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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Criminal Justice Administration and Human Services Department
Course Prefix and Number: CJAD 311
Course Title: Police in a Democratic Society
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Overview and analysis of law enforcement history, development, purposes and roles in a democratic society. Material is presented from a theoretical standpoint and examines critical issues and advances in crime control. Prerequisite: CJAD 101.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): CJAD 101.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered Fall.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

This theory-based course applies a multi-causal model to explain police issues, integrating the history, social context, and correlates of policing into a theoretical understanding of policing in America.

It is designed to encourage students to see the relationships between three primary correlates of police practice--communities, police organizations, and individuals. It is designed to provide students an appreciation for the “big picture,” and an integrated understanding of policing.

Note that this course is different and distinct from courses addressing police and law enforcement supervision, management or administration. As such textbooks addressing those issues are not appropriate for this course.

Policing in America: A Balance of Forces
By Langworthy, R., & L. Travis (Prentice Hall)
The Police: An Introduction
By Lyman, M. (Prentice Hall)
The Police and the Community
By Carter, D. & L. Radalet (Prentice Hall)
Policing in America
By Gaines, L. & V. Kappler (LexisNexis (Anderson) Publishing)
Police in the Community: Strategies for the 21st Century
By Miller, L.S. & K. Hess (Wadsworth Thompson Learning)
Course Objectives

  • To enhance knowledge and understanding of the American system of policing.
  • To understand the various levels of policing and how they interact with one another.
  • To explore contemporary research in the area of policing.
  • To trace the historical development of policing and law enforcement.
  • To enhance critical thinking, research, and oral and written communication skills on policing issues.

    Measurable Learning

  • Define the term "policing."
  • Explain the distinction between public and private police.
  • Describe and explain law enforcement organizations as open behavioral systems made up of interdependent and interrelated systems.
  • Explain the historical, social, political and democratic aspects of policing and define essential concepts and concerns which have been traditionally central to policing.
  • Explain the police organizational process and functions, communication and information flow, and processes for organizational improvement.
  • Evaluate police use of discretion and analyze the strengths and weaknesses surrounding the issue of police discretion.
  • Identify the range of legal issues that are of special interest to police.
  • Describe and explain the various levels of policing and knowledge of how they interact.
  • Demonstrate a practical and working knowledge of the patrol and investigative functions of police.
  • Describe the dichotomy between protecting individual rights of citizens and protection of the public as it relates to policing.
  • Identify and evaluate current problems and issues relating to policing issues.
  • Apply assorted values, theories, policies and concepts to real and hypothetical problems in law enforcement.
  • Appraise current literature and developments regarding policing issues.

    Topical Outline:
  • Processes of policing
  • Roles of the police
  • History of the police
  • Police organization
  • Police professionalism
  • Police behavior and discretion
  • Police authority and coercion
  • Controlling police behavior
  • Selection, training and development
  • Police patrol and investigations
  • Contemporary issues
    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 30

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Barry Langford Date: November 6, 2008
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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