Learning in Action: The New Police Training

Allison Chappell, University of Florida

This research seeks to describe the mechanisms through which police recruits become socialized into police culture. Data for the research were gathered through participant-observation at a regional criminal justice training center. Recruit classes from both traditional and new "scenario-based" curriculums were observed with special attention focused on the learning process. Using a Social Learning perspective, I describe some of the processes through which formal and informal rules and norms are communicated in the police training and socialization experience. In particular, I examine how various definitions are constructed during officer training, including the use of war stories, images of "good guys" versus "bad guys," and specific aspects of the scenarios themselves.

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Updated 05/20/2006