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Book Chapter

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Journal Title or Book Title

jPolice Practices in Global Perspective


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All rights reserved, Rowman and Littlefield. Please contact the publisher for permission to copy, distribute or reprint. The specific material used is pages 5-36, "Policing in the United States: Balancing Crime Fighting and Legal Rights." by John A. Eterno found in Police Practices in Global Perspective edited by John A. Eterno & Dilip K. Das and can be found at


Policing in any nation is an inextricable and essential aspect of the existing government. The government of the United States is an elected democracy. It is a tripartite system including legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Essentially, the legislature creates the laws, the executive is charged with enforcing laws, and the judiciary interprets the laws. At the federal level these branches are the president, Congress, and federal courts (the highest court being the United States Supreme Court). Because the founding fathers of the U.S. (the authors and supporters of the Constitution of the United States) feared tyranny, no branch of government has unlimited power. That is, the branches of government check and balance one another. As James Madison writes in The Federalist Papers (No. 48), “An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.” Americans, taken as a whole, cherish these limits and the freedoms that come with them.

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