What is the Most Significant Challenge Facing Police Officers Today?

What do you believe is the most significant challenge facing police officers in contemporary society? What do you propose as a possible solution for this challenge?

There are so many challenges Police Officers face today. In his book Policing Issues: Challenges and Controversies Jeffrey Ross, PhD, writes about the hottest problems Departments have yet to overcome from Public Relations and Community Friendliness to Police Brutality (or excessive force). While all the dilemmas have certainly their own importance, I think the biggest and most urgent problem Police Officers face today is the Failure to Properly Investigate a Crime and the grave consequences deriving from sloppy police investigation which may result in a wrongful conviction and imprisonment of innocent individuals. Too often in fact, overzealous detective work has led to investigate the wrong people based on eyewitness misidentification, sloppy Forensic Science collection, false confessions or false admissions, false informants or bad snitches.  There are too many cases of men and women who were hurt by failure to properly investigate a crime. Josh Keezer spent 16 years of his life behind bars and later found innocent. Larry Johnson, Steven Toney and many others have experienced firsthand being the target of a wrongful investigation and wrongful prosecution. Therefore, yes the police face many challenges from being friendly to the community to enforcing the law with the proper amount of force all the way to having to deal with being understaffed and underfunded at times. However, if we really want to look at who would pay the highest price when a detective investigates wrongfully ….Well there you have it…

What can be done to correct the problem?

I think first of all every State should raise the training standards for Detectives hired by Police Dept. More education would definitely be a big must. It would be really nice if detectives could become such only if they graduate from a Master Program. If you think about it, we do not allow Professors to teach adults in college unless they have graduated from an accredited Master Program; we also do not allow Social Workers or Psychologists to deal with Mentally Ill patients if they are not MSW or Clinical Psychologists (these titles require a Graduate Degree). Therefore, why do we allow people who choose whether to take or not to take our Freedom to have studied much less? Raising the educational and training standards is a must. Also, ongoing training by Police Departments on sensitivity and proper interrogation procedures should be enforced. A police officer, and in particular a detective should be lectured daily on ethical responsibilities toward the community he or she serves. Police Officer should not feel they have the power to the take our Freedom but that they have the honor to SERVE US and PROTECT us as they work for us. Unfortunately, many police Depts. Still rely on presumptions, old techniques and a good dose of arrogance which allows them to be part of the “Good ol’ Boys Club”. We need to change the culture surrounding Police Investigations as there are too many out there paying the price.

-Annie Aguzzi-

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