Police Personality Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1171 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice - Police: Police personality position paper

An Examination of the Concept of "Police Personality" in General and "Unique Traits" Versus "Socialization and Experience" in Particular

Just as with any profession, the men and women who join the ranks of the "Thin Blue Line" generally have very specific reasons for doing so; while these personal reasons are as varied as the individuals themselves, there are a sufficient number of commonalities among those who pursue a career in law enforcement to help draw some broad generalizations about the profession. To this end, this paper provides a review of the relevant literature to develop a concept of "police personality" in general, as well as a distinction between those unique traits that may be part of the aptitude for this career field and an examination of how socialization and experience on the job affects these traits. A summary of the research and salient findings will be provided in the conclusion.

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Because resources are by definition scarce, the ability to identify those individuals who will be most likely to succeed in a field of endeavor based on specific personality traits and natural aptitude has assumed new importance in the field of human resources in recent years (Zeidner & Johnson, 1991). Indeed, these considerations assume even more importance when there are taxpayer funds involved, as in the case of costly police academies that are designed to train the next generation of law enforcement (Laurence, Ramsberger, & Sellman, 1991). Further compounding the problem for researchers is the fact that certain career fields in America have traditionally been viewed as "dream jobs" by young people, and many children in the United States grow up thinking they want to be a firefighter, police officer or astronaut because of the perceived glamour and excitement associated with these professions. Unfortunately, the reality of police work in particular makes a career decision based on such well-intended but misguided ambitions a dangerous enterprise. A discussion of which personal attributes and traits successful police officers typically bring to the profession, and how these are cultivated once on the job, is provided below.

General Concepts of Police Personality. According to Pervin (1990), a long-standing concept in personality theory concerns the manner in which traits are patterned within individual personality; in other words, how the elements or traits that comprise the basic building blocks of personality are organized into higher-order types or dimensions. An individual's aptitude for law enforcement, then, would relate those traits that contributed to a desire to pursue a career in a potentially dangerous but socially significant profession. While researchers have identified certain gender, cultural and racial differences in the reasons people have cited for wanting to become police officers (Farr, Schuler & Smith, 1993), there are some general traits involved such as the desire to help others, particularly the disadvantaged (Lott, 2000); a basic need to see good triumph over evil (Kurke & Scrivner, 1995), and, increasingly, a desire to help protect the nation following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001

Nature vs. Nurture: Socialization and on-the-Job Experiences. An individual's skill at being a police officer is a direct function of both aptitude and training (Kurke & Scrivner, 1995); however, the manner in which police officers are traditionally socialized involves a wide range of factors, but primarily relates to a well-recognized hierarchy in which tenure and experience take priority over all other considerations. For example, in her book, Women and Men Police Officers: Status, Gender, and Personality, Gwendolyn… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/police-personality/205057.