Criminal Justice Assignment:
Case Study on Seattle
The following assignment pertains to the police department and special jurisdiction agencies of the city of Seattle. The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies states that Seattle had a total of 260 law enforcement agencies, employing a total 11,411 officers.
Special jurisdiction agencies in Seattle
The Seattle Police Department is the primary agency for law enforcement in the city of Seattle. It is also the largest municipal police department in the state of Washington. Its main functions include patrolling and crime investigation in all precincts and waterways, traffic and parking enforcement, and homeland security. Apart from this, the 9-1-1 communication center takes and answers all calls for the police. However, there are agencies with special jurisdiction as well, that is, agencies that preside over special matters such as natural resources, fish and wildlife, liquor, gambling, corrections, and so on CITATION Pol15 l 1033 (Police Work).
Washington State Parks:
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a conglomerate of parks owned by the state of Washington, USA. It is responsible for the development, protection, and care of the state’s parks. The law enforcement authority in every park is the Park Rangers, who have legal jurisdiction on park lands owned by the state CITATION Age15 l 1033 (Agency Administration).
Washington State Department of Corrections:
The Washington State Department of Corrections is responsible for overseeing the administration and functioning of state prisons, and the supervision of adult offenders who live as part of the community. The department consists of various sub-divisions in charge of handling various programs, such as budget, communications, and health services and so on CITATION Abo15 l 1033 (About DOC).
Washington Department of Natural Resources:
While on the lands under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the law enforcement officers employed by the state have full authority to charge any trespassers or offenders on appropriate counts CITATION Abo151 l 1033 (About the Washington Department of Natural Resources).
Washington State Liquor Control Board:
The primary function of this board is to educate people about and enforce laws on alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco. Additionally, the board is also responsible for licensing and regulating legal outlets that sell or engage in the trade of alcohol. The department also manages the state’s Alcohol Server Training Program for people interested in serving alcohol in bars and other establishments CITATION Abo152 l 1033 (About Us).
The fragmented and decentralized American law enforcement system
The American system of governance and law enforcement is unique and different from that of many countries due to its decentralized nature. That is, apart from having a central government spearheaded by the President, each of the fifty states in the country has its own governments and sovereign government. When speaking in terms of law enforcement, there is no one such agency that is responsible for implementing all laws and fighting crime. Due to the presence of different governments in different states, there are agencies of varying natures all over the country, but not a centralized force, which is often a disadvantage.
However, the same, centralized force, that is, has been listed as one of the advantages of the fragmented law enforcement system in the book Understanding and Responding to Terrorism. Concerns have been raised about a centralized system promoting too much power for one agency, and going against the fundamental belief of the constitution to keep the legal, judicial, and the executive separate, and also to preserve the federal rights of states CITATION Zen07 l 1033 (Zengin & Yasar, 2007).
Another disadvantage of a decentralized force is that it does not often promote inter-departmental communication. Having a centralized law enforcement system will speed the process of information sharing within officers of departments, and thus aid in the process of investigation and responding to calls.
Budget implications due to economic crisis
The lasting economic crisis has had a dreadful impact on the budgets of law enforcement departments. Due to less money flowing in from the center, departments are forced to lay off officers. It is expected that by the end of the year, 12,000 police officers and deputies will be laid off. Yet another 28,000 officers faced week-long furloughs in 2010 CITATION The15 l 1033 (The Impact of the Economic Downturn on American Police Agencies).
78% of law enforcement agencies reported that their budget had been cut significantly from 2010 to 2012. The cuts seem to be affecting some particular aspects of the department more than others. The most hard hit department is that of technology, in which no steady progress has been made since the start of the recession. However, areas such as recruitment, overtime expenses, response times, pay raises, and training have fared slightly better than the rest CITATION Pol13 l 1033 (Police Executive Research Forum, 2013).
Role of police officers during Hurricane Katrina
During and after the devastating Hurricane Katrina, police officers were not only agents of law enforcement, but also harbingers of information and emergency services, The New Orleans Police Department had the task of delivering emergency services and maintaining law and order in the days following up to and immediately after the day of the hurricane. However, they lacked the proper infrastructure to shelter their own officers. Additionally, neither the police nor emergency services knew clearly what to do because of a lack of information CITATION Def09 l 1033 (Deflem & Sutphin, 2009).
Conditions immediately after the hurricane were tense, as the city was plagued with the ghost of destruction. In such conditions, the pressure to fulfill the roles of both emergency services and enforcers of law made the department take extreme measures. Newspapers reported that the police department had been told to shoot looters. Similarly, a great many officers were fired due to quitting the force or leaving, in the days preceding Katrina CITATION Sha12 l 1033 (Shankman, Jennings, McCarthy, Maggi, & Thompson, 2012).
The NOPD was also in charge of the rescue missions. However, the extreme lack of communication between departments, and a poor set up in the same forced to them leave thousands of calls unanswered. This was what eventually got the general population involved in the rescue efforts CITATION Def09 l 1033 (Deflem & Sutphin, 2009).
BIBLIOGRAPHY About DOC. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2015, from Washington State Department of Corrections: http://www.doc.wa.gov/aboutdoc/default.asp
About the Washington Department of Natural Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2015, from Washington Department of Natural Sources: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/about-washington-department-natural-resources
About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2015, from Washington State Liquor Control Board: http://liq.wa.gov/
Agency Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2015, from Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission: http://www.parks.wa.gov/258/Agency-Administration
Deflem, M., & Sutphin, S. (2009). Policing Katrina: Managing Law Enforcement in New Orleans. Policing, 3(1), pp. 41-49. Retrieved from Matthew Deflem, Professor of Sociology, University of South Carolina.
Police Executive Research Forum. (2013). PERF Survey Reveals Mixed Picture on Police Budgets; Most Are Being Cut, But Situation Has Improved Since 2010. In Policing and the Economic Downturn: Striving for Efficiency Is the New Normal. Washington D.C.: Motorola Solutions Foundation.
Police Work. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2015, from Seattle Police Department: http://www.seattle.gov/police/work/default.htm
Shankman, S., Jennings, T., McCarthy, B., Maggi, L., & Thompson, A. (2012, July 24). After Katrina, New Orleans Cops Were Told They Could Shoot Looters. Retrieved from Pro Publica.
The Impact of the Economic Downturn on American Police Agencies. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2015, from COPS – Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice: http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/Default.asp?Item=2602
Zengin, S., & Yasar, M. M. (2007). Employing Global Need Based Information and Technology Sharing to Enhance Cooperation among Law Enforcement Organizations. In H. Durmaz, Understanding and Responding to Terrorism (p. 397). IOS Press.
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