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Comparison of Law Enforcement of Today to Law Enforcement of The Seventies

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This paper takes an in-depth look into three articles that demonstrate that law enforcement of today can be heavily compared to law enforcement of the Seventies. Certain events that occurred then are similar to current events. There is a major distrust between police and society stemming from these events. If society doesn’t want matters to get worse, it must address the situation and determine a solution. Community policing improvements may just be one option that could improve the breakdown.

Modern Day Policing and Society

In current events law enforcement practices can often be seen at the forefront, focusing on topics such as police brutality, officer shootings, and the overall relationship between communities and police departments. Although law enforcement has seen a vast change in its different eras, some of the major challenges remain the same. This paper explores the differences and similarities of policing in two of its most perilous eras: the 1970’s and now.

Policing in the Seventies

On the cold night of January 27th, 1972, Officers Gregory Foster and Rocco Laurie of the NYPD were walking their beat when they were violently ambushed by members of the Black Liberation Army (a group dedicated to overthrowing the U.S. government for the liberation of black people). Both officers tragically succumbed to their bullet wounds. Their deaths marked just one example of the violence and issues facing law enforcement officers in the Seventies. In the 1970’s in the USA, the nation was faced with multiple volatile issues.

Racial tensions were on the rise and domestic terrorists fighting in the name of communism were two major threats that police of the era faced. Officers were confronted with many obstacles, such as riots in the streets, bombings, and ambushes, to name a few. Many of the same concerns of the time can be related to issues that modern police face. Thankfully, officers of today are equipped with more and better equipment than their predecessors from the Seventies. Ballistic vests are vital pieces of equipment that can save the lives of police that were not part of standard-issued gear in the Seventies.

Officers of today face many challenges, too. These days there seems to be a real disconnect between police agencies and the communities they serve. Many high-profile cases have been brought to light, largely in part due to social media, and it creates road bumps for police-community relations. One example of said road bumps is the alleged rise in officer-involved shootings of unarmed African-American men. There has been a lot of scrutiny of officers and departments who are involved in these situations, and it has tensions on the rise.

These events really began to receive heavy media attention with the death of Michael Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson. Brown was an unarmed black male and Darren Wilson is a white male. Riots began as a result of Officer Wilson having been cleared of all charges of the civil rights investigation, and it was determined that he had fired in self-defense. Citizens of Ferguson, the city where the event occurred, and all over the U.S., were outraged at the ruling. More events like this continue to happen since then and people are beginning to more frequently protest and riot in the streets of major cities.

Out of the aftermath of the event and others like it came the organization of the group, Black Lives Matter (BLM). The group speaks out and protests the alleged systemic racism toward African-Americans, primarily from law enforcement officers. BLM has also fallen under its own scrutiny in recent history. Some claim that BLM is a violent group that has created a war with America’s law enforcement. One example of this is the 2016 massacre of officers in Dallas, Texas. Five officers were murdered and seven more were wounded by Micah Xavier Johnson, a black male and military veteran. Allegedly Johnson was motivated to commit his killing-spree by the beliefs spread by BLM and by the media attention of police racism. Whether or not this is true cannot be confirmed, as Johnson perished after a stand-off with law enforcement personnel.

As the spotlight is more and more often on police officers, many of them feel as though their hands may be tied when doing their jobs, or that they must walk on egg-shells. Often officers will interact with minority members of the populace and they will have dozens of people standing by and filming with cameras or smartphones, just waiting for the officers to do something wrong so that they can post the videos on the internet. Another result of the increasing ridicule of law enforcement is the step-up in various forms of community policing.

Many officers genuinely want to develop a better relationship with their communities and attempt to do things that will “humanize the badge”. Better police-community relations are beneficial for multiple reasons. A community that trusts their police is more likely to aid them in reporting crimes or participating in witness testimonies. One good example of a new community policing approach is the recently viral trend, “The Lip Sync Challenge”.

Officers who participate in the challenge film themselves while on duty lip syncing and dancing to popular songs and then upload them to social media formats. Overall the response from the public seems to be mostly positive, although there are those who feel like officers are wasting tax-payer dollars while filming said videos. Either way tensions are still high, and law enforcement has a long way to go to repair the damage that has been done from both sides; the populace and the police agencies.

It’s easy to say there is an issue with what’s going on, but it’s difficult to determine the most effective route to take to repair things. I think the future of law enforcement will need much emphasis on bridging the gap between society and themselves. Communities want to know that they can trust their police, and officers want to be able to trust the people they interact with. I don’t think there will ever be an era of total trust, but I do think that there is a good chance that things will improve. The road ahead is bumpy, but it’s one worth paving.

With improvements in technology, police will eventually have more tools at their disposal and will hopefully be less likely to feel that they need to resort to deadly force. While not all officers may like the idea, more training is likely in the near future of law enforcement as well. Better training and more policies, as well as a better understanding of operating procedure by all officers, can vastly improve the way the community views police. I think the police will still be challenged by heavy scrutiny and social media coverage in the years to come, but I also believe that there will be an increase of respect toward law enforcement as a result of better training and equipment.

The public will still need to realize that law enforcement officers have a job to do, and it isn’t always a pretty one. Officers often must deal with people who are experiencing the worst day of their lives, and at times force is necessary to control the situation for the safety of society. People want the police to do a specific job of providing security, but also judge them by the manner in which it is provided. The public needs to have a bit of trust in their police agencies and allow them to do what must be done without demanding that their hands be tied. There will always be a bit of give and take between society and law enforcement. That is why community policing is detrimental to the future of law enforcement.

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Comparison of Law Enforcement of Today to Law Enforcement of the Seventies. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modern-day-policing-and-society-where-are-we-headed/
“Comparison of Law Enforcement of Today to Law Enforcement of the Seventies.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modern-day-policing-and-society-where-are-we-headed/
Comparison of Law Enforcement of Today to Law Enforcement of the Seventies. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modern-day-policing-and-society-where-are-we-headed/> [Accessed 26 Jan. 2022].
Comparison of Law Enforcement of Today to Law Enforcement of the Seventies [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2022 Jan 26]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modern-day-policing-and-society-where-are-we-headed/
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