The Ambivalent Force: Perspectives on the Police

Dryden Press, 1976 - 416 páginas
Various assessments of some major features of the police occupation and role by psychiatrists, attorneys, administrators, and others are presented in this collection of papers. The volume stresses the uncertainties, ambiguities, and ambivalences of the police role in society in the past and present which are likely to persist in the foreseeable future. Historical similarities are revealed in the relative permanence and continuity of the problems of the police as they confront violent and disruptive events in every epoch. Suggestions and predictions with regard to the future roles of the police are made. The organizational and institutional constraints of the police system are examined, with particular attention to the bureaucratic qualities that determine the lifestyles, career lines, and policy decisions of police organizations. It is said that the police share many of the dilemmas and unresolved conflicts of professionalization common to other occupations. The police world view is examined, and the sources of their values of loyalty, authoritarianism, and defensiveness are explored. They are compared with other professional groups which undergo a similar estrangement as they become more experienced in their work situation. Several articles deal with the issue of police corruption. A chapter on police discretion analyzes some factors which affect a police officer's virtually uncontrolled discretion in the performance of his duty. The problems of police work relations with urban communities are discussed, including the causes of the constantly high level of hostility toward police. An overview of legal issues that touch upon the police is presented. Critiques of the police by a number of persons are offered, and suggestions for necessary changes are made. The final chapter contains perceptions of several authorities on the directions law enforcement will follow in the next few decades.

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