Term Paper: Professions the Current State of Police Professionalism

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Professions

The current state of police professionalism when compared to past police professionalism, is likely to be the same or higher especially if such a comparison is also compared to the general decline of professionalism in all business. In regards to police professionalism, however, it is interesting to note that the formerly the starting point for police 'professionalism' was much lower than almost every other profession.

According to Dick Winterton, chief executive of Skills for Justice, "the Police Service was the only profession that did not use the education system to prepare people before they join." (Training 2004) the question then could be asked if becoming a police officer means that an individual is pursuing a 'profession' then would it not make sense that the individual would then be called a professional? Additionally, if the person were to be called a professional, would the training and/or education have to be substantial enough to earn the title?

Winterton believes that the education aspect to becoming a police professional is still sorely lacking. "He compared the situation to other professions, such as engineering and healthcare, where practitioners do not simply turn up at the local works or hospital and expect training." (Training 2007)

Questions such as those asked above clearly hinge on the definition of professional. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a professional as "senses relating to or derived from (the conduct of) a profession or occupation." (Oxford 2007)

Oxford English Dictionary further describes a profession as, "an occupation in which a professed knowledge of some subject, field, or science is applied; a vocation or career, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification." (Oxford 2007) clarification by the Oxford English Dictionary of the early use of the word shows that it specifically applied to "the professions of law, the Church, and medicine, and sometimes extended also to the military profession."

If one was to subscribe to the strictest interpretation of prolonged training and formal qualification then one could assert that police officers are not true professionals at all, especially early in their respective careers when the only training they may have received comes from the police training academies where an average class graduates in less than six months. Formerly a comparison of this length of training to the formal education that engineers, attorneys, doctors or healthcare professionals received would conclude a drastic difference. That discrepancy was addressed beginning in the late 1960's when a Presidential Commission recognized the need for college-trained police officers. "The Commission was the major impetus behind a Government commitment to spend millions of dollars on such education." (Hoover 1996-page 19) More money available for education led to a general increased interest in serving as police officers, which led to more available education, and on.

"The resulting professionalization of the police force may be one of the major reasons that more jurisdictions paid police officers considerably higher salaries in 1970 than they received in earlier years." (Hoover 1996-page 20)

There is one profession, or vocation, comparative to being a police officer and that is being a firefighter. "Despite differences in specific tasks, police and fire services are functions of public safety." (Hoover 1996-page 14) Since both vocations are considered essential to the general order of society, it could be said that neither is a profession, but that both are public services and the individuals who choose that route in life are not true 'professionals' according to the original meaning of the word, but are professional enough to respond to crisis and trouble with… [END OF PREVIEW]

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