Psychology and Policing

By Neil Brewer; Carlene Wilson | Go to book overview

16 Psychological Research and Policing

Neil Brewer The Flinders University of South Australia

Carlene Wilson National Police Research Unit, Australia

Helen Braithwaite The Flinders University of South Australia

Policing is concerned with a diverse array of issues and practices. On a daily basis police officers find themselves in situations where they must intervene to dampen down conflict between citizens or where, because of their actions (e.g., signaling their intention to make an arrest) they are likely to find themselves in conflict with other citizens. It is also commonplace for them to be involved in policing instances of inappropriate or illegal behavior on the roads (e.g., apprehending speeding or intoxicated drivers). They often have to decide whether particular citizen behavior warrants the issue of a citation, arrest, or simply a warning. At other times, they may be involved in interviewing witnesses, suspects, or offenders, or arranging for identification tests. They do all of these things knowing that they have particular authority and that citizens are likely to perceive and to react to that authority in particular (though sometimes different) ways.

Elsewhere in the police organization, some officers will be involved in training new recruits in areas as diverse as the law, the use of weapons, interviewing and reporting procedures, or perhaps in special investigative or supervisory skills. Others will be concerned with identifying and implementing the most appropriate techniques for selecting and evaluating personnel at all levels of the organization. At yet other levels, members of the organization will be concerned with ensuring that different work groups are organized so that they function cohesively and effectively, that group members find their work satisfying and challenging, and that possible dysfunctions in performance or at the personal

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