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The job of a police officer is extremely important to protecting the safety of citizens. However, with so many challenges able to arise from the daily operations of the police, many critical issues make this important function in society riddled with complications. For example, the nature of the job itself is extremely dangerous, as it requires police to deal with hostile criminals on a regular basis. This essay will describe the various ways that police officers can overcome these challenges, whether through the use of less-than-lethal weapons, staying ahead of criminals’ technological intelligence, tackling terrorist organizations or overcoming much of the criticism that is directed at police forces due to the actions of corrupt individuals. Despite the many challenges that come along with being a police officer, the role is vitally important to preserving the safety of the general public. In order for the police force to be able to rule over society’s criminals, it needs to overcome complications that it is consistently challenged by.
Dangers of Policing
Police officers are exposed to a massive amount of devastation every day they are on the job. This is caused by hostile behavior towards them, witnessing death, and by see many of the harsh realities that come along with crime. In fact, police officers are among the most stressed out people on the planet. “The danger, high demands and exposure to human misery and death that police officers experience on the job contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic health outcomes” (Goldbaum, 2012).
A study conducted over five years by a University at Buffalo researcher, came to the conclusion that the long-term mental and physical health effects on police officers are caused by the nature of their work. The Buffalo Police Department were the test subjects in the study. The research revealed that the officers at the department reported increased suicide, sleeplessness, cancer and obesity. When comparing the officers to the general public, 25 percent had metabolic syndrome, while 18.7 percent of the general employed public had the same issue. Police were also four to six times more likely to have sleeping issues than the general working public. The suicide rate among police officers who were still in the force was eight times higher than those who had retired, (Goldbaum, 2012).
This shows that the role of the police officer requires them to be able to overcome many of the challenges that they face on a daily basis. Perhaps the most difficult task in being a police officer is the many difficulties that are faced when stepping into the line of duty. The job plays such an important role in society that it is important for these officers to ensure they are looking out for the public’s best interest, and a key to accomplishing that task, is being able to overcome the massive burden of seeing devastation on a daily basis.
When discussing less-than-lethal weapons, it is important to make the distinction between less-than-lethal and non-lethal weapons. It should be noted that weapons that are less-than-lethal only decrease the likelihood that the weapon will kill someone if it is used. The TASER is likely the most notable one of these weapons, and it has been used to varying degrees of success. However, TAZER controversy persists due to the number of deaths the “less-than-lethal” weapon causes. Some people call the weapon cruel and unusual, while others say it is using efficient force. According to researcher Elise Pineda from the University of Idaho, each officer to whom she spoke said the weapon was much safer than other options, (Laughlin, n.d.). However, the police are consistently being challenged about the use of TAZERS, and this is one more struggle that they have to overcome in order to protect the public’s safety.
Technology used in Policing
Police officers must consistently stay on top of the many changes to technology that are occurring every day. If they let the criminals get ahead of them, it could be chaos. Technology is often used in many white-collar crimes, but that is not an exclusive application. In fact, technology is used to increase the success rate of virtually any type of crime. Police are not only tasked with knowing the various ways technology can be used to commit crimes, but they can also use technology to better protect the public. Advancements in technology that help police overcome the challenges of their job include the in-car camera system, which improves the ability to not only identity those who have committed crimes, but it can also prove an officer’s innocence if they are accused of wrongdoing, particularly in traffic stops, where the camera has an effective vantage point, (Schultz, 2013).
Issues of Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Relationships
Various issues arise in the relationship between homeland security and law enforcement, and it often provides a further challenge to the police force as officers attempt to execute their daily duties. Surveillance and intelligence is one of the most important components of the relationship between the two parties, and it is one that can cause a huge burden for police officers. Many differences exist between the military model and the police model when combating terrorism. Specifically, the military model is against an enemy that can be killed while in combat or can be detailed temporarily. “The police model works best when the enemies are treated as suspects (not even really enemies) who are accorded certain rights and upon a determination of guilt receive some semi-lasting punishment” (Edwards, 2013). This balance between the interests of the military and the interests of the police make it exceedingly difficult for the latter to perform their job, and it causes tension between homeland and the police because of the lowered capabilities of the police. This puts a further strain on what the police is able to do to protect the public.
Additional Critical Issue in Policing that is of Interest
Police face a further challenge when attempting to execute their jobs: the public perception. When a police officer, or group of police officers, break the law, the story is widely published. This creates the illusion that the majority of police officers are corrupt. That is certainly not the case, and many officers are in their roles because they believe in the greater good of the public. For example, the Chicago Police Department was not doing the force as a whole any good with more than 90 convictions of its officers taking place since 2000, (Flood, 2013). These, and other cases, have created a burden that the police must overcome to try to improve public safety.
Finding a Way to Work Efficiently
Most police officers know that the job they are taking on is not easy. However, there are so many factors to fight against as a police officer, and this makes performing the task of protecting the public exceedingly difficult. Police officers have to be very tough individuals in order to overcome the many issues that arise from their daily responsibilities. For those who are not built of stone, they often fall into despair, resulting in health complications and even suicide. The job is one of the most difficult in society, but it is also one of the most important. In order to recruit the best individuals and keep them on the job, many changes need to take place, because right now the hard working individuals who protect the streets are not being given enough recognition for their hard work.
Edwards, J. (2013). Homeland Security And Law Enforcement. Dr. Tom O’Connor. Retrieved
Flood, B. (2013, Jan. 17). Report Details Police Corruption in Chicago. University of Illinois at
Chicago. Retrieved from https://news.uic.edu/new-report-details-police-corruption-in-chicago
Goldbaum, E. (2012, July 9). Police Officer Stress Creates Significant Health Risks Compared to
General Population, Study Finds. University of Buffalo. Retrieved from http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2012/07/13532.html
Laughlin, L. (n.d.). Cruel and Unusual? Or Efficient Force? University of Idaho. Retrieved from
Schultz, P.D. (2013, September). The Future Is Here: Technology in Police Departments. Police