The increasing complexity of modern social life has placed greater demands on the various agencies of social control and order maintenance. This is especially true for those agencies intending to deal with problems of crime control. Dunham and Alpert have noted that "as problems of social control have grown and become more complex, so have the actions and reactions of the police." 1 Because the police are viewed by most people as the first line of defense against crime and disorder, the public expectations of what the police should and can do about crime and disorder have risen accordingly. There has also been a call for increased study of the police. And, as Dunham and Alpert indicate, beginning in the mid-1970s, increased federal funding for police research and a corresponding improvement in methodological sophistication have improved significantly our level of knowledge about the police. 2
Despite the increase of research on the police, the United States police in general have been the subject of limited scientific study. Bayley has noted that this "discrepancy between the importance of the police in social life and the amount of attention given them by scholars is so striking as to require explanation." 3 Bayley suggests the lack of police research is a function of their pervasive presence, relatively routine occupational activities, and their absence as pivotal characters in major historical incidents. 4 The recent research interest in the police stems from their greater involvement in major social and political events.
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Publication information: Book title: State Police in the United States:A Socio-Historical Analysis. Contributors: H. Kenneth Bechtel - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 1.
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