Police—What of Their Future?
WITHOUT police we would probably have anarchy. But even with police, is our world safe? In most cities today, as in many rural areas, there is a sense of crisis concerning security. Can we look to the police to save us from organized crime and from habitual criminals? Can we expect the police to make our streets safe? Will they win the war against crime?
David Bayley offers an opinion in his book Police for the Future: “The police do not prevent crime,” he says. “Police are, indeed, only a band-aid on cancer. . . . We cannot rely upon the police, even when they are dedicated to preventing crime, to save society from crime.” Studies have shown that the three main activities of police—patrolling the streets, responding to emergency calls, and investigating crimes—do not prevent crime. Why is this so?
Trying to prevent crime by sheer weight of police presence would be impossibly expensive. Criminals don’t seem to notice or care about affordable increases in patrols. Rapid response doesn’t deter much crime either. Police have reported that unless they can arrive at the scene of a crime in less than a minute, they are unlikely to catch the culprit. Criminals seem to know that such speed is rare. Neither does criminal investigation help. Even when detectives do successfully convict and imprison criminals, it does not, apparently, prevent crime. The United States locks away more criminals than any other nation, but it still suffers a very high crime rate; whereas Japan, with few in jail, has one of the lowest. Even schemes like neighborhood watch haven’t proved to have an effect that lasts, particularly in high-crime areas. Crackdowns on specific crimes, such as drug trafficking or robbery, have dramatic impact for a while, but again, the effects are difficult to sustain.
“That the police are not able to prevent crime should not come as a big surprise to thoughtful people,” says Police for the Future. “It is generally understood that social conditions outside the control of the police, as well as outside the control of the criminal justice system as a whole, determine crime levels in communities.”
What Would Happen Without Police?
How do you act if there are no policemen watching? Do you take advantage of their absence to break the law? It is amazing how many so-called respectable middle- and upper-class people will risk their reputation and their future for the dubious benefits of white-collar crime. The New York Times recently reported on ‘112 charged in a fraud scheme, who were said to be involved in a scheme to swindle auto insurance companies. Among those charged were lawyers, medical doctors, chiropractors, a physical therapist, an acupuncturist, and a Police Department administrative aide.’
Another case of fraud on a grand scale recently shocked the wealthy patrons of the art world when the former leading administrators of Sotheby’s in New York and Christie’s in London were convicted of price-fixing. They and their auction houses are having to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and compensation! Thus the insatiable greed for money strikes at every level of society.
What happened in Recife, Brazil, in 1997 when the police went on strike shows that many people readily turn to crime when there is no deterrent. Any religious convictions they might have do not affect their conduct. They can easily dilute or abandon ethics and principles. Little wonder that the police in most countries are fighting a losing battle in a world prone to lawlessness, whether petty or major.
On the other hand, some people obey laws because they respect authority. The apostle Paul told Christians in Rome that they should be in subjection to the authorities that God permits to exist, since these maintain at least a degree of order in society. Of such authority he wrote: “It is God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad. There is therefore compelling reason for you people to be in subjection, not only on account of that wrath but also on account of your conscience.”—Romans 13:4, 5.
Changing Social Conditions
Police work certainly does have some effect on improving social conditions. When streets are visibly cleared of drugs and violence, people tend to live up to the community’s improved image. But really, reforming society is beyond the scope of any police force.
Can you imagine a society where people have such respect for the law that they don’t need police? Can you picture a world where people have such concern for one another that neighbors are always willing to help and no one needs to call police for assistance? Perhaps that sounds like fantasy. But these words of Jesus, although spoken in another context, certainly apply. He said: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”—Matthew 19:26.
The Bible describes a time in the future when all mankind will be subjects of a government set up by Jehovah God. “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom . . . It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms.” (Daniel 2:44) By educating all sincere people in God’s way of love, this new government will change the social conditions that produce crime. “The earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” (Isaiah 11:9) Jehovah’s King, Jesus Christ, will be able to prevent all crime. “He shall not judge by what he sees nor decide by what he hears; he shall judge the poor with justice and defend the humble in the land with equity.”—Isaiah 11:3, 4, The New English Bible.
There will be no criminals or crime. Police will not be needed. Everyone “will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble.” (Micah 4:4) If you would like to be a part of the “new earth” described in the Bible, now is the time to investigate what God has promised in his Word.—2 Peter 3:13.
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Can you imagine a society where people have such respect for the law that they don’t need police?
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There will be no criminals or crime
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Police Versus Terrorists
As the events of September 11, 2001, in New York City and Washington, D.C., illustrated, air pirates, hostage takers, and terrorists provide police with some of the most difficult challenges in protecting the public. Special squads in many parts of the world have been trained to storm parked aircraft. They have also learned the skills of surprise entry into buildings—rappeling from the roof, leaping through windows, and throwing concussion grenades and tear-gas canisters. Such trained officers have often succeeded in surprising and overcoming terrorists with a minimum of danger to hostages.
James R. Tourtellotte/U.S. Customs Service
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Items that will no longer be needed in God’s new world