The Law And Policing Of The United States Essay

The Law And Policing Of The United States Essay

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Police are required to maintain a balance between keeping the peace and enforcing the law, but is this appropriate for officers assigned to police skid row? According to Bittner (1967), policing skid row requires a certain set of practical skills. Officers assigned to police skid row assume the role of peacekeeper and use the strategy of containment. The practical skills needed to police skill row are based on personal feelings and judgments. Containment is a very informal approach allowing particular crimes to occur within a specific area as long as they do not grow to endanger society or harm its inhabitants. Containment relies on a great deal of discretionary freedom and the decision not to enforce such particular crimes rests on an understanding between the police officer and the inhabitants of skid row (Bittner, 1987).
What is skid row? Bittner (1967) describes skid row as “the natural habitat of people who lack the capacities and commitments to live ‘normal’ lives on a sustained basis (Bittner, 1967, pg 705).” Skid row is the area where those who have nothing less to lose come together. Police officers assigned to skid row are usually assigned for long periods of time so they get to know the population they serve. The police officer assigned to skid row allows particular crimes to continue to protect those on skid row from each other and more severe crimes. It is because the police officer assigned to skid row allows disorder to continue, but continue contained, that reduces the chances of serious crime against the general public and the inhabitants of skid row (Bittner, 1967).
The strategy of containment in skid row areas can be viewed as a form community policing. Community policing is the concept of placing police of...


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...unt of discretion given to police officers, especially those assigned to skid row, there really is not a better alternative. Skid row is an area filled with transient lost souls who are crime prone and usually criminals. Skid row inhabitants makes up the drunkards and the vagrants and by arresting them and sending them to jail every time the police come in contact with them is not ideal. The understanding skid row police officers have with their inhabitants keeps serious crime to a minimum and other disorders contained, so why change? Bittner said it best when he said it takes a certain set of practical skills to police skid row. The evidence of containing crime in skid row areas, show that containment works. Perhaps this perspective will change (Nowicki, 1998). Bayley and Nixon (2010) believe policing is entering a new revolution, but until then live and let be.

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