Changing Times: Police Functions and Technological Changes

Changing Times: Police Functions and Technological Changes

Kaplan University

CJ444: Managing Criminal Justice Organizations

If you take a look back into the historical make up and focus of police functions to include the officers themselves and the departments police work today may not seem very different from 1829 and 1845 due the same issues being dealt with but maybe the way and technology utilized to help. There are three primary functions performed today to include crime control, order maintenance and social work.

According to Cordner (2016), police were expected to prevent crime. Omnipresence was expected to be created to make the community feel as if the police were everywhere in hopes of reducing the crime rate. Crimes that were already committed were not of high importance in the early policing, they make a clear distinction between detective work and patrolling up until the 1950’s and 1960’s when the public image of policing had changed to include crime fighting into their work. Today police will police hotspots which are areas known for criminal activity in order to enhance the crime control which goes back to the omnipresence in hopes that if they are seen in these areas the rate will decrease of crimes being committed.

Order maintenance is simply maintaining order which is a function that is central to the police and the courts. Bringing the society in compliance with the law and legal authorities but with considerable discretion. Police can react in many ways depending on how the problem was initiated; if it was citizen-initiated the public is going to want to do what is best for the community or citizen’s wishes.

Social work is not something that we would typically thing that the police force should deal with but it does take place. If a cop is dispatched to a domestic dispute or crisis and refers the individual to counseling that is then considered social services but if one is accused of assault then it is considered crime. This goes to show us that these three primary functions of policing are directly related to each other.

In today’s society out of the three primary functions I would consider crime control to be the primary function of law enforcement due to the fact that if the presence is there to prevent the crime you may not have to worry about the social work portion due to the high visibility already given. Technology comes into play here because in enabled police to be more consistent with the crime-attack model that with the order-maintenance model.

When it comes to technology things have drastically changed the way policing has been handled. From the first police officer who had to walk or use primitive methods of communication such as whistles to modern times where now the radios are available and automobiles for direct communication. Technology is revolutionizing modern policing. Radars were brought about around 1940-1960’s and computer policing was available in the past but not utilized as it is today. Today we see the dash camera’s and body camera’s catching the moments of the incident taking place to help understand who’s right and wrong because the community seems to always go agains the actions of the police officer no matter if it was the correct action or not. I believe that the impact of technology in the future with policing will only better the organizations. When I think of future I think of “Robocop” and I do believe that will indeed take place soon. Motorola is currently working on wearable camera components so they can have “connected police officer”. Future is wearable glasses to catch everything on camera take photos and send them in to the dispatcher and smart belts that notify dispatchers when the gun is pulled from the holster.

The concepts and functions of policing have remained the three primary functions but how they have been carried out have changed and progressed over time. With technology every evolving I think that the functions will seem to become a little more understood and clear for following all the laws in place.


Cordner, G. W. (2016). Police Administration, 9th Edition. Retrieved from

Fagan, J., & Tyler, T. (2004). Policing, order maintenance and legitimacy. Policing in Central and Eastern Europe: Dilemmas of Contemporary Criminal.

Madhani, A. (n.d.). Motorola: High-tech future for police includes smart belts and drones. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from

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