What social trends that may influence policing are coming during the coming decade? 

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As social trends change, the police force must respond to these changes. One change that is already occurring is the legalization of marijuana in some states. The police force will need to develop new policies to deal with this growing trend and the impact of increased marijuana usage.

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As social trends change, the police force must respond to these changes. One change that is already occurring is the legalization of marijuana in some states. The police force will need to develop new policies to deal with this growing trend and the impact of increased marijuana usage.

Another change that seems to be increasing is the number of people who feel it is acceptable to flee from the police. Police departments will need to develop guidelines to deal with the dangers associated with chasing those who flee from them. These policies should include whether the police should chase suspects and when to terminate a chase.

One impact of social media is the ability to gather large numbers of people very quickly at an event, which is often used to draw attention to a situation that concerns the organizers of the event. Police departments need to be able to mobilize their personnel and develop policies about how to deal with the possibility of a large group of people gathering in a location in a short amount of time.

Police departments also need to develop policies regarding the use of body cameras or vehicle cameras to record their actions and the actions of people who may be detained by the police. Police departments must decide if the cameras should always be running or, if they are not always running, when should they be turned on. Also, policies determining when the video needs to be made public need to be established. The public appears to be holding the police more accountable for their actions, and these cameras play a role in this accountability.

As American society becomes more diverse, police departments should reflect this diversity in the make-up of the police force. Police officers must also understand differences in various cultures as they deal with the diverse population. Language barriers may also need to be overcome.

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There are several social trends that may have significant impacts on the nature of policing.

The first is increasing diversity in language, ethnicity, and sexual identity. This means that police departments will need to become more diverse and develop the ability to work well across varied communities.

Another major trend is the legalization of marijuana and changing attitudes toward recreational drugs and substance abuse. This means that police work, although still taking a traditional approach to drug dealers and cartels, may need to focus on harm reduction and other more community-based solutions while dealing with users.

Another major trend is the ubiquity of social media and intelligent devices. This means that even traditional police work dealing with murder or burglary will need to rely increasingly on using technological tools to solve crimes.

An even more major change will be that police will need to address crimes that are committed partially or entirely online. New areas of potential criminal activity might include hacking, identity theft, doxxing, online child pornography, online hate crimes, phishing, and various forms of online fraud, theft, and money laundering. This requires police departments to develop increasingly sophisticated technologies with officers skilled in their use.

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Of course, there is no way to know for sure what social trends will occur.  However, we can speculate.

One social trend that seems to be coming is a greater movement towards allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons.  This is likely to complicate policing to some degree.  Police are going to have to be much more careful now since it may well be the case that they will be called to crime scenes where some people who have guns are the criminals and some are regular citizens.  Police will have to deal with the extra confusion that this is likely to cause.

Another social trend that is already occurring but which is likely to accelerate is the increasing proportion of non-white people in the United States.  This will pose some degree of challenge to the police because the police have not always had good relations with minority communities.  There will be a need for more police officers from minority groups and for programs to help the police and minorities improve their relations with one another. 

There are sure to be other social trends that impact policing in the next decade, but these are two of the trends that are more predictable at this point.

 

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