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NCJ Number: 50839 Find in a Library
Title: PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARD POLICE
Journal: JOURNAL OF POLICE SCIENCE AND ADMINISTRATION  Volume:6  Issue:3  Dated:(SEPTEMBER 1978)  Pages:303-310
Author(s): J T O'BRIEN
Corporate Author: International Assoc of Chiefs of Police
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: International Assoc of Chiefs of Police
Alexandria, VA 22314
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: HISTORICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL FACTORS WHICH HAVE LED TO POOR POLICE-COMMUNITY RELATIONS ARE EXAMINED. A HUMAN RELATIONS PROGRAM TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION IS EXPLAINED.
Abstract: BOTH POLICE AGENCIES AND PUBLIC OBSERVERS AGREE THERE IS A PROBLEM REGARDING PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARDS POLICE, A PROBLEM SOMETIMES REACHING SERIOUS PROPORTIONS. THIS ALIENATION IS TRACED TO A VARIETY OF HISTORICAL FACTORS, INCLUDING POLICE EMPHASIS ON A MILITARY MODEL OF OPERATION, WHICH EMPHASIZES EFFICIENCY AND DISTANCE FROM THE COMMUNITY; CONFUSING VIEWS OF THE PROPER ROLE OF THE POLICE; NEWS MEDIA EMPHASIS ON CRIME-FIGHTING, WHICH GIVES AN UNREALISTIC PICTURE OF THE POLICE FUNCTION AND HEIGHTENS ALIENATION AMONG CERTAIN GROUPS; AND THE PROBLEMS INHERENT IN URBAN GHETTOS. THE MILITARY POLICE MODEL WAS INSTITUTED IN THE 1940'S, AT EXACTLY THE TIME WHEN VAST NUMBERS OF POOR MEMBERS OF MINORITY GROUPS, PARTICULARLY BLACKS, WERE POURING INTO SLUM AREAS. THE OLD SERVICE-ORIENTED PERSONAL APPROACH (FOOT PATROL) WAS ABANDONED (IN FAVOR OF THE REMOTE, MECHANIZED SQUAD CAR PATROL) AT THE TIME IT WAS MOST NEEDED, AND THE POLICE STARTED ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH MINORITY SUBCULTURES. THE PROBLEM HAS BEEN COMPOUNDED BY THE CULTURE SHOCK MANY POLICE OFFICERS EXPERIENCE WHEN THEY ENTER GHETTO NEIGHBORHOODS. ALSO, MINORITY GROUPS, TRAPPED BY THE LACK OF DEMAND FOR UNSKILLED LABOR AND PROBLEMS OF POVERTY AND ADJUSTMENT, TEND TO VENT THEIR HOSTILITIES ON SYMBOLS OF AUTHORITY. THE POLICE OFFICER IS A HIGHLY VISIBLE SYMBOL; A SIX-PART PROGRAM IS SUGGESTED TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION: (1) REORIENT POLICE TRAINING TO EMPHASIZE THE HUMAN RELATIONS ASPECT OF POLICE WORK; (2) MAKE SURE ALL POLICE OFFICERS REALIZE THAT 'HUMAN RELATIONS' IS A FUNCTION OF DAILY HUMAN CONTACT, NOT JUST PRESS RELEASES OR SPECIAL PROJECTS; (3) INSTITUTE SPECIAL TRAINING TO COUNTERACT CULTURE SHOCK; (4) ENSURE THAT THE COMMUNITY RELATIONS PROGRAM IS COMPLEMENTARY TO ADEQUATE POLICE SERVICE; (5) INSTITUTE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY PERSONNEL PRACTICES; AND (6) INSTITUTE CRISIS INTERVENTION TRAINING. REFERENCES ARE CONTAINED IN FOOTNOTES. (GLR)
Index Term(s): Black/African Americans; Foot patrol; Minorities; Motor patrol; Personnel rank structure; Police attitudes; Police community relations; Police organizational structure; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Socioculture
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