The Structure Of American Police Departments Essay

964 Words 4 Pages
The structure of American police departments, and those in many other countries are easy to understand. The departments, like the ones here in this country, are organized in a para-military manner, following the principles of Sir Robert Peel (Bohm, 2010). As Peel stated, policemen should be able to command their tempers, and they should be of good moral character. That is the easy part, but as we know, police departments are made up of officers from many different backgrounds and cultures. How do we know how they will act in any given situation, or what type of officer they will be? Training is an obvious answer, but even with training, police officers are individuals, with their own ideas of right and wrong, and their own way of doing things. Political Scientist, James Q. Wilson identified three operational styles that police officers fall into, and explained how each style works (Bohm, 2010). Consequently, we can compare these operational styles, and where they fit into police work in regards to the four main functions of a police department, which are patrol, investigations, traffic enforcement, and drug enforcement (Bohm, 2010). Wilson identified the three operational styles as the legalistic style, the watchman style, and the service style (Bohm, 2010). The legalistic style was identified by Wilson as the officers who placed an emphasis on the violations of the law which occur. This style of officer is more prone to use arrest or the threat of arrest to solve…

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