By devoting resources towards the prevention of crime, Anacortes authorities therefore help to ensure that the community remains relatively free from crimes in the first place.
Unfortunately, despite these best efforts, no community is totally free from crime. Large urban areas in particular have shown an increase in violent and drug-related crimes. When these crimes happen, police officers are tasked with ensuring that the perpetrators are apprehended, so that they are prevented from engaging in more criminal activity, and so that justice could be meted out.
This role is seen in the amount of resources that the Los Angeles Police Department devotes towards responding to gang-related criminal activities.
Last month, the Harbor Gateway area of Los Angeles reeled from the killing of 14-year-old Cheryl Green, an African-American resident who wandered into the Latino territory of the area. Two members of the 204th Street Gang were quickly arrested and charged with Green's murder (McGreevey and Winton 2007).
The task of fighting crime, however, does not end with these arrests. Los Angeles Police Commissioner William Bratton also announced a Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca recently announced plans for the "strategic dismantling" of the area street gangs, whose rivalries resulted in Green's death. This involves active investigations into the actions of the 204th Street Group and its African-American counterpart, the Eastside Torrance gang. These include undercover and intelligence work to verify the identities of gang members. Law enforcement officials then plan to use injunctions and other legal measures, to either exempt gang members from early-release programs and to prevent their massing on street corners (McGreevey and Winton 2007).
It takes more than an active police department, however, to keep a community safe from crime.
A strong partnership with social institutions, community groups, and private individuals is also the key. One important role of police officers is to act as social servants, as partners with the community towards the common goal of public safety.
This task often involves an active helping aspect and can best be seen in areas such as patrolling and community policing. The Foot and Bike Patrol section of the San Antonio Police Department, for example, is one such example. In addition to being a visible deterrent to potential criminals, these patrol offices also serve as approachable sources of assistance for the civilians. San Antonio, after all, is the location of the Alamo, an attraction that draws a large number of tourists and visitors to the downtown and Riverwalk area. The bike and foot patrol officers are able to mingle more readily with the crowds, mediate between disputes, direct traffic, or even just answer questions and give directions. They also often get to know local residents and business owners intimately, and are therefore more able to perceive threats and danger (San Antonio Police Official Website).
In conclusion, media portrayals often concentrate only on police officers as crime fighters. However, the roles of social servant, crime preventers and maintainers of social order are equally as important to maintaining the safety of a community.
Kimberley Jackson. (2006). "On the beat." Anacortes American January 16: 6.
McGreevey, Patrick and Richard Winton. (2007). "FBI joins L.A. policing effort in war on gang crime." Los Angeles Times January 19: 1.
Radin, Charles a. (2007). "Police boost forces to stop unruly fans." The Boston Globe. January 20: A1.
San Antonio Police Department. (2006). Downtown foot and bike patrol. Retrieved January 20, 2007, from Official Website of the…