Police unit is a criminal enforcement department, which is one of the most powerful constituents of the Criminal Justice System (Gest, 2000). As a unit of the law enforcement department, the police unit has a major responsibility of “regulating and controlling community affairs” (Schmallenger, 2005). The primary responsibility of the police unit is to maintain order, implement laws, protect citizens, and prevent any form of crime in the society. The American police unit is highly trained on issues of law enforcement, crime prevention, and crime deterrence (Schmallenger, 2005). Apart from issues of law enforcement, the police unit has a major responsibility of maintaining peace and security in the society (Schmallenger, 2005). This research paper will discuss how the historical development of the police unit in the US relates to the current relationship between police and different ethnic and social classes.
For the last three decades, different people including scientists and scholars have developed an interest to study about the American police unit. The current police system in the US has deep roots in the Great Britain, and most of the American government systems were all inherited from the ancient Britain including the Common Law and the Modern Law Enforcement unit (Schmallenger, 2005; Daleidein, 2006). Most ideas related to issues of Community Policing, crime deterrence, Constables, and Sheriffs were all inherited from the ancient Britain (Daleiden, 2006).
The 19th century marks the period of transition in history of the American Police unit (Daleidein, 2006). It is during this time that the modern police unit was formed and its role in the society became well defined. During the beginning of the 19th century, the police unit was accepted in the society and its services became more significant. As such, the relationship between the police and the community started to improve.
The American society is a multicultural society since it is made up of people with different ethnic backgrounds (Schmallenger, 2005). Today, people of different ethnic groups continue to migrate to the US causing an increase in the population. The increasing diversity in the American society raises a lot of concern because of the emerging problems. Majorly, the American society comprises of people of African and Hispanic origins, and the Caucasians. The image of the American society displays all kinds of people ranging from the poor, middle-class, and the rich; its population consists of different people in terms of class, race, culture and ethnicity.
The relationship between the police and different ethnic groups has not been one of the best. According to research carried out in the US, there is a bigger number of minority groups (Hispanics and African-Americans) who are incarcerated every year compared to white Americans (Gest, 2000). Such cases of modern slavery and discrimination have greatly affected the relationship between the police and the community. Because of such levels of discrimination, there is no trust between the police and minority groups, especially the blacks.
A study of the Criminal Justice System reveals that discrimination against minority groups is relatively high; this has affected the relationship between different ethnic groups and the police unit. Cases of racial discrimination have remained relatively high and minority groups are more likely to be arrested, convicted, and imprisoned compared to whites American (Gest, 2000). Records from the Criminal Justice System reveal that police have constantly shot African Americans without valid reasons. A case in which a young African American man was shot at least 41 times while trying to reach for his wallet by police is an excellent example of how they treat minority groups (Daleidein, 2006). It is evident that the police unit continues to treat all African American people as criminals; this has also affected the police-community relationship.
However, the emergence of the Community Policing system has changed the whole situation. The concept of Community Policing has brought improvements to the overall racial climate and now the police-community relationship has improved significantly. An evaluation of both the Traditional Policing and the Community Policing clearly reveals that the relationship between the community and police is improving for better (Schmallenger, 2005). With Community Policing, police officers and community members have now developed mutual respect and trust (McNamara and Burns, 2009). The concept of Community Policing has not only improved the police-community relationship, but it has increased the level of security and resolved the existing conflicts. This has now created a harmonious relationship between the police unit and different ethnics groups in the USA.
The transition from the Traditional Policing to the modern Community Policing has enabled positive changes in the society (Gest, 2000). It has significantly brought improvements and helped in eradicating discrimination as well as solving social and economic problems faced by the minority groups. Although this concept cannot totally solve all underlying issues faced by Americans, it can help improve the relationship between the police and community for a better society. Issues of racial discrimination have existed for a long time in the regime of the Tradition Policing but improvements have been observed with the emergence of Community Policing (Schmallenger, 2005). It is therefore, true to argue that Community Policing cannot wholly eradicate the racism, classism and ethnocentrism among others, but it can help the police unit to bring the much needed change to the society (Schmallenger, 2005).
Daleidein, R. (2006). A clumcy dance: The political economy of American police and policing. An international Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 29 (4), 602-624.
Gest, T. (2000). Crime and Politics: Big Government’s Erratic Campaign for Law and Order. New York: Oxford University Press.
McNamara, R., & Burns, R. (2009). Multiculturalism in the Criminal Justice System. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Schmallenger, F. (2005). Criminal justice: A brief introduction. (8th Edn.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.