This is a research paper on law enforcement. Law enforcement refers to the professionals who are mandated to enforce and uphold the laws and statutes that are in use in a given jurisdiction. Law enforcement has an aim of preventing the occurrence of a crime and making sure that justice is followed in trying suspected criminals in accordance with local laws. This research paper will describe the historical development of police agencies and their jurisdiction. Jurisdiction in this case refers to the right or power to enforce the law. Under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security and their responsibilities with regard to their primary purposes, this research paper will describe local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
Different scholars, studies and forms of literature have tried to explain the history of police in variant and equally fascinating methods. However, one common feature in their studies is that in every history of civilization, societies sought protection for their members and possessions. They point out the origin of given concepts like crime prevention, jurisdiction, professionalism and discretion. They also show the problems in policing like corruption, brutality and in efficiency. Richard Lundman suggested that the history of police involved a shift from informal to formal policing and resulted from three developmental stages: Informal policing, where policing was a communal responsibility; transitional policing, where police functions are informally delegated to particular individuals in the society; formal policing, where specific members of the community assume formal police responsibilities (Engel, 2010).
America borrowed heavily on policing from England where the community was involved in law enforcement. In early civilizations, members of one's family provided protection and hence law enforcement in colonial America was considered a local responsibility. There was established a system of night watch in the north colonies to guard cities against fire, crime, and disorder. In addition to night watch systems, there were also sheriffs appointed by the governor and constables elected by the people. These individuals were responsible for maintaining order and providing other services like: controlling slaves and Indians; regulating the markets; maintaining health and sanitation; ensuring the orderly use of streets by vehicles; controlling liquor, gambling and other vices. There were organized slave patrols in the south colonies which were mandated to control, return and punish runaway slaves. By 1837, South Carolina had a slave patrol of more than a hundred officers which was far larger than the northern city police force at the time. Policing on the Western frontier mainly inhabited by settlers, had variant policing techniques. Settlers who originated from the northern colonies developed marshals and police forces similar to those in northern colonies while settlers originating from the southern colonies created systems with sheriffs and posses. There were also groups of vigilantes destined to maintain order in the settlements.
In the 1800s, the processes of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration brought so many changes in America which necessitated the changes in law enforcement. These changes were characterized by unsanitary living conditions, poverty, and increase in crime and disorder in the cities. As a result of poor living conditions and poverty, many riots and ethnic conflicts sprouted in many American states like: in Philadelphia, the Broad Street Riot of 1837 involved almost 15,000 residents; in St. Louis, in 1850 a mob destroyed the brothels in the city in an attempt to enforce standards of public decency (Uchida, 2004). The continued riots, conflicts and increased vices generated social and economic disorders that initiated the need for larger and better organized law enforcement. After much debating in the cities of New York, Philadelphia and Boston, the political forces selectively adopted the London- style of policing. The style was defined in the London Metropolitan Police Act of 1829. Notable was the adoption of the preventive patrol idea and limitations to police authority as individual liberties were upheld.
In the American system of law enforcement, police are controlled at the local, state, and federal level. Hence, American police agencies are subject to political influence. In addition, the American police agencies are highly fragmented. These led to corruption, inefficiency, unprofessionalism and lawlessness.
This instigated a reform effort in the 19th century by a group known as the Progressives to create a truly professional police force. However, the progressives were met by strong resistance from the political forces and the police themselves hence they did not succeed. The second effort was from police chiefs department that implemented a variety of innovations that would improve the professionalism of the police. The department was autonomous from political influence and hence, succeeded considerably. Similarly, leadership and technology aided in professionalizing the police force.
The rise in crime, the civil rights movement, antiwar sentiments and riots in the cities challenged the efficiency and professionalism of the police in the 1960s. With the federal funding from LEAA, a police study was carried out by researchers and led to a new community policing strategy as a result of a research that questioned the communication gap between the police and the community as well as the police tactics and strategies. The community would provide information and help the police in the gathering of evidence from crime scenes. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 gave a financial boost to the community policing movement. This funding brought into force 100,000 additional officers, new technology, and innovative programs into the implementation of community policing. In addition, a new agency, called the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) was formed. The COPS office was significant in empowering the community policing strategy in that between 1995 and 2003, it had provided more than $6.9 billion to hire over 118,000 officers, deputies and troopers. By 1999, 60% of the strategy had been achieved. The fund also provided incentives for agency executives.
However, with the recent technologies, American police agencies face new challenges. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon challenged the America police agencies. Priorities for training, equipment, strategies, and funding have now been focused on homeland security (Uchida, 2004). In relation to the Department of Homeland Security: Local Law Enforcement agency is a governmental department charged with the responsibility of regulating and controlling the affairs of a community which includes; maintaining order, enforcing law, preventing and detecting crime.
State law enforcement agency is responsible for maintaining law and order, enforcing law, preventing and detecting crime as well as investigating crime in a given state. Federal law enforcement agency is applicable in a country with a federal constitution and varies from one country to another. It is charged with major security issues like guarding presidents, fighting international crime. Examples are FBI and Interpol.
The enforcement of law and security of persons has always been of considerable interest. The increase in population, crime, advancements in technology and required professionalism has led to the growth of the law enforcement. Political influence has contributed widely in the atrocities associated with the police force. The growth of the police force has been faced by challenges and although efforts have been made to make it professional, vices like corruption still remain in the force. However, the efficiency of the police has grown with time especially after the introduction of the community-policing strategy. The police force has also grown in number and according to 1993 figures, there are nearly 20,000 different law enforcement agencies within USA. With the increasing treads of terrorism, the police force must improve professionally and technologically to counter eminent challenges.