police personality

police personality - Jason Lim November 8 2012 Law...

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Jason Lim November 8, 2012 Law Enforcement SOC 232-01 Martha Shockey-Eckles Police Personality Paper Jerome Skolnick and several other researchers have delved into the world of policing and the resulting personality traits that police officers develop over the course of their career. There are several core beliefs and values that are common for police officers to have; these beliefs and values dictate how they use their discretion and their interactions with the community that they have sworn to protect. Skolnick identifies the common characteristics that police officers have: being cynical, suspicious of the community, and authoritarian. All the guest speakers exhibit these traits to varying degrees, but there is a stark difference in the level of professionalism among the four. Before discussing each individual guest speaker, it is imperative to understand why police officers exude these characteristics. Skolnick identifies the constant state of danger that officers deal with on a daily basis as the main reason why they develop the so-called “police personality.” Because of the work that they do, police officers often deal with the worst of society. All officers are eventually going to have memories of unbelievable crime scenes forever engraved in their minds. They witness first hand the violence that a person can inflict on others. As a result, police officers come to see the world through a cynical lens. It is worth noting that this cynicism does not develop initially when newly-recruited officers begin their work. In 1963, Arthur Niederhoffer conducted a study on police recruits and officers and their levels of cynicism. He found that levels of cynicism of recruits increased drastically just after three months of working. Recruits initially believed that the police academy prepared them well for their jobs, but less than a quarter of them still held that belief after two months. One can infer from this study that police training is only the
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technical aspects of policing (as well as physical conditioning). It is impossible for recruits to be prepared for the worst cases of violence going through training since every crime is unique. It is through their daily work that they witness firsthand what people are capable of, and it is through these experiences that they develop a psychological mindset that anyone has the capacity for violence. The perceived constant state of danger that officers have not only allows them to become cynical, but also dictates their interactions with the general public. Officers are taught to treat each situation with the utmost care and precaution. They view civilians as potential offenders and distance themselves from the public. Through experience, police officers begin to perceive trends that are typically signs of trouble. Skolnick says that certain clothing styles, attitudes, and gestures are some hints that officers look for when dealing with civilians. Individuals that officers deem to be potentially dangerous are what Skolnick calls
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This note was uploaded on 04/25/2011 for the course SOC 232 taught by Professor Marthashockey-eckles during the Fall '10 term at Saint Louis.

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police personality - Jason Lim November 8 2012 Law...

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