Policing | Section 2

Fundamentals of Policing by Adam J. McKee

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The Structure and Nature of Policing

Perhaps the most enduring myth in criminal justice is the actual role of the police officer in our society.  From early television programs such as Dragnet up to today’s most compelling crime dramas, cops live a life full of danger, always encountering dangerous fugitives, serial killers, and other villains that must be outwitted, outfought, and outgunned.  Of course, danger is part of the police job. It is, however, a mistake to assume that this is the only job that the police do. Most of what the police do on a daily basis is to deal with what Herman Goldstein called “the residual problems of society.”     

Local police departments make up more than two-thirds of the 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) defines a local police department is a general-purpose law enforcement agency, other than a sheriff’s office, that is operated by a unit of local government such as a town, city, township, or county.  Tribal police are classified as local police BJS statistics. In 2008, local police departments had about 593,000 full-time employees, including 461,000 sworn officers. About 60% of all state and local sworn personnel were local police officers.

Key Terms

References and Further Reading


Modification History

File Created:  08/15/2018

Last Modified:  08/27/2018

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This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.

Open Education Resource--Quality Master Source License



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