Main Article Content
Following recent events in local policing in the US leading to civil unrest in a number of cities there is reason to fear a crisis in local law enforcement, to the extent of reducing police effectiveness and even leading to increases in crime. With concerns about a militarized police, excessive use of deadly force, and growing racially focused mistrust of police, the time to relook police organization and professionalism may once again be at hand. Decentralized policing and local control may return to the center of the debate. The effectiveness of a decentralized approach to local policing and the resultant debate about police consolidation has been simmering in the United States since the 1931 Wickersham Commission’s criticism of the fragmented approach. The literature related to consolidation and its impact on effectiveness is replete with contradictions, but while police effectiveness continues to be an important focus, that perspective has expanded to be considerably not only more about the need for fiscal responsibility, but especially about the role of police, reexamining use of force questions, and the militarization of police in America. This paper examines the current state of the debate and supports Nelligan and Bourns’ (2011) argument for an intensive new research effort to resolve the effectiveness and fiscal questions, but also uses the post-World War II events in Germany as a comparative way to reexamine a more centralized approach to policing as a way to seek not only fiscal advantages, but to
focus on police professionalization.