Police Ethics and Deviance

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Police ethics
The Role of Police: What Does Society Expect? So, what are the expectations of the police and who holds them? This question continues to intrigue practitioners and academicians alike and is not likely to be answered to the satisfaction of all those with an interest in it. Nevertheless, a common recurring theme held by society is that the police should, in some general sense, engage in preventing crime, investigating crime and apprehending offenders, maintaining order, and providing services.6 Little serious debate involves these commonly held general expectations. It is when these general expectations are distilled down to the actual activities, priorities and decisions made by police that common agreement ends and disagreement flourishes. Citizens expect different things from their police and, at times, those expectations can be in diametric opposition to each other. However, in a general sense citizens expect the police to protect them and to help them when needed. They expect the police to be fair and to perform their duties in such a way as to avoid excessive force, corruption, rudeness, authoritarianism and political influence.7 On the other hand, the police themselves often perceive their role quite differently from citizens and have expectations not shared with the public they serve. An example of this is the degree of emphasis that the police themselves place on the law enforcement role at the exclusion of their many other roles. Undoubtedly, society expects that law enforcement will be a police priority. They see this role as a means by which a reasonable degree of safety and security is achieved. It is an important and critical role and one that the American police do very well. But it is not the only role. In fact it is one in which police devote relatively little of their time and effort. Approximately ninety percent of a police officers time is spent in the social service function8 of providing services and maintaining order
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