- May 30, 2020
Stereotypes against the Police
Stereotypesagainst the Police
Stereotypesagainst the Police
Foryears, the society has systematically dehumanized police officersthrough stereotypical characterizations. Stereotypes may not alwaysbe fair, but they still exist regardless of whether they are good orbad. Stereotypes are simply common conceptions about members of acertain group. Holding stereotypes about a group of people is not acrime. Therefore, people holding misconceptions about police officershave the right to do so, although in most cases, it is done for fun.Stereotypes against police officers are common and diverse. Some areunrealistic and negative, while others are rational and positive.Sometimes even cops make fun of themselves and it beats logic to getpissed off. Therefore, stereotypes about police officers have beenaround since time immemorial and some are true while others arefalse, it does not diminish the importance of police officers as lawenforcers in the society.
Thepublic perceptions of police officers are primarily based on theirportrayal in the media. From an open-ended perspective, the mediadoes not always portray the affirmative aspects of the life orcharacteristics of police officers (Richardson,2012).The media casts a wide assortment of portrayals of police officers,which try to make them look bad. Police stereotypes can be eitherpositive or negative. The following are the most common stereotypesabout cops.
First,it is a general conception that cops love doughnuts. This ranks asthe most popular and widely used police stereotype. Cops are known tohave a high affinity for the sugary fried confectionaries popularlydubbed as ‘energy rings’ (Kelly,2015). Thisconception is highly prevalent to the extent that some cops cannotpark their patrol cars within the location of a doughnut shop forfear of propagating the belief that they are inseparable fromdoughnuts. However, the reality regarding this stereotype does notentail doughnuts. Instead, it is all about coffee. This is because,in most cases, the only places to get coffee anytime of the day arethe doughnut outlets, since they open for 24 hours (Kelly,2015).
Second,it is commonly held that police officers have quotas. A considerablesection of the public believes that cops have a certain number ofarrests that they should make in a day and a fixed number of ticketsthat they should issue. As such, many people argue that they receiveda ticket because an officer was trying to attain his quota for theday. However, in realty, police officers do not have quotas regardingthe number of tickets they should issue or arrests they should make.This perception can be attributed to the question of responsibility.There has to be a certain measure of activity in police stations.Therefore, the easiest and most consistent measure of performance isby considering the number of tickets issued, reports taken, callsanswered and arrests made (Kelly,2015).If one officer has few statistics on the record in a certain durationrelative to others, the supervisors may question his performance,which may cause the application of unnecessary measures.
Thereare numerous police stereotypes, but the above two stereotypes arethe most common and popular of all. They media plays a key role inthe propagation of these stereotypes and views concerning the police.With time, these funny characterizations become what people hold astrue regarding the law enforcement officers (Johnson,2012).Nonetheless, the reality is that most cops are good people, but thisfact is overshadowed by the idea that stereotypes become perceptionsthen perceptions become beliefs that are fun to joke about, whichoften conveys the reality of law enforcement jobs.
Despitethe extent of stereotypes against police officers, the conceptions donot reduce the significance of criminal justice careers. Working inthe criminal justice system has its share of misconceptions and falsecharacterizations. However, these stereotypes cannot weaken theimportance and welfare that these jobs provide to the public(Richardson,2012).Police officers are crucial individuals in the field of lawenforcement. Without them, the rate of crimes would be higher than itis and more people would fall victims of these criminals. In the sameway, more people would be killed and more goods would be stolen.Therefore, there is enough proof that police officers areindispensable people in the society. The public perception of theirwork does not matter. The most important thing is the fact that theykeep calm in the society and protect people and property.
Thepublic should perhaps acknowledge the importance of police officers,as without them, people cannot live in peace. Again, people shouldsometimes try to find the foundations of a conception beforeaccepting it as a belief. This is because ignorance makes peopleaccept the generally accepted notions as truths without having tothink about the factors that led to the creation of a stereotype.Moreover, the media is a collection of firms seeking to make moneyand therefore, they can do or broadcast anything to attract theattention of people. This implies that not everything that featuresin the media is true. People should scrutinize an issue deeply beforeaccepting it as a belief. This can help reduce the extent of falsestereotyping in the society because it is not fair.
Policy-making:Theories and Concepts
Thepoor relationship between the police and the public demands that thegovernment (State and Federal) and police departments put in placeprudent measures to mitigate the fragile relationship between thepolice and the public. Policies that can address stereotypes againstthe police should focus on building trust in the communities (Yeroet al., 2012).The policy elements that can bring these changes are categorizedunder the concept of procedural justice. Procedural justice providesthe foundation for the formulation and implementation of policiesthat define the roles and operational procedures of law enforcementofficers while considering the needs and contributions of the public.Procedural justice stresses that law enforcement personnel andorganizations must show the public they serve both in action and inword-the impartiality and fairness of the procedures and lawenforcement processes (Yeroet al., 2012).In this regard, they are obliged to treat individuals with respectand dignity, while providing the public opportunities to participatetowards the conclusion of these processes.
Publicparticipation in law enforcement policy-making is critical infacilitating the development of healthy relationships with thepolice. The implementation of these policies is not easy because itinvolves major alterations such as communication with policedepartments, modification of policing tactics, enhancement ofaccountability in police departments, improvements in internalprocesses and setting up minimum discipline and operational standardsin police departments (Schaible& Sheffield, 2013).These policy alterations should enable the interaction between thepublic and the police to result in happiness and assurance, ratherthan causing fear, suspicion, and panic. However, the achievement ofthese results demands that the country’s police implementagency-level changes in their approaches. Community policing has avital role in reversing negative stereotypes against the police.Therefore, the whole process requires overhauling entire operationsin policing (Jacobset al., 2013).
Policedepartments need to demonstrate transparency in their activities toenable the public to associate with their processes. In this regard,it will be easy for the public to appreciate the important role thatthey play in maintaining safe neighborhoods. The public should haveequal access to law enforcement data to see the impact of policeactions towards the eradication of crime. Moreover, police violationsof the rights of individuals, for example, the use of excessive forceshould be well documented and perpetrators should face appropriateaction (Jacobset al., 2013).There is a need to restructure police training processes to haverobust departments that understand the changing dynamics of the 21stcentury. Police training should incorporate aspects such as thedetermination of instances requiring the use of lethal force as wellas community policing skills. Police assessments should also includeaspects such as community policing and public trust scores. This willenable police departments to keep tabs with the perceptions of thepublic regarding the effectiveness and fairness of their operations(Jacobset al., 2013).
Wecan utilize some premises of the Contingency Theory to explain thepolicies that need to be implemented to eradicate negativestereotypes against the police. More specifically, contingency theorycan help us understand the fundamental principles of implementingeffective community policing. Contingency theory, formulated byLawrence & Lorsch suggests that different environments placevarying requirements on individuals or organizations (Jacobset al., 2013).They emphasize specifically on the requirements of environmentscharacterized by uncertainty and rapid changes in the marketconditions as well as the social set up. Additionally, contingencytheory addresses the concerns of a changing technologicalenvironment, which present differential demand. The theory addressesboth the negative and the positive demands of such changes in theenvironment (Jacobset al., 2013).
Contingencytheory suggests that design and policy decisions should be determinedby the environmental changes. Therefore, organizations, such aspolice departments should organize their internal features to matchthe environmental demands. In other words, the driving force behindorganizational changes such as police reforms should be the externalenvironment (Jacobset al., 2013).Particularly, the police should consider the difficulties confrontedin their spheres of influence to determine the best ways of dealingwith negative stereotypes against them. Multicultural communitiescharacterize the current American society. The social set up ischanging each day, thus requiring the police to exercise restraintregarding vices such as racial profiling. Again, advancements intechnology have led to the rapid transfers of information as well ascomplicated the nature of crime. In this regard, contingency theoryprovides the frameworks that will provide police departments with theaspects to consider while implementing operational changes.
Thisstudy has revealed that the police should formulate and implementpolicies that are in line with the provisions of procedural justice.They should facilitate public participation in law enforcement policymaking to develop healthy relationships with the police. Policereforms should focus on improving communication with public,alteration of policing tactics, enhancement of accountability in thepolice, improvements in internal processes and setting up minimumdiscipline and operational standards in the departments (Schaible& Sheffield, 2013).The interaction between the public and the police should result tohappiness and assurance, rather than causing fear, suspicion, andpanic. Moreover, Police departments need to demonstrate transparencyin their activities to enable the public to associate with theirprocesses. Therefore, it will be easy for the public to appreciatethe important role that they play in maintaining public safety.
Again,the public should have equal access to law enforcement data to seethe impact of police actions in fighting crime. Moreover, policeviolations of the rights of individuals, for example, use ofexcessive force should be well documented and perpetrators shouldface appropriate action (Schaible& Sheffield, 2013).Finally, there is a need to restructure police training processes tohave robust departments that understand the changing dynamics of the21stcentury. Police assessments should include aspects such as communitypolicing and public trust scores in the evaluation process. Thesechanges have the potential of improving relationships between thepublic and the police, which will enhance community policing anderadicate negative stereotypes against the police.
Jacobs,G., van Witteloostuijn, A., & Christe-Zeyse, J. (2013). Atheoretical framework of organizational change. Journalof Organizational Change Management, 26(5),772-792.
Johnson,O. N. (2012). Stereotypes & Misperceptions of the Police. TheJournal of Law Enforcement, 1(5).
Kelly,R. (2015). Vigilance:My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City.Hachette Books.
Richardson,L. S. (2012). Cognitive Bias, Police Character, and the FourthAmendment. Ariz.St. LJ, 44,267.
Schaible,L. M., & Sheffield, J. (2012). Intelligence-led policing andchange in state law enforcement agencies. Policing:An international journal of police strategies &management, 35(4),761-784.
Yero,A., Othman, J., Samah, B. A., D`Silva, J. L., & Sulaiman, A. H.(2012). Re-visiting concept and theories of community policing. Int.J. Acad. Res, 4,51-55.