Legal Article

Modern Policing: A Critical Analysis

Shivendra Pratap Singh


High Court Lucknow


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Published on: 5 Aug, 2023

Modern policing continues to evolve in response to changes in society, technology, and crime patterns. However, it’s also been subject to growing scrutiny and criticism. This post critically examines some of the key aspects and challenges of modern policing.

Technological Advancements: Technology has significantly transformed modern policing, enhancing the ability to prevent, detect, and solve crimes. Tools like predictive policing algorithms, body cameras, and DNA testing have improved policing efficiency. However, these advancements also raise concerns. Predictive policing has been critiqued for perpetuating racial and socioeconomic biases inherent in historical crime data. Similarly, the use of surveillance technologies raises privacy concerns, particularly in the context of civil liberties.

Community Policing: Modern policing emphasizes community engagement as a strategy to build trust, improve public safety, and prevent crime. However, the implementation of community policing is often inconsistent and varies greatly between departments. Critics argue that without substantial commitment and systemic changes, community policing risks becoming a mere public relations exercise rather than a substantive reform effort.

Accountability and Transparency: The push for increased police accountability and transparency has been a key aspect of modern policing. The use of body-worn cameras and the establishment of civilian review boards are steps in this direction. However, accountability measures often fall short due to limited access to disciplinary records, the lack of independence of review boards, and a culture of silence within police departments that hinders internal accountability.

Militarization of Police: Modern policing has seen an increasing trend of militarization, with police departments acquiring military-grade equipment and adopting military-style tactics. While proponents argue that this prepares police for extreme situations like terrorist attacks, critics contend that it promotes a war-like mentality, exacerbating tensions between police and community, and often results in disproportionate use of force.

Training and Recruitment: Modern policing recognizes the importance of improving police training and recruitment processes. Emphasis on de-escalation training, implicit bias awareness, and the recruitment of a diverse workforce are positive developments. However, critics argue that such initiatives are often insufficiently funded, lack standardization, and fail to address deeply ingrained departmental cultures.

Mental Health and Policing: There’s increasing recognition of the role of police in responding to mental health crises. However, police officers often lack the training needed to effectively handle these situations, leading to outcomes that can be tragic. Calls for changes in this aspect of policing range from improved training to entirely rethinking the role of police in mental health emergencies.

Modern policing stands at a crossroads. While technological advancements and new strategies offer promise, they also present challenges that must be critically examined and addressed. Reforms need to go beyond surface-level changes and tackle structural and cultural issues within the police system. A robust, democratic, and effective modern police system requires ongoing scrutiny, open dialogue, and the willingness to question and change established norms.