Policing and the Bills of Rights
One of the reasons why the United States is considered as a democratic state is the power that is affords its citizens through the bills of rights. In this regard, the bills of rights protect American citizens from oppressions by the federal government machinery such as the law enforcers. The role of the law enforcers is to ensure that American citizens are safe within the borders of the country as well as prosecuting criminal offenders. In carrying out these duties, the police officers are expected to uphold the bills of rights and set up ways, which can help them unravel crimes. It is imperative that there would be changes in policing if the bills of rights were non-existent, while at the same time linkage blindness would affect how crimes come to the attention of the police officers.
The bills of rights were introduced as constitutional amendments in 1787 with the main aim of protecting the American people from oppression by the federal government. This was to limit the government from exerting unruly powers on the citizens. The bills of rights, therefore, protect the citizens from being oppressed by the government machinery such as police enforcers. According to the due process, police officers are expected to take into consideration certain bills of rights when maintaining law and order, as well as, when making arrests and prosecuting (Hornberger, 2008).
However, the situation would be different were the bills of rights scrapped. The police officers would have unconditional powers in carrying out their duties. This would lead to oppression of citizens in the sense that arrests and searches would be made without warrants, no trial by jury, citizens would be denied counsel and defense while witnesses would not be confronted (Hornberger, 2008).
According to Braga and Weisburd (2007), law enforcers have various ways in which crimes come to their attention. Police officers rely on community policing to be aware of the crimes that have occurred. Law enforcement agencies collaborate with the community through community policing initiatives, which in turn enable the police officers to know the problems that they should address (Braga & Weisburd, 2007). Community members inform the law enforcers of crimes through complaints. Similarly, crimes are likely to come to the attention of police officers when the police officers patrol their areas of jurisdiction.
Differently, police officers may decide to take crimes off their books by deciding not to officially record crime complaints. The police officers can also claim that the crimes did not take place by claiming that there is insufficient evidence that the purported crime took place. Lastly, police officers may delay their investigations so that the crimes would be removed off the books.
Law enforcement officers are faced by different problems in their duties. One of these problems is linkage blindness. Linkage blindness refers to the inability of law enforcement officers to piece together crimes committed by same offenders in different geographically dispersed areas. It occurs as a result of lack of cooperation and information sharing among different police agencies. This problem has serious repercussions in relation to crime and terrorism.
While acknowledging that information sharing and networking among police agencies is vital in curbing terrorism and crimes, lack of it will lead to linkage blindness. Linkage blindness adversely affects safety in the US in that it leads to failure to detect or predict criminal and terrorism activities (Simeone, 2008). Lack of networking among police agencies can also affect investigation of crimes committed at the national level.
Policing have been inspired by various individuals who have made significant contributions to the way modern policing is carried out. Some of these individuals are Sir Robert Peel, Edgar Hoover and August Vollmer. Sir Robert Peel is attributed by introducing crime rates as an effective way of measuring the effectiveness of police officers (Kelling & Moore, 1988). He also introduced the use of centrally position police headquarters that would be accessible to the public. Sir Peel promoted proper selection and recruitment values of police officers, as well as, training. J. Edgar Hoover was the director of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He is attributed with promoting professionalism in the police system by establishing FBI National Academy. August Vollmer, known as the father of American policing contributed to policing by promoting the use of forensic technology such as fingerprinting and crime laboratories.
Bills of rights ensure that police officers follow certain guidelines in carrying out the duties of maintaining law and order. In carrying out their duties, police officers become aware of criminal activities through community policing, as well as, patrolling their jurisdiction. However, linkage blindness can hinder the work of policing with far reaching effects.
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Hornerberger, J. (2008). Do we still need the bills of rights? Retrieved on 31st August, 2012 from
Kelling, G. & Moore, M. (1988). The evolving strategy of policing. Retrieved on 31st August,
2012 from https://ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/114213.pdf
Simeone, M. (2008). Proceedings of the 2008 centre for homeland defense and security annual
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