Policing in the United States is democratic not only in theory, but also in practice. Policing plays a crucial role in encouraging the institutions in a democracy, thereby either sustaining or eroding the quality of democracy. It is important to note that democratic policing often employs practices that lead to an increase in inequality across the society. Therefore, the book titled “Democratic Policing in a Changing World,” written by Peter Manning offers a theoretical background with regards to the nature and function of democratic policing. The author presents valuable information about Anglo-American policing and its effects on social orders in western societies practicing democracy. The book answers various questions related to the benefits of policing, evaluation of democratic policing and the role of police in shaping justice, equality, rights and responsibilities of the citizens . The author addresses various policing practices and casts light on how these practices impact the quality of life of citizens belonging to democratic societies.
Overview and Description
According to Manning, justice is the key to shaping policing practices. It is considered as a major standard in police practices as a state’s legitimacy lies in its claim to impact justice to the citizens. Citizens living in liberal democracies are characterized by rational trust as they believe the justice of institutions. Manning gives an account of distributive justice and allocative justice, thereby signifying the importance of balancing the wellbeing of individuals . He explains about how modern societies, which lack traditional beliefs and historical memories, necessitate equality as a fundamental principle of democratic policing. The book summarizes that confidence and trust deepen with the sustenance of cooperative arrangements and fundamental interests of citizens. Lack of generalized trust by citizens in turn results in lack democratic polity. The role of the police in so far as the institution is an inference rather than a function. As such, democratic policing ensures not to violate the tacit assumptions of justice as it threatens the stability of a country . The author defines policing as an element of formal social order through the surveillance of known suspects. He argues that it is difficult to establish a theoretical connection between policing and democracy as police have access to the criminal justice system through surveillance, arrests, patrolling and tracking . Democratic policing requires understanding modernity through rapid communication. Through the book, Manning defines policing as managing uncertainty and minimizing distrust among the citizens.
The second part of the book considers policing as an institution and defines the basic concepts of democratic policing, including the structural features. Furthermore, the author also discusses specific aspects of democratic policing and its impact on the society. In several areas, democratic policing reflects the occupational concerns of police. The author dedicates a major section of this part for explaining crucial aspects of American policing. As such, the readers realize that American policing is not only decentralized, but also locally funded and diverse in terms of its size . It is also evident from the author’s arguments that American policing is sensitive in nature due to its decentralized system. Instead of acquiring training in academies, federal or local training centers, American police receive their training in a layered approach, mostly at competing agencies at city, township, county and state levels across the country .
In the next chapter, Manning lists possible reasons that lead to the failure of producing a comprehensive concept of policing. Unlike Germany, France and the United Kingdom, which emphasize on antiterrorism and crime prevention, the policing structure in the US is local in its spirit and focus . The author also explains possible efforts that help to reform American policing in the past three decades, especially in areas related to problem solving, crime mapping, community policing, crime analysis and hot-spot policing. While community policing focuses on partnerships and minimizing the distance within communities, it simultaneously aims at increasing the visibility and presence of the police and the minds of their citizens. On the other hand, crime analysis and crime mapping are crime oriented, and emphasize on the accountability and management of managers in police departments . The author states that these reforms do not create an influential structural and functional impact, despite immense funding and wide publicity.
In the third part of the book, the author lists the consequences of police practices. In one chapter, Manning presents valuable information related to one of the essential natures of policing known as tactical policing. The following chapter analyzes standard police practices and outlines the strengths of the police. This section of the book also demonstrates possible flaws involved in nondemocratic policing. Manning explains how recent waves of arrests over time have labeled American policing as race-based policing . The author discusses about increasing prison populations over the recent years and relates them to immense pressure exerted on low-income communities with respect to the reliability and validity of democratic policing. In the recent years, the police have been encountering new challenges from unforeseen events as a result of the media, the legislature, internal control and command issues, and differences in terms of recording crime.
One of the significant strengths of the book is that the author has been able to successfully document the failures of American policing throughout his discussion. Manning offers fundamental concepts related to democratic policing in an efficient way. In order to understand the book accurately, one should have basic knowledge about the postmodern world. Furthermore, another major strength is that the book is a combination of sociology, political philosophy and criminal justice, which is rarely found in contemporary books of the same genre. The author best explains how various changes of democratic policing lead to distrust and displacement across cultural as well as national boundaries . It is worth mentioning about how the author follows an innovative approach in showcasing to the scholars and policy makers about possible reforms that can transform the current democratic policing of the US, which is convincing and appealing. Manning has been successful in portraying how each and every innovative step undertaken by the American policing, such as crime mapping and hot-spot policing has in turn heightened inequality across the country . Manning’s discussion about democratic policing justifies basic restructuring of the underpinnings of democratic policing mentioned in the book.
One of the major strengths of the book is that the author gives an account of policing in the public domain, thereby outlining the concepts of institutional organizations and their impact on the society. The book is one of the best sources for those who seek to foster a comprehensible and rational change with regards to public police organizations. Manning illustrates the whole discussion of democratic policing through the help of examples and makes several assumptions about citizens to reveal sociological realities. For instance, Manning presents Alan Ryan’s essay to signify the role of justice in democratic policing . With the help of these examples, the author has been able to offer a persuasive justification with regards to the significance of justice standards in evaluating matters related to social sciences. Manning clearly explains possible factors that limit the potential for change of policing in democratic societies . After reading the book, the readers realize various stability mechanisms, which act as a major driver of meaningful change.
One of the noteworthy weaknesses of the book is that it fails to explain the factors forcing change. On one occasion, the author says that American policing does not undergo an academic training . This is not true as intensive and consistent training programs are instructed to the police officers before handing over responsibilities. The only difference is that the formal training does not take place under federal supervision. Another weakness worth mentioning is that the author has criticized the current policing system for a major part of the book. He fails to offer logical reasons behind such a structure and function of the system . Furthermore, this book fails to confront the varying dynamics between Manning’s viewpoint of American policing and actual research. Nowhere in the book has the author mentioned about how technological innovation acts as a driver of change in democratic policing. The author does not provide a convincing explanation about the role of social transitions in influencing American policing.
On one occasion, the author mentions that police officials should receive training in social work and criminology, thereby gaining knowledge about social forces, law and nature of crime. I disagree with this argument because in case of any failure, the community blames the police and any efforts put in by them will go in vain. Research shows that most of the community projects fail as communities are not willing to allow police due to various past incidents, which triggered racial bias. On various occasions, the author deviates from situational context, which adds to the weakness of the book. Furthermore, Manning portrays a new picture of American policing, which criticizes their values and belief systems. The chapter on racial and communal bias is the best example that supports Manning’s criticism . A significant weakness of this book is that the author does not provide ample information on diversity in American policing. Since people are the major driver of change, lack of insight on diversity seems to be an important drawback of the book.
Difficult vocabulary used by the author limits the book to readers who are related to the field of policing or criminology and does not suit the wider audience. Most of the terms used by the author are extremely professional and contain jargons. Furthermore, the author also fails to provide definition for difficult terms used by him. While presenting the arguments of other authors, the author extensively uses quotes rather than paraphrasing in his own words. This in turn demotivates the readers from analyzing the actual content the author wishes to deliver. There is an excessive use of background information, which keeps the readers boring. Instead of specifying useful arguments in a precise way, Manning elaborates the discussion by repeatedly mentioning the same content.
Manning, P. K. (2015). Democratic Policing in a Changing World. Oxford, UK: Routledge.