Several times over the years, criminal justice agencies have attempted to become effective in their specific mandates across the country. However, they have faced a myriad of reform-based bottlenecks that, in most cases, have rendered them ineffective and, in some cases, even irrelevant. In many ways, the criminal justice system in America is a sinking ship with more risks than benefits to the citizens. This paper considers the reforms, both attempted and implemented within the police force, and its effects on the populations with respect to their security needs and their rights. The paper bases its arguments on the perceptions presented in four articles namely Divided Loyalties: Ethical Challenges for America’s Law Enforcement in Post 9/11 America by Cynthia Brown, Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes by Craig Roush, Integration of Police in the United States; Changes and Development after 9/11 by Allan Y Jiao and Harry M Rhea and Trotsky in Blue; Permanent Policing Reform by Jean-Paul Brodeur. All these articles address the issue of reforms in the American policing organization especially in light of the war on terror. The changes and their effects on the people are also lightly discussed in order to ascertain the direction off the implemented reforms with regard to the people of America.
2. Article Summary
Brown (2011) in his article “Divided Loyalties: Ethical Challenges for America’s Law Enforcement in Post 9/11 America” discusses the ethical dilemma facing the civilian police agencies across the United States with respect to whether they will uphold the constitution that they are mandated to protect and respect or whether they will focus on terrorism and compromise their respect for the constitution by violating civil liberties in their line of duty. Roush, C. (2012) in the article entitled “Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes”, on the other hand, discusses the way in which the government, pressed by the people’s need to be protected from terror attacks, has upgraded the civilian policing model into a paramilitary design that undermines the liberties and rights of the citizens with respect to privacy and protection from state interference in their personal lives.
By mandating and funding the civilian police force to carry out surveillance, the people’s request is coming back to haunt them, and the author encourages them to respond by ‘unasking’ the request to avoid severe and irreversible violation of liberties as surveillance becomes more covert and cheap. Jiao & Rhea (2007) in their article “Integration of Police in the United States; Changes and Development after 9/11” focus on the police reforms after 9/11. This article considers how the policing organization has changed and how these changes affect the organization’s performance with respect to fighting terror and carrying out its mandate in general. In addition, this article generally appraises the police organization, the principles applied and the models that have been embraced since 9/11. Lastly, Brodeur (2005) in the article entitled “Trotsky in Blue; Permanent Policing Reform” discusses the police reforms in North America and its results with regard to ensuring security and justice within the country. This article mostly dwells on the issues arising from the police reforms and the ways in which these issues can be sorted for a better performing police organization.
While bureaucracy remains as the basic principle where multiple jurisdictions and agencies are involved, there is more that needs to be done for a synchronized, or, at least, a well-coordinated policing approach to terrorism in America. In addition, this approach must be able to work within the constitution and ensure that civil liberties are not violated, but rather protected. This paper seeks to address the issue of criminal justice collaboration, and thus, it will mainly address the matters relating to the collaboration of inter agencies in the fight against terrorism in a post 9/11 dispensation. Therefore, it is imperative to state that while it has been agreed that the paramilitary atmosphere of the civilian police force is a matter for concern to the common citizen, it remains the only practical solution against terror. While one of the authors is strongly advocating for a fallback, it is an option that is not readily available especially considering that terrorism is not only a national threat but also a serious international one with regard to its influence on the subject of human security.
In “Divided Loyalties: Ethical Challenges for America’s Law Enforcement in Post 9/11 America”, Cynthia Brown discusses the ethical dilemma facing the civilian police agencies across the United States with respect to whether they will uphold the constitution that they are mandated to protect and respect or whether they will focus on terrorism and compromise their respect for the constitution by violating civil liberties in their line of duty. In this article, the author states that the American law enforcement officers are facing an identity crisis in which they are being forced to choose between protecting and upholding the constitution and taking up arms in the ‘war on terror’ in a military fashion (Brown, 2011). These officers are habituated to live by militaristic principles thus, sabotaging their objectivity in the decision-making. The expansive paramilitary culture embraced after 9/11 encourages the war paradigm that has become an active framework in the crime control thought processes amongst the nation’s civilian law enforcement as well as the bureaucrats, politicians, the public and the media. The author herein cites the militarization of the civilian police force as the single most significant change as experienced in the US after 9/11, expressing worries on the benefit of this fact versus its cost especially to the citizens of the US.
In “Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes” on the other hand, Craig Roush discusses the way in which the government, pressed by the people’s need to be protected from terror attacks, has upgraded the civilian policing model into a paramilitary design that undermines the liberties and rights of the citizens with respect to privacy and protection from state interference in their personal lives (Roush, 2012). By mandating and funding the civilian police force to carry out surveillance, the people’s request is coming back to haunt them, and the author encourages them to respond by ‘unasking’ the request to avoid severe and irreversible violation of liberties as surveillance becomes more covert and cheap. In this article, the author explores ways through which the people of the US can act to counter the effects of the ‘war on terror’ that include the invasion of their privacy and violation of their civil liberties. He cites the use of statutory limits given that the Fourth Amendment does not adequately provide for an exit option in matters that can be considered of critical importance and imminent danger to national security. In addition, the author cautions against the delayed response as surveillance and intelligence gathering technology keeps advancing to the point that privacy will soon become buried in memory.
“Integration of Police in the United States; Changes and Development after 9/11” by Allan Y Jiao and Harry M Rhea is mainly about the police reforms after 9/11. This article considers how the policing organization has changed and how these changes affect the organization’s performance with respect to fighting terror and carrying out its mandate in general. Besides, this article generally appraises the police organization, the principles applied, and the models that have been embraced since 9/11. The tragedy of 9/11 pointed out the need for the policing system to be integrated or, at least, improved so that it could handle the evolving needs of an organization that is fighting against terrorism (Jiao & Rhea, 2007). The police force however simply reinforced the traditional model of bureaucratic crime-fighting where, if multiple jurisdictions and agencies are involved, they have to adopt a bureaucratic system in working together. Additionally, the focus on terrorism only created an aggressive policing system at the expense of the community policing system. Generally, the article cites that there has been no integration in the current police structure post 9/11 but only that the integration occurred in the Federal, state and local policing framework.
“Trotsky in Blue; Permanent Policing Reform” by Jean-Paul Brodeur discusses the police reforms in North America and its results with regard to ensuring security and justice within the country. This article mostly dwells on the issues arising from the police reforms and the ways in which these issues can be sorted for a better performing police organization. In reforming the police in Canada, the first approach was centered on reforming the minds of the officers while holding on to the old organizational structure (Brodeur, 2005). This approach failed, leading on to the second one, which included reforming the entire system for a more efficient policing model. This worsened the country’s relationship between security and justice as the two gained an irreconcilable contradiction. With the structural reforms came the concept of ‘high policing’, which is not only in violation of the country’s constitution with regard to protecting its citizens but with regard to protecting their civil rights and liberties from state interference, as well. Thus, currently, these reforms remain irrelevant to the masses as not only do they run high budgets but risk the liberties and rights of the citizens through the militarized tendencies and capacity of the civilian police forces as well as the overemphasis of the government on the war on terror.
These four articles are alike in the fact that all of them address the issue of the reforms undertaken by the policing organization after 9/11. Their conclusions are alike, as well since the militarization of the civilian police force may have been effective in the war on terror, but it is proving unpleasant for the common citizens given that their rights and liberties are being violated with respect to intelligence gathering and surveillance techniques and tools. With respect to the conclusions of these articles, the following can be deduced on 9/11 and its effects on the policing organization:
The events of 9/11 were not just a shock to the American people but to the world as a whole. The terrorist attack shook the very foundation of the American security system, highlighting the severe weaknesses that the policing framework had had for a long time. This called for a radical change in principle and framework to ensure that such an event was never to repeat.
In response to this terrorist attack, the US government carried out a militarization exercise on all its security agencies including the civilian police division. Responding to a public outcry requiring protection from terrorist attacks, the government invested heavily in the training and equipment of civilian police officers to become soldiers at the front line in the war on terror. All of a sudden, the civilian police officers became soldiers at war embracing a paramilitary approach in the conventional crime-fighting environment. They were trained and perfected in surveillance and intelligence gathering in order to provide the necessary intelligence in preventing terrorist attacks and arresting the perpetrators of such acts. In addition, the policing agencies were largely encouraged to share information and collaborate across jurisdictions to make their work easier and more effective in the war on terror.
However, these changes were largely on paper as recommendations. Most of them met dead ends in the form of serious obstacles such as funding, political will, and infrastructure or technical support. The collaboration of agencies in national security matters may be a reality today, but it still involves the steep bureaucratic procedures and requirements of the past thus making it unpleasant and excessively time-consuming. Moreover, 9/11 may have changed the mindset of policing agencies with respect to how they perceive terrorism and security, but it did not have a significant impact on the individual mindsets of the officers. Therefore, there exists the need for more coordinated coverage in terms of implementing changes and ensuring that they hold effectively in the set goals and objectives of the police organization.
Other than a return of bureaucracy, another major challenge that is experienced by the police organization as an effect of 9/11 is the loyalty conflict between the constitution and the ‘war on terror’ (Brodeur, 2005). The constitution is the main guideline within which these civilian police officers are expected to act. Their existence is in more ways than one hinged on their capacity as the protectors of the constitution and their position as referees in ensuring that the state did not harm the citizens and vice versa. As law enforcement authorities, the civilian police officers are expected to protect the civilians from everything, including the government. After 9/11 however, the civilian police organizations were militarized and equipped with tools of combat. They are not just law enforcement anymore but rather front line soldiers in the ‘war on terror.’ This makes them more aggressive and focused on terrorism rather than on the well-being of the citizens.
On one hand, this is not such a bad thing, but on the other hand, who will protect the interests of the citizens against the state if the civilian police are now working for the state? This arrangement leaves the police officers in a dilemma as to whom they are working for as the government has militarized them while the citizens continue to expect their services like law enforcement and not soldiers at war. Are they able to ensure that the rights and freedoms of the citizens are protected while carrying out surveillance and intelligence gathering for the government’s crusade against terrorists? This remains a question the answer to which is subject to personal opinion.
In addition, the post-9/11 era presented an urgent need for culture change in the policing department with a paradigm shift from law enforcement to military tactics in surveillance and intelligence gathering. The police force moved from community policing to a more aggressive form of policing that includes spying and other covert operations that risk the civil liberties of the citizens. This change was a response to the needs of the citizens, to be safe from terrorist attacks like the 9/11 incident. The adaptation of a paramilitaristic culture, however, did not serve the interests of the citizens well. Their constitutional rights continue to be violated in the interest of ‘national security’, and this way of thinking is not only limited to the police organization but has spread across the board to dictate the thoughts and actions of politicians, bureaucrats, the media, and even the public in general, as well.
Aggressiveness in the war on terror can only mean that the constitutional rights and liberties of the citizens are given a secondary position in the priority list. The need to gather intelligence for the prevention of terrorist attacks implies that the civil liberties of the people are merely an obstacle and must be ignored in most instances. This may be justifiable in some cases, but in many ways, it is the outright abuse of power and the violation of the spirit and letter of the constitution of the United States. Nevertheless, in the quest for protecting the people from terrorist attacks, there must be some room for compromise. This is the basis for the argument in support of the militarized tactics employed by the civilian police as front line soldiers in the ‘war on terror’.
Conclusively, it can be stated that these articles agree on the fact that inter-agency policing requires seamless coordination with regard to sharing information and responding to threats without jurisdictive and turf limitations. Moreover, while bureaucracy is a great way of keeping the peace between these agencies, it seems that this traditional approach may have outlived its relevance. The agencies need to blender and work in unison where the cases transcend jurisdiction and turf. This would imply the need to create a standard framework within which all state agencies that deal with security issues operate. This way they will be able to work together more easily whenever they need to.
The criminal justice system in the US with respect to the post-9/11 changes can work together very efficiently given the capacity it has as a government system. With the bureaucratic model, the various agencies and jurisdictions are capable of coordinating operations and collaborating in cases, especially, when it comes to sharing information and expertise as well as forming inter-agency task forces when necessary. The major problem lies with the synchronization of the changes as each agency is at its own place in the evolution curve, and they need to be at the same level if they are to blend seamlessly in a good way. Considering the importance of a systems approach to criminal justice, it can be said that it will enable agencies to evolve together in a systematic way and avoid turf wars or jurisdictive limitations as the agencies will be operating as one unit. This means that a systems approach would eliminate the delays and obstacles that are created within a bureaucratic model of inter-agency cooperation within the criminal justice system. Therefore, creating a forum within which the agencies will be interacting on level ground will be beneficial for the entire system, improving not only its efficiency but its effectiveness as a whole, as well.
With regard to technology, there are quite a number of upcoming improvements for surveillance and information-gathering tools and techniques. This means that getting the required intelligence within the criminal justice system is not a challenge in any way. The problem comes in how to share this information across the various agencies involved without compromising it or leaking it to the wrong people. Thus, the required technology in this area would be one that enables secure storage and sharing of sensitive information between agencies. Once agencies can access information easily, it will be more practical for them to collaborate and achieve better results in the war on terror among other security-related interests. With regard to what more could be done, it may be in the best interests of the criminal justice system if the various agencies involved were allowed to work together more often to reduce the occurrence of interagency rivalry and enable more effective collaboration.