Subculture of police can also be referred to by law enforcement officers as personal views, actions or attitudes. Since law enforcement workers use a significant part of their employment in combating crime, their impression has established that people are untrustworthy and potentially unfriendly (Malmin, 2012). Consequently, they have the propensity to seek support from, the spirit of their teams, solidarity and fellowship with the people with whom they work. The merits and demerits of this sort of mind are both pleasant. This community benefits from having an understanding of confidence that allows law enforcement officials to operate effectively. However, it also creates a culture of “us vs. them”, which leads to values or behaviour that diverges from the norms.
Police subculture poses a significant risk to wellness and health of members of law enforcement. It causes officers to believe they can overcome anything that is thrown their way. Police subculture has been found to emphasise individuality as well as independence (Malmin, 2012). These two traits encourage officers to put up a façade that is characteristic of invincibility. Due to fear of appearing weak and lacking strength, officers never encourage their partners to share their troubles. Such a subculture creates a police force that works hard not to express weakness. Also, most departments do not focus enough attention on their officers (Malmin, 2012). Police officers are exposed to such a subculture and its related mindset during training and after graduating from police academies.
Perhaps the death of Christian Taylor, a student at San Angelo University in Texas, provides an excellent example of an inappropriate use of force by a 49-year-old recruit and the “us vs. them” mentality of members of Arlington police department. Christian Taylor, a vocal member of the movement Black lives matter is reported to have been vocal in pointing out police misconduct, especially with regards to African Americans (Stack, 2015). Taylor was shot dead despite being unarmed and it is believed that aggression shown by the police towards this young man may have been caused by his opposition to police misconduct. After the incident, chief of Arlington police department is reported to have stated that the delay in interviewing the recruit (Officer Miller) was a standard practice in the department.
This incident and others point to the fact that officers have a strong loyalty to one another and they always back and protect their partners. Also, officers act quickly to protect others who are experiencing trouble as a result of their actions (Goldschmidt, 2008). Those officers who choose loyalty rather than integrity are always forced to compromise their beliefs in order to be considered members of a team. With the presence of an active police subculture, it if often impossible to collect intelligence relating to police misconduct since there are no officers who are ready to inform on their fellow officers (Hryniewicz, 2011). Also, no officer will undertake an in-depth investigation to challenge the decision made by colleagues.
I believe it is possible to remedy police subculture if we involve members of the public. In fact, if citizen oversight groups are tasked with handling complaints against the police, no police officer will be tasked with investigating others since this approach has proven biased, secretive and unreliable.
Goldschmidt, J.(2008). The Necessity of Dishonesty: Police deviance, ‘making the case,’ and the public good. Routledge 18. 2: 113-135.
Hryniewicz, D. (2011): Civilian oversight as a public good: democratic policing, civilian oversight, and the social, Contemporary Justice Review, 14:1, 77-83
Malmin, M. (2012). Changing Police Subculture. FBI. Retrieved 1 February 2017, from https://leb.fbi.gov/2012/april/changing-police-subculture
Stack, L. (2015). Answers Sought in Police Shooting of Unarmed Christian Taylor. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 1 February 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/us/police-request-fbi-help-in-texas-killing.html?_r=0