Pillars of the 21st Century Policing

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The police forces are mandated to protect the community from various sources of harm. During their operations, their duties and responsibilities often cause controversy, especially when their interests crush those of society. Effective policing requires the officers to create and maintain positive relationships with the community members by engaging them in their daily lives operations. Police forces are guarded by six pillars that seek to improve their effectiveness, especially in community protection. The pillars, developed by the Obama administration in 2015, identify the best policing operations and recommend actions to promote efficient crime reduction strategies and models of building public trust. In this paper, two pillars-building trusts and legitimacy and community policing and crime reduction, are discussed concerning the police and society settings and demands. A recent police incident that relates to the violation of the two pillars is also discussed. Positive police culture and constructive community-police relations are major drivers of crime reduction. Thus, effective community policing requires building trust and legitimacy through community partnerships to reduce crime.

Building Trust and Legitimacy

Building trust and legitimacy is the first pillar of policing in the president’s task force manual and also the primary principle of policing. The pillar seeks to enable law enforcement officers to earn public trust by acting within procedural boundaries (“The President’s Task Force,” 2015). A community in which the members trust their area police is likely to have reduced levels of crime. Earning public trust is significantly based on how law officers behave during their engagement with society (“The President’s Task Force,” 2015). People will obey the law if they feel that the enforcers are legitimate based on their actions. Legitimacy is built on practicing procedural principles such as showing respect and dignity, treating people equally, and acting neutral in decision-making matters. Community police who act procedurally are legitimate and easily earn public trust (“The President’s Task Force,” 2015). Policing has grown more effectively in recent years but public confidence in law enforcers remains very low. Among other explainers of this problem is the two opposing positions of justice provided by democracy.

Building Trust and Legitimacy in a Free Society

Democracy promotes two spheres of justice that seem to cause controversy within policing actions. Democracy offers freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and government change through elections among others to the public (Novak et al., 2020). Democracy also allows the police to control or limit citizens’ freedom during their protective duties. A free society allows people to do as they please but the police are required to stop them at some point for search, questioning, and at times arrest. The two cutting edges of the democratic system display the policing system as an opposing force to freedom (Novak et al., 2020). Consequently, the public judges police actions from a free-world perspective and decrease their level of trust. The major police task is to safeguard the world by reducing crime (Novak et al., 2020). To solve the controversy created by democracy, the Obama task force recommends that law enforcers should create a trustworthy environment for the community.

Building community trust and authenticity is based on community expectations more than legal, organizational, or individual expectations. Communities have divergent expectations that change from time to time (Novak et al., 2020). The pillar provision, therefore, recommends connecting with community members to understand their needs and expectations. Police officers are required to engage with community members at a personal level (“The President’s Task Force,” 2020). This means talking to them about other matters not relating to policing. As opposed to strictly following legal procedures about law violations, the task force suggests overlooking minor mistakes through warnings and citations to strengthen the bond between law enforcers and society members.

Application of Effective Policing Strategies

Police reforms provide the best community policing strategies to make societies safer. According to Novak et al. (2020), community policing reforms established in the early 1990s dramatically reduced crime in society. Efficient strategies are not solely based on following laws and consideration of legal issues but on matters arising in the community. Community-police rivalry is majorly based on the perception of the law enforcers toward a certain group. A community that feels targeted by law enactment agencies is likely to perceive the police officers are their rivals (“The President’s Task Force,” 2020). A high level of opposition is therefore experienced during the control of this group. Thus, although a region with high cases of crime should be a major focus of the police, it should be done through wise strategies.

Law enforcement institutions should create and maintain an accommodative culture. Effective policing reforms begin with a change in policing culture (Novak et al., 2020). The task force manual suggests that institutions should use law with moderation as a change from brutal culture. The community wants to feel familiar with law enforcers to trust and confide in them. The institutions should constantly refer to past injustice incidences and act towards attaining public trust through accountability and responsibility (“The President’s Task Force,” 2020). When an unjust action is alleged against the police officers, the agency should take a neutral position while solving the case. If the law institutions seem so defensive, the public loses confidence in their ability to submit justice. To bond with members of the public, law enforcers should constantly grab opportunities to interact and engage with the community through various functions. That way, the members learn to trust the officers and the need to avoid crime.

A Police Illegitimate Actions Incident

On 5th December 2020, police officers pepper-sprayed an army lieutenant in a horrible incident recorded by body cameras. On this day at around six in the evening in Windsor, Virginia, police officers stopped a new car, whose number plates were invisible because were written on the side of the car (CNN, 2021). Lt. Caron Nazario took more than a minute to park his car but he put indicators on. While enquiring why he had been stopped, the police grew unfriendly and pepper-sprayed his eyes. The incident was resolved but Nazario later sued the police officers for the wrong actions.

The action of pepper-spraying a fellow law officer indicates the illegitimacy of the police officer’s actions. The Virginia police officers failed to operate within the procedural duties. It was wrong for the police officers to spray the lieutenant yet he was willing to cooperate. The law should have demanded that the police officers act neutral while making the decision here and exercise respect and dignity in their actions (“The President’s Task Force,” 2015). The members of the community cannot trust such police officers. If the presidential task force law was implemented by then, it would have stopped such actions.

Community Policing and Crime Reduction

The president task force manual provides community policing and crime reduction as the fourth pillar of effective policing. Crime-prone communities require the participation of law enforcers and the public to curb the rate of crime. In the United States, such communities are known to be police hostile (“The President’s Task Force,” 2015). Some of the analyzed reasons for the hostility include the use of excessive force, racial profiling, and other forms of civil rights violation. Mutual trust and cooperation must be attained in these communities to protect the –crime-challenged members. Therefore, the policing units must develop problem-solving strategies such as collaboration with institutions including, social services, schools, churches, and other stakeholders (“The President’s Task Force,” 2015). These connections, on top of stimulating public safety help the community attains social and economic strength. A police-community connection also brings public resilience to crime and job satisfaction for law enforcers.

Community Policing and Crime Reduction in a Democratic Society

Democratic perspectives held by the public create mistrust and commotion during policing operations. The idea that America is a free nation is a major factor in hostility towards law officers in crime-prone areas. The findings of a survey conducted by Obama’s task force indicate that people of color are hostile toward the police because they feel targeted (“The President’s Task Force,” 2020). Novak et al. (2020) provide that police officers have the best opportunities to initiate positive interactions with marginalized community members. The officers can access all institutions such as schools, markets, hotels, and clubs within their jurisdiction to create positive relations. A major and effective strategy to handle hostile communities is to change how the police approach potential law offenders.

Police officers should avoid the use of harsh language and address community people with respect and dignity. According to Novak et al. (2020), the use of harsh language can trigger hostility in crime suspects. With that knowledge, the law enactor is required to use lower tones and better choice of words when approaching people of conflicted groups. The use of excessive force and racial profiling is discouraged with suggestions of using negotiation strategies and equal treatment. Police alone cannot handle the control of drug use, crime, and disorder problems. Through the use of a tactical dimension, the officers must engage the community for proper control (Novak et al., 2020). Police officers should not be fast in striking law-related procedures and punishment before investigating the cause of the problem.

Modern Police Inclusion

Law enforcement institutions are mandated to create platforms in which the community can air their grievances and provide solutions. The president task force’s findings suggest that 21st-century law enforcement institutions should engage with the community to improve the quality of life, level of safety, and general look of the neighborhood (“The President’s Task Force,” 2015). This engagement is possible through institutional planning and management. The police management should develop platforms such as community meetings and crime-solution events to learn how to improve safety. In incidences of solving domestic violence, the police forces are encouraged to involve some community members in seeking a solution (Novak et al., 2020). The police organization should also foster youth engagement programs such as training in problem-solving teams, community action teams, ride-along, and citizen academics. Through such programs, the community can learn to monitor, report and control crimes thus reducing the rate of law violations.

Police organizations should also adopt policies and programs that protect school children by controlling their behaviors. Criminal behaviors are adopted and established at a young age (“The President’s Task Force,” 2015). The police officers should collaborate with schools to ensure children’s behaviors are monitored and controlled using behavioral change tools. The law-enforcing institutions should influence social workers and school leaders to work together in behavior control. Schools should also be encouraged to prohibit the use of corporal punishment and use of electronic devices. The federal government is also involved at a local level to assess and evaluate the zero tolerant policy and its limits when police are dealing with teenagers (Novak et al., 2020). Police should consider the juvenile form of punishment as their last resort after exhausting all other interventions.

A Police Use of Force Incidence

An incident where police used excessive force during an arrested led to the death of a suspect. On 25th May 2020, Four Minneapolis police officers were caught by a passer camera as they pinned down, a black, 46-year-old George Floyd to death (NBC News, 2020). The police officers were responding to a 911 call that was made by a shop owner claiming that Floyd had used a $20 counterfeit note to buy cigars (NBC News, 2020). Police arrived at the scene and approached the suspect to investigate the alleged crime. In the company of the other two men, Floyd came out of his car with minimal resistance. The video later reveals three of the four police officers pinning Floyd down while one, Derek Chauvin, a white officer placed his knee on the suspect’s neck (NBC News, 2020). A few minutes later, Floyd was pronounced dead by the responding ambulance medical officers. A post-mortem report indicated that Floyd was high on drugs which combined with police excessive force killed him.

The president’s task force policing opinions discourage the use of excessive force during arrests. It also warns against racial profiling of white police officers, especially towards people of color. Racial profiling and the use of excessive force are said to be major contributors to arrest resistance amongst blacks (“The President’s Task Force,” 2020). If the fourth pillar, community policing, and crime reduction would had been implemented, it would have stopped Chauvin and the other three officers from using excessive force toward Floyd.

The law would require the four officers to approach Floyd with respect and dignity. They were supposed to confront the suspect with less hostility and quietly make the arrest (“The President’s Task Force,” 2015). The law would also be against the need for use of extra force since the suspect was already cooperating. It was wrong for the officers to anticipate that Floyd would resist arrest and request backup. The law would provide that the police officers disregarded the community policing strategies recommended to reduce crime. The police officers would therefore be held accountable for the suspects’ death.


CNN. (2021). Video shows army officer being pepper-sprayed by police officers during traffic stop [Video]. YouTube.

NBC News. (2020). Watch a minute-to-minute breakdown leading up to George Floyd’s deadly arrest [Video]. YouTube.

Novak, R. R., Roberg, K., Cordner, G., & Smith, B. (2020). Police and society (8th Ed.). Oxford University Press.

The president’s task force on the 21st century policing. (2015).

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