Police Intelligence Rapidly Changing the Way Police Organizations Fight Crime Research Paper

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Police Intelligence: Rapidly Changing the Way Police Organizations Fight Crime

Since the professional era of policing, the traditional role of the police officer in the United States has primarily been that of crime fighter. Law enforcement officers detect and arrest offenders to keep the public safe and until relatively recently, the job was pretty straightforward. The officer would walk his beat, talking to the community and acting to reassure them. If a crime occurred, the officer would react by attempting to catch the offenders after the crime had occurred. An officer's discretion dictated whether an arrest would be made or not. In the first half of the twentieth century the effectiveness and conduct of police were highly variable, and not only from city to city, but within the various precincts, neighbourhoods and beats that made up a particular city. American law enforcement agencies of this time period could be characterized as decentralized, muddled, and self-ruled (Johnson, 1981). This paper discussed the fighting crimes and role of police in context of modern crimes and how police fight crimes. The author discussed the history of policing and how new models Model emerged and how is it working.i.e. 'COMPSTAT' and Intelligence-led Policing and recently the Data-driven approach to crime and traffic safety

Police Intelligence: Rapidly changing the way police organizations fight crime

History of Modern Policing & Professional Crime-Fighting Model

Early History

Early law enforcement history and evolution in America was based on concepts taken from the first modern police agency in London in 1829 and imitated by the first American police agencies established in Boston and New York in the 1840's (Steverson,2008). English Prime Minister Robert Peel created the London Metropolitan Police while acting as the British home secretary in 1829. Peel's reforms as home secretary and later prime minister created a police force that used preventative policing in its earliest form (Johnson, 1981). The Metropolitan Police Act of 1829 created new rules by which police would act and would later become known as the Peelian Principles (Germann, Day, & Gallati, 1976; Ramsay, A.A.W, 1969). The Peelian Principles included the ideas that police effectiveness will be measured by lower crime rates, information about criminal activity should be shared with the public, police will be adequately dispersed both geographically and temporally, and that good record keeping is important for the7deployment of police and resources where they are the most needed (Germann, et al., 1976; Ramsay, A.A.W, 1969).

These innovations would be adopted in America, but they quickly were tailored to American cultural and social conditions and soon became nearly unrecognizable from their English originators. In the urban areas of the American Northeast, neighbourhoods grew around ethnic enclaves and reflected the socioeconomic status and ethnicity of these inhabitants (Steverson, 2008). Crime and fear were rampant in these neighbourhoods and American police responded by adopting a uniformed presence to deter criminals, arming themselves against an armed populace, and using force against force (Johnson, 1981).This was in direct contrast to English police who were unarmed and used great restraint in using physical force. American police learned to use the law to serve their own interests and used great personal discretion in their decision making, often with great moral ambiguity. This lead to conditions of distrust and hatred among the populace and bred a fear of police that existed well into the next century.

After the advent of radio dispatch and fully motorized departments in the 1930's, modern policing was born and the era of police professionalism and the professional crime fighting model took hold. Based on principals espoused by the reformers August Vollmer and Orlando W. Wilson, the fundamental attributes of this new method of policing called for police to be college educated, free from political control, and paramilitary in nature (Johnson, 1981). This period also saw the creation of centralized command structures and the use of modern technology and methods. This crime fighting model called for officers to cruise their beats in random patterns looking for wrongdoers, allowing for speedy response to calls for service, and promoted reactive criminal investigation without any discretionary decision making by the officers.

But the professional crime-fighting model had its drawbacks. The tactic of unsystematic motorized patrols, quick response times to calls, and the emergence of 911as an on-demand deployment strategy produced an incident-driven style of policing that resulted in agencies whose main purpose was to respond to calls for service. The duty of the public in this model was reduced to one of initiators of police services. Furthermore, the total motorization of police patrols detached officers from the community and the citizens that they served. The only time that an officer would have any interaction would be after a crime had been committed, when the officer was expected to take some kind of law enforcement action. The limiting of interaction to only negative encounters led to a relationship of intimidation and hostility between police and the community.

In the 1960's, large upheavals in American society were experienced that forced police to transform the ways in which they responded to crime. Public attitudes towards police and the function of the police had changed and law enforcement was forced to adapt to these changes. New research showed that actual crime fighting was a very small part of the daily activities of officers (Steverson, 2008). More often, police were performing other functions not relating to crime, such as resolving disputes, providing emergency services, and otherwise maintaining order. It was found that random patrols were resulting in very few arrests and that most arrests were the result of citizen-initiated complaints. Studies such as the Kansas City Experiment found that preventative patrols not only did not reduce crime, but also had little or no impact on public perceptions of police and citizens' fear of crime (Brown, Dieckman, Kelling, & Pate, 1974). These findings led to more questioning of the crime-fighting model as the best way of policing and stopping crime.

Emergence of New Policies

It was during this time that new policies began to emerge. These new policies recognized the fact that police deal with many situations that are not criminal in nature and that there are many different methods of dealing with these situations. The ideas that discretion in the carrying out of duties should be recognized as paramount to good policing, that police must remain in close contact with the community, and that police must be held accountable for their actions all came to the forefront of American policing (Steverson, 2008). Gradually, the professional crime-fighting model began to be replaced by a new set of strategies and programs that would come to be known as community policing. Community policing made the police officer a part of the community again and made him a problem solver instead of an outsider who only responded to calls for service (Goldstein, 1990).

The broken windows theory that maintained that crime and the fear of crime are related to the existence of poor living conditions became prominent (Wilson & Kelling, 1982). This theory suggests, using the metaphor of the broken window, that buildings and neighbourhoods in states of disrepair gives the impression of abandonment and encourages criminal activity. This activity in turn produces fear in the citizenry who then abandon the neighbourhood to the criminals and those who do not have the means to leave. The old crime-fighting model ignores the community and the broken windows, only responding to the crime, not the conditions that cause it. Community policing seeks to respond to the social issues which cause the crime by making crime and public safety the responsibility of both the police and the residents of a community.

By the 1990's, community policing became a part of a national strategy to combat street crime in the U.S. Legislation enacted in 1994, provided for the hiring of 100,0004new police officers and the creation of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) under the Department of Justice (U.S. Department of Justice, 1994).Today, most local law enforcement agencies in the U.S. have some form of community policing program. But while many agencies have moved to a community policing model, there is evidence that its affect on crime has been negligible (Sherman et al.,1998).

In the early 1990's, beginning in New York City, law enforcement agencies and departments all over the United States began using computerized systems, known as Comp stat (computerized statistics).[footnoteRef:2] These computers could be used to plot and map specific incidents of crime by time, day, and location, and then, by revealing previously unnoticed patterns in criminal activity, Comp stat enabled police departments to distribute their resources more effectively (McDonald, 2002). Comp stat was credited with significant decreases in crime rates in several of the cities in which it was used, although evidence has shown that other factors may have been involved, including an overall decline in crime in the United States (Steverson, 2008). Nevertheless, Compstat became so widely used that many police administrators began to regard it as the basis of a new model of policing…

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