There are police and there are police. They all look similar to the general public because they are all (most, at least) in similar uniforms, wear badges and carry firearms. But departments and even individual officers differ enormously. What is common practice in one police department may be unthinkable in another. I suppose it was natural for me to settle on the importance of this rather obvious point only after I moved into retirement as I had the opportunity to reflect on the thousands of officers I got to know individually over the years and the hundreds of agencies that I got to know in varying degrees both here in the U.S. and in other countries. Understandably, I found myself rebelling at some of your descriptions and analyses of policing in Baltimore and New York City because they were in such sharp contrast with what I've learned about policing elsewhere....What do you think? Anyone have ideas? What are the answers? Bueller...?
There in, it seems to me, is one of the major challenges for your generation. Why is it that we have such variations? Why are some departments so committed to prevention over apprehension or meaningless patrol? Why are some departments so committed to protecting the civil rights of everyone with whom they are in contact, and others so flagrant in their violation of them? Why are some individual police officers so thoughtless, and others so thoughtful? Why do some agencies handle protests in ways that protect the right of protesters, and others almost guaranteed to provoke conflict? I wish I had another fifty years in which to explore along these lines.
March 21, 2012
"There are police and there are police"
I received a very gracious and lengthy email from a very prominent professor (which in and of itself was thrilling). He read Cop in the Hood and wrote, in part:
Labels: police culture