Conflict and Power-Law Enforcement
Many factors lead to police-civilian conflicts. First is the use of excessive force by police officers. Police officers are required by law to use force in extreme situations, not every situation. However, from the latest trends in the U.S., police officers are often applying excessive force in a situation that could be handled with little force. Thus, using force is one of the major causes of conflicts between law enforcers and community members. They are secondly, they carry out unauthorized and unnecessary searches and seizures (Fritsvold, 2020). Police officers are mandated to carry out searches and seizures of the property while investigating a particular incident. However, the police officers have turned out to be trivial in that they carry out searches and seizures without any good reason, hence violating people’s privacy. Searches, especially house searches, should be conducted with a search warrant, but some police officers do it without search warrants (Agastra, 2018). Discrimination and mistreatment are other factors that cause conflicts between law enforcers and civilians.
The perception of power plays a significant role in creating conflict situations. Usually, people find themselves in a conflict when one party tries to misuse the power over another. A conflict emerges when the other parties resist and refuse to be exploited by those with more power. It is not uncommon to witness a conflict between the law enforcers and the community members; these conflicts between these two parties are common because the law enforcers tend to misuse their powers (Fritsvold, 2020). Once police officers are given a badge indicating they have powers to maintain law and order, some misuse their powers by exploiting ordinary citizens. The power given to police officers to help maintain law and order is not to feel that one is above the law and can do anything without a consequence (Ederheimer, 2007). There have been many incidences where police officers have been accused of their brutality, and even some have been accused of killing innocent community members. Therefore, police perception of their power is one of the major causes of conflicts between them and the community members.
The U.S. citizen’s perception of the law enforcers’ power is not viewed upon trust, respect, and integrity; many Americans perceive police officers to be misusing their vested powers to commit crimes. Places such as Chicago and many other places tend to have high rates of crimes among civilians and police officers. One of the significant perceptions of conflict between the citizens and t police officers is race. There has been much news about police brutality against African Americans in recent years (Fritsvold, 2020). Many reports reveal that the tensions are even higher in some areas in that the targeted victims are now planning to avenge themselves by targeting police officers. On the other hand, African-American police officers are often discriminated against and treated unprofessionally (Ederheimer, 2007). Thus, the perception of white police officers against African American police officers could cause a conflict.
A relational theory of power is a theory that states that power is a property of social relations rather than the quality of an individual. The theory claims that individual A’s power over individual B is equal to the dependence of individual B on A. The theory further states that this power is not fixed but dynamic as each party becomes dependent on the resources the other party offers. Individual power is also influenced by the power of the group to which an individual belongs (Cavnar, 2015). The perception of power affects a lot the ability to resolve police-community conflict. The community members [perceive the police to be misusing them and fail to strike individual relations to agree. Regarding relational theory, the response of the community members towards the police is dependent on the power the police unleash on them (Agastra, 2018). Therefore, resolving the conflicts may take a long because the civilians are not on good terms with the police.
Some strategies that can be used to resolve the conflicts between law enforcers and community members are: first, the police should avoid violence. Violence here means excessive force; police officers should start addressing issues without force (Euwema, Kop, & Bakker, 2004). Secondly, the law enforcers should embrace communication; the police officers should initiate communication directly with the civilians, explaining what is required and what is not. Communication will help the two reach agreements and disappear conflicts (Agastra, 2018). Thirdly, the law enforcers should investigate to understand conflict sources. Knowing the causes of the conflict can be the best approach to getting the solution to the conflict. Compromising and collaboration can be another conflict resolution strategy.
The most appropriate strategy that the police can use to resolve the conflicts is using regular communication. Communication entails active listening and negotiation with the community members. When law enforcers convene meetings with the community members, they discuss the issues and raise their opinions (Ederheimer, 2007). In the long run, the two parties will reach an agreement. Communicating and discussing with the people will help the police know where the problem is, understand the sources of the conflicts, and, thus, come up with the best approach to address the situation. This is one of the best ways of addressing the conflicts between law enforcement and the community.
Agastra, A. (2018). A Sociological Approach to Police Officers’ Conflict Management Tools. Open Journal for Sociological Studies, 2018, 2(2), 47-58. https://doi.org/10.32591/coas.ojss.0202.01047a
Cavnar, M. (2015). Relational Theories of Power. Retrieved from https://maralcavner.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/relational-theories-of-power-by-maral-cavner/
Ederheimer, J (2007). CRITICAL ISSUES IN POLICING SERIES: Strategies for Resolving Conflict and Minimizing Use of Force. Police Executive Research Forum, Washington, D.C. 20036
Euwema, M., Kop, N., & Bakker, B. A. (2004). The behavior of police officers in conflict situations and reduced dominance contribute to better outcomes (18 edition). WORK & STRESS magazine, Taylor & Francis Group
Fritsvold, E. (2020). Conflict Management Strategies for Law Enforcement Leaders.
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Write a 3-5 page paper titled “conflict and Power” explaining how individual perceptions of power can create conflict between law enforcement and community members. Use the relational theory of power to explain how perceptions affect the ability to resolve conflict. Hen, identify a conflict resolution strategy and predict the outcome.
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