p. 9) A closely associated topic to crime-prevention and criminal surveillance is the issue of cultural diversity and ethnicity in American society. Contemporary studies of newly enacted educational adn awareness programs in law-enforcement reveal an ambiguous practical result:

It should come as no surprise that the current movement to develop cultural diversity awareness training for police officers and other criminal justice personnel is already showing signs of supporting rather than transforming the status quo. (Barlow & Barlow, 1993) Because issues of cultural diversity “are a central component of many recent proposals for reform in the area of police-community relations” (Barlow & Barlow, 1993)it is crucial that law-enforcement policy-makers come to grips with training and educational policies for the future which result in concrete eliminations of racial or culturally based disasters.

One must bear in mind that “The history of criminal justice policy innovations in the United States is fraught with contradiction and the current movement in cultural diversity awareness training for police officers continues this tradition” (Barlow & Barlow, 19) so that true gains will be made only through new innovations in education and training. The pragmatic impact of improved sensitivities to cultural diversity would be to promote a bond of trust and understanding between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

If there is an animosity between law enforcement officers and their community it is tremendously difficult for law enforcement to function at a high level of performance. On the other hand, strong ties between law enforcement officers and their communities results in an increased efficacy of information flow, reports of crime, and the actual process of apprehending criminals or preventing potential crimes. In the future, the population of America will continue to grow more diverse culturally and ethnically.

By beginning now to try to enact policies which will encourage positive intercultural and interracial relationships between law enforcement and the citizenry, a host of damaging outcomes may be avoided. Training of police personnel in regard to cultural and ethnic diversity is one of the most crucial issues facing the future of law enforcement. Each of the previously discussed aspects: crime prevention and cultural diversity are in actuality, sub-issues to the larger issue of police management.

A very delicate relationship exists between the need for administrative control and maintenance of police workers, and the worker’s need for motivation and self-esteem as applies to their jobs. A number of theoretical models have been developed over the span of several decades to attempt to establish a harmonious balance between the needs of the administration and the personal, individual needs of rank-and-file officers.

The search for balance between these two needs includes the use of motivating principles such as employee evaluation and subsequent promotion or lack thereof, as well as demonstrating motivational achievement from the “top” down by use of managerial example. Other strategies include: achievement-power theory, equity theory, which holds that workers are motivated by their perceptions of “fairness” in the workplace, “expectancy theory” which holds that workers believe that “if a certain amount of effort is put forth, a calculated outcome will result,” and “need theory” which holds that “Managerial behavior[… requires attention to the various levels or stages of development of workers and how to motivate them to meet higher-needs as they travel up the need hierarchy,”; each of these models represents one of many theories of employee motivation and managerial strategies, all of which may be combined, along with other theories, to create an integrated model for motivation.

The key factor which runs through most, if not all of the theoretical models is the idea that “In seeking a sense of congruence between the employee and the organization, management has the responsibility of providing mechanisms that enable employees to be highly motivated,” (Wadsworth/Thompson). Motivating people in organizations is not only possible, it is mandatory for those who are in management positions.

The entire productivity of a given organization rests on its ability to motivate and continue to motivate the rank-and-file workers who make production or execution of services possible. Because employee motivation is such an integral part of all organizational dynamics, many models of behavioral and motivational theory have been forwarded to help managerial staffs understand the underlying matters of human psychology and emotional response which characterize work-relationships and specifically management-worker relationships.

While it is not possible to espouse a single strategic model by which all,managerial-worker conflict regarding motivation will be “fixed,” an integrated model of worker motivation can be reached by managerial staffs who appraise the current theoretical models of motivation and choose those elements which may prove helpful to their specific needs. The unique concerns which face police supervisors are those which relate to ideas of personal autonomy (which are necessary for police work) and the seeming contradictory organizational hierarchy which accompanies law enforcement programs.

The strategies of integrated motivation should prove highly effective at meeting the changing conditions face d by police supervisors in the area of worker motivation. In conclusion, although many of the problems which will be faced by law-enforcement in the future emerge from concrete on-the-street issues such as terrorism, and the preservation of civil liberties, critical issues exist at the policy-making and administrative levels of law-enforcement which will prove to be the most important aspects of how law enforcement evolves in the future.


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