Humans have organized themselves into groups for millennium. Even pre-human ancestors were known to gather to gain from greater strength in numbers. This helped to counter their relative weakness in comparison to the other animals they had to exist among. In any society, there will be example of deviant behavior. These can be minor or extreme to the point of damaging the entire group’s chances of survival. From this came a system of punishing people who acted against the group’s interests. This was necessary for the types of large societies we now inhabit to ever successfully grow and it gave us what would eventually evolve into the behavior of the police service we can observe today.
The original role of the police
When the police force was first conceived of, its main role was not the protection of all of the people but the maintenance of order for the benefit of the ruling classes. Mathematically, the majority of any population will not be the wealthiest but the poorer people. This is due to the way that resources are allocated in societies that have opted not to be egalitarian. Those who have the most resources have the most to lose if criminal activities are allowed to continue unchecked so early organized police forces were overtly given the task of making certain that the people at the top of the social pyramid were protected. This led to clear double standards in their behavior. Crimes by the high society might not be taken seriously while the crimes of the poor were quickly and often brutally punished.
Issues of discrimination against minority groups
While modern policing is said to be for the benefit of all members of society, there are still echoes of that initial double standard. Particularly in the United States, there have been cases where ethnic minorities that have been historically oppressed are much less likely to be treated justly by the police. They have been killed and assaulted for actions that are relatively minor while members of ethnic majorities are allowed much more freedom for greater offenses. Aside from ethnic minorities, people who are from other countries have been treated as unwanted interlopers on the rest of society.
Methods of reducing improper conduct have been introduced. Often the members of the force are good citizens but the few who act improperly ruin the reputation of their peers.