Are law enforcement agencies viewed as “a necessary evil” or protectors of the citizens? Discuss with reference to the effectiveness of these agencies.
Before we begin to discuss the “categories” in which law enforcement officers are placed we need to define, law enforcement agencies. What is a law enforcement agency? A law enforcement agency is described as any unit or agency which enforces the law. They are various law enforcement agencies throughout the world. However, the Jamaica Constabulary Force is the main law enforcement agency in Jamaica. This force is the “arm of the ministry”1 which is responsible for the prevention and detection of crime, maintenance of law and order, the protection of life and property, investigation of alleged crime and “the enforcement of all criminal law as defined by the Jamaican penal code.”2 Karl Marx, the conflict theorist, and Emile Durkheim argues respectively about how necessary crime is. Durkheim argued about the deregulation that was happening within society. “This meant that rules on how people ought to behave with each other were breaking down and thus people did not know what to expect from one another”3 With this explanation, Durkheim states that a limited amount of crime and deviance is necessary in a society. Without the existence of crime and deviance, in the Jamaican society, the law enforcers would be unable to carry out their jobs of protecting the citizens. It is noted that law enforcers, when protecting citizens, should “not unlawfully discriminate in protecting the community on the basis of any status, including race, gender, religion, language, colour, political opinion, sexual orientation, birth or property.” In Jamaica, evidence of this can be found within the community groups formed by the Force know as Police Youth Clubs, in inner city communities and other small rural communities. This style of Policing is known as the watchman style. The watchman style is known to be the most passive and informative among the Jamaican Constabulary Force. This style emphasizes the maintenance of order and is more preventative approach to policing. In utilizing this style the police will discretion and may disperse unruly behaviour as oppose to arresting the citizen. The officers will negotiate with family and community disputes and detain and question the involved parties or party. In this case, minor law infractions are ignored and settling unlawful behaviours are done informally. When using this style of policing, it is recognized by the Jamaican Constabulary Force High Commissioner, that crime and deviance in these communities are at a minimum. He also said that the members of these communities, form a better relationship with the police and thus the police become their protectors. In addition, in his book A Study in Sociology, Durkheim argued that crime is both inevitable and necessary. He states that it is futile to eradicate crime through both legislator and penal means. Instead it should be used as an adaptive function and a boundary maintenance function, to produce a “healthy society.” In addition to using the watchman style of policing, another passive style, practiced in Jamaica, is the service style. It is similar to the watchman style in the fact that it encompasses policing in small rural and suburban communities. Where this style works it is noted that there is usually a lower level of crime. This style builds both trust and confidence among the police officers and the community members. Although Karl Marx wrote very little about crime and criminal justice, the radical theories of crime are based on his writing. Marx believes that crime and deviance is used as a means of social control- if you do not conform to the rules made by the bourgeoisies in society then you will be punished. He argues that institutions, including law enforcement agencies, encourage an individual to conform to the rules. Additionally, he states that white collar...
Bibliography: Bohm, Robert M. , Haley Keith N.(2002) Introduction to Criminal Justice. United States of America
Espuet Peter (2012) “Give Them an Inch…” The Gleaner
Harriott Anthony (2000) Police and Crime Control in Jamaica: Problem of Reforming Ex-Colonial Constabulary. University of the West Indies. Jamaica.
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