A Selective View of Use of Force in America? An Insight Into Two Police Sub-Cultures

Michael Walker, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Maria (Maki) Haberfeld, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The use of force is a defining characteristic of the police. The concept of force, and the different actions that are subsumed by it, vary across time and place. The authors are part of an international team of researcher, who study comparative justifications for the use of force by police officers on three different continents. The focus of the study is on normative frameworks for the use of force, as they reflect potentially different conceptions of policing and may reveal important social and cultural variations in perceptions of police work. For the purpose of this cross-cultural comparison a questionnaire, including progressive scenarios, was developed by the researchers and administered to police officers in different countries. This paper presents an analysis of the findings from two police forces in the United States, with a specific focus on the comparative angle.

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Updated 05/20/2006