Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: June 02, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971928 | Print ISBN: 9781412950855 | Online ISBN: 9781412971928| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
William C. Plouffe
The primary function of the police is criminal law enforcement—in other words, holding individual citizens accountable for their criminal acts. However, accountability is a double-edged sword. There are few who would disagree that there must be some degree of accountability for police misconduct. Yet, there are some who hold the position, at least in actual practice if not in professed theory, that there should be and is a different standard (less strict) for police officers. This issue is directly related to race and crime in that, as law enforcement investigations, convictions, and punishments have been, arguably, directed disproportionately against African Americans, holding the police accountable for misconduct is a priority in race relations. But police accountability requires the answering of several questions. The first question is for what misconduct should police officers be held accountable? The second question is how and by whom should the police be held accountable? The ...