By Raymond Wambsgans (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cak757/15909120412/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
There is an existential crisis in the realm of community policing these days. Ask a police officer what his or her defining role is, and you will likely get one of the following responses:
- I am a member of law enforcement.
- I work as a community servant.
- I belong to the protective services brotherhood.
What you won’t hear is the truth. Today’s policing has transformed into a neighborhood peacekeeping force. Now, before you emotionally react to that statement, consider the modern issues facing police officers. These are frustrating realities they face each day:
- Crime fighting is not as simple as it used to be. It is extremely complicated due to a variety of social factors.
- Laws are outdated and ambiguous, and too many crimes go unprosecuted.
- Funds have dried up, causing local precincts to put more emphasis on reducing costs and expanding revenues.
- The pressures from the community, including those who run the community, are extreme.
- While the overall crime rate has gone down, certain types of random and violent crimes are increasing.
- Police are working longer shifts, filling out more paperwork, and covering more territory than ever before.
- Staff training is inadequate; most of it is based on protecting yourself and your career.
- The mental health/substance abuse crisis is an all-consuming entity in regards to available time, energy, and resources.
- The types of poverty they are beginning to see is reminiscent of third world countries.
- Civil unrest is pushing law enforcement and this nation to the brink of disaster.
In other words, our cities and rural areas are experiencing desperation and decay with some dissolving into utter war zones. The reestablishment of some semblance of law and order is a top priority in situations such as these. Notwithstanding terrorism concerns, this is the other major reason police departments across the USA are becoming more heavily armed and displaying much less patience.