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Patrol Units

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Autor:  anton  20 December 2010
Tags:  Patrol
Words: 1613   |   Pages: 7
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Patrol Units

Patrol units are the most essential part of any police force. Patrol makes up the majority of police time. There are many types of patrol units, and every police force allocates their officers differently. Some of the types of patrols include foot, bicycle, motorcycle, air and water patrols. Each type of patrol has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. Also, each type of patrol has certain aspects where it is more effective in or better suited for a particular task.

Almost all police departments in the United States have foot patrols. However, while this is true, foot patrols only account for four percent of all the patrols in the country ("The Police on Patrol" 4). Foot patrol is the oldest form of police patrol. There are many benefits to having foot patrols as part of a department. One of the main benefits of foot patrols is the contact the officers have with the citizens in the area that they are assigned to. This is extremely advantageous because it allows the officers on patrol to develop a relationship with the citizens, which causes the people to be more trusting of the officers and more likely to come to them with information regarding crimes committed. Another advantage of foot patrols is that they are proactive in nature. They try to seek out the small problems and address them before they escalate into larger problems and crimes (Hess and Wrobleski 106). Finally, according to the Newark Foot Patrol Experiment, while foot patrols may not reduce crime, it does reduce the fear of crime by citizens because they see their communities as safer.

Foot patrols also have their disadvantages. One of the most obvious disadvantages is the lack of mobility. Because they are on foot and do not have a patrol car to get around it, they are not able to cover a large area and cannot respond quickly to calls in surrounding areas. Also, they are not able to pursue suspect in vehicles.

Motorcycles and bicycle patrols have many of the same advantages. Both types of patrols offer access to tight spaces such as narrow alleys and high traffic situations. They also offer a large amount of maneuverability, which is advantageous in congested areas where tight turns are important to getting to a scene or pursuing suspects. For motorcycles this could include traffic-ridden highways, and for bicycles it could include concerts and sporting events. An additional advantage to both bicycle and motorcycle is their visibility. Officers on motorcycles have been icons for a long time, and bicycle patrols are very visible, especially in larger cities such as Chicago and Las Vegas where bicycles are used in large quantities to patrol the streets. Additional advantages of bicycle patrols include their cost effectiveness, their ability to approach stealthily, and their lack of pollution. Also, like foot patrols, they are likely to have a more positive relationship with the community because of their close proximity to them ("Benefits of Bicycle Patrol Officers").

These two types of patrols also have similar disadvantages. Both bicycle and motorcycle patrols are extremely vulnerable and can be dangerous to ride. If a suspect is being pursued by one of these types of patrols begins firing at the officers, the officers have nothing to protect them. Also, they have limited availability in bad weather due to their lack of covering, and do not have the capacity to transport large amounts of equipment, evidence or prisoners (Hess and Wrobleski 109). An additional disadvantage to bicycle patrols is that no matter how in shape an officer is, they can get winded very easily on hot, sticky days, which would cause their effectiveness to decrease.

Air patrols are not a type of patrol that is used by a lot of police departments. This could be due to the fact that they are the most expensive form of patrol. This is because they have high costs in not only purchasing them, but also in maintaining and operating them as well (114). Another disadvantage is that when they are used, they are very loud, which causes civilian complaints against them and complaints that they are being spied on from the air patrol units. However, air units do have their benefits as well. One of their biggest advantages is in the pursuit of fleeing suspects in vehicles. Air patrols also allow for coverage of a larger area, covering the amount of ground that could be covered by over 10 ground officers. Finally, they are good for transporting criminals long distances.

Finally, water patrols are a highly specialized patrol unit and are limited to areas where there is an extensive coast or high water traffic, such as lakes and large rivers. Like air patrols, boats are expensive to maintain and operate and the officers who operate them need specialized training. Advantages of these patrols include they are the most effective way to control water safety violations and can be used effectively to apprehend smugglers both coming into and leaving the country.

All of these types of patrol units have qualities that are very advantageous to law enforcement, whether it is their rapport with the citizens or their surveillance ability. However, although all of these patrols are effective in their own way, the most effective type of patrol is the automobile patrol. Over eighty-four percent of patrol units in the country are automobile patrols and there are many reasons for that ("The Police on Patrol" 4). It has many advantages over these other types of patrol and its advantages greatly outweigh its disadvantages.

One of the disadvantages of automobile patrols is their lack of communication with the citizens, which could cause distrust from the people because they do not know and are not familiar with the officer patrolling their area. Also, they are restricted to areas where the patrol car can fit, which means that they could lose pursuit of a suspect if the suspect flees to a place where the car cannot fit.

While automobile patrols do have their disadvantages, they have many more advantages. One advantage of automobile patrols is that unlike foot patrols and in some instances bicycle patrols, they can engage in pursuits of suspects in vehicles. Unlike bicycles and motorcycles, police cars can carry the necessary equipment for processing crime scenes and have the capacity to transport suspects that have been arrested.

Another huge advantage of automobile patrol units is in some of the technology they are able to carry in the cars. One of these technologies is the in-car video system. These cameras, which are mounted on the front dashboard of the car, are used to record what is said and done during a stop. This is very advantageous to the police officers because it helps them write their repots after the incident has happened so that they do not have to recall everything from memory and can still write their report accurately. Another type of technology being installed in some police cars is face recognition equipment (Hess and Wrobleski 108). This would allow officers to photograph people in the street and run the photograph through a system that would show if that person had a warrant out for their arrest.

A final advantage of automobile patrol units is that the police departments have the option of sending out one-man patrol units or two-man patrol units. This is advantageous because the department can choose which type of patrol they want to send out depending on the time of day or area the unit is going to be patrolling. Both of these have advantages and disadvantages. One-man patrol cars allow for more coverage than two-man units because two men in two patrol cars can cover twice the area that two men in one car can cover. Also, the officers in one-man patrol units are likely to be more attentive to their surrounding because they do not have anyone else in the car to distract them. Finally, studies have shown that one-officer patrol units are actually assaulted less and involved in fewer instances of resisting arrest than two-officer units ("The Police on Patrol" 4). One of the advantages of two-officer patrol units is the reduced cost of buying patrol cars because the department would only need to purchase half the number of cars needed to outfit one-man units. Many people also believe that two-officer patrol cars provide more safety for the officers than one-man units ("Police Cars in Winnipeg").

While each type of patrol has its own advantages, whether it is the maneuverability of bicycles and motorcycles or the rapport with the citizens for foot patrols, the automobile patrol is the most effective form of patrol for police departments. They have many advantages over other forms of patrol, including coverage area and speed of response. They also have advantages that far outweigh their disadvantages and the patrol car is clearly the best form of patrol.

Works Cited

Benefits of Bicycle Patrol Officers. Police Bike Store. 23 Nov 2006.


Hess, Kären A. and Henry M. Wrobleski. Police Operations: Theory and Practice.

Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth. 2006.

One-Officer Versus Two-Officer Police Cars in Winnipeg. Feb. 2001. Frontier Centre for

Public Policy. 27 Nov 2006. http://fcpp.org/main/publication_detail.php?PubID=178

The Police on Patrol. 26 Nov 2006. http://www.umt.edu/sociology/Hollist/332%20lecture


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