This first chapter is concerned with the police and their place in the government. As members of the executive branch of the government in the United States, the police have the authority and responsibility to enforce the laws. The police are enforcing these laws in a democratic society. This position presents several conflicts for the police.
The police provide services to the people. However, some of these services are ones that the public may not want. This may be true in situations of traffic enforcement and arrests. The police also may infringe upon the freedom of the public. One often equates democracy with freedom. However, there are limitations on that freedom and the police are there to remind the members of society of those limitations.
The police are also not without their limitations. The police are governed by the rule of law. Laws exist to regulate the behavior of the police in the performance of their duties. Procedural laws indicate what the police may or may not do in enforcing the substantive laws.
The public police may exist in a number of forms. These forms include tribal police, public safety, consolidation, special-jurisdiction police, contract, as well as taskforce. There are municipal, county, and regional police. It is these organizations that have the most employees when compared to the federal and state organizations.
Regardless of their structure the police have a role to play in the American society. However, exactly what the role involves may differ depending upon the source of the expectations. The community may have certain expectations of the police. The police department may also have expectations of its officers. These expectations may be formal, coming from rules and regulations. The expectations may also be informal, coming from fellow officers. Lastly, individual officers have their own beliefs as to what policing should be.