The police subculture is an importance and necessary concept that provides an insight into the police attitudes and behaviors. The police play a crucial role in providing law and enforcement and are therefore required to maintain high ethical standards within their working environment. Therefore, the police culture ensures that police has ethical attitudes and behaviors so that they can effectively protect the rights of the society. The police subculture perceives the public as untrustworthy, hostile, potentially, violent, and this subsequently requires mutual support, secrecy, and unity to help the police cope with such environment. As a result, the police subculture was created to describe the shared attitudes, norms, and values within the organizational and occupational environment of policing.
Because the police officers face stress from this hostile work environment, the police subculture provides mental and emotional support for the officers who are facing challenging mental situations (Chan, 1997) The police officers who are subjected to the police subculture can survive in dangerous situations because they depend on the other officers who they believe they possess the shared values. For example, shared values such as comraderies, sacrifice, and bravery induces the courage of the officer to engage in a hostile environment. The paper seek to determine the main ethical role of the police subculture to the police officers and the society at large.
The police subculture ensures that the police officers abide by the professional codes of ethics in their working environment. The police officers create unfavorable working environment when they fail to follow this code of ethics. For instance, there is an instance where the police officers exercise personal ethical code where their loyalty to their colleague officers that may challenge their service and protection to the society. As a result, this generates the state of mistrust to the public they serve. The police subculture ethically intervenes to ensure that the values and behaviors of the police officers align with the police code of ethics. The police code of ethics is divided into three distinct parts;-
The first part requires the police officers to provide equal protection to every member of the society. When enforcing the law, the police officer is not required to discriminate the public into class, sex, race, or identifying the offender.
The second part requires the police officers to follow the law they enforce. In this case, the police subculture influences the behaviors of the officers in order to ensure civil liberties are not violated.
Lastly, they are restricted to the moral standards that are beyond and above the many members of the society. The police officers are restricted to use their power for immorality and personal gain. Therefore, a police officer who personalizes the code of ethics violates the code of ethics for the personal concerns, which is prohibited by the police subculture (Cochran, 2003).
The police subculture provides the code of silence or cop code to the police officers. For instance, when the police officer hides evidence, break law or victimizes the suspect, there is a possibility that the other officers are ignoring or helping in indiscretion of the code of ethics. When the public realizes that the officers are breaking the rules, it enhances the mistrust and disrespect to the police department. In the society, many officers are regarded as the racial discriminators (Paoline, 2004). The police subculture helps the police to regulates their behaviors so that they can be free from corruption and misconduct. The police departments have established psychological screening on the police officer so that they can fire the officers with the anti-social characteristics. The code of silence ensures that the police officers are simultaneously provided with the autonomy to each other.
The group loyalty produced by the code of silence restricts the efforts to identify and investigate unethical behaviors such as corruption and other police misconducts. Such behaviors distract the sub-cultural adherents and the police bureaucracy, especially in the upper level of the police department. Such officers perceive the police bureaucracy as politically instigated, as burdensome, punitive, and ineffective. They believe that the police officials are likely to punish them for any procedural error occurring in the police department. Therefore, the police subculture encourages their members to remain invisible to the upper administration. The police officers are required to cover themselves as well as their colleagues and other police officers. Subsequently, this attitude helps the police officers to push the reform efforts that are intended to enhance community-oriented policing by forming a group resistance.
However, the danger and uncertainty involved in the police department is associated with the police subculture. In order to survive in their hostile work conditions, the police are required to become highly suspicious to the members of the public. Every situation in the police work environment is interpreted in terms of potential threat and officers view every person as a criminal or a suspect. As a result, the police subculture provides an adherence to maintaining the edge while they are on duty. This creates a world where the narrow-minded dualism of us against them prevails.
The police officers are, therefore, seen as the outcast members of the public bemuse they perceive themselves as the barrier for the people to engage in moral unrest and decay. The police subculture, therefore, plays an adverse role in enhancing suspicion and cynicism between the members of the society and the police officers. In addition, the two groups emerge, forming the outsiders and the insiders. The outsiders are considered as the members if the community who are viewed with suspicion. On the other hand, the insiders are considered as the members of the public who are considered as the trustworthy individuals in the society. Subsequently, instead of providing common ground for the community and the police officers, it in turn produces tensions between the two parties.
Recently, the incidents of the police officers using the force to the minority groups members shows that that prejudice and discriminatory practices within the police subculture are yet to be eradicated (Sever, 2008). For instance, the shooting in Ferguson that involved Michael Brown is an example of the manifestation of the broader racism issues that are affecting the United States. In the effort to mitigate such incidences, the police subculture ensures that diversity and ethical conduct are highly considered during the recruitment of the police officers. This illustrates that the ethical orientation of the police officers starts earlier before joining the police force to prepare them for the anticipated moral values and behaviors from them.
While the police and law administration provides the legal restriction on the scope of the operation by the police officers, the police subculture defines the relationship between community and officers. The police subculture provides the relationship and duties of other officers, a group of people to associate and interact with, and attitude towards the police and law administration. The subculture seems to have negative effect on the police officers. The subculture generates inbound pressure to the police officers that results to stress in their occupational and social life. Subsequently, this results in cynicism, burnout, and emotional and physical conditions. To some extent, the police officers may fail to determine the effects of the police subculture in a way they view things and act upon them (Cochran, 2003). Therefore, the police officers are required to engage in resources and practices that minimize the social isolation. Such practices include subcultural aspects such as attitude, protective, supportive, understanding, beliefs, insight, and values accepted in the society.
It is evident that the police subculture contributes to both positive and negative ethical roles to the police officers. In one hand, the police subculture provides value, believes, and understanding that helps the police officers to cope with resistant and the hostile work environment. On the other hand, the danger and uncertainty involved in the police department are associated with the police subculture. This call for effective reforms in the police subcultural aspects to ensure effect cite attitude, protective and supportive measures, understanding, beliefs, insight, and values accepted in the society.
Chan, J. B. (1997). Changing police culture: Policing in a multicultural society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cochran, J. K., & Bromley, M. L. (2003). The myth (?) of the police sub-culture. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 26(1), 88-117.
Paoline, E. A. (2004). Shedding light on police culture: An examination of officers’ occupational attitudes. Police Quarterly, 7(2), 205-236. Retrieved from http://www.observatoriodeseguranca.org/files/205.pdf
Sever, M. (2008). Effects of Organizational Culture on Policing Decision Making. Telemasp Bulletin, 15(1). Retrieved from http://www.lemitonline.org/publications/telemasp/Pdf/volume%2015/vol15no1.pdf