The local police departments are under the communities, cities, county government as well as institutions where the population is high. These departments help carry out normal duties that are aimed at preventing crimes as well as ensuring that the local laws are followed. They work closely with the federal police to ensure that there is security in the region that they serve. They play a very crucial role in the security system of the US; because they are closer to the people hence understand the security challenges of such places. Such people have to be trained so as to perform their duties well. There are no specific duties that these people engage in, but engage in a variety of activities that help them detect and prevent crimes from happening (Purpura, 1996). The security environment has since changed in the US, posing greater challenges in the security sector. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the challenges that the local police departments are facing currently. To understand these challenges, it is important to understand the limits of the work the local departments can do and the duties they mainly engage in.
The local police departments have the stewardship responsibility of providing security in their area of operation. They are allocated resources by the communities they work for, and it is their duty to allocate the resources in a way that ensures that the people are secure (Mayer, 2011). The resources are limited, and this is why the management of the departments has to work in a way that maximizes the benefits to the society. The police officers under the departments have to be well trained to handle criminals as well as take them to the courts.
The local police officers engage in patrols, checking whether there are suspicious people intending to commit crimes. They randomly stop suspicious people and check the over speeding vehicles just to confirm that they are obeying the laws. These local officers also act as intelligence collection officers, especially the plane cloth officers who investigate crimes and arrest the criminals. This ensures that there are peace and security in the society (Purpura, 1996).
Looking at the characteristics of the local police officers, one realizes that they are hired from the community, and this means that they understand their community in a better way. They thus know regions where crimes are likely to be committed, and this is why they are more effective in dealing with crimes at the local level. They have the ability to detect unusual behaviour which leads them to question suspects and ensure that they are not criminals.
The local police department works closely with the members of the society, in an effort to ensure that there is appropriate community policing. They thus collect information from the members of the society and then act on it to secure such residents. Their ability to interact with the members of the society freely is an important aspect that makes their efforts easier.
The officers are very alert in that they are keen to respond to emergency cases. Whenever they are called, they have to respond to such emergencies and ensure that the people are safe. When people are injured, they have to give them first aid and ensure that they are taken to medical centres where they are treated.
A major characteristic of the local police department is that teamwork is a very critical issue. Whenever the police officers are faced with a challenge, they have to ask for a back up so as to deal with the situation in a better way. They are also expected to work in a way that they avoid casualties especially when the situation deals with innocent civilians.
Having understood the work of the local police departments, it is important to evaluate the challenges that these people face. The strategies that criminals are using in the current world are different as compared to before, and this calls for an understanding of the current situation and change in the way the police deal with the criminals (Webster, 2013). First, the issue of terrorism is on the rise, and this calls for a change in approach to ensure that the local police officers can detect such criminals and deal with them. Secondly, the issue of gun use has become a challenge, and the police officers find themselves in a difficult situation of dealing with the criminals who are heavily armed.
The current situation simply means that the work of the local police officers has become even more difficult, and their lives are under risk unless there are drastic changes that are to be made. The changes should involve enabling the officers deal with the new environment as well as empowering them in their activities.
Historically, intelligence gathering has been centralized for a long time, meaning that the federal government officers have mainly collected intelligence and passed it to the local police officers to act on it. This takes a lot of time, and the information may come too late (Police Chief, 2009). The recommendation has been the decentralization of the intelligence collection processes to the local police departments. This would mean more resources for the departments in terms of finances as well as a number of officers, as well as greater training to collect such intelligence.
The use of internet has made the issue of crimes more complicated. There are crimes that are committed using the internet, but the worst challenge relates to the online recruitment of individuals to the terrorist organizations. There have been incidences of people being recruited, received training online, and they have attacked people in the society (Mawby, 2011). There is a need to empower the local police department on how to collect intelligence on the internet without violating the laws. Such intelligence can help prevent many of the crimes that happen in various communities. There is a need to enable the local police departments to deal with crimes that are committed online.
In the issue of the gun use, it is important to ensure that the local police department has the capacity to deal with criminals using heavy weapons. The police officers have to feel secure when dealing with such criminals, otherwise, crimes will skyrocket. This means that the local police departments have to be provided with the appropriate protective gear including armoured vehicles and superior weapons. They can thus respond to such incidences without the need of waiting for the deployment of the federal police.
For a long time, the local police departments are viewed to be less qualified and have always depended on the federal police departments in dealing with crimes. This is what has to be changed, by ensuring that the two levels of departments are complimentary to each other, working independently. Each of the departments needs to have appropriate capacity to handle its responsibilities. This is why the reforms are necessary (Police Chief, 2009). The local police departments need more qualified and trained personnel, to have the capacity to handle various crimes in the society.
The reforms should start with increasing the qualification and training standards of the local police officers, to ensure that there are various specialists who can handle issues such as cyber crimes. Intelligent officers can help in collecting information that is needed to act and protect the members of the society in a timely way. Secondly, there is a need to increase funding for the local departments, to ensure that they are well-equipped to deal with the local challenges. Shortage of resources hinders the way these officers handle crimes (Mawby, 2011). Enough officers and weapons are needed to ensure that work is done. The local police departments should also be given more powers to deal with criminal activities. Limiting what they can do means that many of the crimes in the society will take time before they are handled.
The recommended changes need appropriate planning so that they are implemented in a sequential way. There is a need to ensure that there are no incidences of duplication of roles in the security department, but all the officers at the various levels should work together towards achieving the goals of homeland security department (Webster, 2013). If the local police officers have played a great role in dealing with crimes, it means that empowering them will bring greater security to the United States.
In conclusion, local police departments in the United States play a great role in ensuring that the society is secure. They work closely with the federal police to achieve the homeland security goals. However, the work environment has changed leading to greater challenges in their work. The use of the internet, the age of increased gun crimes, and terrorism has become a challenge. The department needs more power and resources to execute their stewardship responsibilities (Mayer, 2011). More training and funding will prepare the officers in the department in a better way to deal with the various kinds of crimes. This will not only reduce the work of the federal officers but will also improve the security of the society.
Mayer M. (2011). Changing Law Enforcement Culture to Face Today's Threats. Retrieved from http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/06/changing-todays-law-enforcement-culture-to-face-21st-century-threatsMawby, R. I., & Yarwood, R. (2011). Rural policing and policing the rural: A constable countryside?. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate.
Police Chief. (2009). Police Chief Magazine - View Article. Retrieved from http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=1729&issue_id=22009Purpura, P. P. (1996). Criminal justice: An introduction. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Webster, D. W., & Vernick, J. S. (2013). Reducing gun violence in America: Informing policy with evidence and analysis. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
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