Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952415 | Print ISBN: 9780761926498 | Online ISBN: 9781412952415| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The concept of municipal policing is the backbone of public safety and order maintenance in Western democracies. Local control of government services is a core value in free societies. Conversely, in nondemocratic countries, policing generally falls to the military. Military systems support the prevailing order of the day, whereas municipal policing upholds laws, justice, and the social values of communities. Municipalities are primarily urban political units having corporate status and, usually, powers of self-government. Police forces are made up of trained officers entrusted by a government with maintenance of public peace and order, enforcement of laws, and prevention and detection of crime. Contemporary municipal police departments operating in democratic societies are, for the most part, publicly financed, publicly accountable, paramilitary in structure and appearance, bureaucratic, and on duty 24 hours a day. Most police agencies are organized functionally into line (patrol and investigative operations), staff, and support functions. Departments are ...