Eras of Law Enforcement

Eras of Law Enforcement
The primary functions of police in the United States include law
enforcement, maintenance of law and order, and community service. The
three functions have been developed over time in three major eras. The
first era was the political era, which occurred from 1840 to 1920
(Wrobleski & Hess, 2005). The political era was characterized by the
existence of close ties between political machines and police docket.
During this era, the national police were highly used by the political
class to suppress and control the class of people that was perceived to
be troublesome. In addition, there was a broad discretion for beat cops.
This implies that the police pursued the interest of politicians rather
than protecting people and their property.
Political era was followed by reform era, which occurred from 1920 to
1970 (Wrobleski & Hess, 2005). This era was characterized with
progressive reforms that aimed at achieving two major goals breaking
the close relationship between the political class and police and
improving the police service delivery by enhancing their
professionalism. Police were required to stay out of politics, unlike
the political era in which there was no distinct boundary between police
and politics. In addition, the police officers were required to be well
organized, trained, and disciplined in order to increase their
professionalism. They were also allowed to use technology in the process
of enforcing the law with equality. The primary function of police
during this era was crime fighting using professional procedures that
were based on merit (Wrobleski & Hess, 2005).
The reforms era was followed by community, which began from 1970 to the
present (Wrobleski & Hess, 2005). During this era, the police function
was diversified from crime fighting to include solving problems at the
neighborhood level. The police functions were decentralized from
distance headquarters to locally situated problem solving teams (Miller,
Hess & Orthmann, 2011).
Miller, L. S., Hess, K. M., & Orthmann, C. H. (2011). Community
policing: Partnerships for problem solving (6th ed.). Clifton Park, NY:
Cengage Learning.
Wrobleski, M. & Hess, M. (2005). Introduction to law enforcement and
criminal justice. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning.

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