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Social Justice Role of the Police in Society
Author’s Name
Institutional Affiliation
Social Justice Role of the Police in Society ………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
Types of police …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3
Roles of Police……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 4
Criminal theories explaining Delinquency and Criminal behavior……………………………………………….. 6
US Criminal Justice System as a unitary authority ……………………………………………………………………… 9
Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 10
Social Justice Role of the Police in Society
The paper is addressing the role of the US police in the administration of social justice.
The US police have a long history in the US and its establishment is dated back to the colonial
America. Since its establishment the police has transformed and today it is a professional body.
However, the paper would also address how the police work with the US criminal justice system,
because the police alone is unable to administer any justice without the courts and corrections
facilities. Besides, the paper would also explain using criminology theories to why people
commit crime and what role the community has in helping the police build a society with
minimal crime rates.
The police is a central component of a justice system and it has a long history. In the US
the history of police is dated back to the colonial period. According to the article of (Waxman,
2017), during the colonial America, policing was informal and it was profit-motivated, funded
privately and people were employment on part-time basis. Also, the police was organized in
form of night watch. In towns generally people were hired to offer security, as people engaged in
prostitution or gambling. Most importantly, it is documented that in 1636 Boston had police, and
later New York received its first police in 1658, while Philadelphia created it in 1700. Also,
significant to underscore is that at the initial stage of introduction of policing, it was informal,
and it was organized in terms of watchmen, who to some large extent were ineffective.
Further reference to Waxman, (2017) article indicates that the rapid urbanization in
America rendered the night-watch system ineffective. Resultantly, people were hired on full-time
basis to offer security during the day and also during the night. Ideally, the US police started in
an informal way, and later as civilization picked up in America after the colonial master left, the
police was formalized. Hence, the police in United States can be described to be as old as the
US, despite being a unit that was introduced during the colonial America. However, today the
police play a crucial role in the administration of justice, and it is one of the sub-systems of the
justice system. The police is therefore an inseparable unit of the justice system.
Types of police
It is already apparent that police office offer security to property and life, and that is the
reason the colonial masters required them to protect them during gambling and prostitution. The
police have a role to protect people against elements that can cause property loss and life. Social
justice requires that other people respect the lives and properties of others. It is on this premise
that the police operate to ensure that those who endanger life or even cause property loss are
arrested and subjected to the courts system for administration of justice (Greene, 2014). With the
role of protecting property, life and administration justice, the US has divided its police to
several units to make them more effective and efficient. Due to the plethora roles played by the
police in any working democracy, and also dictatorships, a police officer cannot play a multiple
of roles. As a result the US has several units of the police.
Federal police is run, managed and controlled by the federal government. This type of the
police has a federal authority to perform various roles, especially at federal level. The major role
of the federal police is to enforce federal laws and other regulations across the US states (Greene,
2014). FBI is an example of the federal police and they operate in all states and their funding
directly comes from the federal government.
State -The state type of police is under the state governments, and they enforce the laws
of the state government. The state police patrol and carry out investigations in their state and
therefore their roles are confined usually to a state.
County police-they exist in metropolitan counties, but most fundamentally they have
countywide jurisdiction to carry out their roles. The sheriff’s department is one example, but in
some counties there are not county police.
Roles of Police
In the administration of justice police are tasked with investigation. Cops have to carry
out investigations before they hand over a suspect to the courts system. When a suspect is
arrested, definitely they have to be handed over to the courts system, where the case can be heard
and determined (Greene, 2014). However, the hearing and determination of the case is heavily
dependent on the investigations carried out. Fortunately, the US FBI is professional in the sense
that they have enough expertise to conduct thorough investigation into any nature of crime. It is
the evidence presented to the courts that will then determine the fate of a case. In the
investigation also the police are restrained from filing false evidence, because that will be an
injustice to the suspect.
Arresting offender or lawbreakers is a major role for the police in the administration of
justice. For justice to be served or administered, then an arrest should be made. If the arrest is
made, with the evidence available to the police they will have to take such suspect to court
(Raschig, 2017). There are lawbreakers everyday in the United State whether on the roads or
even robberies, and also those offenders or criminals are not supposed to roam in the society
freely. It is the duty of the police to make sure that the rogues members of the society are
arrested to the keep other members of the public safe (Wolfe, & Nix, 2016). Hence, arresting is
another key role for the police and it is the one that initiates one’s journey in the criminal justice
Community involvement is another key role of the police. Justice is not just served by
arresting people and taking them to court for prosecution. The police get in touch with the
community and engage in service delivery like they have to talk the community programs (Gill,
et al, 2014). They have to work the community to see what is ailing it and report to other law
enforcement agencies for a corrective action to be taken. The police commit themselves to
deliver speeches in schools and other social place where they educate people on their civic duties
and avoid situations that can get them on the wrong way of the law. Furthermore, the police
educate communities on handling emergency situation to prevent crime from happening. In
addition, the police work with communities to prevent drug use in the community. Ideally, the
justice system requires that the police work closely with the community, because criminal
elements come from communities. When cops work with communities they teach values that can
be important to parents’ role in upbringing their children. Therefore, to gain support from the
community in terms of law enforcement the police have to work closely with its members and
engage in community programs that will help the citizens know the value of complying with the
Tugend, (2016) in his article in New York Times notes that the role of police is causing
jitters in some communities, because there is a feeling that the police are no longer administering
justice. According to the feeling of poorer areas especially dominated by African-Americans the
police are brutal and they treat them inhumanely. Also, the shooting of the police and other
African Americans have made the role of police in the justice system appear meaningless and
undefined. But generally, the wrong perception that the police is an enemy of some communities
and obstruct justice does not necessarily mean that the whole police system is rotten. Police
brutality is just one of the wrong sides of the police that is being corrected with the police ranks
so that police can be seen as the people justly and fairly serve the community.
Criminal theories explaining Delinquency and Criminal behavior
General Strain theory- The theory was developed by Robert K. Merton, where he argues
that the society exerts some pressure on people to achieve some goals accepted in the society.
For instance, the American Dream is something that every American dreams of, but again it is
not an easy ride to realize the dream. Hence, some people would resolve to engage in criminal
activities in pursuit of this dream to meet the expectations of the society.
Eriksson, et al, (2017) and Gao, et al, (2016), note that the theory makes sense and they
have investigate the relationship between the social pressure and criminal behavior. In their
research Gao, et al, (2016), sampled 1,163 adolescents from some four middle schools in China
to study the relationship between the adolescent maltreatment to delinquency within the
parameters of general strain theory. The author used to models, one they Agnew’s integrated
model of GST, which assesses some mediating effects of state of anger, depression, delinquent
peer affiliation and social control to establish the relation between delinquency and maltreatment
(Ngo, & Paternoster, 2014).The second model of their research is associated with the state of
anger to delinquent peer affiliation and state of depression to social control (Gao, et al, 2016).
In their findings, Gao, et al, (2016) noted that there is a close link between maltreatment
and delinquent behavior. As teachers, they engage in some mediating social control which then
to some extent the adolescent find difficult to comply with as a result they will end up
committing a crime. The most important aspect of the research is that despite the social control
or pressure that is put on adolescents or even adults can lead to some delinquent or generally
criminal behavior. The police is then required to understand that when members of the society
feel subjected to some pressure or situations they will commit crime. Cases of killings and
robbery in poor neighborhoods have been reported in the US and that in some instances it is the
social pressure to look for wealth other needs that prompt people to terrorize other citizens.
Hence, the police knowing very well the impact of the society on its members is collaborating
with communities so that to deflate the social pressure that can prompt some people from
committing crime (Crawford,& Evans, 2017).
From the general strain theory what is clear is that the pressure people get from others
radicalize or motivate them into committing crime. Based on this theory, it now makes sense
when someone talks the need for community involvement by the police (Crawford,& Evans,
2017). If the police are able to build strong relationships with the communities, they stand a
significant chance reducing the social pressure that can push people into committing crimes that
end up endangering the lives of other members of the society.
From the sociological approaches or theories, it is understandable that crime is influenced
by sociological factors. According to Eck, & Weisburd, (2015), criminologists are today
interested in places, like streets, or buildings to investigate social influence on criminal behavior.
This confirms that crime and delinquency is a sociological issues. A sociological factor like
poverty according to researchers can influence some members of the society to commit crime
when pursing some illegal means to get something can extricate them from poverty. For instance,
if people are poor they are likely to engage in robbery with violence, or they can engage in drug
trafficking as well as drug abuse. According to researchers supporting the sociological approach
of looking at criminal behaviors, even ethnicity can influence some illegal activities. For
instance, if African-Americans feel discriminated against or targeted, they can retaliate,
obviously using illegal means.
The sociological approaches can be described from the perspective of social learning
theory. According to the theory, people learn from their family members or environment. This
implies that if one is raised in a crime-prone area, they would grow knowing that committing
crime is their way of life. Fox,, (2016) investigated gendered stalking victimization and
found out that criminal behavior can be learnt. In summary, Akers, (2013) write that criminal
behavior is or can be learnt and hence parents ought to take their responsibility carefully so that
to prevent their children from interactions or dangerous environment where they can learn
criminal behavior.
Biological theories of criminality argue that crime constitute people DNA make-up.
Thus, criminal behavior hereditary, but they also argue that brain damage can trigger one to
commit a crime. The psychological theories of crime like personality theory, argue that
sociopaths, anti-social personalities and psychopaths are likely to commit crime. Furthermore,
the classical theory in crime argues that people commit crime for free will and this opposes
theories that postulate that crime is learnt, or inherited, and claims that people commit crime out
of their own will (Taylor,et al, 2013).
In a nutshell, police are required to consider various theories to understand the prevalence
of some crimes. From the theories, it is clear that police need to work with communities directly
to fight crime, because these criminal behaviors emanate from the environment.
US Criminal Justice System as a unitary authority
The police system was forced earlier than the US court system. However, before the court
system can still be traced to the colonial America, because there was a system of resolving
conflicts, although religion was mostly used to punish people (Neubauer, & Fradella, 2015). Any
person who could violate some Christian teaching could be punished. Most critical is that the
biblical teaching was used to determine the kind of punishment a person could receive. But, later
when the congress convened, after establishment of the constitution district courts were se
through the Judiciary Act of 1789. The act allowed the establishment of the Supreme Court and
other lower courts.
Nevertheless, the correction system of the US was later established when the judiciary
was properly constituted. However, punishment could still be meted out on offenders
(McConville, 2015). As mentioned earlier that the biblical teachings operated like the courts,
because they were the ones that could determine whether one was wrong or not. Those that were
found wrong could be punished by whipping, subjecting one to hard labor and other forms of
inhumane punishments. However, in the early 18th century the prison system developed in the
US. In a nutshell, the US correction system, police and courts system developed tremendously in
the 1700s and since then they have been unitary or interdependent. However, it is the police that
make the criminal justice system function, because if they do not arrest people and prosecute
them, then the courts system or corrections systems cannot overstep their mandate to start
arresting people (Demleitner, 2015). However, the police alone cannot function in the current use
criminal justice system, because they require each other for social justice to be administered.
It is crystal clear that the police play a fundamental role in administration of justice. It is
the police that arrest, investigate and prepare evidence for admission in the court of law, and it is
on that basis that the police seem to come first in the justice system (Neubauer, & Fradella,
2015). Nevertheless, the arrest is not just the spur-of-the moment thing, but there should some
knowledge that a certain individual is a criminal or a suspect for the arrest to be effected. If one
is arrested, the police would have to hold them up, and they compile evidence for the person or
suspect to appear in court. Throughout the case the police will work with the lawyers or with the
court until the completion of a case. If the judges in their final verdict find the suspect guilty,
depending on the crime committed they would be sentenced to a jail term. After the verdict is
issued, the corrections system will then hold a criminal for a certain term depending on their jail
term. Nonetheless, not all people that are arrested by the police will end up in court, because
some issues can be resolved out of court or by the police.
Fundamentally, the police today despite complaints of being militarized and brutal it
remains professional in its work. Again, they do not just wait for people to commit crime to
arrest them, but they work with communities to prevent crimes in order to build a united and a
free-crime community (Braga, & Weisburd, 2015). The US invests in its police service and has
rolled out some community programs that build relationships between communities and police,
so that they work together to keep the country safe. Ideally, the police is supposed to be friendly
to the communities and thus community-police relationship should be enhanced by all means, for
it to function effectively and justly if a society wants social justice.
B. Waxman, O. (2017). How the U.S. Got Its Police Force. Time. Retrieved 15 November 2017,
Prenzler, T., & Sarre, R. (2015). The police (Doctoral dissertation, Pearson).
Tugend, A. (2016). Defining the Role of the Police in the Community. Retrieved 16
November 2017, from
Eriksson, L., & Broidy, L. (2017). Strain Theory and Crime. In The Palgrave Handbook of
Australian and New Zealand Criminology, Crime and Justice (pp. 543-556). Palgrave
Macmillan, Cham.
Gao, Y., Wong, D. S., & Yu, Y. (2016). Maltreatment and delinquency in China: Examining and
extending the intervening process of general strain theory. International journal of offender
therapy and comparative criminology, 60(1), 38-61. Retrieved from:
Ngo, F. T., & Paternoster, R. (2014). Contemporaneous and lagged effects of life domains and
substance use: a test of Agnew’s general theory of crime and delinquency. Journal of
criminology, 2014.
Eck, J. E., & Weisburd, D. L. (2015 …
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