The police traditionally plays an important role in the life of society. Today, the life of the contemporary society is practically unimaginable without police. In this respect, it should be said that the police is a relatively new institution, though its elements existed in the past epochs.
In fact, it is possible to speak about the existence of agencies which performed similar functions as police in the past, but, as a rule, these agencies aimed at the protection of citizens from some external threats, while the modern police is mainly oriented on the maintenance of the existing social order and on the supremacy of law in the modern society. In such a context, it is important to understand factors, which determined the creation of the police, and its basic functions, which the police performs today.
First of all, it should be said that the police was originally created in response to the new challenges the society have faced in the course of its historical development. In this respect, one of the major challenges was the unparalleled growth of crimes, which threatened to the life and property of ordinary people. To put it more precisely, the creation of the police was closely intertwined with the industrialization and urbanization of the modern society, which accelerated the formation of a special agencies which focused entirely on the maintenance of the existing social order, prevention and investigation of crimes. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the growth of cities, which was stimulated by the industrialization, raised new problems which were not very significant in the past. The population of cities grew disproportionally to the growth of new job places, while the concentration of large masses of people on a relatively small territory increased the risk of interpersonal conflicts. In such a situation, the number of crimes had naturally increased and the society needed the introduction of the law enforcement agency which could protect people from offenders and criminals. In addition, it was necessary to investigate crimes that were committed and, to do this, professionals were needed. These professionals were police officers who could not only protect people from offenses of criminals, since police officers had technical and legal opportunities to do this, but they also could investigate crimes and find criminals, which could be punished as they went under a trial.
In addition, profound socioeconomic changes were enhanced by political changes which also contributed to the creation of the police. What is meant here is the fact that political power needed a militarized back up which could maintain the authority of the official political power in the country. In fact, the police could be used to prevent riots and social protests which threatened to legally elected authorities. In such a way, the police was a militarized or, to put it more precisely, law enforcement agency that could assist political authorities to exercise their power and provide the execution of laws on the national scale.
In such a way, the creation of the police was determined by the consistent change of the social life, which grew more and more complex. At the same time, the police changed in the course of time too. In this respect, changes in the policies related to the domestic violence are particularly noteworthy. In fact, today, the police have to deal with multiple problems related to offensive and criminal activities, from domestic violence to international terrorism. For instance, the problem of the domestic violence is considered to be one of the major challenges to the police which undertakes all possible means to decrease the domestic violence. Today, the domestic violence is mainly minimized due to the informing people of possible legal outcomes of the domestic violence. For instance, the existing legislation protects children from violence and abuse from the part of their parents and if cases of such violence are reported an offender can be charged and even be punished in the result of a court rule for his or her offense.
The problem of terrorism threatens to the national security and safety of each citizen of the US. In such a situation, it is quite natural that the police is extremely concerned with the problem of terrorism. This problem becomes dominant and the police has got larger opportunities to prevent terror attacks due to the implementation of the Patriot Act, 2001 (Siegel, 2003). At the same time, communities are not totally abundant by police, instead, the police focused its attention on the struggle with terrorism on the community basis since it is extremely difficult to prevent terror attacks without the close interaction with community. In fact, it is the community which may inform the police about the threat of a terror attack. Therefore, the police does not stop its work with the community and enlarges interactions, but, the struggle with terrorism naturally takes significant forces that leads to the deterioration of the criminal situation with the community.
The police corruption undermines the normal functioning of the police and its public image and public confidence in the police. Various theories have different explanations of the police corruption. The general crime theory views the police corruption as an innate problem of people who work in the police. The strain and delinquency theory explains the police corruption by social factors, such as poverty and financial problems police officers may suffer from. Also, there is a functionalist theory which views the problem of corruption as an institutional problem and the police corruption is the result of the ineffective organization and functioning of the police as a social institution. The society at large theory implies that police corruption is the result of certain prevalent actions of society. The structural/affiliation theory views police corruption as the result of the impact on the criminal environment on experienced officers who get corrupt, while rookies acquire from them corruptive habits. Finally, the rotten apple hypothesis implies that police corruption is the result of putting into policing positions individuals with the already established propensity for corruption (Barak, 1998). In such a situation the public control over the police is the most effective preventive measure against corruption, including mutual work of civilians and police officers.
The Miami-Dade Employee Identification System establishes stricter control over police officers which can influence them negatively making them uncertain about their actions to avoid legal problems. However, police officers who have nothing to hide and act in accordance with laws will not be affected by this system.
Technologies play a very important role in the work of police today and the reduction of federal funding can slow down the implementation of new technologies and decrease the effectiveness of the police. At the same time, the use of technology increases costs the state and communities spend on the police. In such a situation, it is possible to share technologies used by the military with the police that will make the use of funds more effective and allow overcoming the reduction of the federal funding of the police.
In such a way, it is obvious that the police basically serves to the interests of the society at large, though, many specialists (Hayward, 2004) point out that the police is unable to meet interests of absolutely all people in the modern society. For instance, some specialists (Greve and Taylor, 2000) argue that the police stands for the interests of the ruling class, to the extent that the police is viewed as a tool in hands of the ruling elite. The ruling elite, which is comprised of political and economic elites, uses the police to keep masses of people obedient to the laws established by the elite itself (Siegel, 2003). At the same time, there are less radical views on the police. Alternatively, the police is viewed as a law enforcement agency which serves to interests of those people who do not violate laws and commit crimes or any offenses (Brantingham and Brantingham, 1991). In such a context, the police tends to balance the power in the society and through exercising its formal authority it controls people, who tend to anti-social behavior or who violate laws.
Nevertheless, it is obvious that the police has a huge authority in the modern society and it can produce a profound impact on the life of the modern society. This is why the effective leadership is crucial for the normal functioning of the police and for the normal life of the modern society at large. What is meant here is the fact that the effective leadership increases the effectiveness of the police’s performance. In contrast, the lack of leadership decreases the effectiveness of the police. As a result, the police can be able to prevent crimes and maintain the existing social order stable or, in contrast, it can be unable to prevent crimes that will lead to the dramatic growth of crime rates and chaos in the society. Both results are determined by the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the police leadership.
Thus, in conclusion, it is important to underline that the police is essential for the normal development of the modern society. The police has preserved its major function as a law enforcement agency which prevents and investigates crimes and secures the life of ordinary people, who do not violate laws. At the same time, the effectiveness of the police often depends on the leadership and effective management of its units. Obviously, it is very important to maintain effective leadership in the police which is one of the most influential institutions in the modern society. On the other hand, the police cannot be out of the public control that means that the police should serve to the interests of the entire society, but not to the interests of certain social groups only.