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Police Practices Create Poor Police-Community Relations
The police are tasked with the duty of ensuring that things that ought not to happen do not happen. Their duties include maintenance of law and order, fighting crimes, delivering services to their country and solving various problems. The broad duties of the police make their work challenging as they have to do a lot of things to ensure that their country runs smoothly.
Use of Force
The most controversial issue of the police involves the use of force to ensure that there are law and order. According to Klahm IV and Tillyer (2010), the police are given the authority of using force at various levels to ensure that citizens respond positively to various situations. While there is the normal use of force by the police, studies show that the police usually use lethal force on citizens depending on the citizens’ gender, race or ethnic origins. Terrill and Mastrofski (2002) contend that the police use more force on non-white citizens than they use on white citizens. In addition, Garner et al (2002) add that while ensuring compliance with the law, the police use more force on blacks than they use on whites. This indicates that the minority group is more likely to experience a lot of force from the police than the majority group.
Garner et al. (2002), in their studies, found that the likelihood of the police subjecting male suspects to high levels of force is higher than their female counterparts. While Kaminski et al. (2004) found that there is a high likelihood of the police to be firm on women than men, they contend that the probability of the police to use more force on male suspects is higher compared to that of female. Studies also show that the police use different levels of force on suspects depending on their ages. They are more likely to use higher levels of force on younger suspects than on older suspects (Phillips & Smith, 2000). According to Terrill and Mastrofski (2002), there is a very low probability that the police would use higher levels of physical force on younger suspects, but they would resort to using other forms of force that are not lethal.
The police also use different types of force depending on the behavior of the suspects. They are more likely to use higher levels of force on disrespectful suspects than the respectful ones. Other factors such as social class and level of education also determine the police’s use of different levels of force. The suspects who from a higher social class or with high levels of education are more likely to receive less force from the police than those from low social class and with low level of education (Klahm IV & Tillyer, 2010).
Police communication is a process that engages the police and the community and involves listening to each other to gain an understanding of what each party puts across. Poor communication between law enforcers and the community has made community policing poor and promoted dissatisfaction among the community members. There are language barriers existing between the police and the community, which make the community and the police not to properly understand each other. For example, the police may use a national language to communicate with the community members who may not properly understand it.
In addition, the community perceives the police to be brutal and do not connect well with them. This disconnection creates a barrier that is not helpful to both the community and the police. The community for example, may be aware of a crime committed in the neighborhood but may opt to keep quiet with it because of the fear of the police. This is because of the way the police treats reporters; some may expose reporters to suspects – endangering their lives, while others may treat reporters as suspects.
Lack of understanding of the police practices by the community is another issue that promotes poor police-community relationship. The community may not be informed regarding the police practices including what they should do when they experience a crime which makes many crimes to happen and pass unnoticed, hence the public blame the police for poor performance not knowing that they did not play their part. To solve this, the police should educate the community on various police practices and act humanly to crime reporters and the suspects to build positive relationship and offer quality services to the community members. The police should also organize regular meetings with the community to inform them of their expectations.
Nature of the Community
The nature of the community greatly determines the behavior of the police. Police serving communities with high levels of crimes will not conduct themselves as required by law as they are likely to be bribed or tired of following the normal procedure of arresting the suspects. This is because they meet a lot of suspects and have to follow the normal arrest procedures – which may be impractical. On the other hand, police service quiet and calm communities are less likely to engage in misconduct as they are less likely to meet with the criminals.
The act of grouping communities in troublesome and non-troublesome makes police in troublesome areas to perceive residents as non-cooperative and approach them with more force and brutality. According to Kane (2002), such communities render themselves powerless and cannot deal with the police’s bad practices and perception, and the high levels of crime experienced in the regions. While it is important for the police to group areas in such a manner, it is prudent for them to realize that not all the residents behave disorderly or engage in criminal activities. The police should use the groupings to deploy more police in the areas and strictly follow recommended police practices while dealing with the issues in such areas.
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