According to scholar Gary T. Marx, a Democratic society is defined by "broad values involving participation and formal rules about procedures."
Law enforcement's job is to protect these rules and enforce the law while simultaneously abiding by it. Police have the most power in America. Unlike any other authority figure, police have the power to end a life during the course of duty. As we have seen in the last year, police can fairly easily get away with unjustified murder.
A fine line exists between liberty and order. Between the possibility of locking one innocent man up, or keeping a neighborhood safe, our criminal justice system strives to ensure every citizen is granted their basic rights. Our government has instituted laws with the intentions of keeping police power intact, like the exclusionary rule.
Any evidence found unlawfully (i.e. police placed the evidence at crime scene, suspect was coerced into a confession, entered a house without a warrant) will not be included in trial. This is held under the belief that it is better to let one innocent man go, than allow the government to act dishonestly in court proceedings. The exclusionary rule is one of the legal ways in which Americans uphold their Democracy and ensure that police abide by the law when investigating a case.
A Democratic police force is one that strives to help and guarantee the safety of a whole population of a country. A non-Democratic police force is one that upholds the laws of one authoritative figure or that works in favor of the police. In our Democratic society, police must arrest and question suspects in accordance to the due process of law. This is another way in which our government assures the police uphold every citizen's fundamental rights when entering the criminal justice system. Police must also respect the dignity of the people, no matter what race, sexual orientation, or illness they may have. This is part of the reason why we no longer have laws that undermine a certain population of people, like the Jim Crow laws. But recently in the SFPD, a texting scandal has come to light illustrating homophobic and racist texts between officers. Even though police are expected to respect every person they encounter, we see with this scandal and the several incidences of black male homicide in the last year, corruption is always going to be a factor in the police force.
The ever growing abuse of power might be halted with the new invention of police body cameras. The footage will capture every interaction, and can be used in court based on the circumstances. The police department in Rialto, CA wore police body cameras for one year and found the use of force by officers fell 60% and citizen complaints against officers dropped to 90%. Of course several varying factors contribute to the use of body cameras on cops. But these cameras are a fantastic first tool to use in securing the Democratic society in which Americans live, and allowing police to lawfully use the power granted to them.