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Criminal Justice Trends Criminal Justice Trends

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In today’s modern society the criminal justice field must stay up to date with the latest trends in order to effectively combat crime. As new crimes are committed, new technology and resources to solve and prevent these crimes is needed. This is a recap of the criminal justice trends that came with the birth of policing to what has yet to come in our modern world. In 1829 the London Metropolitan Police District was created. This was the first ever police force. Sir Robert Peel established principles for this police district as the first police chief. “These principles include the use of crime rates to determine the effectiveness of the police; the importance of a centrally located, publicly accessible police headquarters; and the value of proper recruitment, selection, and training” (Patterson). Peel assigned his officers to specific geographical zones which they were then responsible for preventing and suppressing crime within these zones. This is known as beats. Before Peel’s assignment, officers or military patrolled sporadically and usually only responded after a crime had been committed. By developing scheduled and organized beats, Peel helped to create order and police presence within the community.

“To implement fully the beat concept, Peel instituted his second most enduring innovation: The paramilitary command structure. While Peel believed overall civilian control to be essential, he also believed that only military discipline would ensure that constables actually walked their beats and enforced the law on London’s mean streets, something their nonmilitary predecessors, the watchmen, had failed to do” (Patterson). Today’s criminal justice system has technology that Peel never could have imagined. Officers are able to communicate via cell-phone, radio and computer in their car. Police stations and court houses can access the same databases, and there are hundreds of police officers patrolling the same city, broken down by precincts. There is strength in numbers and today’s police force supports that statement. While our criminal justice system may seem lengthier, we have laws that protect both the guilty and the innocent which allows them the chance at a fair trial. Whereas centuries ago rough justice could be taken into the hands of an officer or even the community.

With growing numbers and today’s times also comes budget troubles that most agencies within the criminal justice must face. As published in The Police Chief Magazine, Bernard K. Melekian, Director, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Service states “Some agencies have found it necessary to use a triage approach in responding to calls for service, with some severely limiting the types of calls that result in direct face-to-face responses by officers”. Some of the changes that agencies have utilized in order to triage calls “included alternative methods for handling certain reports, greater utilization of closed-circuit television cameras, and greater utilization of civilian volunteers” (Melekian, 2012). Budget crises not only affect department operations and performance, but technology usage as well. “26 percent of respondents reported a reduction in investigative follow-ups, including those related to property crimes, fugitive tracking, nonfelony domestic assaults, financial crimes, computer crimes, narcotics, and traffic cases.

The common theme across many of the service cutbacks is an unfortunate reduction in direct face-to-face contacts between citizens and police personnel. In addition, separate surveys by the IACP and by the Police Executive Research Forum confirm that substantial portions of agencies had already begun, or were planning to begin, cutbacks on training and on equipment purchases, including cutting-edge technology. Thus, it is not just a matter of fewer officers rendering fewer direct services; the quality of services in many agencies potentially will be further compromised because of cutbacks in training and in technology resources” (Melekian, 2012).

What will criminal justice look like in 2040? Nancy M. Ritter states in Preparing for the Future: Criminal Justice in 2040 “There’s no question that terrorism, the growth of multicultural populations, massive migration, upheavals in age-composition demographics, technological developments, and globalization over the next three or more decades will affect the world’s criminal justice systems. But how? What forces will have the greatest influence?” (Ritter, 2004). The coevolution of crime and justice is a focus of the future. “Criminals, like viruses, evolve over time and change as their potential victims take preventive measures.

For example, as people install steering wheel locks or alarm systems to combat auto theft, thieves respond by using devices that neutralize such security systems” (Ritter, 2004). Crime fighting will still have the same process but it will be combatted in different manners in order to be ahead of the criminals. All this will have to be done within the context of changing demographics. As 2040 approaches, the proportion of males aged 15 to 29—traditionally, the most crime-prone group—will decline slightly, and the percentage of the over-30 population (and particularly those over 65) will increase substantially (Ritter, 2004). The changes in technology will greatly affect the work done by police officers, detectives, prosecutors and judges. The overall goal is to enhance the ability to prevent crimes and solve crimes quickly. As technology advances we become closer to these achievements.

Technological advances will also have a great influence on crime fighting. Developments in surveillance, biometrics, DNA analysis, and radio frequency identification microchips will enhance crime prevention and crime solving. Increasingly sophisticated intelligence databases will likely be used not only by police officers and analysts, but by the general public—as is now common with sex offender registries (Ritter, 2004).

Because of the structure of the police organizations within our country, there is order and unity within the policing. If such laws and guidelines were not in place, our police organizations would be a free for all and would have no rules to follow. There would be no unity, no protocol and no responsibility on the policing organizations end. The relationship between the U.S. government and the policing organizations creates a structured, unified, police force that has served and protected our country in a safe and lawful manner. Criminal justice in the United States and globally, has undergone tremendous updates as technology advances, new types of crimes of committed and criminals find ways to penetrate crime prevention. As the economy changes the criminal justice system will always be subject to budget cuts which will create a target for criminals. With the change in the economy, police officer and officers of the court will continue to cycle through the criminal justice doors, fulfilling the needs of the community. Whether additional training, new devices or new or new departments are added to the criminal justice system, the United States is fortunate to have a fair and just process that they can look forward to keep them safe in the future.

Bernard K. Melekian, “Policing in the New Economy: A New Report on the Emerging Trends from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services,” The Police Chief 79 (January 2012): 16–19. Nancy M. Ritter, “Preparing for the Future: Criminal Justice in 2040,” National Institute of Justice 255 (July 2004) Patterson, J. (n.d.). Community Poicing: Learning The Lessons Of History. Retrieved from The Lectric Law Library: http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cjs07.htm

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