Police and Democracy by Gary T. Marx (New Threats to Democratic Police…
Police and Democracy
by Gary T. Marx
Definition: Broad values involving participation and formal rules about procedures such as elections
When police operate under the rule of law, they protect democracy. Accountability is important.
Power of law can be used to support dictatorial regimes.
Democratic Societies: Strives for equal law enforcement and equivalent treatment of all citizens. Police officers are trained to treat citizens universally without taking sides.
Varieties of and Supports for a Democratic Police
Much debate over what practices are most conducive to a democratic police
Democratic police can take many forms (ex. militaristic, non-military, highly centralized
Democratic police ideal is generally supported by a variety of organizational means
division of labor between these who investigate, arrest, try, and punish
a quasi-military bureaucratic structure which limits discretion and tries to create audit trails
the separation of police from the military and the creation of competing police agencies rather than a monolith
external agencies that monitor its behavior and that must give permission for certain highly intrusive actions
police who can be readily identified as such, or in the case of undercover police whose identity is hidden
a courtroom trial in which police actions are deception are publicly revealed and judged
adequate compensation and working conditions comparable to at least the average level of society
Liberty is more likely to be protected if power is diffused
Police Control and Accountability
Police face numerous external and internal controls
: Police are bound by laws and constitutions in attempt to control police behavior
Control of police is sought through selection, training, defined procedures, police guidelines, and supervision
Even democratic systems will have examples of undemocratic police behavior (ex. involving issues of race and police brutality)
Betters relationship between community and police. Police are expected to view themselves as advocates for citizens.
Possibility of undermining democracy.
New Threats to Democratic Police
Thin line between knowing "too much" about the community and knowing "too little".
Extremely important to not violate use of physical force and coercion.
Recently, less coercive forms of control have emerged (ex. video surveillance, computer dossiers, and biological and electronic monitoring
Technology has ability to make police more efficient
Powerful computer data bases can help analyze and solve crime
New forms of DNA identification
Police accountability is enhanced by technology (ex. surveillance)
No guarantee that enhancements of police power by technology will be used to protect, rather than to undermine democracy
Democratic societies need to answer how efficient they want the police to be
Democratic societies experience a continual tension between desire for order and desire. The balance between these will vary on context and time period
Nonviolent social control
Violent social control