The Functions of Policing at the Local, State and Federal Levels
The functions of police work are highly complex and filled with myriad unpredictable challenges. Officers must place their safety and their lives at risk every day in the interests of maintaining order, protecting the pubic and apprehending law-breakers. The result is an occupation that is filled with stressors, pressures and dangers. One way that the structure of modern police-work helps officers to contend with these conditions is through the division of jurisdictions. American law enforcement is a sector comprised of many interdependent and overlapping agencies. And correspondent to the broader structure of American governance, this overlapping is somewhat hierarchical in nature, with jurisdictions generally determined by the unit of civil incorporation with which a precinct or department is affiliated. Therefore, at the local, state and federal level, responsibilities are generally divided among these different types of policing agencies even as interaction between them remains high.
The functions of local or municipal policing are highly contingent upon the type of community within which police operate. The experience of policing will be considerably different for the officer working in a small rural town than it will be for the officer who is part of a mini-station in a larger urban center. At the root of it, their functions are essentially the same. Police officers will be charged with the basic duties of monitoring and maintaining traffic order, collecting municipal revenues through the distribution of violation citations, apprehending those in the act or criminality or locating those suspected of committing crimes under investigation. That said, the frequency and proportion of these functions will vary a great deal based on the demographic, geographical and civilian characteristics of the locality. Particularly for those localities which are more populous, the pressure and peril associated with these functions is likely to be greater. As the text by Kappeler & Gaines (2009) indicates, "fear of crime is to be found among distinct populations and activities, that this is the best measure of police productivity; and that solutions to social problems should be enforcement-based. People are to interpret the causes of police-represented problems as stemming from local disorder, the circulation of drugs, violent gangs, unsupervised youths, and community outsiders." (Kappeler & Gaines, p. 373)
The degree to which these types of matter impact the community will typically indicate the preponderance of attention to such matters where police department functions are concerned. In such communities, the functions of enforcement and apprehension must also be supplemented by various levels of involvement with the community itself. Indeed, such functionalities must be in place in all manner of community but with foci of this involvement, again, varying based on factors such as population density. Such involvement will usually include some level of direct engagement with schools in the community, so that officers can take part in campus educational programs and drug prevention programs. Additional interaction with community agencies, neighborhood watch groups and others dedicated to the prevention of crime can significantly help to increase the trust reciprocated between police officers and members of the community. The opportunity is a stronger network of prevention and enforcement that begins with those that have the…
Sources Used in Document:
Gaines, L.K. & Kappeler, V.E. (2011). Policing in America. Elsevier.
Kappeler, V.E. & Gaines, L.K. (2009). Community Policing: A Contemporary Perspective. Elsevier.
Wright, A. (2002). Policing: An Introduction to Concepts and Practices. Taylor & Francis U.S..