Psychology and Policing

By Neil Brewer; Carlene Wilson | Go to book overview

I
PSYCHOLOGY AND OPERATIONAL POLICING

The behavior of police at the worksite (e.g., on the street, in a private home, at the police station or in a jail cell, in the interview or line-up room) is influenced by a range of psychological factors. A knowledge and understanding of how these factors operate suggest a number of ways for enhancing the performance of the individual police officer and the police organization as a whole. The chapters in this first section of the volume provide a clear and insightful overview of research in mainstream psychology that can be used to inform police about various operational policing matters.

In the first chapter, Wilson and Braithwaite illustrate how a range of psychological variables influence the behavior of police on patrol. Police behavior during interactions with citizens is shown to be a function of the officer's personality, background, training, and socialization, and of the manner in which these variables interact with situational, environmental, and social psychological pressures. These variables determine the likelihood that an officer will succeed in acting in a way that avoids conflict occurring, or de-escalates conflict when it does occur. Police administrations concerned with minimizing the level of conflict in interactions between police and citizens will be assisted by an awareness of the psychological research that identifies the critical variables associated with aggression and conflict escalation.

Fildes' chapter on driver behavior and traffic safety (chapter 2)

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