Dilemmas of Police Administration James Q. Wilson
Objectives of Police • Order Maintenance • Handling Disputes • Law Enforcement • Applying legal sanctions
Order Maintenance • Lack of agreement about police role • Ambiguous laws • “Victims” are often less than innocent • Arrest is not the desired outcome
Law Enforcement • Prevent crime • Catch criminals • How do you measure how much crime the police prevent? • Very few “who-dunits” are solved by the police • Reduction or Displacement? • Suppressing street crime is bad P.R.
Inherent Dilemmas • Lack of agreement on what successful order maintenance is in a heterogeneous society • Finding a strategy which permits the realization of effective law enforcement without alienating segments of the community
Criticisms • Bad men… • Police do the wrong things… Solution • Put the police under the control of the public
Why This Wont Work: • Police are timid about enforcing laws against their “bosses” • Involvement in conflict would still have unhappy results • Potential for abuse against “outsiders” still exists • Conflict due to heterogeneity would still exist & police would be seen as choosing sides
The Nature of Policing • The dilemmas of managing the police arises less from the quality of the officers or the level at which authority is exercised and more from thenature of the police function. • Like mental health professionals, the police are given a task they cannot perform, yet they must try to perform it.
Why Does it Work in Some Places? • Small communities • Financially well-off • High level of cooperation with police • HOMOGENIETY • Few incidents of public disorder • Few crimes against people (murder, rape, mugging…) • Police & community share a common definition of who is “suspicious”
Racial Complication • The fundamental problem of policing is one of socioeconomic status complicated by race • Are cops racist? Is this the problem? • Will a diverse force solve the problems police face in the community?
Implications • Substantial improvement in police-community relations rely on changes in the structure of American society
What Should the Police Do? • Recognize order maintenance as their primary function
Benefits of Order Maintenance • Officers judged by ability to keep the peace, not arrests or tickets • More options for handling disorder • The need for information will lead to local control (decentralization) • Strengthening of command • Master patrol officers
Making the Change • Police Officers as Craftsmen • No written body of knowledge • Learning through apprenticeship • Respect earned (or not) from coworkers • Special skills set the police apart from civilians • Organization & Leadership, not policies will lead to change
What About Law Enforcement? • Often exaggerated • Should be organized differently than order maintenance (centralized command) • Bad for community relations • Shouldn’t expect much crime prevention • Look to other agencies for solutions (i.e. Corrections) . . .