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NCJ Number: 193791 Find in a Library
Title: Morality in Law Enforcement: Chasing "Bad Guys" With the Los Angeles Police Department (From Police Misconduct: A Reader for the 21st Century, P 327-343, 2001, Michael J. Palmiotto, ed. -- See NCJ-193774)
Author(s): Steve Herbert
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 17
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: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study drew upon fieldwork conducted in a patrol division of the Los Angeles Police Department to develop an explanation for the prevalence of police morality.
Abstract: The fieldwork was conducted in a single patrol division from August 1993 to March 1994, and it consisted primarily of 35 "ride-alongs" of an average length of 6 hours with sergeants, who served as supervisors of patrol officers in the field, and 20 "ride-alongs" of an average length of 4 hours with senior lead officers, who are responsible for police-community relations and for monitoring locations of ongoing criminal activity. Observations from this fieldwork were used in this paper to illustrate the centrality of morality in daily understandings and justifications for police actions. This analysis was followed by a three-pronged explanation of the prevalence of this morality manifested by police. Specifically, the author focuses on the contradiction between stated police aims and the nearly impossible task of achieving them; the inherent ambiguity in many situations encountered by officers, ambiguities that must be ignored if the officers are to effect a speedy resolution of an incident; and the demand that officers act against at least one person's interest in most situations, often with recourse to coercive and potentially lethal force. These fundamental constituents of police daily practice produce tensions, frustrations, and dilemmas that an overarching police morality helps to ameliorate. The final sections of the paper address the consequences of the prevalence of police morality, especially in terms of tensions between officers and minority communities. The paradoxes that are central to this morality are also reviewed. 47 references
Main Term(s): Police misconduct
Index Term(s): California; Police attitudes; Police corruption; Police corruption causes; Police discretion; Police subculture; Police-minority relations; Professional conduct and ethics
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