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The Containment Concept in Law Enforcement Essay

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One of the core roles of police officers is that of law enforcement. However, there are times that it is necessary for an officer to rely less on enforcement of the law and instead concentrate on keeping peace in situations that exist outside of the norm. One such situation exists in the policing methods used in “skid-row” type areas of society. These types of areas are an anomaly to the rest of standard communities where simply enforcing the law will not be successful. The goal in these areas is to plainly contain the chaos using a hybrid form of community policing.
Areas such as skid-row are filled with people that are without the ability to function in normal society, and simply the fact that they exist is offensive to those that do operate within the normal realms of a community (Bittner, 1967). Due to the primitive nature of those individuals living in these chaotic areas, most officers feel it is necessary to enclose the area in which the behaviors occur to keep it from assimilating with “normal” society. The necessity to contain the areas similar to skid-row is the responsibility of the police, and with few governing superiors to mandate guidelines and the large amount of discretion allotted to police, they assume the peace keeping role and abandon the role of enforcer (Bittner, 1967). Maintaining peace is a difficult task in itself because of the uncontrolled way of life in skid-row. Therefore, it is by focusing on maintaining order and protecting the outside normalcy from skid-row inhabitants (Bittner, 1967) that officers use tactics where they choose non-enforcement, or make a decision to ignore a violation (Brown, 1981). According to Brown (1981), ignoring offenses brings with it a bartering situation between the ...


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...ce related to the two policing styles is that community policing seeks to solve problems for long-term results unlike the disregard for the long-term associated with containment.
While the concept of containment borrows some key points from the concept of community oriented policing, the two are still very different. Officers choose to be peace keepers in skid-row areas, and use containment to protect the quality of life of those in the community outside of the “jungle” that takes hold of skid-row (Bittner, 1967). When faced with the option of enforcer or peace keeper, officers feel keeping the peace is the more manageable approach when dealing with these areas. The dynamics of policing must be flexible in regards to situations at hand. While enforcer is often the role needed for many situations, peace keeper is a core role for dealing with skid-row areas.




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