Law Enforcement in 2003 and Beyond

Article excerpt

Globalization has changed the face of crime and law enforcement.

Departments can no longer view their communities as the extent of their jurisdiction. No law enforcement agency can operate without taking the big picture into consideration. Interdependence among law enforcement agencies as well as private industry and citizens is greater than ever before. Predicting the future becomes more challenging as more variables are introduced and the pace of change accelerates.

Historically law enforcement agencies have employed reactive methods to combat crime. A crime occurs and the police respond. Rather than attempting to anticipate and prepare for what may happen years in the future, law enforcement for the most part continued to struggle with the here and now. Agency executives missed opportunities to influence the future of their agencies and communities, and to foster positive change. An agency places itself and its community at risk if it is unable to keep pace with the speed at which change will occur in the future.

Law enforcement managers can employ proactive, future-directed methods in several ways. Emerging technologies allow for effective crime analysis and planning. The study of criminology shows who commits crimes and what strategies are effective in dealing with crime and criminals. Research provides tools that can be used to forecast, manage and create possible and preferable futures.

When predicting the future many issues have to be taken into consideration and their driving forces should be examined. The global view requires a look at political, legal, social, economic and technological aspects of each issue. Agencies must have proactive planning programs to monitor trends, discuss and develop new strategies, and facilitate and respond to emerging trends.

The Society of Police Futurists International along with the FBI sponsored the Futuristics and Law Enforcement:The Millennium Conference in July of 2000. They identified five areas of concern that must be addressed: the future of technology and it's effect on law enforcement; the future of leadership and management in policing agencies; future crime/future law; the future of policing practices and philosophies; and the changing face of America-demographics and policing.

The National Foreign Intelligence Board predicts that the world population will be 7.2 billion by 2015: up 1.1 billion over 2000s population and people will live longer. In 40 years the population will double. In advanced countries such as the United States there will be declining birth rates and an increase in the aged population. In 2004, 53% of federal workers will be eligible for retirement. More than 16% of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65 in 2020.

By 2030 those age 65 and older will be 20% of the population according to the U.S.Census Bureau; this percentage will hold through 2050. The population aged 85 and older will double in size from 1995 to 2030, and increase five-fold by 2050.

The aging population will increase Healthcare and pension costs. Crimes against the elderly will increase and demands for monitoring this trend and developing strategies to combat it will escalate.

It is estimated that by the year 2020 more than 38% of the U.S. population will be minorities. By 2015 it is estimated that nearly 95% of the increase in the world's population will be found in developing countries. As developing nations' populations grow and disparities in wealth and progress continue between the advanced and third world countries, people will continue to migrate to advanced countries. More than half of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2015 and this number will be close to 400 million worldwide in less than 15 years. In the United States more people will live in the suburbs, thus increasing the need for more police stations. Challenges and opportunities are brought forth by cross-border migration and urbanization. …