The function of police
Police work-dramatic confrontations between police and lawbreakers, with victory going to those
with more strength, power and resources.
The role of police
Most police work is peacekeeping operation. Police work encompasses preventive and protective
roles as well, for peacekeeping also includes patrol, which lessens opportunities to commit
crimes. Finally, police work involves many other tasks that are often routine, time consuming.
Such activities include maintaining extended surveillances, transporting suspects, protecting
witnesses, writing arrest and other reports, and testifying in court. Even the law enforcement
aspects of police work do not always involve “dangerous crime.” Of millions of arrests each year
in the US, only about 20% involve the more serious crimes. A third of arrests are for lesser
crimes, and another 10% for drugs.
The right to use force
The peacekeeping role is what mainly separates the functions of police from those of private
citizens. This role involves the legitimate right to use force in situations whose urgency requires
it. The law does recognize that there are times when something has to be done immediately, when
resort to the courts or other mechanisms of dispute settlement would take too long and the
damage would already be done. Police force have been established to handle such situations; the
idea is that it is better to have a small group of people(police) with a monopoly on the legitimate
right to use force than to allow anyone with a club, gun, knife, or chain saw to use force is such
immediately demanding situations.
The police bureaucracy
Virtually every police organization is the Western world is structured on a military model.
Moreover, police departments are bureaucracies.
Division of Labor
Each separate responsibility falls within a specific unit, and the designated tasks of one division
are not to be carried out by others. Divisions are narcotics, labor relations, air support, detective
services, and personnel and training.
Chain and units of Command
In theory at least, individual orders, requests, or any other types of information should flow up or
down through each level of the organizations hierarchy, and no level of supervision or command
should be bypassed. Ranks and titles include
officers, commanders, sergeants, lieutenants,
captains, majors, chiefs
, and sometimes even
. Functional units include
are composed of
, and these, in turn, can include
sections, forces or squads
units may be called
(fixed locations to which officers are assigned for duty
), routes or
(small areas assigned for patrol purposes),
(areas containing two or more posts,
routes or beats), and
(large geographic subdivisions). Time units include
watches and shifts
, and the officers assigned to a particular watch or shift are members of a
platoon or company.
Rules, regulations, and discipline