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Policing and the Global Paradox.

With the explosive growth of the Internet and the evolving world economy, much emphasis is placed on things "global." As the world economy grows in size and complexity, the smaller players deserve attention because of their increased potency. (1) This contradiction is evidenced in the decentralization and restructuring of major corporations in an effort to maximize speed and flexibility in the marketplace. (2) Technological and economic forces also have impacted politics by weakening the traditional nation-state, yet strengthening certain long-held identities, such as language, culture, and ethnic heritage. The bonding commonality of human beings is distinctiveness. (3)

Police administrators of the future will have to engage in problem solving of the global and local variety. They will need to think globally by virtue of immigration and Internet technology. At the same time, they will face local issues, such as private-gated communities, because the citizens they serve will continue to organize themselves and assert their individuality in new, as well as traditional, fashions. Therefore, the paradox of handling future global issues while dealing with future local concerns represents one of the law enforcement profession's most challenging endeavors.



From 1865 to 1915, the world experienced an expanding international economy, which coincided with an increase in the migration of labor. Some experts believe that the current trend toward economic globalization also has led to an increase in labor migration.4 Due to the relatively low unemployment rate in America, many illegal immigrants take jobs that no one else wants. As the gap widens between the United States and poorer countries, immigration, both legal and illegal, will become a larger issue. More than likely, the United States will continue to lead in the development of the world economy and, therefore, recognize the usefulness of immigration as an integral part of this evolution. (5)

The freedom of movement across U.S. borders and the limitations of a fragmented criminal justice system will provide serious challenges to law enforcement at every level. Although a fear of terrorism persists, many Americans support globalization. Changes in the economy, communication, technology, and transportation will force law enforcement practitioners at all levels to deal with the globalization of crime. Consider the following recent events:

* International crime rings have been formed around the trade in illegal Chinese immigrants.

* The number of immigrants sold or forced into prostitution has increased in recent years.

* In North Carolina, two white men beat a Chinese man to death, mistaking him for a Vietnamese man.

* In New York, federal agents uncovered an international drug smuggling ring that used Hasidic Jews as couriers.

* Chinese gangs imported more than 100,000 slave labor immigrants.

* Russian gangs trade in a variety of contraband, from gasoline to nuclear material. (6)

Many of these criminals either take up residence or seek temporary shelter in ethnic communities. Additionally, they often prey on residents in segregated communities. This problem is compounded by the reluctance of law-abiding immigrant citizens to communicate with the police. This reluctance is based on fear of retribution and mistrust of authorities due to their experiences in their countries of origin.

The increasing number of federal prosecutions of noncitizens highlights the challenge of dealing with immigrants in the criminal justice system. From 1984 to 1994, the number of noncitizens prosecuted in federal courts rose from 3,462 to 10,000. (7) Some experts estimate that illegal immigrant trade is a $3.2 billion dollar business. In addition, Russian, South American, Nigerian, Asian, Jamaican, African, Middle Eastern, and Italian organized crime groups have had a significant influence on crime in the United States. (8)


Emerging technology also has generated a new genre of crime, dubbed "cybercrime." Criminals launder billions of dollars each year through electronic transfers. An estimated $23 billion per year are lost as a result of the piracy of software and other electronic products, and the theft of intellectual property by trusted employees may amount to over $250 billion per year. (9) With over 14 million on-line traders, the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission handles close to 100 investigations each day. (10) Additionally, unknown numbers of pedophiles attempt to prey on children over the Internet.

The actual reporting of cybercrime is very low. Only 17 percent of companies report losses related to electronic crime to law enforcement. (11) Researchers investigated financial institutions, universities, government agencies, and corporations to determine the estimated number of illegal intrusions. Of the entities surveyed, 62 percent reported intrusions, and the FBI reports that offenders have penetrated almost all of the Fortune 500 companies. (12)


The global issues of immigration and advances in technology also have impacted many local concerns. Mostly, these issues have influenced how Americans have begun to view where they want to live and how they choose to interact with their neighbors. Traditionally, golf courses, swimming pools, tennis courts, and clubhouses represented amenities at the top of the list for developers planning new residential communities. Recently, most advertisements for new subdivisions include gated entrances as a primary feature for the prospective home buyer. Gates represent both a friendly "welcome home" to residents and, most important for homeowners in the subdivision, a warning to uninvited outsiders to stay away.

Planned Communities

Retirement developments brought gated-community living to the average American in the late 1960s and 1970s. Gates then became popular for resorts and middle-class neighborhoods. Opulence and a growing fear of crime helped drive the proliferation of gated communities in the 1980s. (13) Although gates are more prevalent in upper-class communities, some government housing authorities are considering gates. (14) Additionally, some central Los Angeles communities have erected barriers. (15)

Americans deliberately are isolating themselves from their neighbors at an alarming pace. Eight out of 10 new projects involve gated communities and close to four million Americans live in them, (16) with California and Florida leading the way. Why are people of various backgrounds and persuasions electing to isolate themselves behind gates and walls? Aside from the historical desire for prestige and distinction, other reasons commonly cited for choosing a gated alternative include higher property values, improved standard of living, and increased security. Gated communities no longer are developed exclusively for the retired or wealthy. Instead, the majority of the new gated subdivisions are marketed to the middle and upper middle class. (17) Often, the cost of gated access is dispersed among a large subdivision of single family and multiunit dwellings.

While estimates vary considerably, security gates have a positive impact on property values in a community. For example, in one area of California, residents anticipate almost a 40 percent increase in value. (18) More conservative estimates put the figure between 5 to 20 percent. (19) Although a narrow estimate currently is elusive, experts believe that property values inside the gated communities are higher than comparable properties in free-access areas. Commenting on her interest in a new gated development, a mother of two stated, "It will be nice to have them in a close-knit type of community." (20) Developers argue that gates help enhance the sense of community and quality of living in a subdivision. Advertising includes terms, such as "village," "community," and "cozy," suggesting a cordiality not found in traditional, nongated neighborhoods. (21) Many planners and residents of free-access localities categorize gated communities as divisive.

Unquestionably, the primary driving force behind the recent growth in gated communities is the fear of crime. Interestingly, declining crime statistics do not impact this appetite for the security supposedly offered by gates. Sensational media coverage of crime continues to color the perception of individual safety. (22) In a survey of gated community residents, two-thirds of the respondents believed less crime occurred in their area. Of the two-thirds, 80 percent attributed the difference to the gates. (23) Little evidence supports the contention that gates have a discernible effect on the crime rate.

On the other hand, many private communities bring residents closer together only in appearance. For example, in 1996, residents moved into a community near Orlando, Florida. The turn-of-the-century homes have large front porches facing central parks and are designed to foster close interaction among residents. Hidden beneath pleasant facades, these homes are wired for the 21st century. Residents aim to build community through the local intranet. The school, community groups, and private individuals use the intranet to communicate with each other. Describing an electronic town meeting, the community's general manager said, "The question and answer flow was organized and people didn't have to get dressed and come down and get in the meeting hall and listen to a bunch of conversation." A Cub Scout den mother was thrilled about posting scout information on the intranet because she was able to avoid "calling each boy on the phone every 3 weeks to explain what we were doing." (24) Residents tout their interactive t elevision capabilities that allow viewers to "participate" in community activities without leaving their homes.

Challenges to Policing

While gated communities have become prominent features on the American landscape, law enforcement leaders have done little to gauge the impact of this phenomenon on the future of policing. Gated communities will present unique challenges to policing in a number of different ways.

* Tax relief for services already provided by private entities may result in the threat of diminished public financial resources.

* The private status of a subdivision may reduce access to areas and people within police jurisdictions.

* The unrealistic perception of invulnerability on the part of residents in gated communities.

Paying Twice

A growing furor exists in gated communities over the issue of paying twice for some services. Generally, cities will not sweep the streets or test hydrants in gated communities because officials contend that public money only can be spent on services that benefit the general public. In 1990, the New Jersey legislature passed the Municipal Services Act. This law allowed residents who pay homeowner's association dues to get rebates on property taxes paid to support trash collection, street lighting, and snow removal. In the first year following its passage, the act cost New Jersey's cities approximately $62 million. (25)

In the near future, citizens may argue that gated communities should not have to pay double for police protection. Private security guards often perform the uniform patrol function. Current complaints about inadequate police protection in gated communities may develop into rebate demands for services already provided by private companies. Ultimately, this could result in the loss of valuable funding for police agencies.

Handling Access Problems

Gated communities also create access problems for police departments. Many subdivisions have unmanned gates, requiring a remote controller, card, or other device to open the gates.

In Florida, police departments cannot enforce traffic laws in private subdivisions without a written formal agreement. Because the roads in gated communities are private, police officers do not have automatic authorization to enter and perform routine patrol functions. Although the instances have not been well documented, some communities actually have turned away officers.

Protecting Themselves

Convincing residents in gated communities of the need for protecting themselves against criminal activity can present problems. (26) Residents in one gated community consistently left keys in the ignitions of their unlocked automobiles, placed unsecured valuables in plain view, and failed to lock their homes. Following a rash of burglaries and thefts, the police department attached door hangars to targets potentially attractive to thieves. The card warned, "An opportunity for crime exists here. The city police department is concerned about your safety. We have observed a potential problem on your property and have filed a copy of this information with our crime prevention practitioner. The crime prevention practitioner is trained in the area of security surveys and will be happy to visit with you to recommend ways in which your home or business can be made safer." (27)


Unlike most countries, law enforcement in the United States is rooted in the local tradition. U.S. marshals who served the western territories represented the only federal law enforcement authority. The improvements in transportation and subsequent increase in mobility were a catalyst for the development of federal police agencies. Ultimately, a very fragmented system of federal, state, and local law enforcement has evolved.

The Global View

Law enforcement officials at all levels of government will need to adjust to the increasing globalization of crime. The federal government must work to strengthen treaties, conventions, multilateral agreements, and memorandums of understanding to effectively collect evidence and extradite offenders for prosecution.

With current technology, the concept of conducting the criminal process from different venues may become reality. Short of full extradition, one country could try a defendant who is physically in another country. Using video conferencing technology, U.S. federal prosecutors could try a defendant in France under French law. Witnesses to the offense who reside in Italy could testify without having to leave their home country. (28)

Local law enforcement agencies also must prepare for a future where issues related to globalization become increasingly important. The control of international crime will involve dealing with issues ranging from street crimes to highly organized criminal enterprises. (29)

The relationship between federal and local agencies must improve to successfully resolve cases. The task force concept likely will help this occur. Continuity must exist between states in terms of interstate criminal investigations and procedures. Once again, the need for cooperation will drive widely accepted standards for the investigation and prosecution of crimes that transcend jurisdictions.

As citizens and government officials struggle with limited financial resources and global crime issues, the concept of consolidation of services will become more appealing, especially for smaller agencies. In one Florida county, several cities have abolished their police departments in favor of contract policing through the much larger sheriffs office. This concept is fairly rare due to the historical resistance to any form of strong centralized government.

In all likelihood, the growing incidence and prosecution of international or multijurisdictional crime will emphasize national standards for local agencies in terms of the level of service that an agency may provide. Police administrators will have to demonstrate that their agencies can handle the volume and complexity of crime that they will face in the future. For officials in smaller agencies, this will lead to the evaluation of mutual aid agreements, the unification of some functions with other agencies, outsourcing of some services on a contract basis, and participation in task force arrangements.

In general, local law enforcement practitioners must expand their horizons in terms of how they view their service environments and what they know about their populations. Specifically, local police professionals must improve their language skills, understand the legal processes in other countries, and develop closer ties with companies and groups with strong transnational relationships.

Law enforcement is presently 5 to 10 years behind the global crime curve in relation to technological capabilities. (30) Economic demands and increased awareness of issues probably will increase reporting and investigation of cybercrime. National standards in this area should set minimum requirements for data collection and cybercrime reporting, training, and certification of personnel responsible for investigations and forming and equipping cybercrime units.

The Local View

With the current emphasis on technology and cybercrime, officials may further divert their attention away from organized subdivisions in their communities. Unfortunately, most community policing efforts target low-income areas where a high demand exists for services. Administrators usually do not commit time and resources to private communities until they face a specific problem. In the future, progressive police executives can overcome these challenges by engaging their various communities in a continuous dialogue. The subdivision's public law enforcement agency represents the best entity to safeguard constitutional guarantees and to provide public safety services through a community-oriented problem solving (COPS) course.

Police leadership in the process of getting people involved with each other is well established and widely accepted. For example, police officers participate in outreach efforts, school programs, business organizations, or charities as a way of building social capital. In the future, wise law enforcement practitioners will become more involved in building networks of social interaction. Because of the way people will organize their residential communities, the police will continue to arrange their service areas in terms of local geographic districts and other subdivisions. Within those areas, getting people out of their houses or apartments to interact with the police and each other will remain the key.

The Internet and other technological advances have been criticized unfairly by technophobes who fear machines will rule everyone. No inherent contradiction exists between technology and social interaction. Police personnel must use these tools to unite people and to get important messages to the public. Aside from general information currently on the Internet, electronic interactivity will increase dramatically in the future. The public will have more access to reporting and to crime analysis based on geographic information systems based crime analysis will be more widely available to the public. The content of the messages that police administrators deliver electronically should serve as a catalyst for increased social interaction and move people out of their technological isolation and into interacting with each other.

Future challenges should not change the model that police use for local service delivery. In fact, the need to acquire knowledge quickly and build social networks will strengthen the COPS model. The tools departments use to accomplish this mission definitely will change. Police and the public must avoid becoming isolated and paralyzed by the tools to the point that they abandon the mission.

One Agency's Answer

Some forward-thinking agencies have expanded their customer service efforts to include exclusive communities. The Okaloosa County Sheriffs Office (OCSO) serves a Florida panhandle community. Deputies sought to apply the COPS model to four gated communities located in a larger residential development. The OCSO assigned a community police officer to the gated communities. This officer received specific community-oriented training and became responsible for coordinating problem-solving activities within the subdivisions. The OCSO encouraged the officer to tap into internal resources (e.g., special response team or drug unit) or collaborate with external agencies (e.g., the U.S. Department of Transportation or local school board) to resolve problems. Some of the issues that have received attention include vandalism, vehicle burglaries, school-crossing safety, and parking problems.

Aside from daily contact with the public while on patrol, the officer attends homeowner's association meetings and publishes a newsletter to inform residents and stay abreast of issues in each community. Immediately, the officer recognized the need to engage citizens in the four gated communities. Previously, residents called their private security companies and homeowner's association representatives to report suspicious activity and police-related problems. The community-policing officer educated the residents about the importance of calling the OCSO to advance the sharing of information and to ensure a prompt response to emergencies. Members of the OCSO have established positive relationships with the private security personnel and have recognized the guards as valuable participants in the problem-solving process. To expedite access, the officer received remote entry devices for the gated community's entry gates.

The bedrock of the OCSO's community-policing effort in these areas is the Citizen Volunteer Road Patrol Program, which establishes a partnership with citizens by actively involving them in the day-to-day operations of the sheriff's office. Prospective candidates complete an extensive application, receive training in a citizen's police academy program, and use marked vehicles and equipment provided by the OCSO. Citizens patrol their communities for a certain number of hours each month.

Can most agencies afford this level of commitment to exclusive communities? Can they afford not to commit? Too often, police officials are working to catch up to a particular problem, such as a crime trend that has developed and flourished in an area. The problem may be as simple as emergency vehicles gaining physical access to the front gate. If residents make a commitment to communicate with all segments of a jurisdiction, officers can foresee certain concerns and marshal the necessary resources to address other more complex problems. In terms of old-fashioned prevention, an open dialogue will allow the police and citizens to share a realistic perspective of the nature of crime in a specific geographical area.


Historically, police practitioners have been skilled at dealing with paradoxes. They balance the protection of rights with the necessity to remove those rights at times. They are driven by rules, but they value discretion in the application of the trade. In the future, police leaders will learn to be responsive to small segments of their jurisdictions while keeping a watchful eye on events of a regional and worldwide nature.

In the tradition of the American village, people will seek to identify with relatively small groups. These associations only will be significant if the group members participate in meaningful civic engagement. Police officials must use old and new tools to acquire knowledge about segments of their jurisdictions and then motivate their residents to participate in the betterment of their communities.

The ultimate goal of any police agency should be to lead the community in policing itself. While community-oriented, problem-solving programs tout "partnerships," the actual intent of any local strategy is for citizens to resolve the problem and collectively create an environment where crime cannot take root and flourish. The assumption that private gated communities provide a recipe for forming "close-knit" groups of people who are well organized and socially committed to each other may not be accurate.

On a much larger scale, federal, state, and local police officials must piece together a fragmented justice system to protect their clients from threats on the global level. Similar to the local community-oriented, problem-solving approach, law enforcement administrators must identify problems of an international nature, involve all effected parties in a search for solutions, and collectively evaluate the potency of their responses.

Because of the principles that police represent, citizens consistently have looked to them for leadership in the face of uncertainty. The future presents an opportunity to demonstrate the ability to adapt to change and overcome new challenges.

This article is not an attempt to reflect the impact that the tragic events of September 11, 2001, will have on the law enforcement community. Rather, it deals with the challenges that this profession faces concerning the globalization of all types of crimes.


(1.) John Naisbitt, Global Paradox (New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, 1994).

(2.) Ibid.

(3.) Ibid.

(4.) D. Massey, "To Study Migration Today, Look to a Parallel Era," The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 18, 2000.

(5.) Ibid.

(6.) R. Ward, (2000). "The Internationalization of Criminal Justice,"; accessed June 29, 2001.

(7.) Ibid.

(8.) Ibid.

(9.) Ibid.

(10.) Ibid.

(11.) R. Baker, D. Beaupre, W. Cassaday, D. Icove, H. Stambaugh, and W. Williams, State and Local Law Enforcement Needs to Combat Electronic Crime, U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice Research in Brief (Washington, DC, August 2000), 1-6.

(12.) Ibid.

(13.) E. J. Blakely and Mary G. Snyder, Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States (Washington, DC: Brookings Institute, 1997).

(14.) Ibid.

(15.) G. Cantor, "Searching For New Living Arrangements: Redefining Neighborhoods: Heated Debate Over Gated Areas Reflects Rethinking of Community and Delivery of Services," The Detroit News, April 26, 1998, sec. B, p. 5.

(16.) Supra note 13.

(17.) Supra note 13.

(18.) Edward J. Blakely, "The Gated Community Debate," Urban Land Magazine, June 1999.

(19.) D. Wilkening, "Guarded Profits: Developers Like Economics of Gated Communities," The Florida Real Estate Journal, January 15, 1998, 1-4.

(20.) F. Shen, "Middle Class Homing in on Gated Enclaves: In Maryland, a New Clientele for a Fashionable Concept," The Washington Post, April 14, 1997, sec. B, p. 1.

(21.) D. Dillon, "Fortress America: More and More of Us Are Living Behind Locked Gates," Planning 60, (1994): 8-14.

(22.) K. Menzie, "Home, Safe Home: Security Is a High Priority for Homeowners These Days and They've Got the Deadbolts, Motion-detectors and Gated Communities to Prove It, The Baltimore Sun, March 15, 1998, sec. J, p. 9.

(23.) Supra note 13.

(24.) J. Naisbitt, High Tech/High Touch (New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 1999).

(25.) A. Stark, "America the Gated?" The Wilson Quarterly 22 (1998), 58-80.

(26.) J. Stark, "The New Security Blanket," The St. Petersburg Times, September 20, 1997, sec. D, p. 1.

(27.) N. Woitas, "Crooks, Police Keep Eye on Walden Lake Homes," The Tampa Tribune, January 17, 1998, 8.

(28.) For more information, see Stephen P. Cutler, "Building International Cases: Tools for Successful Investigations," FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, December 1999, 1-5.

(29.) Supra note 6.

(30.) Supra note 6.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Decline in Social Capital

Evidence indicates that Americans increasingly have become disconnected with each other. Clearly, communities must have coordination and cooperation to effectively solve problems. One expert introduces the concept "social capital" as "features of social organization, such as networks, norms and social trust, that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit." Are Americans experiencing a decline in social capital? Consider the following:

* The number of Americans who report that they have attended a public meeting related to school or town affairs declined from 22 percent in 1973 to 13 percent in 1993.

* Church attendance has declined steadily from the 1950s.

* Union membership plummeted from 32.5 percent in 1953 to 15.8 percent in 1992.

* PTA participation dropped from 12 million in 1964 to 7 million in 1999.

* Membership in the fraternal organizations, such as Lions, Elks, and Masons, has reduced to double digits since the late 1970s.

* The proportion of Americans who socialize with their neighbors declined from 72 percent in 1974 to 61 percent in 1993.

Factors, such as the movement of women into the work force, increased migration, fewer marriages, more divorces, and lower real wages, as well as technology, have contributed to the decline in social capital. Television allows individuals their leisure time at the expense of meaningful interaction. The Internet or an intranet allows for increased neighborhood isolation.

Source: B. Putnam, "Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital," Journal of Democracy 6 (1) 1995, 65-78.
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Author:Alexander, Daniel
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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