Academic journal article
By Thomas, Roy
Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services , Vol. 3, No. 4
This article argued that, although knowledge and skills may be somewhat easy to teach, and for students to learn, mere knowledge is less effective at changing attitudes. This would suggest that reform of policing through simple instruction might not be enough to effect meaningful change. Attitudes must be re-cast both on the part of the police themselves as well as the citizens who interact with them, not to mention the politicians who direct them and pay them. In terms of international policing, it is argued that recruiting from a diaspora would have the advantage of developing new police personnel, especially individuals who had been exposed to the type of policing that the international community hopes to institutionalize. Moreover this training can have the additional benefit of being started without waiting for the conditions for in situ creation of a new police force to be in place. This article reviews the training of 100 Canadian-Haitians at the RCMP depot in Regina and argues that this program ensured the provision of new Haitian National Police officers with more than just knowledge and skills.
"Everyone looks at the world from behind the windows of a cultural home" (Hofstede, 1997, p. 235).
It may be argued that cultural values must influence any so-called reform process particularly in the provision of justice as known in Canada. For example, in Bosnia it was evident that to effectively transform enforcement agencies from tools of oppression to positive agents of human security required a "buy-in" on the part of local police and politicians (Donais, 2004). Policing cannot be divorced from a society's culture, particularly if one accepts Hofstede's (1997) definition of culture as the mental programming of thought patterns, feeling and potential acting which everyone in a particular society learns. As such, in the case of culture, when considering institutional or functional reforms "unlearning is more difficult than learning for the first time" (Hofstede, 1997, p. 4).
Acceptance of Hofstede's (1997) definition also implies that police reform would then require a change in cultural values--a task that Hofstede himself assesses as difficult if not impossible. It is certainly not achievable in accordance with someone else's master plan. A glimmer of hope that reform is possible can be detected in Hofstede's research however. Collective practices are not only important in "organizational cultures" but can be influenced (Hofstede 1997, p.199). It would seem then that any approach to police reform that ignores cultural values and organization practice would risk failure.
Coates and Last (2005) suggest four alternative cycles (1) of police assistance that Canada could provide. One is the developing and deploying of Canadian police such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). It may be argued, however, that this would only provide models from another culture. It would expose local police to values held by Canadians but these Canadian values might differ from those of other nationalities also providing police models. Although organization practices could be suggested, taught, and monitored in hopes that these would be learned, the indigenous targets of this approach might be confused by the variety of models offered by a multicultural instructional cadre and role models and the long-term impact on their cultural values could be limited.
Another alternative is the Canadian support of the development and deployment of police from other countries who would substitute another set of values for those held by Canadian police persons. However these substitute values might be closer to those held by the society whose police are to be reformed. This might make their acceptance easier but Canadians might hold quite different values in some cases. Again, monitoring of the implementation of preferred organizational practices would have to be undertaken, perhaps by police persons who did not believe in these practices themselves. …