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How Police Conduct Themselves in the Public Eye - Essay Example

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Running head: ISSUES IN POLICE CONDUCT Recent Developments and Issues in How Police Forces Conduct Themselves in the Public Eye Author January 6, 2012 Module Number Recent Developments and Issues in How Police Forces Conduct Themselves in the Public Eye In order to understand policing in today’s society, studying the history of police in the United States is a crucial process…
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How Police Conduct Themselves in the Public Eye
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Download file to see previous pages The concept of “effectiveness” plays a key role in the analysis offered by Skogan and Frydl (2004), who likewise take a historical approach to evaluating the success of various police reform efforts. As Kelling and Moore (1988) write, “interpretation is necessary” (p. 1). In other words, a historical approach is defined by interpretations of the facts that emerge from certain cases. Although an interpretative approach is empirically weak, such an approach provides both a descriptive and evaluative view of what problems exist and how the public should fix them. Police have evolved a secondary function in America to serve as a symbol of authority, which they have with the implicit power to deprive individual citizens of their liberty. A normal person knows that if he commits a crime in front of a police officer, that police officer has the authority to take action to lock him in jail or to give him a fine. Even in the threat of depriving people of liberty without actually expressing that power, police have a definite authority (Skogan & Frydl, 2004, p. 65). This authority comes from their symbolic place as a representative of authority, which members of the public automatically respond to. ...
In the last 50 years in American policing, some of these conflicts have been exacerbated by nationwide media coverage. One of the most remembered incidents involved the beating of Rodney King at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department. In 1991, an African-American was assaulted by four white police officers. These police officers were later acquitted in 1992, which precipitated the 1992 riots that reflected deep racial mistrust between urban populations and the police in charge of maintaining social order. Of course, the interaction between police and civil rights was nothing new, following major riots in 1964 and 1968. However, Rodney King did represent an opportunity for a more contemporary analysis of how police interact with the public as symbols of authority. In that case, police interacted with the public as authority figures, but the authority figures served no other purpose but to detract from due process and fairness. To some degree, this may have been due to the emerging category of services that police provide: preventing crime (Skogan & Frydl, 2004, p. 72). By employing nearly deadly force on a suspect, the police seem to be sending a message to the public they deal with; however, in the Rodney King case, the message was extended to the wrong audience. Another new direction in American law enforcement is the widespread use of Taser technology by police officers. Taser technology is a supposedly non-lethal alternative to firearms that subdues suspects before they can pose a bodily threat. A study in 2008 revealed that approximately 90 percent of Taser discharges by police were done in response to unarmed or non-threatening suspects (The Washington Post, 2010). This problem with Tasers reflects a more fundamental problem ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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