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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69658 Find in a Library
Title: Use of Age by Law Enforcement Policymakers as a Predictor of Performance
Journal: Journal of Police Science and Administration  Volume:8  Issue:2  Dated:(June 1980)  Pages:166-172
Author(s): J P Morgan
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 7
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The article looks at how the law enforcement community has dealt with the adult development stages of its employees and how available theories of adult development might be used to maximize personnel resources.
Abstract: Stages or cycles in adult development have been proposed by numerous theorists, who see, for example a period of ascent followed by the culmination period, the period of descent, and death; a progression of early adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adulthood; or a series with these adult phases--intimacy versus isolation, generativity versus stagnation, and ego integrity versus despair. The traditional use of age in police work has been for the purposes of hiring and retiring. Maximum age limits are set for recruits not only to comply with pension provisions, but also for reasons of physical fitness. Yet available research on age at time of entry into a police agency and the subsequent performance of such individuals is limited. Most significant is Niederhoffer's study which acknowledges the patterns of cynicism in a police officer as related most probably to age and experience. Pseudo-cynicism is recognizable among recruits from the police academy and romantic cynicism is found during the first 5 years of police work, aggressive cynicism is born out of resentment around the 10th year, and resigned cynicism appears when the officer learns to live with the system. Overall however, law enforcement policymakers appear to be either unaware of the existence of life cycle theories or have chosen not to include such information in their decisionmaking procedures. Yet research can illustrate, for example that older officers (over 30) might be less likely to be involved in assaults or other encounters that generate citizen complaints--perhaps they have entered the adult world and no longer feel a need to act with macho. Police administrators and their staff should become acquainted with life cycle theories and concepts, knowledge which should be incorporated with such personnel matters as selection, promotion, discipline, and resignation. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Police attitudes; Police occupational stress; Police personnel
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