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Policing in America

Race and Sex

In the United States, policing began during the colonial period. During the initial one hundred years of policing, women were not allowed to be hired as police officers. At the beginning of the 1800s females were permitted to join policing, following government involvement and a series of debates. Today, Female cops are still on a campaign to reshape their positions as officers. Within the policing world, minority officers and women are faced with a lot of obstacles and roadblocks which include; discrimination, sexual harassment, social stigma and underrepresentation. Additionally, police administrators still report recruiting problems and retention for minorities.

Female officers are faced with sexual harassment as they perform their duties. Research revealed that sixty to seventy percent of female officers in the United States go through sexual harassment, with less than seven percent reporting the incidents. Minority groups such as African Americans face additional barriers to overcome as they are regarded as double minorities. More so, the police force in New York City has been accused of creating a hostile work climate toward individuals of color. Minority members have been subjected to unjustified disciplinary actions, as well as excessively punitive disciplinary consequences for individuals who do not fall into the Caucasian category.

Use of Force

Proactive policing method seeks out and deters crime before it happens, through a show of force and police presence. The US may be aggressive in enforcing tough and severe criminal laws. Many police agencies make use of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to deal with situations that are likely to have force or violence.

SWAT officers use force in the high risk situations they face and are therefore highly likely to apply force in situations that are non-SWAT. Stop-and-frisk is a popular example of proactive police, which involved detaining, questioning, and searching any individual in public for weaponry or other contraband.

A Washington Post analysis revealed that the reduction of major felonies in New York City from 2002 through 2013 was not correspondent to the increased police stops. Furthermore, according to a 2011 study conducted by the New York Civil Liberties Union ,around nine out of the ten stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers were completely innocent, and people of color are overwhelming targeted in the practice. Proactive policing leads to an increase in racial profiling of citizens who are innocent, and rubs off the sense of community belonging among civilians.

Police and Alcohol

In the field of policing, alcohol abuse is a serious issue. Similar risk factors for alcohol abuse exist in the police force as in other “hard-drinking” professions. Police officers have a habit of drinking together as a means of reinforcing their principles and values. Furthermore, the police network is unlikely to report a colleague for alcohol-related issues. Officers will go to considerable lengths to defend their comrades who are in jeopardy. In a survey of 1,328 full-time officers, Lindsay and Shelley looked at why police officers drink.

Officers who were most likely to develop drinking issues indicated that “fitting in” with the squad was the main important reason they consumed alcohol. High-stress police academy training leads to maladaptive coping techniques among recruits, with the usage of alcohol being one of the most common. The combined effects of alcohol and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulted in a ten-fold increased incidence of suicide ideation among police personnel. Furthermore, unfavorable life experiences are frequently linked to depression episodes, alcoholism and anxiety.

Family Problems

The impact of police work on families is a very complicated topic. The position of a police officer is complex, and it necessitates discretion in carrying out one’s responsibilities. Police officers do not undergo efficient training on effective techniques of using discretion or handling stress, which causes stress to the police officer. Stress that police officers incur in their line of duty may be shared with their family. For instance, shift work disturbs family life and makes it difficult to celebrate holidays and other significant occasions.

Additionally, proper child care and a good family life is a need that cannot be satisfied by single parents working rotational shifts. A great toll is exerted on the officer and some emotional changes may start to manifest. These include irritability and increased tension at home. Undercover work by police officers can also be hard on the partner who stays at home to look after the kids, especially when it is for a long period. Finally, police officers get exposed to extreme trauma, which is a major source of stress. The incidences follow them home and they may not feel and act normal at home. Critical incidents at work can also cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the police officers, which may affect the way they relate with their family.

Police and Suicide

More cops die by their own hands than in the line of duty. Law enforcement officers commit suicide at 2 to 3 times the rate of the overall population, and 3 times as many officers commit suicide than are murdered in the line of duty by criminals. Therefore, officer suicide is a lethal factor in regard to police work. Just like most people, police officers commit suicide due to intolerable work, family or personal situations that feel like they are irresolvable.

In most cases of police suicide, there are usually cumulative stressors that involve work problems and issues in personal relationships. Alcohol consumption among police officers complicates anxiety and depression and can impair their judgment, thus increasing the risk of suicide. Having access to firearms also increases the risk of police officers committing self-directed suicide. Luckily, appropriate treatments help around seventy percent of suicidal individuals, including police officers.

Police subculture and Corruption

The police have built a Blue Wall around their society and some of the characteristics that make up their subculture are protective, supportive, shared attitudes, beliefs, and perspective of the world. Along history, agencies have shown that policing is profession with very many chances for mischief (Klockars et al., 2000). This brave profession is not only secretive, but it’s also taking place in the most private locations, away from the eyes of the administrators and in the eyes of witnesses who are not easily trusted. Corruption has proven to be particularly problematic among the police. It is the misuse of power in exchange for personal benefits (Klockars et al., 2000).

Another factor that makes stopping corruption a very impossible task is, “The Code,” also known as the “Blue Curtain.” This code of silence makes police officers hesitate in reporting corruption cases by their fellow officers. Higher ranked officers also fail to acknowledge the existence of corruption in the agencies they represent (Klockars et al., 2000). Therefore, police subculture is one of the aspects that promote corruption since the police officers protect one another and the other hand, there aren’t many willing victims that come to report this misconduct.


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