The dynamics of the contemporary society have created significant implications on police and public administration. At one point, the police administration was merely a political structure controlled by politicians based on the implications of the public administration policies they passed. This control once again shifted to the hands of the police. However, this was disadvantageous on their part because of their detachment from the community. Nonetheless, the shifts in the society have influenced police administration to inculcate novel ways of performing their communal duties. The modern era has introduced a structure comprising the amalgamation of police administration and public administration. It has facilitated an effectual relationship between the police and the community resulting into an efficient way of fulfilling the needs of the community.
Does the Direction of the Present Policing Era Satisfy the Communities’ Needs Better?
Indeed, the direction taken in this present era of policing is better capable of satisfying the needs of the communities than the past eras. This is because present policing focuses on taking a community approach in problem solving (Kelling & Moore, 1988). Furthermore, since the police organization is a public organization, present policing also concentrates on changing certain public administration policies. Nevertheless, the present policing period is a by-product of the implications arising from past eras. Such implications were usually detrimental to the efficacy of public and police administration leading to an insufficient and less effective way of gratifying the needs of the society. Moreover, the dynamism of the community, in terms of trends and shifts, has necessitated further development of policies in public and police administration. Based on this, it is evident that the present policing period deviates significantly from past eras.
Regardless of the problems arising in past eras, it is evident that present policing is effective over other eras. The disadvantages arising from the past policing periods translated into advantages for the present policing era. By inculcating Community Problem Solving as a policy area, there was the introduction of novel ways of ensuring professionalism within the police force, which also facilitated a close relationship with the community by the police (Peak & Glensor, 2012). Present policing also introduced foot patrolling regardless of its contentions in the past eras based on its connection to communal intimacy. This strategy also introduced problem solving and order maintenance tasks to the police. Furthermore, an introduction of maintenance of urban life standard further broadened the functions of the police. Indeed, by integrating policies such as community policing and intelligence-led policing and problem-oriented policing, this present policing strategy has amplified the effectiveness of the police in terms of serving the community better.
Eras of Policing
Based on the different policing strategies employed in police administration, it is useful to categorize the use of these strategies in terms of policing eras. These policing eras outline the disparate strategies involved in administering the police. As such, there are three main eras in terms of policing strategies aimed at managing the police. These epochs comprise the Political Era, the Reform Era and the Community Problem Solving Era.
The Political Era
The Political era occurred between the 1840s and the 1900s. It represented an epoch in which police administration possessed significant associations to politics. At this point, politics played a considerable role in governing the police. Indeed, various groups sought to govern the police in order to gratify or pursue their personal interests (Cordner & Scarborough, 2007). As such, there was a struggle between such factions based on the sole objective of administering the police. Certain aspects described the political era in terms of police administration. Foremost, the police lacked sufficient resources to support them in their duties. As a result, politicians provided resources for them.
Advantages Nonetheless, the political era possessed particular advantages over other eras. Foremost, police enjoyed and experienced a considerable array of dominant support from the politicians. Secondly, based on this, the police were also able to offer beneficial services to their communities. They helped immigrants settle and find work, and they ran soup lines. They helped the homeless by finding for them shelter. The police interacted with the community, and this enabled them to have a better understanding of what the people experienced as well as the challenges they were facing. They were able to respond to the problems that the community was facing immediately. Kelling and Moore note that “demand for police services was received, interpreted, and responded to at the precinct and street levels” (Kelling & Moore, 1988, p.3).
Disadvantages However, this strategy presented considerable weaknesses for the police. Foremost, there was increased corruption within the police. This is because of their association with politicians and the community as well as a decentralized organizational framework incapable of overseeing the mandate of police. Consequently, there was increased discrimination on the part of the police. This is because of the closeness the police ahead with neighborhoods, which made them unfamiliar with new comers or strangers from varied ethnic groups. Lastly, the police experienced aggravated instances of disorganization because of an insufficient centralized structure that led to ineffective organizational control (Kelling & Moore, 1988).
The Reform Era
The next era, the Reform Era, was a reformation of the corrupt police organization. For the reformers, politics was the main cause of corruption and detrimental governance among the police (Kelling & Moore, 1988). As such, at this time, the police ended their associations with local and dominant politicians in order to create an autonomous institution dedicated to solve crime justifiably.
Advantages. The main advantage arising from this comprised effectiveness in management and solving crime. This is because the primary function of the police narrowed down to apprehension of criminals. Consequently, the concentration on controlling crime encouraged impartiality among the police because of their severed relationship with the politicians and the community itself. Additionally, this form of policing allowed the police leaders to support a vision they all supported regardless of their distinct backgrounds. This created a considerable degree of comprehension among the police.
Disadvantages Nonetheless, the strategy also possessed significant disadvantages. Foremost, the police were unable to gratify their expectations concerning their ability to manage crime and restrict it from increasing. Secondly, communities began experiencing considerable degrees of fear. Regardless of low crime rates, people avoided public places for unknown reasons because of insufficient order maintenance from the police. Consequently, past discriminatory acts against minority groups such as African Americans made the minorities hostile to the police regardless of unbiased policing and increase in fair police allocation structures. Furthermore, protest movements such as antiwar protests and civil rights movements further challenged the police forcing them to use tactics that seemed questionable at that time. Fifth, there was also insufficient law enforcement in communities. The strategy was also incapable of professionalizing low-ranking officers (Kelling & Moore, 1988; Peak, Gaines & Glensor, 2010).
The Community Problem-Solving Era
Community problem solving integrates various aspects of public administration and applies them in police administration. This is understandable since the police force is also a business organization. Therefore, it requires an effective management of its resources as well as a highly decentralized structure for governance. Furthermore, by relying exponentially on the community, community problem solving within the police force employs a new shift towards apprehending criminals. Even though intimacy with the community led to discrimination of unfamiliar people during past eras, present policing allows the community to forward their grievances directly to the police in case of assistance (Peak & Glensor, 2012). This way, there is exercise of professionalism with a sense of hospitality.
Advantage. By focusing on problem-solving initiatives, the police provide suitable and effective alternatives towards mitigating crimes and other disputes within the society. This deviates from the norms expressed in past policing periods. The police have developed different policing methods such as community policing, which has ensured that they interact with the communities they are serving, while still maintaining professionalism in their work. For instance, law enforcement in Alberta, Canada incorporates problem-solving strategies for the respective Albertan community. For instance, the police have employed the use of foot patrols as well as community stations in order to increase communication between the community and the police.
Disadvantage. Since Community Problem Solving emphasizes on a decentralized organization structure, decision-making within the police organization has led to a decrease in the levels of authority required for police administration. This has led to the reduction of middle management staff leading to retrenchment of middle managers. Additionally, the trend of technology in conducting police operations such as information gathering has also facilitated retrenchment of more personnel engaged in collecting data.
Are We Heading in the Right Direction in this Era of Policing?
Indeed, the present era of policing is the right direction to take. This is because present policing creates a possibility of using public administration within the police organization. Additionally, community problem solving also integrates public administration within the police force. In definition, public administration involves the effective management of public resources. Based on this, this type of policing adheres to integrating and incorporating relevant frameworks that assist police organizations in the management of resources. For instance, Alberta’s law enforcement framework focuses on the equitable allocation of police service units in the Alberta community for effective service delivery (Government of Alberta, 2010). By incorporating such a framework, it is evident that the present era of policing presents more advantages towards satisfying the community rather than other policing eras that did not integrate participative management in terms of public and police administration.
Public administration is bureaucratic, and this can have several advantages. Bureaucratic organizations are able to handle and control multitudes more effectively, and this is especially useful when dealing with riots and mass demonstrations. Such organizations have the necessary resources to deal with complex tasks. They are especially important in enhancing equality by reducing discrimination. This is because they have to follow the written rules and regulations when dealing with situations. Changes in the society over the years have ensured that civil rules are non-discriminatory. In addition, the organizations offer expert advice, as they have concentrate on specialization of knowledge. This enables them to gain more insight towards particular issues, making them more efficient in their operation (Seidman, 2012).
Police administration also embraces a bureaucratic approach. It implies the procedures, art and science of oversight, management and ethical leadership for the police organization. The notion of police administration is actually a trend that further shapes the nature of the police organization. According to Cetron & Davies, “police officers will be living longer, healthier lives. This will allow them to remain on the job after retirement…Many will work in technical, support and administrative functions” (Cetron & Davies, 2008, p.5). Furthermore, the need for the provision of credentials and qualifications by the police, enjoyment of more benefits such as retirement pensions and insurance coverage further illustrate the rise and success of police administration in the modern community.
The present era of law enforcement also allows for the integration of community-based policing strategies in the duties of the officers. Such strategies allow the police to work efficiently with the community unlike in past eras. For instance, the Reform Era did not allow police to engage in closeness with the community. According to Kelling and Moore (1988, p.5-6), “Activities that drew the police into solving other kinds of community problems and relied on other kinds of responses were identified as social work and became an object of derision”. This implies that the police took criminal apprehension to an extent that saw them discard community problem solving. This is because of the problems that arose from the intimacy with the community especially at the time of the Political era of policing. However, because of the innovations of the present forms of law enforcement, officers possess the capability of serving the community effectively and in a professional manner, while concurrently solving crime via intelligence-led or problem-solving techniques. This is shown by Kelling and Moore (1988, p.13), when they state that, “we believe that this concept can be used not only to describe the different styles of policing in the past and the present, but also to sharpen the understanding of police policymakers of the future”.
In conclusion, community problem solving is a novel form of police administration within the community. By integrating essential factors such as foot patrols, information sharing, resource allocation and public relations, police have amassed the capability to exercise objectivity and intimacy with the community. Furthermore, present policing has deviated from the norms exercised during the Political and Reform periods. It has turned the negatives of both periods into its strong points. As such, it is evident that community problem solving is indeed beneficial for both the police and the community.
Cetron, J. M., & Owen, D. (2008). 55 trends now shaping the future of policing. The Proteus Trends Series, 1(1), 1-197.
Cordner, G. W., & Scarborough, K. E. (2007). Police administration. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Pub. Co.
Government of Alberta. (2010). Law enforcement framework. Retrieved from
Kelling, L. G., & Moore, H. M. (1988). The evolving strategy of policing. Perspectives on Policing, (4), 1-16. Retrieved from
Peak, K. J., & Glensor, R. W. (2012). Community policing and problem solving: Strategies and practices. Boston, MA: Pearson.
Peak, K. J., Gaines, L. K., & Glensor, R. W. (2010). Police supervision and management: In an era of community policing. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.