Urban crime is universal but it takes different forms depending on the situation and location where the crime is committed. In other words the nature and the rate of crime is affected by the social, economic and geographical factors. For instance, in cities in developed countries tend to have high property crime rates. On the other hand, crime in cities in developing countries usually takes the form robbery with violence (Morash, 2005).
The major determining factor as regards the level of crime is the population within a given area. The higher the population, the greater the crime rate. Most American cities are usually densely populated due to the fact that there are the main centers of economic activity. As a result, the crime rate in these areas is usually on the upper scale. This can take the form of gang related violence especially in the periphery of the cities where most residents are not economically endowed or general property crime within the city.
For any city to attract investors as well as visitors, the crime rate must be manageable. This means that people are able to go on with their day to day activities without the fear of being attacked or mugged by thugs. Therefore, the law enforcement agencies put in place measures that ensure that crime rate does not get out of hand. In early times, the police officers used to conduct patrols around the cities where they would apprehend any suspicious characters (Morash, 2005). They would then extract information from them and use it to fight crime in the city.
In recent times such methods cannot be used as their practice as well as effectiveness is questionable. This is due to a number of reasons. To begin with, people are more aware of their individual liberties and any government that is elected democratically is obliged to uphold these liberties. The Miranda laws for instance which provides that a suspect’s confession while in custody is not admissible before a court of law outlaws such practices. Therefore, in modern times the police force has resulted to methods like closed circuit televisions installed at strategic places within the city to monitor crime. There has also been the use of forensic methods such as DNA tests and dusting of finger prints in collecting evidence (Hagedorn, 2005). These methods have proven to be effective and criminals who would have gone unpunished have been nabbed.
In spite of the police force being modernized, some of the officers result to barbaric methods of fighting crime which grossly violet the individual liberties of citizens. Such instances have led to a public outcry and with the media deeply questioning these methods of fighting crime. One such instance is the case of Rodney Glen King.
In 1991, Rodney King together with his friend was driving home after watching a basketball game while drinking malt beer. King’s alcohol level was beyond the required limit and therefore when stopped by police he attempted to get away. Eventually, they caught up with him and arrested his friends. However, when they tried to arrest King he resisted and this prompted the police officers to use force inorder to subdue him. The police used excessive force as King sustained serious injuries and his face was disfigured (Lou, 1999). A bystander, George Holiday, video taped the incidence where the Los Angeles Police Department officers were shown striking King repeatedly with their batons.
The footage was aired by various media house and this sparked nationwide protests against the excessive use of force by the police. The black community also felt that they were being victimized. The officers responsible were apprehended and later the charges against them wee dropped. This led to an outcry by civil rights groups and called for the reform of the police force. King was paid for the damages and a special commission instituted to look into police brutality and the discipline within the police force.
Morash. M (2005). Gangs, groups and delinquency. British Journal of Criminology, vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 310-313
Hagedorn J.M. (2005). The global impact of gangs. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, vol. 21, No. 2 p. 156.
Lou C. (1999). Official negligence: how Rodney King and the riots changed Los Angeles and the LAPD. Westview Press