Ex­pe­ri­ence will al­ways guide po­lice cul­ture

Toronto Star - - NEWS -

Re How ‘in­for­mal,’ veiled cul­ture af­fects polic­ing, Opin­ion, May 25

(For­mer Toronto po­lice board chair­per­son) Alok Mukher­jee writes about bias and an in­for­mal cul­ture shap­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer’s “work­ing per­son­al­ity.”

Po­lice cul­ture will not be changed by aca­demics or by poli­cies cre­ated through trans­for­ma­tional ob­jec­tives. Po­lice cul­ture de­vel­ops from the ex­pe­ri­ences of­fi­cers ac­quire in the per­for­mance of their du­ties.

Of­fi­cers who serve in a high-crime area and ex­pe­ri­ence more con­tacts with ad­ver­sar­ial in­di­vid­u­als and an­swer calls where there are higher in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence more than likely will re­fer to the in­sti­ga­tors as a--holes, while those who work in ar­eas where the crimes are pri­mar­ily non-vi­o­lent re­flect a some­what dif­fer­ent cul­ture.

Be­ing ap­pre­hen­sive and sus­pi­cious are nor­mal qual­i­ties for po­lice, since many peo­ple give their own ver­sion of events, and also be­cause the of­fi­cer has to de­ter­mine whether there is an el­e­ment of dan­ger to them­selves.

Mukher­jee’s com­ment about whether for­mal in­ter­ven­tions alone — laws, rules, poli­cies, train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion — can get at the in­vis­i­ble phe­nom­e­non is purely aca­demic. The real train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion is ob­tained by the of­fi­cers in the field and by their ex­pe­ri­ences.

Per­haps, as a so­ci­ety, we should be more con­cerned about the cul­ture of those who are the in­sti­ga­tors of prob­lems, whether they be anti-so­cial or crim­i­nal, rather than po­lice cul­ture. Nor­man Gard­ner, for­mer chair­per­son, Toronto po­lice board

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