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NCJ Number: 39998 Find in a Library
Title: POLICE - STREETCORNER POLITICIANS
Author(s): W K MUIR
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 317
Sponsoring Agency: University of Chicago Press
Chicago, IL 60637
Sale Source: University of Chicago Press
1427 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS TEXT EXAMINES THE MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL VIEWS OF 28 YOUNG POLICEMEN IN AN AMERICAN CITY DURING THE 1970'S TO EXPLAIN HOW POLICE ADJUST TO THEIR COERCIVE ROLE AND HOW THEY COPE WITH SOCIETY'S IRRATIONALITY AND VIOLENCE.
Abstract: BASED ON FIVE YEARS OF OBSERVATION, THE AUTHOR PRESENTS PORTRAITS AND INTERVIEWS WHICH REVEAL THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN PATROLMEN'S MOST FUNDAMENTAL ATTITUDES AND THE VIOLENCE THEY MUST OFTEN FACE IN THEIR WORK. THE THEME OF THIS TEXT IS THE DIFFICULTY OF EXERCISING COERCIVE POWER. AFTER A BRIEF PORTRAIT OF THE ATTITUDES AND FEARS OF FOUR POLICEMEN, THE AUTHOR ANALYZES THE CONCEPT OF COERCION. AN ABSTRACT MODEL OF A COERCIVE RELATIONSHIP, CALLED AN EXTORTIONATE TRANSACTION, IS PRESENTED, AND USING THAT MODEL THE AUTHOR IDENTIFIES FOUR PARADOXES INHERENT IN THE EFFECTIVE EXERCISE OF COERCIVE POWER. HE CALLS THESE THE PARADOXES OF DISPOSSESSION, DETACHMENT, FACE, AND IRRATIONALITY, AND STATE THAT THEY ARE PARADOXES BECAUSE THEY CONTRADICT OTHER 'TRUTHS' BY WHICH THE AFFAIRS OF A CIVILIZED WORLD ARE CONDUCTED. THE WAYS IN WHICH EACH OF THE FOUR PARADOXES OF COERCIVE POWER MANIFEST THEMSELVES IN THE POLICEMAN'S DAILY WORK ARE EXPLORED, AND FOR EACH, THE AUTHOR DISTINGUISHES METHODS OF SELF DEFENSE AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF EACH SELF DEFENSE METHOD. THE DYNAMICS BY WHICH THESE PARADOXICAL EVENTS AFFECT A POLICEMAN'S INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL DEVELOPMENT ARE THEN EXAMINED. THE AUTHOR NOTES THAT A POLICEMAN BECOMES A GOOD POLICEMAN TO THE EXTENT THAT HE DEVELOPS TWO VIRTUES: INTELLECTUALLY, HE HAS TO GRASP THE NATURE OF HUMAN SUFFERING; AND MORALLY, HE HAS TO RESOLVE THE CONTRADICTION OF ACHIEVING JUST ENDS WITH COERCIVE MEANS. WHETHER OR NOT HE DEVELOPS THESE TWO VIRTUES DEPENDS ON THE CHOICES HE MAKES AMONG THE MEANS OF DEFENDING HIMSELF AGAINST THE PARADOXES OF COERCIVE POWER. THESE PARADOXES REPRESENT RECURRING THREATS, VIOLENCE, AND IRRATIONALITY, AND THE RESPONSES HE HAS TO MAKE TO DEAL WITH THESE PRADOXES CHALLENGE HIS BASIC ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT HUMAN NATURE AND HIS CONVENTIONAL NOTIONS OF RIGHT AND WRONG. THE AUTHOR FINDS THAT ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS ALLOWING AN OFFICER TO OBTAIN THESE TWO VIRTUES IS LANGUAGE. IN TALKING OUT THE INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL ISSUES THAT FACE THEM, POLICEMEN ARE ABLE TO ADJUST TO THE PARADOXES. THE TRAINING ACADEMY AND THE PATROLMEN'S SQUAD ARE CRUCIAL IN THIS REGARD, AS IS THE ROLE OF THE POLICE ADMINISTRATION IN ENSURING THAT EFFECTIVE TRAINING IS DEVELOPED AND THAT GOOD SERGEANTS LEAD PATROL SQUADS. ISOLATION OF THE POLICEMAN IS FOUND TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR LEADING TO MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL DISORIENTATION AND BREAKDOWN. IMPLICATIONS OF THESE FINDINGS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF AMERICAN POLICE ORGANIZATIONS ARE EXAMINED IN THE FINAL CHAPTERS OF THE TEXT. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MODIFIED) (SNI ABSTRACT)...DMC
Index Term(s): Abuse of authority; Attitudes toward authority; Police attitudes; Professionalization; Social organization; Violence
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=39998

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