Police forces are immensely essential; in all countries across the world. The role played by the police is great and indisputable. However, many people across the world have a negative attitude towards police forces and hence they do not take time to understand what they go through. They sometimes work under harsh conditions while their health is put into risk for the best interest of the people. Social order is an important aspect of a stable country. The police are usually at the front line to ensure that every village, street and settlement are peaceful, while the order is maintained. Administration of justice would be very weak without the efforts and the role played by the police department. They are involved in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of perpetrators in criminal cases, with the aim of ensuring that criminal cases are reduced and people are given the opportunity to enjoy their life as they continue with their business. The police department should be strong enough as it influences economic performance of a given region or country.
There are various issues which require to be put across about the police department. This is after it is clear that the police department is losing its position in the society significantly. Various stakeholders need to come up with a refined approach in the vital department which no country can do without. Various writers have been concerned about some issues, and decided to write them down to expose some truth and trigger some actions. Elizabeth Reuss-Ianni and Egon Bittner are key writers whose writings can assist in understanding the department better. In their books Two Cultures of Policing: Street Cops and management Cops, and The Quasi-Military Organization of the Police respectively, they provide an opportunity to explore issues in the department. Issues on two different cultures, in the police department and the misconception that the police is a quasi- military are discussed respectively.
According to Elizabeth Reuss-Ianni, there are two cultures within the police department including the street cop culture and the management cop culture. The street cop culture constitutes of those police officers who are involved on the ground to maintain order. On the other had, the management culture is associated with police bosses at their managerial level. There is an increased conflict among members of the police department; the culture that particularly developed between street cops and their bosses. The dilemma seen in modern policing in urban centres is a clear sign of effects of conflicts between the two cultures, in the department. Operational organization of the department has failed in various occasions, which threatens the well-being of citizens who need police services. According to Elizabeth Reuss-Ianni, the presumption that the police department as an organization is immune to conflict is one of the key factors leading to such incidences. He exposes the truth, that the department is just like any other as policemen are not robots but human in nature and hence prone to conflict (Reuss-Ianni, 1993).
Mistreatment and psychological challenges are highly characterized by street cops as oppose to their bosses. This is the reason for the increased rates of suicide among member of the street cops, particularly those at lower ranks. In several cases, street cops kill their fellow officer, prisoners and families to empty their psychological challenges. These cases should be used as an alarm to stakeholders in the department.
The world is dynamic in nature and every aspect changes with time. The styles used in police departments about a decade ago may not be applicable in current situations. Little has been done in many public departments while the few which have been done has faced many challenges particularly resistance from members of the police force. Crime levels and tactics have evolved to complicated ways which is a key challenging aspect when dealing with crime. Managerial cops don’t experience the effect of changes in styles of crime in the streets. This is the reason why they continue with the culture of maintaining the status quo while street cops highly require such changes. The continuation of such a trend implies that the criminal will continue to enjoy their ill motives at the expense of members of the public and the economy at large (Reuss-Ianni, 1993). Managerial cops are characterized by the culture of bureaucracy which street cops find outdated and not acceptable due to existing circumstances.
Egon Bittner echoes the description by Elizabeth Reuss-Ianni through his writing about the misconception of the police department as a quasi military treatment of the police department. This is particularly to assist in dealing with complex cases of crime in a modern American environment. There is nothing wrong with reforming the police department to give it strength just like other government departments and private organization. This is similar to the observations made by Elizabeth Reuss-Ianni on how the police have been unable to deal with modern crime (Bittner, 1970).
Egon Bittner points out that there are some discrepancy between the police department and the military, making the police department look like a quasi-military organization. Training on preparedness between the two departments, as well as, alertness is totally different. The reason behind this discrepancy cannot be easily explained. This is because the two departments have similar nature in terms of their roles in that they all need to alert to attend to unforeseen emergencies. He is concerned as to why the police training process gives less attention in this aspect.
Egon highlight the issue of police training as one of signs of misconception of the police as a quasi- military organization. Egon Bittner states that police training is in focus of three key aspects including crime control, criminal justice administration and public relation. These elements are immensely important and there is no dispute about them. Additional areas of training include mental and psychological management skills. Skills in these areas will assist in reducing cases of mental disturbed and lack of control which leads to destruction of property, suicide cases and the killing of other people. It is, therefore, important to train them on how to handle such cases (Bittner, 1970). In addition, there is the need to introduce guidance and counselling services, free of charge for the member of the police force through, to assist them in dealing with psychological challenges when they came across them.
It is high time that the police force be appreciated as a profession like other military organizations. This will make the starting point to the respect of their job as well as the provision of appropriate working condition by those in control. Their compensation and reward would be improved which will increase their morale and commitment to serve the people in a better manner. Effectiveness of the police department would require players with both organizational skills and experience in the police force. This will improve the way police organization view a quasi- military organization.
Bittner is concerned about how the performance of police in measured. The method used makes the police organization to be quasi – military due to the fact that it is highly subjective. According to him a police officer is said to be working with the number of people they take into court. This is as per the perception that arresting and prosecution is the only roles played by the police. Police are involved into subtotal contributions leading to the final results such as arresting and prosecution. Performance evaluation in the forces should include all the other contributions either individually or in a group. This will assist in creating a police force which addresses all aspect areas of performance instead of concentrating on the only measured aspects (Bittner, 1970). Goals and objectives should be predetermined such that every police officer is well informed in advance about what is anticipated at the end of a certain period. Police officers or their representatives should be involved in setting these goals and objectives.
In recap, it is clear that policing is a complex but essential process through which social order is maintained. There are numerous issues which required to be addressed about police departments. Elizabeth Reuss-Ianni and Egon Bittner highlight some of them in their literature work after undertaking close observation of the police department instead relying on mere talk to make up their conclusions. Stakeholders should take necessary steps to ensure that the department of the police gives the required strength. This will deal with crime and maintains social order effective training, provision of adequate equipments and resources, clear goals and objectives among others are key areas through which police department can be improved.
Bittner, E. (1970). The Quasi-Military Organization of the Police. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
Reuss-Ianni, E. (1993). Two cultures of policing: Street cops and management cops. New Brunswick, N.J: Transaction Publishers.