September 10 th
SOC*3750 Police in Society
Bain and Zimmerman – ‘Understanding Great Teaching”
Surface – memorization
Strategic – seek out what is required of them, learn only that
Deep – fully understanding the content and being able to apply the
knowledge. Understand the broader significance.
Themes: Risk & Trust
Knit ideas together
o Risk and Trust – two main themes
Risk – 101
Social construction of risk Organizations and risk Political
economy of risk Culture and risk
Risk is a dependent variable
Constructions of Risk
Risks don‟t literally exist
o In order to talk about them, we socially construct risk
o Construction of what?
Define what is risky, identify what is at risk.
Shared value system must be present in order for risks
to exist; e.g. money, personal safety
o Organizational & institutional forces.
o Risk, social order, change, power
Promoting certain „risky behaviours‟ in order to prompt
Organizations and Risk
Risks and modern organizations
o Definitions of risk (and cause) yield intervention and/or
regulation (MADD) Contested Meanings: The Construction of Alcohol
Problems – Joseph R. Gusfield
Drinking and driving is a problem due to poor
Risk, power and control
Government, media, police, victims‟ groups, others…?
Political Economy of Risk
Unequal distributions of risk – Ulrich Beck – Risk Society
o Health, environment, crime etc.
o Race, ethnicity, SES, geography etc.
Culture and Risk
Risk as part of our culture
o Culture & shared definitions (Tierney p. 218) & Risk and
Blame by Mary Douglas
o Common rituals and risk
o Risk vs. danger
Risks are the consequences of decisions.
Trust – 101
o Fulfill natural/moral order
o Technical competence
o Fiduciary responsibilities
Importance of social context
Simplifies social action (Luhmann 1979)
Natural order is expected & broken
Fiduciary responsibility is expected and broken
Trust in “proper” police conduct Role, Recruitment, Training 10/09/2013 3:00:00 PM
Roles of Police
law enforcement and order management;
o interconnected phenomena.
o order is always a particular kind of order (for who? what
social class? what organization?). Enforcement can create
disorder (Waco, Texas example – law enforcement didn‟t like
the kind of order that was present in Koresh‟s compound)
(OPP example – Dudley George was shot when law
enforcement tried to change the order that was present).
- Bittner (1970) said it was necessary to identify key/unique responsibilities
of police. His only unique responsibility for police: legal use of
Roles of Police Explained
Manning calls the police mandate an “impossible mandate”. It
consists of a role system that is full of problems and impossible to
role strain – the roles we have given to police are fundamentally at
odds with each other and as a result, officers feel role strain. They
want to be three people at once.
trust and expectations of role fulfillment;
o trust is defined as „the willingness of other agents to fulfill
their contractual obligation that is crucial for cooperation‟. We
want police to fulfill their role as we expect them to act
(predictability equals trust).
- public pressure and PR – messages police put out in their releases
are designed to convince public of role fulfillment. Those roles are
„doing something‟ (patrolling, engaging, and interacting with the
public), and „law enforcement‟ (press releases of what they have
- why become a police officer?
help society – but one could help society in many other ways.
o intrinsic qualities that applicants appreciate such as;
adventure - risk, challenge, excitement. prestige - we look at prestige as a dependent variable,
dependent upon many things.
- young people tend to see policing as a „dangerous career choice‟. It
actually isn‟t a dangerous job in general when compared to others.
Dynamics of Organizational Reproduction
what‟s the sociological relationship between recruitment tactics and
an organization‟s identity/profile?
o this question isn‟t specific to policing.
o recruiting team, officers, media advertising, unsolicited
applications, police volunteers, community presentations.
Many of these strategies are targeted to the population that
wants to be police (certain neighbourhoods, fourth year
o psych testing – started in 1989 in Ontario. MMPI tests for
„normality‟. Who‟s normal, what‟s normal, who decided what
normal is? If hiring decisions are made based on „normal‟,
over time the recruits are going to be consistent. Testing is
also about risk management – looking to weed out officers
who may cause trouble.
o background check – research used to say that background
checks could predict misconduct. Today they use data images
such as databases on criminality or credit checks. These
checks speak to managerial and legal rationalities of the
police services making sure they aren‟t going to bring
problems down the road. Applicants are treated as both
assets and liabilities.
diversity and recruiting;
o much debate whether it is taken seriously.
o visible minorities and women are still very under-represented.
As much as services reach out to women, many women don‟t
want to be police. Women tend to be better police and have
greater job satisfaction. Minorities are related to a culture of
distrust with police. o assumption that „women‟ and „minorities‟ reflect the concerns
of women and minorities.
o assumption that diversity breeds tolerance and respect.
Assume that minority officers want the pressure of
representing all minority culture in the police force (which
they likely don‟t want that burden of representing their entire
o young blacks are often accused of „selling out‟ especially in
the United States. Family, friends, and their communities
ridicule them as working for the bad side.
o not extensive enough.
o is isolation a good thing? How do you develop good officers by
isolating them from the people they police? Weak critique.
o paramilitary structure? Exposed to the up and down hierarchy
with an emphasis on structure and order.
o too much emphasis on technical skill.
o high stress with maladaptive coping strategies training
environment is high-demand which can lead to social
distancing, escape-avoidance, drugs, and alcohol.
o training prepares officers and reproduces the police
norms and values that define an institution over time.
police „force‟ vs. police „service‟
o organizational philosophy informs recruitment and training.
o shift from force to service in 1980s – simply sounds better.
o transition from Random, Rapid, Reactive to “community
where organizational philosophes clash;
o pedagogical approach to training – how do you teach a cop?
dominant model is like a university lecture hall with a
give/receive dynamic. no interaction with public or each other.
hierarchical setup that enforces rank.
is this compatible with service role and problem
solving? Probably not.
higher education – should police officers have a college or
university degree as a condition of their employment?
o brains vs. braun.
o used to hire farm boys and military boys.
o now, 75% of higher education.
o professionalization of policing.
public communication skills.
better written skills.
less citizen complaints.
initiative and adapt quickly.
likely to be promoted.
appreciate the complexity of the justice system.
get disillusioned – what the job is, is different than what
they originally thought.
more likely to request reassignment.
first three undermine hierarchy and increase risk.
less sympathetic to lower class.
officers too „soft‟.
o beneath all the new stuff, the old police norms and values are
inherent within police training.
- training for high-impact risks?
o emphasis in training is often of risk and death. Humans may
focus on strategies to keep themselves safe when faces with
threat, danger, and death. When listening to training
scenarios, recruits could be focused on survival rather than „softer‟, deeper meanings. Preparation for low probability, but
Law enforcement, order maintenance, force
The impossible mandate
Why become an officer?
Helping society, prestige, risk/adventure
o Prestige varies through different communities
Recruitment and organizational reproduction
Selling out, the burden and cultures of mistrust
o Burden of being an extension of the representation of
recruitment (female representing females)
Service vs. force philosophy
Clashing philosophies in environment, relevance of education,
particular skills Week 3 – Subcultures 10/09/2013 3:00:00 PM
Sociology and Subcultures
Long tradition – sociology of deviance/crime
Dan Wolf – UPEI Anthropology
Identify, norms/values, boundary maintenance, argot, appearance
o Boundary maintenance – well established reasons behind
admittance into the group
o Not so much whether you‟re a „biker‟, but whether you are
showing deference and respect to the individuals in the bike
o Argot – difference language among bikers
o Appearance – what they wear and why the wear it. The
images they display towards others in their „uniform‟
A subculture: “…a system of values and attitudes, modes of behaviour, and
life-styles of a social group that is somewhat distinct from, yet nevertheless
connected to, dominant culture.”
(Dominant culture((location of generic social processes/dynamics))subculture)
Why Study Subcultures?
Render important groups transparent
o Civil liberties (policing), democracy (politicians), information
Evaluation, regulation and policy
Police Subcultures: Methodological Challenges
o Policing as a „closed institution‟ – the blue wall of silence
(Niederhoffer 1967; Ericson 1982; Herbert 1997 and on and
o Gatekeepers, risk and trust
Need to identify the gatekeeper to gain access; risk to
the integrity of the organization. Do not want their public reputation being undermined. Demonstrate
knowledge, don‟t push to hard, respect.
o Top or bottom access?
Senior ranking officials will give access to the lower
individuals – may have negative impact on the
information you will collect.
Officers on the beat may offer to talk with friends at
work – who likes who? No guarantee the officer will
have sufficient contacts for you.
o Local history and geographic variation
o Learning the normative structure
o Gaining trust
“playing stupid” versus well-informed
If you have credentials, they will quickly start to hate
you. Intimidation is a key factor.
o “Going Native”
Becoming too connected to the subculture
o Exiting the field
Severing ties and writing what you want to write
o Cops, a Masters student and a Leaf‟s jersey
Little things at a research interview are crucial
Police Subculture: Adventure and Machismo
Male officers value law enforcement - All the Centurions by Robert
o Memories and drama
o Risk taking, thrill of chase, catching “bad guys” – stil used
o Station Queens – officers working at desks are referred to as
We are recruiting macho, adventure seeking males who
embody this description.
No clear evidence o Training and socialization
Parables and story telling
Can we connect A to B?
Recruitment Traning/Socialization = Adventure & Risk Taking
Training/Socialization Adventure & Risk Taking
But, it‟s not unique to policing
o Males (16-24) tend to be risk takers
Social might be reinforcing & amplifying biological tendency
o Evolutionary psychology
Regardless, it‟s not straight forward.
o Herbert‟s normative orders
Crystal clear that mature, male officers make careful
decisions in life; balancing act in their head
Education, age, rank, location.
Steven Pinker “The better angels of our nature: Why violence is
Narratives as sub-cultural “currency”
o Rookies, stories and chest pokes
Make fun of the rookies – lowers their status due to the
lack of stories
Sexual exploits, big fish and status
Adventure narratives as functional
o Need to be dealt with; typically very sexist
o Sociological view: very functional but how to they remain
throughout generations of police officers
o Shared experience, common ground and solidarity
o Generates “risk awareness” – funny now but it wasn't
Masculinity & machismo inseparable from “adventure” in policing
20% women o Until 1970s: Matrons, social work and desk work
o Aileen Richards: first female Halifax officer to go on street
Discrimination, harassment & limited mobility
Janet Merlo & Class Action Suit vs. RCMP
o Finally came forward and disclosed the types of things she
was being subjected to.
POLICE–woman of Police-WOMAN? (Rabe-Hemp 2008)
Police Subcultures: Binary Moral Order
The world “out there” is divided
o Us vs. Them
o Thin Blue Line
They are the blue line between that out there and them
o Scum/perps/the puke…and academics?
Moral order as functional?
o Concrete action
o “military break you down to rebuild you”
o These environments are inherently racist, breaking down
others as inhuman through the use of racial slurs in an
attempt to differentiate between the bad and good guys
o Rookie to realist
Trust, risk and predictable behaviour
o Trust = assume the other will not act in ways
Debates About Binary Moral Order
Waddington (1999) “Police (Canteen) Subculture”
o Leave this language in the canteen and act with the upmost
professionalism on the job
o Bifurcation of cultures
o Canteen as „backstage” drama?
o Subcultural research & police bashing.
“Brotherhood” & Bonds
o Function of training & experience
o Isolation and distrust The more this develops, the more the boundary
maintenance kicks in. If they‟re all your brothers, who
are the others?
o Female experiences
Cross a number of these lines
Brother or sister and seen to be kept safe at all times
“Brotherhood of Corruption” – Juan Antonio Juarez
“Good Cops – The Case for Preventative Policing” –
David A. Harris
o Individual coping
Without this bond; PTSD, quitting, emotional stress are
have all high rates
o Organizational resilience
A department who sticks together can put up with a lot
Police Subcultures: Collegiality
Collegiality & Durkheim
Communicate and implicit message
o Has everything to do with the officer that passed away
o Everything to do with the others in the room
If this ever happens to you, we will do the same thing
By reassuring the existing officers, you are ensuring
their ongoing commitment to the force
Subculture: Evaluating the Concept
“Shedding Light on Police Culture: An examination of Officers‟
Compared St. Petersburg Police Dpt. In Florida
o 240 of 246 potential officers surveyed
Indianapolis Police Department
7 different groups/clusters
o Law enforcers o Old pros
o Dirty harry enforcers
o Anti-organizational street cops
In general, very obvious us vs. them theme, appreciation for crime
fighting and distrustful of the public Police Misconduct 10/09/2013 3:00:00 PM
Objective: Add complexity
Organizational & cultural contexts
Types of Misconduct
o Discriminatory acts
Prejudicial treatment on the basis age, race, culture,
o Noble cause corruption (Dirty Harry Problem)
Very important and noble cause but arriving at the
problem through corrupt behaviour
Questionable means to reach noble ends
o Self-Interested Corruption
Exploiting others or entire groups. Using authority to
secure personal gain (free coffee, drugs, sex)
Issues of technicality
o General Misbehaviour/Misconduct
Behaviours that violate institutional codes of conduct
(Police Services Act)
o Use of Force
More force than is justifiable to apprehend/subdue
Use of force contravenes a legal statute
Can‟t just knock you out, illegal and excessive
Serious physical or psychological harm. Emphasis
on savagery or cruelty
Improper Unwarranted, perhaps violating the Police
Services Act (perhaps not)
Misconduct in Detail
Noble cause corruption
o When an officer uses questionable means to achieve
otherwise noble ends; brotherhood of corruption
o The ingredients:
1. Noble cause (justice, equity, safety etc.)
If they have no drugs to plant on a suspect, they
have no means to arrest him
3. Guilty party
offender(s); self evident
4. Believe legitimate means are inadequate
One that is usually looked over; has to have the
mentality that procedure could be done but it
wont do anything. The leap is then made to
achieve through other ways
Must believe the system is; underfunded, lenient,
flawed, overcrowded prisons, corrupt, inefficient .
o Think scientifically…”under what conditions are these
variables more or less likely to converge?”
o Opportunity + guilty party Cohen & Felson‟s RA theory?
Noble cause is there but need to invent a new
way of obtaining arrest
Obtaining evidence without proper warrant
o Noble cause corruption comes from: Working philosophy,
means, ends and higher order justification (Skolnick 1996)
Learning how to engage in noble cause
corruption…taught this is how the job gets done. Police are extremely pragmatic individuals…they know
what needs to be done and will whatever is necessary
Presentation of self vs. backstage law enforcement
Very carefully managed persona for media and
public stage purposes
Backstage, processes are different
o Structural anomie (i.e. Merton) as explanation?
Know the goals of society but lack the legitimate means
of obtaining them.
Distribution of “crime fighting” means (not equal) Cultural
Emphasis on crime fighting as “success”
o Noble cause corruption as innovation?
Use of force (excessive & brutal)
Official US data:
o Police use force rarely. When they do, it‟s usually on the
lower end of the spectrum. Usually involves those who were
resisting arrest and/or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
o More than necessary
o Determining proportionate force?
o Assessing actual and potential for resistance
What more is he capable of doing and will he do it?
Officer must instantly assess the risk and act
o Adrenaline, risk/trust, & working memory capacity
Working memory capacity – the ability to work while
o Adam Nobody
Officers calling for help – constantly hearing things
through radio of officers hurt
Protestors with weapons
Anxiety, fear, risk
The evolutionary psychology of rage
Information technology & information control topic for paper?
“official statements” vis-à-vis video images
o latency between reporting to media release is shortening What was and wasn‟t on video – what you see is only a fraction of
Dynamic power relations & struggle to frame the problem
o Individuals with power, money and charisma will frame the
o Under reporting
Most goes unreported
o Victim/witness credibility
Those who report are usually credible; those who do not
are usually connected to negative social credibility
o Institutionalized code of silence
G20 Name tags
Removed to avoid being identified.
Hodgson‟s “Police Violence in Canada and the USA” (2001)
o Paramilitary & authoritarian
Superiors and subordinates taught that they have
powers others do not.
Is it any real mystery that they would wind up in
situations were excessive force is used?
o Blind application of “the rules”
o After five years, they become jaded and lose their innocence,
less sympathy for others.
o Value force and street experience
Idea that the more time put in, the more respect
Demonstrating ability to hold their own.
o Disposed to violence
o Unable to deal with “service”
The softer side of policing as a result
o Structure & agency Look at this area to see why police act in the way they
Cops have the ability to make good decisions when the
time is right, balance needs to be identified
o What about non-violent officers (majority)?
Sociological argument is fundamentally incomplete.
What about some women or non-violent males?
o Male propensity for violence?
Who needs complex social relations to facilitate violence
It happens all the time, not necessarily in the
o E.g., 1972 Knapp Commission
Arrangements with criminals for money
Code of silence
o 1994 Mollen Commission
Toronto: The Neily Report
o 2001 Julian Fantino asks John Neily (RCMP) to head
Substantial evidence found (online report)
o Winter 2004: 6 drug squad off