Abstract

This paper explores police agencies in the USA and answers the questions of how and why they have developed into what they are today. The first part of the review provides a brief history and description of the police department's organizational structure in the United States. It explains the mechanism of subordination between different police services, the police itself, and other government bodies, which makes it possible to understand how the police service functions as a branch of the system of public administration in the country. The second part examines the factors shaping police roles and administrative policies that aim to protect police along with the public and enhance the cooperation between them. It analyzes the US police structure, the policemen's responsibilities towards ordinary citizens, moral obligations, and different ways of interaction between the police institutions and the American community. This paper also evaluates the compliance with legislation that guarantees the internal security of the citizens and the efficiency of duties that are normally within the competence of the police aimed at the prevention of crimes, with due respect for human rights.

Modernization of Police Agencies and Administrations in the USA

No state in the world can do without the police. Since crime has poisoned the lives of honest people, society will always need security agencies. The police are responsible for law enforcement, the protection of public order, and national security. Since there are two forms of the organization of national police systems: centralized, as in Austria, France, Japan, etc., and decentralized system existing in the USA, Great Britain, Germany, etc., the decentralized structure of the American police system traces back to the history of the birth of its statehood on the North American continent. The fundamental differences that exist between the US police and European police systems are based on the initial construction of the entire US governmental body, including the police.

Despite the importance of the police institutions for the democracy of the United States, it virtually received no legislative consolidation at the federal constitutional level. The police formations have real normative and legal recognition in municipal and district legislative acts. An explicit tendency of the federal government to centralize the management of the country’s police forces suggests that the strong decentralization, which has existed for decades, does not fully meet the needs and realities of the modern United States. Accordingly, to meet the challenges outlined in the given report, a new reassessment and modernization of the police are needed.

Historical Background of the American Police

Law enforcement agencies are an integral part of any governmental apparatus, being as old as a state itself. Every nation that created its statehood inevitably needs a special institution designed to fight crimes. Thus, the development and the organizational structure of the police departments are tightly bounded by evolutionary processes within the society and the country. The United States of America being a federative state has a very specific policing system. Policing organizations in the USA are shared between the federal, state, and local levels of executive authorities. At the federal level, law enforcement organizations include different armored structures, such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Customs Service.

Although the abovementioned organizations fulfill the law enforcement function, it would be erroneous to call them “police”. In the US law system, the police exist at the state and local levels and entail Local Police (municipal, country, tribal), State Police (Highway Patrol), Special Jurisdiction Police, and Deputy Sheriffs (Stevens, 2017). The organizational structure of the law enforcement system is a result of the relatively short but eventful American history. Additionally, policing in England was an example of developing similar security agencies in the United States. According to Wadman and Allison (2004), in the colonial period, the functions of the police were the responsibility of elected sheriffs and the watch. The latter was represented by the organization of volunteers whose duty was to ensure public safety and order. Wadman and Allison (2004) state that Boston and New York were the first to establish a night watch system in the USA. However, it was not efficient enough, because volunteers were not motivated and wanted to evade military service.

In addition to the watch system, there were also constables and officers paid by the fee system. The former also performed some non-law functions, such as weights and measures verification. The real history of police agencies in the USA starts in 1626, after the inception of the Sheriff’s Office in New York. Later, similar offices emerged in other cities. In 1789, the Marshals Service started to function (Wadman & Allison, 2004). The mission of the Service was to ensure the activities of the federal courts, control the execution of their sentences and decisions, search for and arrest federal criminals, as well as to combat terrorism, and curb riots. Shortly afterward, other federal services, such as the US Park Police and the US Mint Police, appeared, facilitating the opening of the first police department in Boston in 1838 (Wadman & Allison, 2004). Its task was to ensure security on the streets of the city.

Nowadays, the New York police department is one of the biggest and oldest departments in the United States. At the time of the department’s foundation, when the population of New York was 320,000 people, it included one watchman, a hundred city marshals, 31 constables, and 51 officers (Wadman & Allison, 2004). At the request of the City Council of New York, businessman Peter Cooper developed a proposal to create a police body with 1,200 officers. On May 7, 1844, the state legislature supported the proposal by approving the Municipal Police Act, which allowed the creation of a police department and the abolition of the old watchdog system (Wadman & Allison, 2004). For the convenience of performing police duties, the city was divided into three districts, each with its court, magistrate, clerks, and building.

The department was modeled after the City Police of London, which was a military-type organization with military ranks and subordination. In 1857, the New York State Legislature, in response to the great corruption in the New York Police Department, created a new unit and disbanded the old one (Wadman & Allison, 2004). The new office was under the management of five commissioners, who were appointed by the governor. The new department consisted of 307 officers as compared to 815 in the old one (Wadman & Allison, 2004). During the 19th century, the New York Police Department often faced an accusation of police brutality. Officers used truncheons, even against those who committed minor violations. Such abuse of official power was more common in poor immigrant areas. Furthermore, at that time, the police served political purposes, for example, at polling stations, where they turned a blind eye to throwing ballots and other kinds of falsifications.

Consequently, local politicians often monitored and controlled the police institutions, hiring and promoting policemen useful to the authorities. While the training and supervision of officers were minimal, corruption was a common phenomenon. Certainly, such severe issues in the police system needed decisive measures. During the development process, the American police had several milestones which helped to improve and overcome the challenges described above. Thus, after the Miranda v. Arizona case, the court decided that any evidence, both proving and denying guilt, can only be available for the use if the prosecution can verify that a suspect was informed about his or her rights before the interrogation (Shelden &Vasiliev, 2017). In case the suspect renounces his/her rights, it is necessary to prove the voluntary nature of this refusal. Another important milestone in the US police history was Knapp Commission which helped to combat corruption. The Commission gave some very important recommendations; for example, commanders should be fully responsible for the actions of their subordinates, as well as there should be undercover informants in all precincts.

Nowadays, the use of force by the US police is regulated in detail. According to the rules in force, a police officer can use firearms in any situation that he or she considers dangerous for his or her life and health. However, any utilization of weapons automatically entails a medical examination, as well as the investigation of the legality of its use. In general, by the laws in force in the US, the police possess extensive power for the protection of law and order. The current decentralized police system reflects the general arrangement of the United States and provides clear law enforcement with its straight dependency on local communities. This fact allows full public control over the police institution and provides flexibility in terms of uprising social challenges.

The Factors Shaping the Police Roles and Administrative Policies in the USA

Since the problem of crime prevention among police officers is relevant for the law enforcement system of any state, many countries around the world have their approaches and traditions when it comes to the prevention of offenses committed by policemen. Democratic processes and public control have greatly influenced the current police institutions in the USA. Society achieved the right to oversee the police, namely to create civilian control bodies. The states themselves adopted the relevant laws, and if the authorities resisted, the question was under discussion in a referendum. The activities of such structures often received funding from the state budget. For example, the Complaints Committee started its functioning after the local referendum in San Francisco. Its creation was supported by the San Francisco Bar Association and the Police Association of the City. It examines complaints and allegations of abuse of authority by police officers and can conduct investigations themselves (Hodgson, 2001). Their results go to the chief of police who renders a decision. If it appears that the violation deserves more severe punishment, the case is referred to the Police Commission, which appoints public administrative hearings. Eventually, the police commission makes a decision based on their results. Nowadays, this kind of public control is present in most cities in the United States.

Cooperation with civilians is really important in the USA. The authorities developed and financed several programs aimed at engaging the citizens in the work of the police. Voluntary police units, comprised of residents, proved to be efficient (Kochel, Parks & Mastrofski, 2013). Many programs have become mandatory. For example, each police station under the law should include a certain amount of volunteers who are ordinary citizens. They constitute the backbone of this “squad” as they patrol the streets and help to ensure order at mass events. This public work is unpaid, but it is considered highly honorable. Before the beginning of the work, the “combatants” undergo a short police training course. They are supposed to have uniforms and patrol cars (Brewer, Wilford, Guelke, Hume & Moxon-Browne, 2016). This eliminates the psychological barrier between society and the police, making the police system more open.

Another factor that helps the community to regulate the police is the practice of civilian secret informants. By Knapp’s sixth amendment, the police leadership now regularly makes reports on corruption-prone areas. Moreover, Americans decentralized the system itself even more on a territorial basis (to the federal, civilian, and municipal police). Most importantly, they have abandoned the priority of the “stick system” and assessed the work of the police based on the opinion of citizens (one of the most effective mechanisms is regular polls on the effectiveness of police activities conducted by the Gallup Institute) (Boateng, 2013). Thus, a decentralized system of the American police made it possible for civilians to cooperate with law officers.

An important role in the prevention of police offenses belongs to the principles of the deontological approach aimed at developing a tolerant policy towards all civilians. To implement this mechanism, ethical codes have been introduced into the practice of police personnel, which should meet the requirements for adhering to moral principles and work ethics. These codes in most countries are an integral part of the current legislation and provide severe sanctions for violation of their execution. The implementation of the principles of deontological codes in the police of the United States is achievable through educational work.

The process of the professional selection of personnel for the police, occurring on a competitive basis, carries much importance in the system of preventive measures in the United States. According to Boateng, Lee, and Abess (2016), it can be attainable with the help of special checks of biographical data, the material situation of candidates, negative life experiences, links with criminal structures, conflicts in the business sphere, the participation in litigations, as well as the level of tolerance towards cultural diversity. A characteristic feature of the system of education of US police officers is its pronounced religious orientation. The police of the USA has in its arsenal a well-established practice of interaction with traditional religious confessions, which, according to the developed program, conducts ethics teaching in police schools and strengthens the morale of employees.

In conclusion, the decentralized police system in the USA provides a high level of trust in the local police as well as ensures its structural flexibility. The stages of the management process and the requirements for it, as well as the principles of planning, organizing, and operating the police units in the United States, are almost universal not only for the various police departments but for the entire police apparatus of Western European countries. However, the position of various police services in the organizational structure of certain federal executive bodies of the United States is different. This is attributable to both the peculiarities of the national mentality and the special conditions for the emergence, formation, and development of American statehood.

Analyzing the shortcomings of the American police system, it is necessary to mention the most significant among them. They include the inconsistency in actions of law enforcement agencies of different jurisdictional levels due to the lack of a single governing body; the police officers’ loss of law enforcement power beyond their jurisdiction; a latent conflict between the police organizations of the state, the local level, and the FBI. These weaknesses of the US police can be addressed through the training of law enforcement personnel as specialists with high moral principles and a tolerant attitude towards the representatives of other nationalities as well as towards religious, social, and cultural differences. Additionally, it is vital to improving cooperation between the police authorities in different states of the USA.

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