There are a number of critical issues when concerning policing and this task quite frankly is not an easy one. Police officers have to be mindful of many things that affect how their job must be done. This paper will discuss the dangers of policing and how it affects police officers; less-than-lethal-weapons and the benefits that it has for officers and our community; past, present, and future technology of policing and some of the benefits that they entail; Homeland Security and law enforcements relationship; and Police Deviance.
There are many dangers concerning the work of a police officer. Officers face various types of dangers and risk. When a person signs up to become an officer of the law, they already know the nature of the job means that they will be putting themselves at risk of different dangers. Possessing the job of protecting others and keeping peace within the community is a risk in itself. Some of these dangers that officers face every day of their lives are health problems like getting the following high blood pressure, insomnia, increased levels of destructive hormones, heart problems, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a big one is suicide and this is from the stress of the job (Zink, 2012).
It does not only affect an officer’s physical health but also their mental health and with that is where suicide can come into the picture. Driving is also another danger that an officer faces because they can crash or get hit while on a traffic stop due to other drivers either not paying attention to what they are doing, not knowing how to drive, or they are under the influence of something; not the officer but the other driver.
A big danger is getting hurt on the job in some way or another and even death. Officers face different people every day that can be in bad situations like fighting, on some type of drug, or just plain hate life and the person may not care and want to harm the officer in any way possible. This occurs when a police officers’ training and weapons can help with the situation.
It is the police officer’s job to enter volatile and unpredictable situations to apprehend suspects, and keep everyone safe in the process of doing so. Each officer is trained to assess situations and to apply no more force than necessary (CJi Interactive, 2012). There are many different types of force which include: use of authority: voice tone, choice of words, body language, and physical positioning; use of body: pushing, restraining, grabbing or holding, hitting, and choking; use of restraints: cuffing; and deadly force: gun and intentional vehicle collision. One use of force that is used often is less than lethal weapons. Some examples of less than lethal weapons would be a baton, pepper spray, a stun gun or Taser, and nets (CJi Interactive, 2012).Another option is less than lethal ammunition such as rubber bullets, bean bags, and pepper balls. Less than lethal weapons were developed to assist law enforcement with the apprehension of suspects without having to use deadly force. Many of these examples aid the officers in doing their jobs more efficiently and providing a safe environment not only for the suspect, but for any bystanders, and the officer as well.
Technology is changing the way police operate. “In the past 10 years the rate of technological change is so fast that one could reasonably suggest that the top 10 jobs 10 years from now might not even exist today.” (“The Future Is Here: Technology In Police Departments”, 2003-2012). Technology is changing how grants requests are formatted and funding is a big issue in policing. The things that police do with technology were not common knowledge 10 years ago. For the officers that have been with the police force for years they may have a hard time adjusting to the new technology but for the younger police officers it makes the job easier. Crime lights, in car camera system, photo enforcement systems, graffiti cameras, thermal imaging, criminal investigations records system, electrical white board, and much more are some of the new things technology is bringing to help police our communities. Crime lights let crime scenes be handled faster than in the years before technology became a big thing.
Things that was not able to see before and now available. In car camera system record video footage of procedures containing the public such matters as traffic stops, criminal investigations, and arrests. Photo enforcement systems generate traffic violations like when people speed or run red lights. Graffiti cameras allow pictures to be taken of suspects who vandalize property. Thermal imaging makes it easier to find suspects because it tracks their movements because it is body censored. Criminal investigations records system gathers relevant information to help identify suspects. Electrical white board makes things run faster in meeting instead of using a regular white or chalk board.
The federal government has declared a war on terrorism that has changed our lives and had a profound effect in ways that affect local police agencies. New aggressive actions by the law enforcement and intelligence communities have been taken because of the threat of terrorism (“Homeland Security and Law Enforcement”, n.d.). Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are concerned with terrorist activities. After 9/11 attack, the federal government started to advocate that terrorism activity is best responded through a multi-agency approach, which means with the help of local, state and federal agencies which includes efforts as investigating suspected terrorists and preparing and responding to terrorism acts. The federal government also states that police are the first ones to come in contact with criminal aliens who may be threat to national security and believes that local and state agencies should enforce immigration laws. Adding these activities to local and state agencies can be dangerous as it can take officers from their current duties and is costly.
A lot of police departments do not want enforce immigration laws and many local authorities are ordering local police officers not to assist federal agents in arresting illegal aliens as they do not want the aliens to see the police as a threat to their legal status (Walker & Katz, p. 517, 2011). Local police officials are worried that by enforcing immigration laws in identifying and deporting illegal immigrants would alienate them from local communities where they are trying to develop positive relations. They are also concerned that illegal immigrants are afraid to report crimes to police due to their legal status. There is also a concern that it jeopardizes trust and cooperation between illegal immigrants and the police.
Another additional critical issue in policing is police deviance also known as police corruption. Police deviance occurs when law enforcement officers behave in a manner that is “inconsistent with the officer’s legal authority, organizational authority, and standards of ethical conduct” (Barker and Carter, 1986, pp. 2–3). This is an intentional violation of rules and regulations, standards, or procedures by police officials of the organization. Police corruption involves criminal activity of a police officer which includes committing crimes like robbery, selling drugs, or doing some type of criminal act that violates or doesn’t enforce the law. As part of the policing issues that take place in the organizations police deviance is relevant because these types of misconducts take place with police officials and are part of the community. It relates to danger in policing because a lot of the time the deviance and corruption is done outside of the organization while on duty in the streets. This causes issues amongst the community and the police when its sexual harassment, excessive use of force, use of restricted weapons, and discrimination. Police officials usually stick with each other when it comes to these types of misconducts taking place especially since officers adopted the code of silence, where any officer refused to testify against another officer in their ranks.
In policing it is fair to say that there are issues that are easier addressed then others and that it will take time and effort. It is critical that the police stay focused and continue to do everything in their power possible to be effective on a day-to-day basis.
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