To understand the role of the police in the United States in general as well as in the practice of community policing and problem solving, one must first define what is meant by “the police.” The police are an institution in the United States, firmly established and deeply rooted in the nation’s history. The police are the agencies people call when they require assistance with crime or disorder. Finally, the police are people who work collaboratively with the community to address problems. Each of these three conceptualizations of the police has undergone dramatic change over time. Those changes have left them positioned as they are today. This entry discusses the roles of the police under the three conceptualizations in turn.

Roles for the Institution of American ...

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