The police department is one of the most significant departments in the supervision, maintenance and implementation of the societal order. It is the one that is entrusted with most of the communal maintenance of peace and order through the court orders, the constitution and the police daily routines of community service.
The policing system in the U.S.A. has changed quite significantly from the time immemorial when the work of controlling crime was left to the police alone. At the initial times there was no touch with the community though the community knew that there was a police department in the U.S.A.
In the course of their work, the police were instructed to randomly change routes whenever the inc-charge felt was appropriate to do so. This was aimed at reducing corruption and curbing the frequency of police involvement in drug ring running and cover-ups.
Ironically this idea of rotational posting backfired since those in the community who had information to share on crime were denied the chance to strike a report with the officer to a level of creating confidence in confiding in the officer without fear of reprisal or betrayal and crimes like drug dealing went on unabated at the grass roots.
It is also worth noting that at the initial years, there was a management structure that emphasized on a centralized system and control that adhered to the preset operational standards and procedures.
This was targeted at heightening the professional and formalized aura of absolute impartiality. Unfortunately most of these standards did not resonate well with the public who never understood some of them and if the police officers stuck to them as a manual, it would deny them a chance to understand what the community wanted. It is abundantly clear that the needs and demands of the citizens are not always clear and it needs an involvement of the same community to understand and help them.
It is worth noting that the American police system borrows heavily from the UK police system there are some outstanding features that have been retained from the time when the U.S.A. used the UK police format as a yardstick.
There are three main defining traditions in the American policing system that can be traced back to the British system:
i. Limited Authority; the American police have limited authority just as is the practice in UK. Their obligations, powers and responsibilities are well cut out by the American law.
The American police department may assign different duties and responsibilities in varying areas according the needs of the community, but all these will be done under the confines of the law which all police officers are trained on and know. It is when such laws are overstepped that incidences of citizens suing the police department come up (Cole and Smith, 2006).
(b). Local control; this is the same situation in USA as it happens in Britain. Both do not have a national police force but instead there are regional authorities that are headed by elected commissioners who in turn appoint chief constables.
At the top of these local authorities is the home secretary of the national government that provides funding in case of police corruption, mismanagement and indiscipline.
(c). Fragmented organization; there are many types of agencies in both the UK and the American police department for instance the constable, county sheriff, city police, FBI each with its own special jurisdiction and responsibilities.
In both British and America the policing systems are extremely decentralized due to the geographical coverage, population density, size of the nation, degree of industrialization, cultural history, political climate and social conditions (Ronald, 1980).
These are some of the basics that are still shared between the American and the British police force. The American police department tries as much as possible to an adopt the relevant sections from the British police as well as format those not relevant in America to fit in the American concept of policing.
However, the policing system in America has undergone various fundamental changes from the police institution centered practice and operation to the community focused policing system which has been approved as the most effective way of curbing crime and delivering justice to the American people.
With the community policing, drug rings have been uncovered, gun trades stopped, organized crime controlled, illegal trades squashed and more by the police department in collaboration with the police.
The notion of community policing was initially fronted by Sir Robert Peel who is also a main founder of London Metropolitan Police unit. This was a unit that was formatted to be closer to the people than the previous departments that had been there. His vision was to have a community where "…the police are the public and the public are the police…" (Braiden, 1992). He put effort to have a community where the idea of policing is closely interlaced between the formal police force and the community participation in the control and termination of crimes in the entire England.
Technological changes in police department
There are several technological advancements as well in the police department. These are the involvement of the computers, long-range radio connections, internet use and so on. Some of the improvements that have been predominant are;
i. Computers and computer technology; in the 911 departments, there are computers that are interconnected to the various branches. This gives the various branches the access to the data and information that could be required in regards to responding to emergencies without having to call the other branch hence expedite the response pattern as shown by SEASKATE, INC., (1998). These data are not limited to information alone but also features like the thumbprint scans, the passport photos, peculiar features of criminals fed into the database and made easy to access.
ii. The internet database: this is the keeping of information over the internet such that they can be accessed at any time by the relevant authorities. This has helped the police department particularly those carrying out investigations to counter check the evidence each time a need to do so arise. It also helps the police easily retrieve the criminal records about an individual who has been arrested or being suspected so as to make their work way easier.
iii. Forensic laboratories; this is one of the best and very instrumental departments that has been a product of the science and technology. The processing and analysis of hard evidence that is found at a crime scene can easily be processed in the forensic labs so as to find leading clues to the criminals.
This is done through microscopes, specialized lighting system, DNA analysis machines and other computer aided machines (New Hampshire Department of Safety, 2011). Were it not for the advancement in technology then there would be no easy way to process evidence. The advancement has been so much that the cases that were impossible to solve in the yester years are being revived as cold cases and the evidence re-analyzed and in majority of them, the criminals apprehended if still alive and charged.
Apart from having the advanced technology that enables the police department to efficiently and comfortably deliver justice to the American population, there is a well coordinated system that has been put in place for the police to serve the American population well, there are some departments or sections that can be found in almost all the police departments of the various states. These are noted below as outlined by Iowa City Police (2011):
The patrol section which in most cases is the largest of all sections and is charged with handling all the incoming calls from the public seeking services, they also handle special assignments. They are to ensure that the public property is protected, life of each American is safe and maintain peace, safety and order throughout the state. It is the same section that covers the traffic enforcement and investigation of accidents and even the high level felonies the initial investigations.
The investigation section deals specifically with criminal activities that cannot be handled by the patrol section. These investigations include Drug task Force, the domestic abuse and general investigations.
Then there is the administration services section which supports and provides services to the Field Operations. This is the department that provides support activities to the various groups that are in different states. These services include property and evidence, emergency communication, training and accreditation, records, crime prevention, animal control as well as planning and research.
There is also the community relations section that is charged with involving the community in the daily police departments operations. The participations can be taking part in the education programs like the Citizen Police Academy, educational programs in schools or even neighborhood watch. It is the section whose sole purpose is to inform the community groups about the activities and the daily functions of the police in each state.
The future for police
The police department is a department that cannot be dashed aside and abandoned. As noted…