Chapter 6 – Policing: Roles, Styles, and Functions

Chapter 6 – Policing: Roles,
Styles, and Functions
The Roles of the Police
• What Americans expect from the police
depends on how we view their role in
• Different people have different role
expectations for the local police.
• When the public’s expectation’s differ from
the official police role, officers may suffer
role conflict.
The Roles of the Police
Not everyone views the role of the police in
the same way. The majority of perspectives
consider that the police:
1. are community leaders in public safety.
2. possess broad discretion.
3. solve sociological and technological problems for
people on a short-term basis.
4. occasionally serve in a hostile or dangerous
Characteristics of Police Work
Police work requires a combination of special
characteristics. Police work involves:
• Quick decision-making
• Working independently
• “Dirty work”
• Danger
Operational Styles
After police officers are trained and begin to
gain experience, it is believed they develop
operational styles.
Operational Styles
One of the earliest scholars to report on the
existence of policing styles was James Q.
Wilson. He found three styles:
• Legalistic: an emphasis on violations of law,
and the use of threats or actual arrests to solve
• Watchman: an emphasis on informal means of
resolving disputes.
Operational Styles
• Service: an emphasis on helping the
community, as opposed to enforcing the law.
Operational Styles
A number of other scholars have tried to
categorize policing styles.
In practice, it is difficult to categorize
police officers, because each officer reacts
differently depending on the situation.
Police Functions
The list of functions that police are expected
to carry out is long and varies from place to
place. There are some similarities in police
departments though.
Patrol is called the backbone of the
department by administrators. It is the most
time-consuming and resource-intensive task
officers undertake.
Patrol duties include:
• Responding to burglar alarms
• Investigating traffic accidents
• Caring for injured people
• Trying to resolve domestic disputes
• Responding to radio calls
Preventive Patrol
Traditionally, police officers use the time
between radio calls to participate in
preventive patrol.
In the 1960s, people began to question the
usefulness of preventive patrol.
Directed Patrol
• Another strategy is directed patrol.
Evidence shows directed patrol can reduce
the incidence of targeted crimes such as
thefts from autos and robberies.
• Directed patrol can be aided by crime
Aggressive Patrol
• A strategy that can result in arrests for both
minor and serious offenses is aggressive
• This strategy has drawbacks:
 Innocent citizen are inconvenienced by random
traffic stops and field interrogations.
 It is often difficult to get all officers motivated
to use aggressive tactics.
Foot Patrol
The practice of having officers patrol their
beats on foot has regained popularity recently.
While foot patrols have not been proven to be
a significant deterrent to crime, they have
significantly improved relationships between
citizens and officers.
Detectives may be the most glorified police
officers, but they are only one unit. There are
many forms of investigation in any police
department, from hit-and-run accidents, to
undercover vice investigations, to background
checks on potential police officers.
What is Criminal Investigation?
Criminal investigation has been defined as a
lawful search for people and things to
reconstruct the circumstances of an illegal act,
apprehend or determine the guilty party, and
aid in the state’s prosecution of the offender.
What is Criminal Investigation?
The criminal investigation process has two
• Preliminary investigation: usually by patrol
officers (except in the case of homicide, or
other complex investigations).
• Follow-up investigation: usually by
plainclothes detectives.
Investigative Functions
In any type of investigation, investigators
Locate witnesses and suspects
Arrest criminals
Collect, preserve, and analyze evidence
Interview witnesses
Investigative Functions
Interrogate suspects
Write reports
Recover stolen property
Seize contraband
Prepare cases and testify in court
The Role of the Detective
Detectives enjoy several advantages over
patrol officers:
• They do not have to wear uniforms.
• They have anonymity during work hours if they
choose it.
• They have steady work hours, often during
daytime hours with weekends off.
• They have offices and desks.
The Role of the Detective
• They enjoy the prestige associated with the
• In many agencies, detectives receive higher
compensation and hold a higher rank.
• They have more freedom than patrol officers.
Despite the advantages, detectives often face
insurmountable obstacles and stressful work
• Crimes can be very difficult to solve.
• Witnesses who could help often don’t want to get
• Even with hard work, the success rate can be very
Each year, nearly twice as many people are
killed in automobile accidents on the streets
and highways of America as are murdered.
• Many deaths are alcohol-related.
• Traffic enforcement and accident
investigation is so important some agencies
have traffic accident investigation crews.
Community Policing
Recently, the effectiveness of the professional
model of policing has been questioned:
• Preventive patrol
• Quick response
• Follow-up investigation
Was shown not to reduce the
incidence of crime.
Rarely leads to quick
Is not as important as the
investigation done by the officer
on the scene.
Community Policing
The “broken windows” theory states that
those minor annoyances are “signs of crime”
and that if they are not dealt with early, more
serious problems are likely to occur.
The Philosophy and Components
of Community Policing
With community policing, citizens share
responsibility for their community’s safety.
The Philosophy and Components
of Community Policing
Citizens and the police work collectively to:
• Identify problems
• Propose solutions
• Implement actions
• Evaluate the results
Community Partnership
The first component of community policing is
establishing and maintaining mutual trust
between citizens of a community and the
Problem Solving
For problem solving to work effectively, the
police need to devote time and attention to
discovering a community’s concerns, and they
need to recognize the validity of those
Community Partnership
Building police-community partnerships
• Talking to local business owners
• Visiting residents in their homes
• Supporting neighborhood watch groups
• Ongoing communication with residents
Problem Solving
In community policing, a four-step process
known as SARA is often used:
• Scanning—identifying problems
• Analysis—understanding underlying problems
• Response—developing and implementing
• Assessment—determining the solutions’ effect
Change Management
Community policing requires:
• Flexible management styles
• An emphasis on the value of patrol officers
• Shifting decision-making and responsibility
downward in the chain of command
• Patrol officers having the resources to solve
the community’s problems
Implementing Community
Successful implementation of community
policing requires that both the community and
law enforcement understand the underlying
philosophy and have a true commitment to the
community policing strategy.
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