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In everyday practice, one may not reflect on the long history of policing systems and the changes that have taken place in different phases of their development. However, an appropriate theoretical framework provides a better understanding of current events and helps in predicting the route forward. Since “kin policing, with its penchant for blood feuding and traditions of tribal justice”, the society has changed greatly (“History of Law Enforcement” par. 1). The history of policing development is marked with many phenomena. This paper will explore two significant events concerning the judicial field and police, the development of the U.S. Supreme Court and the facilitation of the community policing movement, and explain their meaning for the present-day policing.
The U.S. Supreme Court Development
Before the Constitution was promulgated, the USA was governed by the Articles of Confederation. Congress accumulated legislative and executive powers, but a national judiciary was absent. Subsequently, the delegates assembled at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, expressed consent that it was necessary to establish a national judiciary (“History and Organization” par. 3). This event is momentous. As the fundamental principle, the separation of powers is not only a preliminary step to good governing but a guarantee of democracy.
One of the most prominent figures in the history of the Supreme Court is John Marshall. His contribution to the Supreme Court authority establishment is substantial. Marshall worked for more than 34 years (“The Court as an Institution” par. 6). He kept dissension to a minimum and introduced the practice of presenting a single opinion: before that, justices expressed it ordinarily. Under Marshall’s leadership, the Supreme Court became the highest judicial tribunal with extensive powers over state and federal legislatures: it could invalidate laws that infringed constitutional rights (Iron 3). As a result, it gained considerable power.
In the course of time, the Supreme Court acquired a new function, policy making. In the 1880-90s, African Americans and whites were separated in public places: law prescribed “separate but equal” facilities (railroads, restrooms, and so on). In 1896, the protest occurred: Homer Plessy refused to move from a white car of a train; he was arrested and charged. Although he contended that the law was not constitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the statute. Thus, racial segregation continued. In 1954, African Americans claimed that their children were deprived of equal opportunities because of the law requiring school segregation.
The Supreme Court held that separate education was unequal and laid foundation of desegregated public schools (“History and Organization” par. 25). This example demonstrates how court decisions may influence the reality. While legislative power is more theoretical and executive power proceeds from the state, judicial issues are essential because they are connected with feedback given by society. The police should take into account the sphere of judicial system influence.
The current era of policing has brought many reforms. Among them, the community policing movement is noteworthy. Its origins go back to the 1960s when the civil rights movement came to prominence. Treating racial minorities more severely than whites, “the police were exposed to a great deal of public criticism” (“Police: Community Policing” par. 2). It was necessary to establish new methods of cooperation. Team policing and foot patrol were the first forms of community policing.
The interest to community policing accelerated in the 1980s. The traditional roles of the police were extended: they were expected to deal with physical and social signs of disorder, such as broken windows or aggressive panhandlers. Such signs make people fear for their personal safety and show that a neighborhood is not watched. As a result, such areas are likely to suffer from more predatory crimes (“Police: Community Policing” par. 10).
The new policy drew a response: police departments conducted experiments proving that the police are capable of their new role to work with citizens “in creative ways to help solve contemporary problems related to crime, fear of crime, disorder, and decay” (Nwankwo 17).
By the 1990s, community policing had become an integral part of American police practice. Throughout the whole country, police departments implemented community policing reforms (“Police: Community Policing” par. 15). It was an important step since the vigorous debates and practical issues made the police and civil society reflect on the system improvement and assured they had chosen the right method. The advantages of this approach are the acceptance of community policing and its effectiveness. Historically, African American and Hispanic groups have strained relationships with police, but community policing gives an opportunity to work with them directly. In terms of organization, decentralization provides smaller, more flexible units that prove to be more efficient.
To sum up, the history of policing systems is characterized by many significant events. Since the Supreme Court has been founded, the democratic principle of separation of powers is embodied; moreover, public may provide authorities with reaction to a certain law. Another achievement is community policing: crime prevention measures and small police units are needed in the nowadays world. All in all, for the comprehension of the modern processes and future success, it is necessary to consider the experience of the past.
History and Organization of the Federal Judicial System. 2008. Web.
History of Law Enforcement – Police History. 2016. Web.
Iron, Peter. The Steps to the Supreme Court: A Guided Tour of the American Legal System. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.
Nwankwo, Peter O. Criminology and Criminal Justice Systems of the World: A Comparative Perspective. Bloomington: Trafford Publishing, 2011. Print.
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The Court as an Institution. 2014. Web.