When individuals hear terms such as valorous, venturesome, dauntless, or lionhearted one of the professionals people think of are Police officers. Police officers are appreciated in society because people know they are the primary reason for people being able to sleep peacefully at night. They are the ones who risk their lives to protect us from threatening individuals. Police officers are always at risk. For instance, during this pandemic police officers are now one of the first responders and throughout this pandemic, their duties have been increased, such as imposing social distancing and shelter-in-place measures. There are numerous reasons why police officers are considered one of the major functionaries in the criminal justice system. This paper will review the role Police officers play in our criminal justice system.
In order to be the risk-takers that police officers are, they have to go through various types of training and meet hiring requirements. According to Schlosser, there are five primary parts of training for Police in the academy. The first one is operations and the average hours of training for this are about two hundred thirteen hours. The next two are firearms, self-defense, and the use of force. This training lasts about a hundred and sixty- eight hours. Self-improvement is about eighty-nine hours, legal education approximately eighty-six hours, and finally, training for mental illness is about ten hours. In the section for self-improvement, more than half of the curriculum pays attention to the trainee’s health and fitness (2019). Schlosser also stated the U.S. Department of Justice released an analysis of the nation’s six hundred and sixty- four state and local law enforcement academies for Police officers, which provides a rundown of the content of the academy’s pieces of training. There are different formats for academies, such as full-time training for six months, part-time training for about twelve months, and residential academies. These academies are very similar to military boot camps. Even though academy training varies by state, the average duration of these training programs in the United States is about eight hundred and forty hours (Schlosser, 2019).
A police officer has to also meet the hiring requirements. In the New York Police Department (NYPD,) for instance, the starting age is 21 years old. However, candidates are allowed to take the Entrance Exam starting at seventeen years of age (NYPD, 2020). According to the NYPD, the person should have received 60 college credits and at least have a 2.0 GPA from a two-year institution or have completed active military service in the United States Armed Forces to be eligible to become a Police Officer. Also, the individual must be a United States citizen, have a New York driver license, and live in one of the city’s five boroughs or the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Orange, Westchester or Duchess within thirty days of being in the position. However, the individual will not be qualified if they have been convicted in crimes such as domestic violence or received a disorderly dishonorable discharge from the military. Candidates may also not be qualified if they see the person broke the law in some way, and they have a likelihood of violence, poor behavior, or issue with being properly disciplined (NYPD, 2020). These requirements show how strict the New York Police Department is. This is how perfect they want their police officers to be which might be the reason behind the NYPD is one of the best police agencies in the United States.
In some agencies in the US, in order to be hired individuals have to pass examinations. For the NYPD, candidates have to pass a written exam which is offered by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services in order to move on in the process. They also have to take a medical exam and an oral psychological exam. One of the significant exams candidates have to take is the JST test also known as the Job Standard test. In order to pass this test, candidates have to finish the physical test in four minutes and twenty-eight seconds. The exam also includes: running fifty yards and climbing stairs, defeating barriers, and also demonstrating the skill to restrain an individual. The test includes pulling a hundred and seventy-six-pound mannequin thirty-five feet. The candidates are also tested on pulling the trigger of an unloaded weapon. Candidates are also required to pass a drug and alcohol exam (NYPD, 2020). This conveys the difficult examinations candidates have to pass in order to become a police officer.
After going through the difficult requirement to become a police officer, their day to day duties start from there. According to the US Department of Labor, a police officer’s regular duties are to answer to emergency or nonemergency calls, patrol assigned areas and areas which may be considered dangerous for people, control traffic stops and issues tickets for individuals who fail to follow the correct protocol for driving a vehicle. They also search for vehicle records and warrants using technology, and obtain warrants and arrest people who are suspected of committing a crime. They collect evidence and preserve the evidence from crime scenes so there is no issue while presenting the evidence in court. One of their duties is to also observe the activities of the suspects and write accurate reports and fill out forms. And one of their significant duties is to prepare cases for trial as well as testify in court (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). The article also stated that police officers are required to wear a uniform which allows the public to easily identify them as police officers. They also have to regularly patrol and respond to emergency calls. During their patrols, officers lookout for signs of illegal activity and may do searches that allow them to arrest suspected offenders. However, some police officers only work on specific kinds of crimes, for instance, narcotics. Officers who work in large departments may work in special sections, like horseback, special weapons, motorcycle, and canine corps along with tactics. However, police officers must work as a patrol officer for a certain number of years before they are scheduled to work with a special unit (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020).
The profession of a police officer might seem less problematic since officers protect society; however, it seems their career has to face the most problems. One of the obstacles police officers have been facing is using their force in the community. According to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, the relationship between law enforcement and many communities in the U.S. is becoming more challenging over the years, especially for people who experience violent crimes which are linked to extreme police appearance and surveillance (The United States Commission on Civil Rights, 2018, p.1). This conveys that the community is starting to turn against police officers because people in the community feel the police officer’s use of force is doing an injustice to them although the article also stated the data does not report the seriousness of this issue. The researchers have found a lack of national data and a shortage of required police reporting of using critical force has made it difficult to understand if there are structured patterns of police using excessive force against the community (The United States Commission of Civil Rights, 2018, p.21-22). There is a lack of reporting in this case; however, the community still blames police officers of using excessive force.
Another problem that police officers face is women being less accepted in the law enforcement field. According to the National Institute of Justice, female law enforcement officers experienced many obstacles in their profession as a female police officer, such as the “boys club,” disadvantageous or aggressive atmosphere, harassment, sexism, unnecessary physical fitness requirements, double standards, and a shortage of support and opportunities (National Institute of Justice, 2019, p.4). This shows that women in law enforcement are looked down on and do not receive the mental, physical, and emotional support they deserve inside their workplace. One officer discussed how individuals would ask her when the “real police” will be arriving when she and her female teammate answered an emergency call (National Institute of Justice, 2019, p.4). This shows that not only have to overcome barriers in their workplace but they also have to tolerate insulting reactions and comments from citizens. However, individuals do not realize the female police officer they are degrading can have positive impacts on society. According to Fristvold, one of the benefits of having female officers is that hiring more women for positions in criminal justice can prevent the community from complaining about the police officer’s use of excessive force. “Women officers are less likely to use excessive force or pull their weapon. They are defendants in lawsuits far less often than men, saving municipalities millions in legal fees” (Fritsvold,2020). This shows that women officers tend to use less force than men which may help to improve the relations between police officers and the community. Another reason why more women should be in law enforcement is that they can help women and prevent crimes that women experience. Fristvold states “with sexual assault cases, the victim might want to talk to a woman. But that can’t always happen because there aren’t enough females in the department and it ends up affecting the mission” ( 2020). Having more female officers they can decrease the number of cases such as rapes, sexual harassment, and human trafficking of women around the world.
To close, Police officers are considered one of the major functionaries in the criminal justice system. Their daily activities, training, education along with the requirements of the examination prove how difficult it is to become a Police officer. The most inspiring part of this profession is that they face challenges in their jobs and in society but they keep maintaining the role of a protector which is the definition of a hero.