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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 97355 Find in a Library
Title: Functional Nature of Police Reform - The 'Myth' of Controlling the Police
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:2  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1985)  Pages:51-65
Author(s): G W Sykes
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 15
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Police accountability in liberal society, as well as the many reforms designed to achieve it, remains problematic, according to a recent important study suggesting the police effectiveness against community disorder may be a casualty of many of these reforms.
Abstract: For at least 50 years, major movements attempted to reform police and their institutions through professionalization, policymaking, and administrative decentralization. One major goal of these efforts way to subordinate street officer discretion to bureaucratic due process. Some recent evidence suggests that such reforms produced primarily the appearance of change without fundamentally altering the status quo. An alternative hypothesis is proposed: Reformers ignored the functional nature of the police role as community-based, extra-constitutional in peacekeeping situations, and reflective of the values related to the maintenance of order. It may be that liberal society solves the anomaly of the police function by fostering the myth that police are subordinate to due process constraints, while leaving them relatively free in a practical sense to respond to the need for order maintenance and peacekeeping. Effective handling of disorder may require police autonomy, while attempting to subordinate them to bureaucratic control may impair this ability. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Accountability; Police discretion; Police reform
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