Law enforcement can be a very tough and highly stressful career. It involves 24/7 duties in service of the community that involves a work environment that compels one to be in the line of danger most of the time. There are various law enforcement responsibilities. These are pided into different units in the police department organization and are carried out according to pre-defined procedures.
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Traffic units ensure the safety of pedestrians and motorists in their jurisdiction. It ensures that the needs of neighborhood residents, schools and the needs of the larger community with regards to road use are met. This can be achieved by monitoring and regulating driving speeds in residential roadways and major highways, implementing proper parking policies and other traffic regulations (U.S. DOL)
Vehicle weight monitoring is also part of the traffic unit responsibility in localities with ordinances such as this (City of Norfolk). Traffic units also routinely inspect commercial vehicles, cabs and some instances, even private vehicles for compliance. They can also act on complaints of citizens and motorists with regards to road use and public transportation conditions.
The traffic unit conducts intelligence with regards to patterns of traffic in the thoroughfares of their areas of responsibility, the efficiency of current traffic regulations and standard procedures in order to identify and fix problem areas together with other concerned agencies (City of Clive). The ultimate goal is to design systems that lower the frequency and gravity of traffic incidents and allow for rapid response.
In the event of road incidents, the traffic unit seeks to facilitate the prompt delivery of medical attention to victims, conduct first aid, redirect traffic away from the scene of the incident, investigate its causes, contact the next of kin of victims, obtain necessary evidence and speedily clear up road obstructions in order for the normal flow of traffic to ensue (U.S. DOL).
Traffic units also perform social functions by participating in parades to direct traffic, provide protection to participants, control the crowd and respond to crime in the course of the event (City of Norfolk). These units also accompany funeral processions or provide escort and protection upon request of civilians and the military.
The Patrol pision is at the front line of law enforcement. They comb the highways, streets and neighborhoods for any signs indicative of crime or emergency situations using patrol cars, motorcycles, bicycles or on foot. At the same time, they are ready to respond to emergency calls and calls for other forms of assistance. Patrolling gives a sense of security to the community, helps to deter crime and aids in quick response to situations.
Patrol cars are a must to this pision because it allows for greater mobility than foot patrol, higher profile visibility, police cover and the capacity to use more efficient communications technology (The Police Notebook). Patrol cars also permit the transport of arrested persons from the crime scene to detention and for law enforcers to provide transportation assistance. Patrol cars are usually used during high priority emergency situations.
Specially equipped mountain bikes for police use are also increasingly being used today. Police cycling permits the implementation of major patrol functions in almost all types of weather conditions, a variety of traffic situations and settings such as campuses or cramped neighborhoods (The Police Notebook). Bike patrol is also efficient during concerts, parades, sports and other public events and facilitates greater interaction between law enforcers and the public.
The advantage of using bikes over patrol cars or motorcycles is also underscored in the stealth and enhanced mobility achieved in riding bicycles (IPMBA). Criminals apprehended by police cyclists in areas inaccessible to patrol cars refer to it as “sneaky tactics”. Greater success in chasing after criminals using the foot-bike combination has also been reported. At the same time, operational costs are reduced and excess weight too!
The capacities of law enforcers are derived from their formal training and equally important, from their experience on the job. Potential recruits are screened based on eligibility criteria such as age, physical and psychological fitness, personal background, experience, skills and college education (U.S. DOL). They may also have to pass lie detector tests, drug tests and written examinations. The Personnel pision of the police department is responsible for the recruitment process and the referral of trainees to police academies prior to service (City of Norfolk).
Police academies have firing range facilities, FATS simulation rooms, classrooms and obstacle courses where trainees undergo 3-6 months training involving classroom and hands-on instruction (City of Norfolk). Trainees acquire knowledge and practice in constitutional and civil rights, state laws and local ordinances, accident investigation, patrol, traffic control, firearms use, self-defense, first aid and emergency response (U.S. DOL). They also receive instruction on community policing, ethics in policing, crowd control and basic criminal law (City of Norfolk).
Specialized and continuing education is also provided to officers in order to update their knowledge and skills and increase their capacity. Police academies and federal agencies give yearly trainings in self-defense tactics, firearms, use-of-force policies, bike patrol, human relations, terrorism, relevant legal developments and advances in law enforcement equipment (U.S. DOL and City of Norfolk). Not a few law enforcement agencies also give incentives for officers to further their studies towards attaining degrees in criminal justice, police science, justice administration or public administration (U.S. DOL).
Police reports, evidence and citizen reports are forwarded to the Central Records pision which creates a database for criminal histories, communications, photographs, fingerprints, incident reports, accident reports and warrants (City of Norfolk). The Central Records pision facilitates information exchange with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies as well as the public.
This pision is usually pided into sub-units performing separate but interdependent functions. For instance, the Norfolk Police Department Central Records pision consists of: the Public Service Counter, Word Process Center, Photo Lab, Warrant Section, Property and Evidence Unit, False Alarm and Funeral Escort Section, Identification Section, and the Central Desk for the Police Operations Center (City of Norfolk).
Law enforcers must allot sufficient work time in writing scrupulous reports regarding their activities. Reports are necessary because they can be used as evidence in court and law enforcers do often enter the courts as witnesses. It is also the duty of law enforcers, more specifically correctional officers, to transport or escort arrested inpiduals to and from the courts in the wake of hearings and to bring convicted criminals to their proper detention centers. Administration
The administrative functions regarding law enforcement work is carried out by the office of the Chief of Police which sets down departmental targets and objectives and makes certain that the operations conducted by the different units or pisions are well-planned, organized and synchronized towards these goals (City of Tulare).
This office also institutes good working relationships with other criminal justice agencies and government agencies. It furnishes evaluation reports and recommendations to the local government unit to aid in policy making and may also hold meetings with the public when the need arises (City of Tulare).
The office of the Chief of Police consists of administration units such as Communications, Records, Drug Awareness and Education and Crime Prevention (City of Tulare). The Communications Unit is responsible for maintaining local emergency hotlines, police communication channels, intercity traffic radios as well as lines to the fire department, hospitals, and other government agencies (City of Tulare).
The Drug Awareness and Education Unit works with other sectors for education campaigns aimed at drug prevention while the Crime Prevention Unit helps in the effort to organize the community to aid in crime deterrence. The CPU works with Neighbohood Watch associations or civilians actually trained in Citizen Academies as support to law enforcement (City of Norfolk and City of Tulare).
Efficient and effective law enforcement not only relies on training but also in the availability of equipment and technology used to perform police functions. These range from radio equipment for wider-range and uninterrupted communications, electronic reporting for incidents and arrest cases, radar for police car location, in-car audio-video cameras to record police transactions with civilians and arrested persons (UHPD).
Police departments also acquire better emergency equipment, preliminary breath-testing devices and automatic external defibrillators for first aid and lifesaving purposes, Tasers, tint-meters, criminal justice records management system platforms and a host of others (UHPD and Technology Engineers). These technologies are meant to make the work environment less perilous for officers and for police work to be accomplished with the least amount of time with more information available to base one’s judgement on.
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