Police officers face many challenges when trying to maintain communities’ safe and crime free. Over the last two years there has been a major surge in the amount of communication devices available to the public and the amount of news coverage that we are exposed to. “The public has increasingly turned to cable television, the Internet, and social media for news and information. Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter that were not around 10 years ago today have 1. 1 billion and 500 million users, respectively” (NCCPSAFTEY).
Because of these changes in technology law enforcement has to constantly evelop new strategies for effective policing and they have to transform contemporary strategies. This easy access to news information can be both positive and negative. It is easier for information to be skewed if it is found on social media, and as a student that has a social media account, I have seen the negative effects of others spreading inaccurate information. Many people see videos on Facebook, and they take that information as absolute truth; they don’t check the facts with a trust worthy sources.
This has caused public trust in law enforcement to decline. Public trust is necessary for effective olicing because it ensures the safety of both the officer and the public. In the past few years there has been constant pressure on law enforcement to make changes because they are believed to be racist in high crime areas. According to NIJ this mind set is incorrect, “race has not been found to directly influence how people form opinions about law enforcement.
In fact, when researchers controlled for factors such as the level of neighborhood crime, the reported quality of police-citizen encounters, and other demographic variables such as age, income and education, the effects of race disappeared entirely r were substantially reduced. ” (NIJ). The reason people of high crime areas are distrustful of police is because they constantly hear about negative connotations associated with police officers. Mobile devices and social media have spread that area of coverage from the local level to the national level.
With the help of technology, we now know about an event that arose across the country. The US as a whole has become more distrustful of law enforcement because the media focuses on the few cases where corrupt police officers were to blame; to try and spread their agenda. People don’t want to hear that verything is fine in the world, if that were the case, news outlets would be out of business. This causes pressure on news outlets con skew the information they present to the public.
Without an unbiased form of documentation and communication, it can also be exceptionally hard to find out what truly happened in critical situations. Many videos posted on social media don’t tell the entire story and they can easily be interpreted incorrectly. The person posting the video on social media always presents his self or herself as the victim; even though that is not always the case. Many media outlets also pread inaccurate information to the public by prematurely releasing information to beat their competitors and they take information from both official and unofficial sources without first fact checking for truth.
For example, “in 2013 a study of the 7. 8 million messages sent via Twitter in the first 100 hours following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing found that just 20% of the tweets contained factually accurate information” (Gupta, Lamba, and Kumaraguru, 2013). In the last few years, law enforcement has been the subject of many media outlets across the country. With each new case about olice brutality, the mistrust of law enforcement has increased. This causes communities and law enforcement organizations to suffer.
Many times the use of excessive force, and police misconduct have been documented and have increased the public’s concern for safety and the ethical behavior of law enforcement. The issues with this is that law enforcement agencies are criticized as a whole for the actions of a handful of officers. Law enforcement organizations across the country are constantly faced with issues of accountability and integrity. There are two high profile events that have negatively affected rust in law enforcement; the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the killing of Eric Garner in New York.
Both of the police departments associated with these high profile cases are examples of open systems. Opens systems are organizations that are involved in a progressive interaction with their environments. The managers of open systems have to constantly make changes to their organizations based on their environment to maintain balance. External factors that can have an effect on open systems are the media, courts, politicians, and the characteristics of their employees.
The needs of the ommunities they service also effect they type of policies that they are going to employ. For example, a police station in the Bronx is going to have different policies than a police station in Rockville MD. Public Trust in officers can either increase or decrease, based on how the police stations respond to these external factors. Both police stations that are under scrutiny for the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner are open systems because they have to make changes due to the immense media pressure.
In the case of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson the police department was left with incidents of rioting, and iolence directed towards the police. The organization was forced to decide whether it was going to allow these demonstrations to continue or if they were going to use police force to break up the demonstrations. The department decided to do the lather. This lead to a greater loss of public trust in officers across the country, not just those located in Ferguson. “Law enforcement agencies were accused of using excessive force to break up peaceful protests. (Washington post. )
Although the excuse given for their use of excessive force was because of violence, the associated press reported otherwise. The only hint of violence at the first protest was described by an Associated Press reporter, who reported chants of “kill the police. ” That report has since been disputed by people at the protest, who have suggested that the AP journalist or police misheard other chants. From what I can find, that report was also never confirmed by any other journalist. The problem lies in how local police responded to that initial protest.
They brought out the full riot arsenal. ” (Washington Post). This shows that if a law enforcement agency try to strip protesters of their rights, he people are going to get angry and will cause a bigger issue. Another reason that there is a loss of public trust in Ferguson is that the people don’t identify with the police. The police force isn’t representative of its entire population and that leads to accusations of racism. According to the Washington post, “Ferguson is 67 percent black, while its police force is more than 90 percent white.
It’s a community with long-simmering racial tension between police and the people they serve. “(Washington Post). This key bit of information is what started the “Black Lives Matter” movement. The community has to feel it is represented in law enforcement for trust to grow in these communities. There are a number of ways that law enforcement officers can try and break the racist stereotypes and build trust within their communities while also giving back at the same time.
The most important thing when trying to build trust is a positive interaction between officers and the communities. Law enforcement agencies can use neighborhood watch programs to help in crime reduction in high crime areas. If the community feel that they can work positive with law agencies then they will feel safer. The current issue is that colored folk feel targeted by officers and they are afraid for their lives. By showing these people that they can positively work with officers without being a victim, they will in turn have more respect and trust for these agencies.
According to Ron Kess, “By organizing and bringing together the citizens living in a neighborhood to work together and report suspicious behavior to the police, the opportunities for a potential criminal to commit a crime are greatly reduced. ” Police officers can also build trust in the youth by doing K9 demonstrations in schools, “the role and duties of the police fficer and dog are explained, as are the techniques used by the handler to help the dog locate victims, suspects, narcotics and bombs. ” (Ron Kess) Fear of law enforcement has been seen to cause minorities to act differently towards cops.
By having K9 demonstrations, students will personally see that the police is actually present to make a positive difference. And finally by starting outreach programs for the homeless, the poor receive the supplies they need to survive and the community becomes a safer place because the people in need are receiving their basic necessities for life. The killing of Eric Garner is another high profile case that has fueled the “Black Lives Matter” movement and has added to the loss of trust of law enforcement.
The people search for justice to receive closure in cases like these. Many times the justice system doesn’t help close these open wounds and the court system’s decision can sometimes lead to protests and anger, such is the case with the decision not to charge Wilson; the cop who put Eric Garner in a choke hold. According to Slate “the default setting for our criminal justice system-both explicitly and implicitly-is to believe that an on-duty officer who takes nother citizen’s life was justified in doing so. ” This assumption is a major flaw in our system.
Even when the killings are caught on video the system tries to justify their actions. In the case of Eric Garner, the grand jury kept interviewing witnesses, but the people became angry citing that the video was more than enough evidence, and that he can witness the crime first hand. Decision making by police officers relies on many external factors that include the environment that each officer works in, the characteristics of each officer, how they react to situations hen they arise, and the type of leadership present inside the organization.
The most important factor that affects public trust in law enforcement is probably each officer’s discretion of police discretion. After being trained, police officers normally work under very little supervision. Many organizations have started to implement body cameras on officers to track how they have acted in key situations, but it is very difficult to constantly monitor all officers. Technology fails and as it’s been seen on the media, body cameras are not always functioning correctly.
According to Wilson (1968) there are three different forms of policing that can be found in organizations; Service, Legalistic and The Watchman. Discretion by police officers is mostly used when a watchman type of policing is being used. Watchman organizations are normally more concerned with maintaining order and are more likely to let a person go with a warning. According to the National Research Council, “Discretion is used along with arrest powers to persuade, threaten, and discourage potential lawbreakers” (National Research Council, 2004, pp. -71).
Legalistic police agencies on the other hand are more concerned with enforcing the law no matter how small the crime may be. Organizations that follow Legalistic style of policing have high arrest rates and use the law to target individuals believed to be breaking the law. Law enforcement in high crime area, tend to be more legalistic which leads to a distrust in police officers. In service style policing less emphasis is placed on using arrest for minor infractions, and officer tend to be more forgiving.