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Evolution of Contemporary Police Service (From Local Government Police Management - Second Edition, P 13-29, 1982, Bernard L Garmire, ed. - See NCJ-88274)

NCJ Number
H G Locke
Date Published
17 pages
Aspects of modern police management emerging from an evolution of the U.S. police service are (1) the place of the police in the overall criminal justice process, (2) citizen-police cooperation, and (3) the framework provided by the rule of law in a democratic society.
Since its emergence in the 19th century, the American police service has faced the dual role of continually refashioning the machinery of policing to ensure public safety and social order in a rapidly changing society while reshaping the attitudes and skills of police personnel themselves. In trying to accomplish this dual task, police administrators have regularly encountered both internal and external resistance to change. Ultimately, however, policing problems are issues for both the police and the public to resolve. This cooperative relationship has been threatened within the last decade by a public cynicism about police and the tendency of the public to leave community and social control to specialized professionals. Another trend has been a blurring of the distinctions between urban and rural police as metropolitan areas have continued to expand. The police role today is significantly influenced by the checks and balances afforded by the interaction of all components of the criminal justice system, requiring the police to accept that they fulfill only one aspect of social control. Further, the entire criminal justice process is under the rule of law, to which all criminal justice personnel must conform in the performance of their duties. The police use of discretion therefore will necessarily be subject to review and criticism under objective legal measures. It is in the area of law enforcement technology that the greatest change has occurred and the most serious problems are posed for the police administrator. The indiscriminate use of technology has proven costly and ineffective, and overreliance on its use has often led to a neglect of the development of personnel skills and knowledge. Ten footnotes are listed.