Ideas inAmericanPol icing
By David H. Bayley
Policing in America: Assessment and Prospects
deas in American Policing
presents commentary andinsight from leadingcriminologists on issues of interest to practitioners,scholars, and policymakers.The papers published in thisseries are from the PoliceFoundation lecture series of thesame name. Points of view inthis document are those of theauthor and do not necessarilyrepresent the ofﬁcial position of the Police Foundation.
1997 Police Foundation andDavid H. Bayley. All rights reserved.
David H. Bayley
is Deanof the School of CriminalJustice at the StateUniversity of New York at Albany.
Along with external defense,the maintenance of internal orderis one of the deﬁning functions of government. The United States,like countries everywhere, hascreated a particular governmentalinstitution for doing so, namely,the police. In this short essay, Iintend to assess what the policeinstitution in the United Stateshas become and where it mightbe going. I will do so byanswering three questions: (1)What is distinctive aboutAmerican policing? (2) What arethe major changes that haveoccurred in American policingover the last 30 years? (3) Whatare the factors currently shapingAmerican policing?
The DistinctiveCharacteristics of American Policing
Compared with othercountries, American policing hasthree distinguishingcharacteristics.First, responsiveness to citizendemands. In the United States,anybody can pick up a phone,walk into a police station, or stopa police ofﬁcer on the street andexpect that an ofﬁcer, armed anduniformed, embodying the fullauthority of government, willattend to the private problems of that individual. This is aremarkable development in worldgovernment. American police