Essay on The Containment Concept in Law Enforcement

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One of the core roles of police officers is that of law enforcement. However, there are times that it is necessary for an officer to rely less on enforcement of the law and instead concentrate on keeping peace in situations that exist outside of the norm. One such situation exists in the policing methods used in “skid-row” type areas of society. These types of areas are an anomaly to the rest of standard communities where simply enforcing the law will not be successful. The goal in these areas is to plainly contain the chaos using a hybrid form of community policing. Areas such as skid-row are filled with people that are without the ability to function in normal society, and simply the fact that they exist is offensive to those that do …show more content…

The containment approach allows officers to use their discretion and choose to intervene very little during the progression of minor crimes such as loitering and public drunkenness as long as the perpetrators contain their actions to the specific “skid-row” area (Bittner, 1967). Where Brown (1981) considers this as a decision to ignore a violation, Bittner (1967) describes it as an alternative type of action. Bittner (1967) describes three classifications of peace keeping on skid-row. For containment to be considered successful an officer must first acquire specific knowledge about the inhabitants of the area (particularization of knowledge), must discern when it is best needed for an individual to be arrested to keep peace (restricted relevance of culpability), and focus more on the short term results than be concerned with long-term effects (background of ad hoc decision making) because the citizens of these areas have little to lose and therefore have no type of future to be effected long-term (Bittner, 1967). If officers simply enforced the law, it may result in displacement of the activity, as well as making the arrest/release of certain people a revolving door. By using the containment of these areas, and keeping peace in those areas, officers may not be enforcing the law, but are preventing the spread of illegal behavior. Often when one considers the concepts

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