Public Policing in the 21st Century: Issues and Dilemmas in the U.S. and Canada

By Ross L. Johnson

***** Public Policing in the 21st Century: Issues and Dilemmas in the U.S. and Canada. James F. Hodgson and Catherine Orban, Eds.; published by Criminal Justice Press, (Web); 277 pages; $35.

The years since September 11 have seen a proliferation of experts, organizations, seminars, overpriced conferences, and books all relating to terrorism. But Clifford Simonsen and Jeremy Spindlove, both of whom have academic and operational experience in the area, have updated one volume that truly stands out.

This work is a collection of ten essays on a diverse array of topics, from paramilitary policing to advocacy of battered women. Ten of the book’s 11 contributors possess doctorates in sociology, criminal justice, or psychology; and they communicate their ideas clearly, making for a scholarly but highly readable work.

Several of the essays stand out. "The Challenge to Civil Rights and Liberty in Post 9/11 America," by William Burger, looks back to the Red Menace and the Palmer Raids of 1919 and 1920, and finds uncomfortable comparisons with the current climate in the United States. "Policing in the Information Age," by Ronald Stansfield, charts the transition from public to private policing.

"School Shootings and School Terrorist Attacks: Identification, Intervention, and Tactical Response," by David Stein, is an ambitious and wide-ranging essay that, with expansion, could make a good book in its own right.

The most interesting and disturbing essay is "The Police, the Public, and the Post-Liberal Politics of Fear: Paramilitary Policing post-9/11," by Stephan Muzzatti. He sees an erosion of civil liberties since 9-11, citing a Department of Justice requirement that each state conduct a threat assessment. As part of it, local police were asked to "identify up to 15 individuals or groups designated 'potential threat elements' driven by 'political, religious, racial, environmental [or] special interest[s].'"

The state assessments were used to divide nearly $4 billion in federal grants, a sure method of discouraging a nil return. Colorado's list of 3,200 people in 208 organizations included members of Amnesty International and the Quakers American Friends Service Committee.

Muzzatti’s closing discussion constitutes a blunt, distressing, and insightful analysis of the condition of democratic society in the United States today. After reading this essay, you will never look at a SWAT team or riot squad the same way.

Anyone studying or working in criminal justice, law enforcement, or private security needs to understand the challenges of providing security while ensuring that civil rights and freedoms are protected. This book offers worthwhile insights on the issue.

Reviewer: Ross L. Johnson, CPP, is a retired Canadian Forces intelligence officer and manager of corporate security for Epcor Utilities, Inc. in Edmonton, Alberta. He is a member of the ASIS International Council on Oil, Gas, and Chemical Industry Security.



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