Policing Within a Professional Framework

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9780130395702: Policing Within a Professional Framework

For courses in Police Administration/Management, Police Training, Introduction to Policing, Introduction to Law Enforcement. Presenting a clear, detailed picture of what constitutes professional law enforcement, this text enables students to work within or outside of law enforcement to raise standards of practice. While other books in the field are based on the premise: "Here is what law enforcement does," this one operates on the premise: "What law enforcement does is less important than how it does it." The author's twenty-five years of experience in law enforcement and psychology bring a balanced approach to topics--such as ethics, selection of officers, understanding the individual officer, leadership, interviewing witnesses and suspects, community policing, responding to critical incidents, and dealing with the psychologically disturbed--and is reflected in many of the examples used to clarify theoretical points.

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From the Back Cover:

This book examines how today's officers can be guided by principles of professional conduct in eleven areas of law enforcement practice.

The author brings over twenty-five years of experience in law enforcement and psychology to the task of defining professionalism and focuses on areas where professional behavior is of the utmost importance. These areas include instilling ethical values, developing professional attitudes and behavior, evaluating models of policing, understanding individual officers, selecting the right candidates, strengthening leadership, interviewing witnesses and suspects in effective ways, assessing the validity of investigative techniques, responding effectively to crime victims, and reacting to mentally ill people in enlightened ways.

After examining why mistakes are made in these areas, the author offers concrete suggestions for correcting and/or avoiding these errors. Personal reflection questions throughout the text give. readers the opportunity to internalize the material and develop an appreciation for the complexity of the issues.

This is an honest, straightforward book balanced between theory, research, and practical applications.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

A heightened interest in law enforcement exists today primarily for unfortunate reasons. Misconduct and serious mistakes at the federal, state, and municipal levels of law enforcement have generated a level of interest by the public and the courts that has not been seen since the civil rights and Vietnam War eras, when law enforcement was caught between conflicting values and pressures and did not always react in professional ways.

The current scrutiny stems from officer misconduct in the streets, during investigations, and in court, often involving high-profile cases that saturate the media on a daily basis. This scrutiny results in criticism that sometimes is well deserved, but at other times it is not, especially when people who have agendas antithetical to effective law enforcement create it. Whether or not this criticism is well founded, it highlights the concept that the law enforcement community and its officers must make some significant changes if they are to regain and retain the respect of the public and the courts.

The theme of this book revolves around this question: How can law enforcement officers increase their level of professionalism in order to work in maximally ethical and effective ways? This growth is necessary because it is the right thing to do, will better serve society, and will increase respect for law enforcement, which is a requirement for better public cooperation. In this context, "law enforcement" includes federal, state, and municipal agencies, and "officer" denotes all sworn personnel; from city police, county sheriffs, state police, and federal agents of all ranks, from entry level to senior executives.

The concept I have striven to make the hallmark of this book is balance. I believe it is important to strike a balance between:

  • Theory, research, and practice with each informing the other
  • What is ideal (nice) in law enforcement and what is real (necessary)
  • Positive and critical attitudes toward law enforcement, the latter being necessary if law enforcement is to advance to more professional levels
  • A focus on the organizational dynamics of law enforcement and the dynamics of its individual officers
  • The principles of law enforcement and those of psychology, with each informing the other
  • A professional and a personal understanding of the issues that form the basis of ethical and professional law enforcement

The content and tenor of this book stem from my over 25 years of experience in law enforcement and psychology, which is reflected in many of the examples used to clarify theoretical points.

The book is aimed at a diverse audience: students simply interested in the law and/or law enforcement or majoring in some aspect of law enforcement, law enforcement recruits, academy instructors, field training officers, and other officers, supervisors, and administrators.

The topics addressed are summarized in the following chapter descriptions.

Chapter 1: Ethics in Law Enforcement. Ethics is the foundation of law enforcement; hence, it is the first chapter. What are "ethics"? Why are they important? What can go wrong? How can ethics become woven into the fabric of law enforcement instead of being relegated to codes and mission statements?

Chapter 2: Professionalism in Law Enforcement. Professionalism is the framework within which law enforcement must function. What professional standards can law enforcement measure itself against? What are the elements of a professional agency? What part do respect and professional education play? How important is a college education in law enforcement?

Chapter 3: Models of Enforcement. There are several methods of law enforcement. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the crime control, problem centered, and community oriented models?

Chapter 4: The Individual Officer. A great deal has been written about law enforcement collectively but very little about individual officers. On a personal basis, what separates effective from ineffective officers? What are the obstacles to becoming an effective officer? Why is the incidence of suicide so high among law enforcement officers? How can officers understand and respond to critical incidents in healthy ways?

Chapter 5: The Selection of Officers. The selection process used in choosing new officers lies at the heart of the strength, effectiveness, and health of an agency. Therefore, it is important to know the answer to questions such as these: What differentiates a valid selection process from an invalid one? What are the elements of a sound employment interview and background investigation? Why are there often difficulties in these areas? What should agencies and candidates know about psychological screening?

Chapter 6: Professional Leadership. Leaders are like ship captains: They can propel their agencies forward, throw them into reverse, or leave them dead in the water. What qualities distinguish effective from ineffective leaders? What do leaders need to know about groups and how they function? What should leaders do and refrain from doing? How can leaders build effective teams?

Chapter 7: Interviewing Witnesses. The prosecution of the vast majority of cases that go to trial rests largely on victim-witness and bystander-witness testimony. How accurate is this testimony, and what can be done to increase its accuracy? What are some traps in interviewing both children and adults? How can the methods and accuracy of suspect identification by witnesses be improved?

Chapter 8: Interviewing Suspects. There are two kinds of suspects: innocent and guilty, and it is critically important to be able to distinguish between the two. What goes into a proper preparation for a suspect interview? How can questioning a suspect make or destroy a case? What motivates people to make false confessions?

Chapter 9: Investigative Techniques. Detecting deception in witnesses and suspects is a critical part of a crime investigation. What are polygraph testing, voice stress analysis, and forensic hypnosis, and how accurate are they in detecting deception? What is criminal profiling, and how is it used? Who qualifies to be an expert witness?

Chapter 10: Responding to Violence and Death. One of the greatest challenges for officers is responding to calls in which violence has just occurred. How officers handle these calls can make a significant difference not only to the victims but also to the officers and their agencies. What distinguishes constructive from destructive responses in cases of child maltreatment, domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, and unexpected deaths?

Chapter 11: Understanding Psychological Disorders. Responding to "mentally disturbed person" calls has become routine for most agencies and presents unique challenges. What is the nature of psychological disturbance, for example, personality disorders, substance abuse, mood disorders, schizophrenia, dementia, and Tourette Disorder? What actions should officers take and avoid when encountering people with these and similar disorders?

These topics were chosen for three reasons. First, they represent a cross section of issues and activities officers frequently face and with which they must grapple. Second, they are topics not typically covered to any meaningful degree in college courses, training academies, or continuing education workshops. Third, they are issues in which many people not directly related to law enforcement are interested because these issues are often involved in high-profile cases and become the subject of media attention.

After reading the book, people will be better educated about what constitutes professional practice in law enforcement, as- well as the real challenges officers face in their efforts to protect and serve society.

Michael E. Cavanagh

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