Table of Contents
All human life is organized, guided, and supported by social institutions. There is a need in personal security of the individual social institutions such as the state, the government, the courts, the police, and others. Every democratic country should be responsible for good governance, which means transparency, rule of law, individual rights, and commitment to the spirit of democracy (Diamond, 2009). The protection of constitutional rights is the mission of the police in a democratic society, and the relationship between citizens and the police should be based on the principles of democracy and confidence. As Lincoln stated, speaking to young men of Springfield at the Lyceum in 1838: “Let reverence for the laws … will the political religion of the nation.”
In this article “Police occupational culture: classic themes, altered times,” Bethan Loftus explores professional police culture and its effect on the relationship between the police and society. Loftus proves the thesis that the professional police culture is experiencing pressure of the orthodox concept underlying in the officers’ outlook. For the analysis of the put forward thesis, it is necessary to examine the article by Bethan Loftus, to conduct an empirical study on the journal articles related to the understudied topic, and to identify the main issues related to this problem.
Modern Studies of Police Culture
In this study, we have to consider the fact that nowadays, public confidence in the police has not improved, despite the improvement of police training, the use of modern technologies, and the fact that a wide variety of studies on police culture were carried out in recent decades. This culture is reflected in the street when the police are focused primarily on the aggressive parts of their duties with zero tolerance in relation to the individual.
The existing police culture believes that the fear of arrest is the best way to prevent criminal behavior. In an empirical study conducted by Bethan Loftus, there is an analysis of the sociological understanding of what is defined as a police culture. The research results proposed in the article «Police occupational culture: classic themes, altered times» are based on ethnographic studies conducted in the English-speaking police forces. Their goal is to investigate how the classic policemen features of a police culture survived the transition from the “old” culture to the “new.” Also, empirical observations conducted from March 2004 to October 2005 and a series of group discussions and interviews conducted with more than 60 police officers became the basis for the allocation of two types of data needed for the study of professional police culture: first, spontaneous conversations with the colleagues of the police officers, and second, the description of police work by the police themselves. Based on the installation Fieldnotes, the researcher, acting relatively inconspicuously, gathered information during the change of people, places, events, and conducted interviews.
The article questioned the view that the concept of culture of orthodox police no longer has any meaning. The paper shows that the basis of police officers’ outlook is continuing with the old concepts. Also, the author argues that the culture of the police does not remove the pressure associated with an exaggerated sense of mission on their role of police. On the basis of these empirical studies, the author has shown that police officers celebrate the exploits of men, are ready to use force, have a socially isolated life, and show suspicion and defensive solidarity with the colleagues. They are basically conservative in politics and morals, and their culture is characterized by cynicism and pessimism. The author notes that in recent years, the political sensitivity around the police has changed significantly under the influence of changes in the requirements of the society, and the police need to change their ways of working to meet the real requirements.
Analysis and Prospect of Police Culture
An important conclusion that the author makes in his work is the understanding that without broader social changes, there is little hope to achieve some radical reconfiguration of the police culture (Loftus, 2009). I agree with these conclusions of Loftus, but, in my opinion, it is necessary to expand and clarify the understanding of broader social changes and the consequent next steps to address the problem of orthodoxy and conservatism of the police culture.
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Firstly, it should be noted that the institution of police is a part of the Institute of State, and, accordingly, the police cannot conduct their own internal policies separately from the public policy. When the government takes an increasingly important role in the regulation of all aspects of the expanding social affairs, the scope of competence of the police also needs to expand.
Moreover, in real life, there is a tendency of the police to contribute to the welfare of the society. Police officers are involved in the provision of first aid, transferring people to the hospital; limiting drunkenness and rowdy behavior; participating in the negotiations in internal disputes, and all this in addition to the traditional role of fighting crime. It contributes to the harmonization of relations between the police and the community; however, this consensus is fragile and often broken (“Relations between the police and public,” n.d.).
Thames Valley Officer Sergeant Graeme Smith said the words that are somewhat disappointing to the supporters of the orthodox position in the police culture, but they reflect the real role of the police in today’s democratic society: “Crime fighting is 75 per cent of what we do. The rest of it is putting a sticking plaster on society’s ills. We’re the only people available after 4 pm to do that. Where are the social workers, the teachers and the mental health doctors? They’re generally at home. We pick up the pieces and wait for the professionals. It’s about preservation of life” (White, 2012). In 2011, the police have taken to safe places about 1,000 of mentally ill people. It answers the question: Who else should do it?
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Secondly, today the majority of law enforcement leaders recognize that building strong human relations and community involvement will lead to the improvement of public safety and a more effective fight against crime (Rahr, & Rice, 2015). It is necessary to build a true partnership between the police and the people it serves.
One of the important steps that will enhance and strengthen the credibility of the institution of the police on the part of society is the need for training of the police. Training will help dispel harmful stereotypes, and provide information about the rights and the need for action on such matters as the “honor” of the case with the same professionalism and efficiency as in other cases. Training should aim to teach police officers how to respond better to the detection and investigation of cases related to cases of “honor,” training on relevant laws. Training should dispel misconceptions of the police that they can hold information about the threat of violence or violence committed in violation of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials. It is necessary to ensure the implementation of laws and directives governing the behavior of the police on the spot, so that police misconduct does not prevent the effective investigation on violence and the implementation of justice (“Roles and responsibilities of police,” n.d.).
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It is also necessary to establish and strengthen the cooperation of police and schools, so that students in a safe and comfortable environment can report violence committed against them. The police, in turn, should provide information to the victim of violence, where and how to get help if they need it, including information about safe houses, legal assistance, and counseling. However, the police may not insist on the transfer of the victim to the shelter without their own consent, but only to advise and not to force the victim to make a decision (“Roles and responsibilities of police,” n.d.).
Thirdly, in his article, Loftus quotes a police officer that morality in society is rapidly decomposed, and the police is called to fight it. The officers expect nothing but the deterioration of human behavior and see themselves as a small minority in the fight against crime, using the old conservative methods such as aggression, confrontation, obscenities, monitoring the situation through the use of informal procedures “test relations,” skepticism (Loftus, 2009).
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Indeed, it may be noted that crime is increasing, and the causes of this, White believes, lie in the changing society, which became more numerous, more mobile, more anonymous, with more things to steal. In addition, it adopted a national and international scale, and the police have to learn to think differently (White, 2012).
Therefore, an important step for the changes needed in the police culture is the need to change attitudes in the training of police officers. Taking into account the current realities of policing, the main objective of any strategic police training should be learning critical thinking and the ability to make responsible decisions, not memorization. Statistics show that intelligence and social dexterity are often the most effective means to protect the officer. It is also necessary to significantly improve the level of communicational skills and behavioral approaches to ensure a better interaction with the public. For example, in the popular press Calibre program, tactical training police Lt. Jim Glennon explains that mastery of communicational skills; an officer provides an understanding of what the public wants, who they are, and what their intentions might be (Rahr, & Rice, 2015).
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Fourthly, the way out of this situation can be found in the application of crime prevention practices – proactively, and not to increase the number of arrests. It is impossible to reduce the understanding of the role of the police in the concept of “reducing crime” or “the police have to catch the villain.” Despite the impressive amount of police powers, in order to reduce the number of crimes, it is necessary to develop co-operation of police and social services, education, and health. The police have the right to intervene, and so it is the first point of contact for most situations. Moreover, the police have great experience in preventing the transition of a simple case of antisocial behavior into a crime. The Wood Green police believe that it takes time and trust for laying a bridge between the police and other social organizations, charities, and civic initiatives.
It is also necessary to emphasize the importance of changing attitudes towards the police because, according to the existing practice in the community, teachers and nurses receive more attention and love than policemen (White, 2012).
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Analyzing the article “Police occupational culture: classic themes, altered times” by Bethan Loftus, we can conclude that the orthodox concept influences the police professional culture, but after conduction an empirical study of magazine guides and articles, it is necessary to add that the police culture is in the process of transformation, and for this transformation to occur, there are real preconditions. Perhaps, now is the time to reconsider the prevailing mentality in the police profession to change the culture or, rather, return it to democratic ideals. Perhaps it is time to strive to become “trusted guardian of democracy” and to transform the police culture from the culture of “warriors” into a culture of “guardians.” It is necessary to begin a cultural transformation focused on patriotism and honor, not power and submission, instill the pride and the importance of police nobility. These studies should generate introspection on police managers and about the culture that exists within the police force. Such self-examination should lead to new perspectives in the field of policing culture that reflects democratic values and expectations of the communities that the police serve.