The Warrior versus Guardian Approach to Policing
The notion of “warrior versus guardian” stems from the different expectations that shape the approach of the law enforcement wing in a society. The “warrior concept” raises the notion of having militarised the police force that work towards the purpose of enforcement within a society. This perspective held about the police force in adherent to the traditional ideas maintained about the purpose of the police force within any society, which dictates the purpose of the police force as the responsibility of “searching, chasing and capturing”. On the other hand the notion of the “guardian” approach is a relatively newer idea that puts increased emphasis on the responsibility of the police force to perform a service to society and to thereby work towards the establishment of better relationships with the people who are the subjects of such service. This mentality works on the moral accountability of the police force and further, this approach expects the members of the police force to act with a strong moral compass and empathy instead of purely relying on orders aimed towards enforcement only.
The emergence of social media in the recent decades has been a huge factor towards driving transparency within actions of the police force in most societies. Social media has made it impossible for any public action to be isolated to the specific city or town that it is located. Instead, it enables the entire state and further, the nation to scrutinise any action committed by any official of the government. In a similar way, actions of the police have also come under the scrutinising lenses of social media as the conduct of police has become an increasingly important topic of concern among citizens of walks of life. As Fanny A. Ramirez (2017) explains, the advent of social media has indeed been turned into a significant weapon which can push for accountability from the police forces and it has been also being rapidly adopted by several police forces in order to improve their public image by increasing the transparency of their actions (Ramirez, F.A., 2018).
The relationships between the community members and the members of the law enforcement department that is tasked to protect them is fractured as a result of the over-reliance on the warrior approach to policing as evidenced by the empirical analysis by K McLean et al. (2020). The change that is required to establish a relationship with the community members of the society without undermining the responsibility of the police force is to adopt a guardian approach to policing which would involve integrating and valuing the actions of the community members in the justice process and in the efforts to reduce crimes.
The warrior framework of policing is solely aimed at efficiently dealing with the problem of crime and effectively curbing it. However, although the crime rates in fact have been reduced, it is clear that people however care slightly more about how they are treated than they care about the rate of crime in their society. The current age of modernization of the police forces has led to over-reliance on technology to the point that in some cases mere equipment has replaced some functions of human officers. This has led to a certain gap of human connection as is analysed by LW Hunt (2021). Therefore, in order to attain a balance between the warrior and the guardian approach the police force is needed to adhere to the tenets of procedural justice which is through the promotion of participation, interactions with the public while a maintenance of impartiality in the police’s conduct.
As the demand for transparency within the police force rises along with the awareness among the general public about the rights of every human being to be treated fairly and with dignity, there will be increased pressure on law enforcement departments to adopt the guardian approach towards their operations. The need for this shift will increase as a result of the perceivable advent of automation within all departments of a government and inevitably even law enforcement. Hence, the human factor of law enforcement will be valued even more as the several functions are increasingly replaced with non-human entities.