Major Challenges Modern Society Places On Police And Policing

Major Challenges Modern Society Places On Police And Policing?


Effectiveness of traditional law enforcement approaches has declined in the modern society. The modern highly globalized society brings people from different ethnic backgrounds together. This in turn has led to new forms of conflicts. In addition, people’s trust in police organization has declined significantly necessitating new strategies like community policing to reduce tension and fight crime and insecurity in the community. Accordingly, police structure have changed from the traditional paramilitary to shorter command chain and the role of police has changed from a law enforcer to leaders who bring together the correct people in order to resolve problems on law enforcement. All over the world the police in this 21st century face completely new challenges.

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Police in the 21st century have access to education, information, training, and ability to exchange both experiences and training globally. However, they also experience daunting challenges that their predecessors never encountered. Globalization poses serious challenges to police in the modern society. Under globalization different nations have increased the need for standardized practices, regulation and laws. There is need for more cooperation as events in one region have an impact on other parts of the world. This makes frequent consultation and collaborated action a must. Globalization also results in higher rates of migration that can bring people from different culture and races in one country. On one side this is a big challenge particular because of the conflict in value system of the different cultures. The police being the closest arm of government in contact with the community will have to deal with this growing challenge on a regular basis. This means police will require training and knowledge to make them aware about the cultural differences. Police organizations will also have to be more representative by recruiting people from minority groups. In addition, globalization is also pushing for international police. This will require harmonization of practices and standards, thus necessitating collective training and joint procedure s and polices (Murray, 2000).

Policing has also developed as reaction to evolving social changes in the society. Police systems have changed in significant ways within very short terms. Following September 11, 2001 terrorist attack for instance, in U.S, practitioners and politicians called for paradigm shifts in policing to deal with this new menace. There was a call for police to be more active in combating terrorism. There was an emphasis for policing that pays greater details to intelligence gathering, information sharing, covert investigation, and immigration enforcement (Ortiz, Hendris & Suge, 2007). Terrorism has therefore, led to changes in police structure and training in the 21st century. Today there are more specialized police organizations to combat this menace.

The terrorist attacks and others modern crimes have also increased the need for citizens or community participation in combating crime. To some this a new practice in crime prevention, but to others it is a repeat of history that has been necessitated by increased crime rate in the last century. Crime control models that emerged in the past led to increased use of technology in fighting crime, which removed police from the community. This made it difficult for police to gather intelligence at grass root level. Police increasingly became unpopular among the people and were seen as merely law enforcers. The new model of community policing has thus come about to restore community confidence with the people. This new model of policing aims to reduce the challenges of the previous crime model by devising new strategies to handle problems. For example police are patrolling areas inhabited by immigrant on foot to restore this trust and encourage locals to report crimes. They are also working together with these immigrants to devise strategies for cutting down the crime rates in these areas. Recruitment of police from the same cultural backgrounds as these immigrants is also helping to solve their problems. Successful governments today are increasingly calling for citizens’ cooperation with agents mandated to prevent crime. These activities have called for citizen police participation in previously police reserved activities like watching neighborhood, community safety initiatives and citizens patrols. Citizens today are being invited to be active participants as opposed to inactive beneficiaries of state services (Zedner, 2006).


Indeed the modern society poses new challenges to police and policing. Today states are more interconnected than in previous times. This has led to emergence of new police organizations catalyzed by the need for joint actions and cooperation in keeping security at global level. Globalization has also led to massive migration of people from different countries. This poses major challenges to police in certain countries. Pooling of people from different cultural backgrounds is a major threat to a country security due to their difference in value system. Police as the immediate government representatives experience the challenge of dealing with these immigrants and require special training to handle the new threats to national security. Terrorism is also another challenge in the 21st century that police have had to deal with. This has led to frequent campaigns for changes in policing like community policing, which also requires high level of interpersonal skills to handle these 21st century challenges.


Murray, T. (2000). Police and the Challenge of the 21st Century: managing Change in Police organizations. Retrieved on June 19, 2013 from

Ortiz, C. W., Hendricks, N. J., Sugie, N. F. (2007). Policing Terrorism: the Response of Local Police Agencies to Homeland Security Concerns. Criminal Justice Studies, 20(2), p 91-109.

Zedner, l. (2006). Policing before and After the Police. The Historical Antecedents of Contemporay Crime Control. British Journal of Criminology, 46, p 78-96.