The role of police officers is basically to protect lives and property. They receive complaints from the public, arrest, and forward the cases to prosecutors who forward them to the courts. The work environment of police officers is demanding, stressful, and sometimes fatal. This paper is intended to provide a comparison of the police force in the United States (US) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The police departments in the two countries were started significantly different times. In the US, police departments were started in the mid 19th century while in the UAE, the police force in each of the emirates was founded some 100 years later, in the mid 20th century. For instance, the Dubai police force was founded in 1956 while the General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police was founded in 1956. The paper shows that police forces in both the US and the UAE are largely different, although a few similarities may exist.
On one hand, several differences do exist between policing in the US and in the UAE. First, there is a difference on the citizenship of individuals intending to join police force in two countries. In 2009, Abu Dhabi Police introduced recruitment of foreigners to serve in the capital’s police force as community officers. The emirate intended to recruit non-Emiratis who have a background in community policing to patrol the communities where their language is spoken most together with regular officers but with no powers to arrest. In comparison, the US police force requires that those intending to be police officers must be American citizens. Second, there is a difference in the policing framework applied in the US and the UAE policing. On one hand, the US has a fragmented system of policing, or a decentralized system. The reason is that the law enforcement in the US is decentralized in that there are many independent agencies responsible for policing services (Conser, Paynich, Gingerich, 2013).
However, policing in the UAE is generally centralised because the police General Directorates are placed within the Ministry of Interior headquartered at Abu Dhabi (Linden, 2007; Stamatel, Sung, & Newman, 2010). Each of the three emirates has its own police force although the uniforms and insignia are the same across the all the emirates. Local name badges across all the emirates are different. The police in Abu Dhabi, Umm al Qiwain, Fujeirah and Ajman functions under the central police command of the ministry of interior in Abu Dhabi. However, police functions in Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah and Dubai functions under the coordination of the police command situated in each of them, although the ultimate authority is vested in the interior ministry in Abu Dhabi (International Monetary Fund, 2008).
Third, a close examination of the penetration women in the police force in the US and the UAE shows that women are underrepresented (Strobl, 2012). In the UAE, women penetration in the police force is low as they constitute about 5% of the police force (Strobl, 2012). In comparison with the US, it is observed that about 14% of the employees in the force are women, showing that the US has more women in the police compared to the UAE. The presence of women in the police force is believed to sensitize the force towards the needs of women and children (Horne, 2006).
On the hand, policing in the two countries shares some similarities. One similarity observed between the police force in the countries is in regard to women penetration and male domination (in numbers) in the force. In both the US and the UAE, there are few women involved in policing compared to male officers. In the two countries, male officers dominate policing as they make up more than 80% of the police force. In addition women are continuously being discriminated against in the two countries (Horne, 2006; Strobl, 2013). For instance, in the Gulf Countries, UAE included, police women are mainly segregated units whose primary role is to provide assistance to women and juveniles as victims, and witnesses; as well as investigating cases involving women and children as offenders. In addition, women in the police force work as screeners in the UAE’s airports (Strobl, 2013).
The two countries seem to share some policing similarities in the way in which police stations and departments are run. Although all the police general directorates in the UAE are placed within the Ministry of Interior, each of the emirates is required to maintain its own police force and supervise the police stations in the emirate (Linden, 2007; Stamatel et al., 2010). Similarly in the US, there are many independently organized agencies responsible for law enforcement (Conser et al., 2013).
In conclusion, this paper has demonstrated that although some a few similarities do exist, police force in the US and the UAE are different. Whereas law enforcement in the US is highly decentralised, Police General Directorates throughout the emirates are under the supervision of the UAE Ministry of Interior. The other areas in which the differences have been observed are citizenship requirements for recruitment, and women penetration in the force.
Conser, J., Paynich, R., & Gingerich, T. (2013). Law enforcement in the United States. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Horne, P. (2006). Policewomen: Their first century and the new era. The Police Chief, 73(9). Retrieved from http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display&article_id=1000
International Monetary Fund (2008). United Arab Emirates: Detailed assessment report on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism. Washington, D.C. Author.
Linden, E. V. (2007). Focus on terrorism. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Stamatel, J. P., Sung, H., & Newman, G. R. (2010). Crime and punishment around the world. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Strobl, S. (2012). Progressive or neo-traditional? Policewomen in Gulf Cooperation Council Countries. In C. Morro, & T. A. Fredrick (eds.), Getting in is not enough: Women and the global workplace. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press.