Culture is behavior that a community learns and shares in the process of interacting with other people. Lederach (1995) describes it as the knowledge and schemes that people share. People create the knowledge and schemes by interpreting, perceiving, responding and expressing to social realities that take place around. Police culture, therefore, encompasses status and power as a police. When a police puts on uniform, he/she has authority as a result of it and demands the public’s respect. The uniform enables them to exercise authority since it is what defines them enabling them perform their duties. The police are the good people, and the public are the bad guys whose behavior has to be put under control. They have to behave properly as law enforcers so as to be of a good example to the public who can emulate their behavior. They also practice a code of silence and should not testify against each other.
Discussion of the police culture in the United States
Police culture may refer to several issues of policing. Culture may be the attitude that the society, senior police officers and criminals expect from the police force. It is not a matter of the manner in which they want to conduct themselves, but instead they should adhere to the regulations laid down. Everyone all over expects the police to conduct themselves in a manner which is important for them to offer services to the people. Police culture can also refer to the attitudes that police officers have in regard to the use of the discretionary powers.
Police culture describes the different issues relating to the life of a police. It is a scenario of the police vs. the society, senior police and the criminals. This can also be the powers that the police use towards the criminals with the aim of protecting the society. This justifies the means since the public will be safe from the criminals and their criminal activities. Some of the ways that they use are; unlawful searches, use of force excessively and testimonies that are false. Police culture can be the feeling of being loyal to other officers. This feeling that the police officers have is far more different from the one found with professionals and employees. It represents the training that the officers go through in order to make essential decisions every day. It is of great benefit in assisting the officer to know how and when to make use of the powers (Crank 2004).
Mechanisms that control police discretion
Police discretion is the constant decisions in form warnings to imprisonments or offenders by the police officers. The officers should ensure that nothing compromises their decisions when solving a crime. In some cases, the police officers lack discretion.
Several factors can comprise police discretion; the factors may either be internal or external. Some factors can be being compassionate and spitting on the police officers. These factors represent both the internal and external. Police discretion can result to the citizens being unable to exercise their rights, for this reason certain mechanisms are important in controlling police discretion.
The police should exercise police discretion thus making it impossible and unrealistic to eliminate it. Controlling mechanisms have to be put in place so as to curb the problems that come with the police being discrete. Mechanisms such as implementing departmental procedures and policies that touch on the use and the limit those police officers have when using discretion. This is important in providing guidelines that the officers should adhere in enabling them operate in an appropriate manner. The internal mechanisms can also include better supervision at the place of work when on duty and the cars patrolling.
Walker and Katz (2002) found out that the use of procedures and policies on the deadly force has an impact in the New York City of the United States. According to them upon implementation of a policy on the defense of life, there was a significant reduction of the discharging of firearms by 30 percent. Other departments adopted policies, reducing the number of people shot by the police in the whole nation. Furthermore, there was a drop in the killings of the ratio of white to blacks.
The legislatures can contribute to the act of reducing the use of police discretion by the police. In the United States, there is the use of “zero tolerance” laws that call for the sanction of police officers for certain crimes. The crimes that typically fall under this category are; firearm crimes, domestic violence and other drug crimes, this is according to Walker and Katz (2002). Other departments use policies that relate to cases on domestic disputes. Business communities can also contribute to the application of the zero-tolerance policy by ensuring that the prosecution of shoplifters takes place, requiring the intervention of the police.
Culture for women and ethnic minorities in policing and achieving equality in law enforcement
There is no legal reason that makes it right to bar women from police work. According to a study by the police foundation in 1981, policewomen portray effectiveness which may be better that than of men at controlling violent situations. As much as they get hurt more than the men, they always attend to their duties at work. Ehrlich (1980) points out despite that there are certain interesting and significant things concerning what affects the women in the work place. Such issues are; sexuality, changing work norms and other things. For instance, the treatment is different for women when the officers certain slogans in policing. They are rarely part of this slogan since it favors the men. Police culture can be seen as being more sexist rather than racist, but this might be because the whole culture is explicit in regards to views about women.
Policing comes 2nd as the most sexist sector in the entire world. The first in the Navy which reports a rate of 90% of sexual harassment while in policing the rate is at 66%. This is after analyzing the complaints and calculating the percentage of those relating to sexual harassment. This is depressing for the women, resulting in most of them quitting policing and those with the desire to join it do not pursue their dreams. This leads to a significant decrease in the number of policewomen.
Ethnicity comes in relation to black officers who are the minority in America suffering from double marginality. This term describes the manner in which black officers act tough with blacks so as to be in good terms with the whites. Despite doing so, they do not get to please the whites, and the blacks dislike them for their actions. Research by Leinen (1984) the black officer is mostly taken to work in black neighborhoods and get punishment for lack of discipline more easily than the whites.
In today’s world, it is important to find ways of utilizing the talents and number of black officers. The government is responsible for making sure that racism and sexist issues do not prevail in the policing department. This is possible if there is proper implementation of policies that ensure that such activities do not take place. Seminars meant to educate the officers on ways in which they can successfully relate with one another is important. It will ensure that they see the importance of working as a family and appreciating capabilities that each one of them has and achieve equality.
Significance of stress in policing by the police officers
Police officers undergo a lot of stress which affects them negatively. The stressors that affect them include; those inherent to their work, the ones that stem from internally from the procedures and practice, external stresses arising from the society and the criminal justice and internal stress as a result of confrontation with fellow officers. This affects their function in policing; making them carry their operations in a less effective manner than if there were no stress. Stress can in other cases force them to perform. For instance, the fear of the bosses can make them carry out their duties under stressful conditions efficiently
Policing is an important issue to any country. Failure in policing can result to immense destruction of the country’s performance. The country’s economy highly depends on how well the police officers play their role in protecting the country and its people from both internal and external threats. This makes the police department crucial to the development and growth of the economy. Elimination of the problems affecting policing is significant in the daily operation of the country.
Crank, J. P. (2004). Understanding police culture. Burlington: Elsevier Science.
Ehrlich, S. (1980). Breaking and Entering: Policewomen on Patrol. Berkeley: Univ. of CA Press.
Leinen, S. (1984). Black Police, White Society. NY: NYU Press.
Walker, Samuel and Katz, Charles M. ( 2002). The history of American police. Chapter 2 (pps. 22-56) in The Police in America: An Introduction, Fourth Edition. Boston: McGraw Hill.