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The Functions of Police . . .

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1 The Functions of Police . . .
Egon Bittner

2 Huh? The abandonment of the norm-derivative approach to the definition of the role of the police in modern society immediately directs attention to a level of social reality that is unrelated the ideal formulations.

3 Characteristics of the Police
1. Police Work is a tainted occupation “No amount of public relations work can entirely abolish the sense that there is something of the dragon in the dragon-slayer They inflict harm in the natural course of their duties Society looks down on the police -- History impacts reality Romantic literature of the Victor Hugo variety Police are ambivalently feared & admired…

4 2. Police work is not merely a tainted occupation
2. Police work is not merely a tainted occupation ... It’s worse than that even! The police are always opposed to some articulable human interest Policemen hazard violating their duty by letting generosity or respect for appearances govern their decisions The need to disregard complexity is structurally built into the occupation Police work is doomed to be often unjust & offensive to someone IT’S CRUDE

5 3.Police work, by virtue of distribution, is socially divisive
Some people receive extensive police scrutiny because of social class, race, or geographical location Police are not merely like everyone else, but more so…there are statistical probabilities that impact thinking “Upper class” people expect deferential treatment from the police

6 Normative v. Characteristics
Based on ideals about what the police do and are Formal, legal inference Does not admit that the police may not be oriented to the normative objectives Based on reality of what the police do and are Informal, common-sense, practicality Leaves open the possibility that the police may not be oriented to the normative objectives

7 Cultural Background of Police
The police were the last basic block in the structure of modern executive government to be developed 1700’s violent crime exists, but people resist the idea of the police 1820’s violent crime explodes, advocates for the police gain support Urban riots quelled by military results in many deaths Cultural changes

8 Cultural Changes in Society
Aspire to abolish violence & install peace as a stable & permanent condition in everyday life Material progress & enterprise were valued more than masculine prowess and combative chivalry

9 The Quest for Peace Diplomatic consultations failed, but we continued to rely on them…i.e. UN Compliance w/ govt. based less on the threat of force & more on voluntary compliance Changes in the criminal justice system…i.e. punishment v. rehabilitation

10 Changes in Private Life
We don’t generally carry swords, daggers, guns to conduct business It’s no longer acceptable to use physical force to defend one’s honor or to gain respect Interpersonal violence is viewed negatively, even criminally We suppress, conceal, or deny matters that deal with violence

11 Bittner’s main point is that the trend toward the achievement of peace is basically new in Western history, even as we admit that it is continuously in danger of being overwhelmed by counter-tendencies. The tendency toward peace is based not on in spirituality, but on practicality… the realization that violence is a foolish way to resolve problems

12 The Means of Achieving Peace
We want to achieve peace through peaceful means, as opposed to by force International diplomacy to avoid war Administration of Justice w/o violence We’d like to eliminate all forms of violence,even when required to meet attacks

13 Legitimate Uses of Force
Self-defense Deputies v. Special population Prison guards v. inmates Mental hospital attendant v. patient Police use of force

14 A mechanism for the distribution of situationally justified force
Fits w/ the actual expectations & demands made of the police It gives a better account of the allocation of manpower & resources It lends thematic unity to all kinds of police activities

15 The police are a mechanism for the distribution of non-negotiable coercive force employed in accordance with the dictates of an intuitive grasp of situational exigencies

16 The Moral Problem How can we arrive at a favorable or even accepting judgment about the police when their very function (i.e the distribution of force) is opposed to the ethos of the people who design it?

17 How can society solve this?
Military virtues The targets of force are enemies Absolute obedience to the mission There is a greater good (i.e world peace) Public Trust The targets of force are practical objectives Prudence, considered judgment are required in each case Personal responsibility

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