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Past, Present and Future of Law Enforcement


To be an effective police/law enforcement officer, one must understand where we (law enforcement) has been, where society believes we are and what the heck is going to happen in the future.  Unfortunately the future is much more depressing than in the past.  Society is getting more liberal with how the Constitution is viewed and applied towards suspects.  The author posits that not to far into the distant future officers will need probable cause to make a consenual contact.  But connecting the dots is important because it provides clarity, and understanding to a profession that once was considered a volunteer job in which the primary duties was to ensure that criminals did not come into the town at night.


Thus when the new officer hits the streets, they think the “old salt” officers are unaware of the “new” and improved ways of policing.  However if anyone reviews Sir Robert Peels policing notions not much has changed in how police officers should effectively patrol, and protect the communities they serve.  The past also includes community oriented policing, and problem oriented policing. There are trends like Killing and Wilsons Broken Windows that will never go away.  But there are also eras of law enforcement.


The present is not readily observable because the career track is working within a specific time frame.  However a couple of authors (scholars) have debated and postulated that law enforcement is in the “terrorism or homeland security” era.  While this author does not dispute that, it is suggested that law enforcement is past this era, and moved into another era.

The present era appears to deal with change in population (officers/civilians/communities). This era can be identified by the large increase of immigrants and migrants to the United States.  Specifically large urban centers.  The author includes officers because there is a large increase of vacancies that have started since the Vietnam Vets (officers) have been and will continue to retire.  This new bred of police officer is causing problems for a variety of reasons.  The most important and influential characteristic is the lack of loyality to any department or organization.  The author contends although the “brotherhood” is present departments are “stealing” away officers for a price and more importantly officers are looking to leave departments.


Future trends and eras are just that, the future, no one knows the future, but speculations being what it is, I suggest the next era will have more to do with intelligence led policing, or data driven policing.  The reason is quite simple, departments do not have as much dedicated/allocated resources to provide “general” patrol to the levels they did five years ago.  Departments will be dusting off the fabled Kansas City Experiments and revisiting those topics.  To maximize effective deployment of officers and protect the community.

About mstiehm

Matt Stiehm was born and raised in Minnesota. He received an Educational Doctorate from Argosy University, where the focus of his research dealt with campus safety and security. He has a Masters Degree of Criminal Justice from Central Missouri State University, with his final paper focused on the investigation of child abuse and finally a Bachelors of Science from Wayne State College, Nebraska. He has served as a police officer in three states (CA, MN and NE), he keeps current on law enforcement trends. He currently is a member of ILEETA, MN Infragard, FBI LEEDS, an Associate Member of the IACP and the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association. He currently volunteers with the Minnesota State Office of Justice Programs to work on the 2012 crime victims conference in May of 2012, Minnesota Hockey P and P Committee, and serves as an active member of the Law Enforcement Family Support Network serving as the Vice President. He has worked at colleges where he served as the Program Coordinator in Law Enforcement, Assistant Dean and is currently the Chair of the School of Criminal Justice. He has instructed police officers and other professionals in the areas of; peace officer rights, child abuse, use of force, leadership and interviewing for continuing education credit. He is recognized as an expert in tribal law enforcement where he focused on the disparity of Native American Officers versus Non Native Officers serving tribal land; he also focused on general training issues in Indian Country Law Enforcement. He has presented to government boards on the topic of accreditation and law enforcement education/training. Matt has attended and received instructor certification; from Pressure Point and Control Tactics, Minneapolis Community College Use of Force Instructor and RAD-Systems as instructor in use of force. Matt also has worked as an adjunct instructor for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center out of Glynco, Georgia. He currently also self- employed and consultants in education, law enforcement and security. Matt writes as a regularly contributor to www.policecrunch.com on a variety of topics to include, police leadership, investigations, strategic planning, assessments, and training. He has worked as a curriculum expert creating a variety of classes. Most notably Dr. Stiehm has presented at the American Correctional Conference, (2009), International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Conference (2009, and 2011), MN IACLEA Conference (2011), and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (2011). He has also presented at local conferences to include the Minnesota Career College Association (2008, 2010, and 2011), and the local meeting of the Park Law Enforcement Association sponsored by Three Rivers Park District Police. Finally he has chaired a panel at the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association. Dr. Stiehm has submitted materials for 2012 conferences; IACLEA, National Sheriffs Association, and ILEETA.


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