Policing Functions

The USA is known to have law enforcement bodies which are tasked with various functions. These law enforcement bodies altogether aim at meeting the citizen’s needs, and thus in one way or another, they strive to achieve their duties albeit collectively. There are three main law enforcement bodies, which are: the Federal Police, the State Police and the Local Police. These bodies are of different levels with different procedures and responsibilities, but they have near comparable functions. These functions ensure that there is an inherent co-operation between the various policing groups. Of note is that almost every single state has its own policing structure giving individual responsibilities, powers and allowing for getting and receiving of funds differently.

Even though all these law enforcement bodies have their areas of jurisdiction, they have similar basic functions which are maintaining law and order, arresting offenders, Crime prevention, offering and providing of emergency services to the society. At the federal level, there is the federal police which is entrusted to protect the USA against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the USA and provide leadership services to the federal government, state, municipal and international agencies and partners. At the state and local level, the police characteristically act frequently as lone rangers without immediate supervision. Much of the state and local police’s work involves maintaining civilian order.

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Significant changes in the USA law enforcement bodies began soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Most individual states set up various security teams, amongst others to provide advice specifically to the governor and the legislature. The post September 11 period was an intense period full of radical changes. It was a period that called for self-assessment amongst the police; questions at the time were all over the effectiveness and efficiency of the police in abating crime. This resulted in the loss of morale and confidence amongst the police force, and, as a result, each police officer got to self-question him/herself as part of resolving the resulting identity crisis, several changes were effected, new laws came into place immediately, and some were to follow in due course. Fast forward changes have been effected, and still others subject to law changes in the future are to be effected definitely having a huge impact on the field of policing.

The most probable change in law is the one that will give more impetus to the allowance of zero tolerance on criminals, offenders and dissents to the law. Studies overtime have showed that allowance of zero tolerance strategy has led to an almost nil elimination of socially undesirable deeds in society. Major issues are improper use of arms, organized terrorism, drug trafficking, over speeding, embarrassing intelligence leaks and real time cyber security threats. Laws have to be changed to enhance the USA’s cyber defenses against cyber-attacks. Though it can be argued that the very laws on empowering the police enforcement units to fight cybercrime have been blocked in the congress before, it can be said that it is just a matter of time before the laws get enacted. Zero tolerance on drug traffickers is most likely to curb the vice; a law aimed at arresting the chief dealers in the drug trafficking chains is bound to ensure that the main players are held responsible for their deeds thus in the process severing the supply chain in the drug trafficking. The turn of focus from the foot solders/couriers in the drug trafficking is bound to lessen the work of the police force who are at times overstretched. Also, measures have to be taken to enact laws and/or make changes to existing laws to combat emerging organized terrorist networks. These laws have to be changed or enacted with the full involvement of the police since there should be an anticipation on the blowback potential risk posed by the terrorists. Issues of intelligence leaks, which have recently been on the news embarrassing senior USA officials has to be addressed, as well; laws on improved transparency and integrity have to be brought to force because lack of transparency and integrity has greatly left the police fraternity red faced. Overly in general, a wide range of opinions, especially from national security experts, highlight the need for laws to be brought to force, which will help the police force deal with the risks of America’s face in terms of infrastructure, economy and overall security.

State police in various states are required to be well equipped and ready to fight off crime using weapons and equipment that are more advanced than those in the hands of criminals. This though is potentially hard in states like Virginia and Idaho where laws are in place restricting the use of means of surveillance like drones by state police and other police bodies. Though it can be argued from the Idaho state perspective that use of drones as a means of surveillance is a breach of the citizen’s rights, the state police have to be given enough operating space to have their paramount work of keeping the state safe done. One is sooner or later going to propose a law allowing for the use of these very restricted drones in Idaho and Virginia. Sooner or later, the argument that drones are cheaper to maintain while being very effective equipment is going to arise. As soon as these laws get repelled and the need of obtaining warrants to use drones in gathering evidence is done away with, the state police is going to move to an era of freedom of operation whereby their hands will not be tied when pursuing criminals or leads. It should also be noted that in coming years, the use of drones as a means of gathering spy information and evidence is expected to go high. Thus, there is a need to come up with laws that will be aimed at safeguarding the correct and incorrect use of miniature and easily concealable devices which have the ability of capturing video/still images.

International treaties, to which the USA is a signatory to, need to be scrutinized, as well. Some of these treaties have been known to limit the effectiveness of the various law enforcement bodies. An example is the Geneva Convention on road traffic. This treaty has been an Achilles heel for most law enforcers; some states have unknowingly been violating the international treaty. There have been cases whereby visitors with foreign driving licenses are required to have international permits issued by their countries of residence, as well as have valid driving licenses from their home countries. Thus, in the future, the USA should enact laws guarding against the misinterpretation of international treaties in relation to state and local police law enforcement bodies.

Therefore, it can be conclusively said that different organizational levels from the federal, state to the local level have to be prepared for changes in laws both locally and when there is signing of international treaties. In addition, the impact on changes in laws has to be anticipated by the law enforcers, and in relation to this, the bodies in charge of the police agencies should look at ways of educating and keeping their police officers up to date.