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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 193034 Find in a Library
Title: From Report Takers to Report Makers: Understanding the Police and Violence (From Policing and Violence, P 52-72, 2002, Ronald G. Burns, Charles E. Crawford, eds., -- See NCJ-193031)
Author(s): Robert P. McNamara
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 21
Sponsoring Agency: Prentice Hall Publishing
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Sale Source: Prentice Hall Publishing
Criminal Justice and Police Training
1 Lake Street
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter explores the reasons why police officers feel justified in using excessive force and describes how officers are socialized.
Abstract: Police officers are said to be members of a police culture, which promotes solidarity, secrecy, and mistrust of outsiders. Officers have traditionally been trained to believe that they must protect each other in all circumstances and view the world seeing many threats to their safety. The strong sense of internal cohesion among police comes from the conflicts the police have with the criminal population, politicians, and the general public. The police see themselves as representatives of a higher morality. This moral dimension is said to be at the heart of police culture and justifies all they do to carry out their mission--including use of excessive force. As a cultural theme, masculinity carries with it the ideas of appropriate behavior in policing emphasized in training--physical conditioning, fighting skills, and marksmanship. Loyalty is a central feature of the police culture, derived from the belief that officers can rely only on each other. Individuals are socialized to meet the expectations that important institutions or organizations place on them. When an individual selects a particular career, they are resocialized to ensure conformity. This process occurs in policing. Values, attitudes, and beliefs are reinforced informally as new officers interact with more experienced ones outside and inside the classroom. There is a long history of debate as to whether police officers have unique personalities or whether socialization and subcultures play a significant part in their behavior. But a better understanding as to why officers engage in violence against the public can be explained in part by the socialization that officers receive early in their careers as well as the cultural influences that exist in policing. The reasons why officers are killed or injured by citizens also have cultural and social influences. These reasons are the violence hypothesis, which says violence fits within community standards; social learning theory, which suggests violence is learned like any other behavior; or frustration-aggression theory, which focuses on the unmet needs of individuals. 49 references
Main Term(s): Police subculture; Police use of deadly force
Index Term(s): Lawful use of force; Police attitudes; Positive peer culture; Professional misconduct; Social Learning; Subculture theory
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