Different Policing Eras in the U.S
Policing in the United States has its roots in the English policing system and has come a long way. These developments have been categorized into the political era, the reform era and the community problem-solving era. The political era ranging from 1840 to the 1920s was characterized by the presence of close ties between the policing and political institutions. Thus, corruption was rife because of this collaboration. All policing activities were geared towards appeasing politicians and guarding their interests. Police movement was by foot patrol with police officers literally acting as security guards. Chicago police officers patrolled the streets with plain clothes, a wooden club and a whistle. The police only acted to crimes when approached by witnesses or victims. Community and public services such as street sweeping and housing the homeless were also tasks of the police in this era. Cases of use of excessive force by the police were also rampant in this era. The Posse Comitatus act was passed in 1878 during this era to check powers of the federal government in employing military assistance during law enforcement.
According to Kelling and Moore (5), the reform era covering 1930 to the 1970s was characterized by detachment from political institutions and insistence on the law and professionalism as the driving forces behind the police force. Crime was fought professionally now that most police resources were geared towards making arrests. Early technological advancements led to the use of motorcycles and early model vehicles in police patrols. There was also rapid response to crime and efficient organization employing the bureaucratic model. This model emphasized on formal policing procedures and created regulations in the police as was in the military.
The community policing era beginning in the 1970s to present time emphasizes the importance of creating a rapport between the policing institutions and communities on the ground (Kelling 56). Crime and disorder are curbed by the police who collaborate with the affected communities. Foot patrols have been reintroduced in this era as it was in the political era, to enhance community-police interaction as a strategic move in curbing crime and disorder. Technological advancements in this era have also helped to enhance police patrols and police surveillance. Apart from surveillance, technological advancements also aid in making critical policing decisions that were previously error prone due to human error. The Chicago police department employs software programs such as eye cam and streaming videos in critical police decision making, surveillance and communication.
In the community-policing era too, police accreditation, a process to gauge individual police officers’ professional excellence according to stipulated national standards is also employed to enforce the police’s quality service to the community (rockvillemd.gov). This is accreditation process is meant to help the public understand the police more and reassure them of the police’s quality standards. This move has significantly enhanced public-police interaction. In the community-policing era, there is a decentralized command system unlike in the political era where command was centralized on one person or level. There is also increased accountability to the public with the introduction of police reports that are sometimes made public. The police system is geared more towards preventing crimes unlike in the reform era where police resources were not geared towards crime prevention but towards making actual police arrests. Departmental policing has also been introduced to help solve different crimes differently with specialized training to solve certain types of crimes.
“American Police Accreditation”. What is Accreditation? 2008. Web. 28th January 2013
Kelling, George L, and Mark H. Moore. The Evolving Strategy of Policing. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, 2009. Print.
Kelling L.George. Defining Community Policing. New York: Praeger Publishers. 2004. Print.