Tuesday, October 4, 2011

police man

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Police officer

This paper will focus on a description of the initiatives and responsibilities of a Canadian Regional Police Service, and in particular one of its officer’s Luke Hogan and his role in the department. Officer Hogan has been working as a police officer for over twenty years, and has gained experience in various areas of policing. He deals with many of the same people in his everyday work, adult and youth, both offender and citizen. The role of Hogans Regional Police Service is not unlike other police departments where they exercise crime control, order maintenance, and provide a wide range of non-emergency services. Police departments use the crime control strategy of victimization deterrence, however this is not always effective as a community would have to be crippled by the fear of crime to see results. Another problem is that it solely relies on the police for crime control, and the citizens will not likely be involved but rather remain with a feeling of helplessness. Regional Police have attempted are urgency of the community policing model in recent years, to deal with various citizen concerns such as a loss of community programs and a lack of faith in mobile patrols. With the community policing approach both the police and the general public work together using their available resources to both identify and provide solutions to the problems in the community. A strategy involved in the community policing approach is problem oriented policing. As Hogan was discussing his role and responsibilities within the service, he spoke of the recent implementation of this approach within his district in order to evaluate its effectiveness and subsequent response by the community. The problem oriented policing approach consists of four stages. The first involves scanning, or when the police must determine whether a reported problem actually exists. The second stage involves the analysis of gathered information from the police and community, to try and understand the root causes of the problem. Next is the implementation of the solution by the police, using the help of various community members. Finally there is the assessment of the response to determine the adequacy of the solution. During the interview, Hogan discussed various applications of this approach, which are included throughout this paper. Since 186, Officer Luke Hogan has been exercising a form of community policing doing foot patrols. This gives him a distinct advantage over his fellow officers in mobile patrol cars because he is able to become more familiar with the area, as well as with those who reside and work there. Hogan interacts with the workers; citizens and vagrants he passes on his beat, which help him form a stronger community-police relationship. This results in people becoming increasingly willing to work together with the police in fighting crime. Hogan’s many duties in addition to foot patrol include answering calls from his station, and acting as an investigator for some local crimes. Hogan also gathers reports and analyzes them in an attempt to identify possible trends or similarities between these reports. An example Hogan provided to illustrate the advantage of doing an analysis of the reports was the discovery of a trend in early December 17 of high technology crimes in the downtown core. The trend of individuals posing as computer technicians who would enter businesses and secretly steal microchips was noticed. Because the trend was spotted, Hogan was able to act in a proactive manner by speaking to the various companies and warns them of the situation, and to remind them to always check the credentials of unknown technicians entering their offices. Officer Hogan works very closely with the public in an attempt to intervene and prevent criminal activity from occurring. One method of keeping close contact with the business owners in the area he patrols was to give out his pager number in order that he could respond to any problem they might have. This lead to an example of the community working closely with the police when a team of pickpockets was targeting the store clerks in the downtown area. When the clerks realized that their purses and wallets would become missing after being distracted by suspicious shoppers, they worked with Hogan and his district to help eliminate this ring of theft. Hogan explained that his district is engaging in a more proactive style of policing. This occurs when the police actively attempt to identify problems themselves, instead of relying on the public to report crimes. Hogan works with both adult and youth offenders, although once arrested, most youths are directed to officers who specialize in the treatment of these individuals. However Hogan did explain the procedure that is followed when dealing with youth offenders within the Regional Police Service. The first time a youth is arrested, a report is made however charges are not usually laid unless the offense is serious. If the youth is arrested a second time, an interview is set up with the parents in an attempt to identify the problems, and discipline is usually left up to the parents. However, if the youth is arrested a third time, charges will likely be laid, however the aim of the sentence is for a diversion program of rehabilitation and counseling. Officer Hogan has approximately 00 regular street people that he knows of within the district he patrols. He notices a great deal of recidivism surrounding these individuals, and because of his experience he is somewhat frustrated with the system for dealing with this. There is little Hogan can do to combat vagrancy as they cannot pay fines, and since its politically incorrect to incarcerate someone for being homeless, they simply end up back out on the street again. When Hogan was asked if he had any opinions on the criminal justice system, it was apparent that the twenty years he had spent on the force had molded many opinions. He first commented on the youth system briefly by stating that he believed that the youth he encounters today are much more aware of their rights than twenty years ago. Hogan placed this transformation around the mid to late eighties, but felt that it had little to do with the conception of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He believed that youth are better educated in elementary schools to stand up for themselves no matter what the situation is, and perhaps this has lead to a bolder attitude when youth deal with adults. Hogan gave the example that when a program of zero tolerance is implemented for child abuse, youth are taught to stand up to adults that they do not know, and resist being touched. Although this is the necessary attitude youth must have, Hogan felt that some youth will confuse this attitude with having special rights when they are arrested. He continued by saying when some youths are arrested they believe that they have the right not be searched, and usually demand their release saying that their rights have been infringed upon. Of course the police can search and detain, but Hogan remembered decades past when the term “rights” would never be heard from a young offender. Hogan wanted to make it clear and known that he believes that Canada has one of the best set of laws and Criminal Code in the world. He believes that our gun laws are very effective, and does not understand why some believe that Canada should totally outlaw guns. He thought this would be ridiculous because guns are needed by the police to effectively enforce the law and protect life, and also criminals who want guns do not abide by gun control laws anyway. Hogan said that if he could pinpoint one problem, he would make recommendations toward the judicial system in adult courts. He believes that judges have too much discretionary power, and there are too many discrepancies between judges when it comes to sentencing. The decision whether a crime receives a heavy or light punishment should not be up to the judge, but rather should be predetermined through mandatory minimum sentencing. He feels that this is problematic especially in the area of break and enters in people’s homes. Hogan explained that when a break and enter occurs in a store it is unfortunate because a financial loss can occur, however when the same act occurs in someone’s home, an extreme violation of people’s lives occurs. The feeling of having someone burglarize your home can be seen as being similar to a rape. This is why life sentences are the maximum for a break and enter offense explained Hogan, however he reminded us that usually the judge would only give about five years at the most. Clearly the judges in the adult courts are not representing our laws. Hogan then proceeded by saying that if society in general continues to feel that the justice system is too light, or their needs as victims are not being fulfilled, then people may begin to take the law into their own hands. If someone’s house was broken into and the offender received a mere two years, then the next time the person may feel that the system does not work and seek out and kill the offender themselves. Hogan perhaps said this best by “The law is there not just to protect the innocent, but to prevent vigilantism.” Hogan offered some opinions on the downtown core specifically, to the effect that he believes that his district has been quite successful in cleaning up the area. He believes the crime rate for the area has fallen since the recent implementation of the proactive policing techniques, especially since the beginning of 18. These statistics provide a concrete example of the potential success that can occur when the police and the community work together to fight crime. This is especially exciting because if these

techniques continue to be effective they could be implemented throughout the entire region. Hogan also pointed out that the police must be careful about how far they take the

enforcement, because if their presence is too overbearing they may drive customers away

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from businesses such as strip clubs and bars. While this may not seem like a negative

outcome, one must understand that businesses support each other, so if a strip bar closes

for example, other surrounding restaurants may lose the income from the customers who

may eat there after the bar. Also Hogan believes that the overbearing police presence on

Main Street in years past have lead to the closing of strip clubs and bars, which then

reopened on other streets. These businesses will always exist in the downtown core, and

overbearing police surveillance merely causes displacement. Hogan also spoke of the move toward community policing in the last decade. Although many officers resent the service aspect of the job, Hogan has always enjoyed patrolling the streets and talking to store owners. He believes community policing is the future of policing, and really enjoys being part of a storefront police station. Although Hogan has formed many opinions about the criminal justice system in his years on the force, he was quick to state that his personal beliefs and opinions are irrelevant when it comes to his job. He merely upholds justice to the letter of the law, and the criminal code, and he believes that orders from his superiors are not up to his interpretation. Hogan gave the example of the officer in Toronto, Canada who refused to work in front of the Dr. Morgan Tyler abortion clinic as a crowd control officer. Hogan explained that the department had no choice but to fire the officer because the policy is clear that a police officer must not let personal beliefs and prejudices affect decisions at work. Also he felt that the officer should have understood that the police department’s role during a strike or a protest is not necessarily to protect the business, but to deter irrational and spontaneous criminal acts. In this respect, the police act proactively to prevent people from committing vandalism and violence and make no judgments about which side is right or wrong. In many ways Officer Luke Hogan was a very good candidate to interview because he possessed a wide range of police experiences. As an interviewer, I found that I agreed with many personal views and opinions that Hogan had pertaining to the criminal justice system and laws in general. Although I informed Hogan that the interview would only take twenty minutes, he turned out to be very open and informative, and was generous enough to spend close to an hour answering questions. A few areas of interest that will be analyzed are the discretion of judges, the proposed advantages of proactive policing, the cause of youth’s knowledge about their rights, and the policy to minimize criminal justice system involvement with young offenders. A major problem that was discussed by Hogan is the disparity among judges in laying down sentences. This is a problem in Canada, not only in the offenses of break and enters such as discussed previously, but even with more serious offenses such as rape. An example could be the recent charges of rape that were filed in Quebec against two Haitian men. In most instances the punishment would be a lengthy prison sentence, however the judge only gave the men community service. She justified her light sentence by saying that the men did not understand the harm they were causing due their Haitian descent and culture. While this could be sited as a clear example of judges having too much discretionary power and a move toward mandatory minimum sentences, one must be careful how much discretion the judges would be left with. The reform that Hogan spoke of sounded dangerously like a move toward classical criminology in which judges had few alternatives and had to enforce lengthy minimum sentences to the mentally ill and youths. Although this would never happen, mandatory minimums would still have the effect of producing more not guilty decisions because judges may not agree that the circumstances deserve heavier punishments. Unfortunately our criminal justice system does not always provide sentences that we will agree with, but removing discretion and replacing it with mandatory punishments would make us all prisoners of the system, as our right to be treated, as an individual would be removed. On a more positive note, I felt their policies of minimum intervention toward young offenders are a step in the right direction. It is important to give youth alternatives and treat them as being distinct from adults, because as Hogan pointed out, most will never recidivate after the initial arrest and parental interview. If youth were charged as

freely as an adults are, many would be lead to increased deviance because they may see this charge as a new identity and it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Also it is well known that having a criminal record can close the door on many legitimate opportunities such as careers in government, accounting and law enforcement. If faced with this difficulty in adulthood, it is possible that the individual could become frustrated and resume illegitimate opportunities where possible. Fortunately the Regional Police Service anticipates these problems and is able to counteract with an effective diversion policy. Another point of contention occurred during our discussion of the many

advantages of the proactive community-policing model. Hogan stressed the obvious benefits of getting the community involved such as an increased likelihood of apprehending criminals and increased community cohesion. While this successfully removes the feeling that the public is helpless outsiders, it may be self-defeating to the

respect that it can increase the fear of crime in a community. If a citizen felt secure in a

neighborhood one day, and the next the police enter with neighborhood watch programs, a community police station across the road, and knock on your door to tell you to put bars

on your window and give you an emergency pager number, the effect is less than comforting. Most citizens likely take satisfactory precautions either way and feel safe at

home, so the well-intentioned programs lead the citizens to believe that crime is crippling

their neighborhood when it may be well within acceptable limits. The police need to take

more time researching the effect of these proactive programs before they put them in place to ensure that the targeted neighborhoods are truly crippled by crime, and the fear of crime is already high enough that these programs will in fact comfort the citizen.

Another problem that seemed to emerge was Hogan’s rationality to explain the rise

in youth’s knowledge about their rights. While he is most likely correct that this

knowledge has stemmed from formal education, his belief that it is indirectly learned from the attitudes taught during zero tolerance programs is questionable. Most likely the

Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Young Offenders Act, which were conceived at

the same time that Hogan began to notice these attitude changes, has a played a greater

role than he estimates. Formal education and the media have emphasized the rights of

youths as outlined in these documents from time to time, and this could easily explain why Hogan is encountering more problems with youths whining about how their rights are being violated. This paper has focused on a description of the initiatives and responsibilities of a Canadian Regional Police Service, and in particular those of Officer Luke Hogan. Highlighted were Hogan’s strong opinions on Canadian laws and judge’s discretion, youth’s knowledge of their rights, community and proactive policing, and the importance of police officer’s to remain objective while working. The subjective analysis focused on Hogan’s statements concerning youth rights, judges’ discretion, community crime prevention programs and their policy of minimum young offender interference.

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