The trends, past, present, and future in policing

Law Past, Present, and Future Trends

Law Enforcement Past, Present, and Future Trends

Law enforcement or policing has been an old profession throughout America’s history being established in the mid 1600’s to present day. However like all professions that have dated back to early times their major ways of improving the profession is to learn from experience. Throughout history policing sought out effective strategies in different era’s to help keep the community in balance. However each era developed their own effective strategies in order to keep crime under control. For example in the 1980’s-1990’s in order to reduce or control the major drugs on the streets law enforcement came up with an effective strategy called the war on drugs. Each era proposed their own strategies as for the past trends those are the strategies we have learned and corrected, as for the present trends we are still improving are thought process on how to better our strategies so everyone can benefit, and as for future trends we are proposing certain strategies that will help us to succeed in the future based on our current trends. Within this paper I will compose the trends of the past, to the trends of the present day, and lastly to propose what is in store for our future trends.

Law Enforcement Past Trends

Based on past trends of law enforcement intelligence, this has played a major role when conducting police or law enforcement work. However certain situations in the past have questioned the intelligence of the police or law enforcement, for example “past instances where the police maintained records of citizens’ activities that were viewed as suspicious or anti American, even though no crimes were being committed. This, of course, violates fundamental constitutional guarantees and offends the American sense of fairness with respect to government

intrusiveness” (COPS, 2014). This was questioning the fact that the boundary was not precise in the means of keeping and collecting data or information. Beyond complications the early intelligence of which was initiative by law enforcement or police lacked focus, purpose, and process. In the early stages of American policing, American police departments lacked power, central authority, and the unifying mandate of their enterprise. However they got their authorization and resources from local political leaders or ward politicians. Even though police forces were under command of these politicians they were also in fact guided by law, in order of the task they had to conduct and in what sense of powers they could use or obtain. Police function in this time was provided by a range of services to the citizens. Although their main functions were to provide control, order maintenance, and crime prevention, police also sought out a wide variety of social services. As according to author George Kelling, “In the late 19th century, municipal police departments ran soup lines; provided temporary lodging for newly arrived immigrant workers in station houses and assisted ward leaders in finding work for immigrants, both in police and other forms of work” (Kelling, 1988). The outcomes of early policing resulted in riot and crime control, maintenance of order, and relief from many industrializing society problems (hunger, and homelessness). However the lack of structural control over officers resulted in decentralization and the political nature of insufficiencies and disorganization.

Present Trends

In present times such as in essence of the 40’s-70 the primary strategies of policing were crime control and criminal apprehension. With this UCR’s was established which is Uniform Crime Reports, this became the primary standard by police organizations which this system measured their effectiveness. Through Uniform Crime Reports officers were analyzed or measured by the number of arrests they made, response time, the number of passing, and the primary measure of police effectiveness crime rate. According to Kelling,

“The reform strategy was a successful strategy for police during the relatively stable period of the 1940’s and 1950’s.Police were able to sell a relatively narrow service line and maintain dominance in the crime control market. The social changes of the 1960’s and 1970’s, however, created unstable conditions. Some of the more significant changes included: the civil rights movement; migration of minorities into cities; the changing age of the population (more youths and teenagers); increases in crime and fear; increased oversight of police actions by courts; and the decriminalization and deinstitutionalization movements” (Kelling, 1988).

To combat these new issues police organizations had to readjust their approach on crime and crime control. From the 80’s-present day policing focused more on a community strategy which consisted of quality of life in neighborhood, problem solution, reduction of fear, increased order, citizen satisfaction with police services, and crime control.Authorization was based on community support and law professionalism. Their functions were primarily on crime control, crime prevention, and problem solving. Police organizational design was decentralized, task forces were created, and matrices as well.

Future Trends

Future trends policing will look to expand on is using new strategies and technologies in a proactive outcome in order to achieve success. In order for future trends to work or be successful police agencies must keep up with the times in order to serve justice. A suggested technological advance is that police are using social media to their advantages such as,

”Police departments are using social media for a variety of reasons for two basic purposes:disseminating their own messages to the public, and gathering information from socialmedia platforms to prevent and investigate crimes. Many agencies are using social media or expect to do so in the future in order to facilitate criminal investigations (e.g., observing suspects’ postings on Facebook for self-incriminating comments), be aware of the mood of the public during major demonstrations, share important information with the public during times of crisis as well as about everyday news and events, receive crime tips, and receive crime reports” (Police Executive Research Forum, 2014).

With technology becoming more advance by the years police agencies need to keep up with the times and by doing this they need to become more technologically advance. By doing this they need to become reliable through computers, social networks, electronic devices (phones, tablets, GPS, cameras, etc.) and become more knowledgeable of cybercrimes such as fraud, hackers, cyber terrorism, espionage, and computer intrusions.


Throughout the many years or generations policing or law enforcement has been in our society their main purpose was to adjust to the times at hand. In meaning by this is policing had to be conducted due to the era of time there were in, such as of today police agencies need to be more technologically sound in order for them to solve crimes. As for times in the past policing was more in the form of foot patrols and handling society problems such as starvation, elections, riots, and crime control. In present day policing focuses on the effect of UCR’s, neighborhood life, problem solving, decrease fear, increase order, and crime control. In future retrospect’s policing will need to control technological crimes, cyberspaces, obtain electronic knowledge, and control expenses at the same time. In the years passing each era had its own way of policing due to the times and the events that occurred, in order for this policing had increase their advances through policing strategies in order to keep balance in society.


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COPS. (2014). A Brief History of Law Enforcement Intelligence: Past Practice and

Recommendations for Change. Retrieved from

Police Executive Research Forum. (2014). Future Trends in Policing. Washington, D.C.: Office

ofCommunity Oriented Policing Services. Retrieved from

Rickman, S. (2013, February 1). Crime Trends and Implications of 21st Century Policing.

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