Policing needs to change, especially has it has failed to live up to its potential in improving quality of life for all citizens. The ideal police force is indeed one that prevents crime, keeps order, respects the rights and dignity of citizens, is friendly and courteous, respects the laws, and does not abuse its power through corruption. Policing needs to be increasingly situated as integral to all other community organizations and institutions. Collaborative and strategic partnerships will help law enforcement achieve the goals it shares in common with other social and political organizations. Reforming community relations, improving trust and accountability, and working together with stakeholders are some of the keynotes of twenty-first century policing models.
According to the IACP (2018) policing will change in the upcoming years by focusing on both internal and external issues. This means that in addition to the externalities of community relationships and strategic partnerships, police organizations are also changing their organizational culture and climate. Leadership styles need to change. The blue wall of silence needs to be dismantled. The organizational culture of policing needs to reflect the core values and ethics of the institutions of law enforcement. Only through leadership and organizational culture changes can the public expect to see tangible differences in officer comportment and procedural justice.
The first pillar of change in 21st century policing is building trust and legitimacy (The Presidentâ€™s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, 2015). Community policing models are one way of building trust and legitimacy. Building trust and legitimacy means remaining responsive to community concerns. It also means improving the ethical standards of police behavior, improving accountability, and ensuring that officers are held to a higher standard. A possible means of achieving this all-important goal of building trust and legitimacy would be to professionalize the police force through a set of national standards for officer training. Instead of the fragmented and unreliable approaches used now, officers around the nation could be engaged in rigorous training that includes adopting a far less antagonistic attitude towards the public. As a Untied States Department of Justice document points out, â€œIndividuals who trust law enforcement are also more likely to call for help when they need it, or to provide other critical information that helps to prevent and solve crimes,â€ (â€œWhat 21st Century Policing Means,â€ 2015). Therefore, rebuilding trust is one of the most important factors for promoting and achieving the desirable outcomes such as crime reduction.
To develop and deal with changes, law enforcement needs leadership. Leadership in law enforcement will lay the groundwork and set the stage for a new normative culture in policing that no longer condones unethical behavior and which views its primary obligation to keeping communities safe. Police officers also need to more willingly embrace new technologies, capitalizing on opportunities to make police work more efficient, cost-effective, and accurate (IACP, 2018). Crime reduction also requires cooperation with community leaders and urban planners, as well as elected officials and real estate developers who are in a position to improve community infrastructure in ways that promotes harmony and civic pride. Reducing some of the causal variables in criminal behavior, ranging from racism to poverty, may also help, as police officers need to recognize more the importance of overarching sociological factors. In addition to improving officer training, police leadership needs to respond to officer concerns related to safety. Policing in the 21st century will include responding to the ongoing challenges of threats to national security, too. Finally, a shift in norms and values may help reduce the mass incarceration epidemic and liberate police resources away from antiquated drug policies.
IACP (2018). 21st century policing blueprint. https://www.theiacp.org/projects/21st-century-policing-blueprint
The Presidentâ€™s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2015). Final Report. https://cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/taskforce_finalreport.pdf
â€œWhat 21st Century Policing Means,â€ (2015). United States Department of Justice Archives. https://www.justice.gov/archives/opa/blog/what-21st-century-policing-means