police working personality | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Policing

Police working personality refers to the pattern of behavior and attitudes that police officers develop due to their occupational experiences and socialization.

The police working personality is a concept that has been used to describe the attitudes, values, and behaviors of police officers. The term was first introduced by Jerome Skolnick in his 1966 book “Justice Without Trial,” which describes the unique culture of law enforcement that can lead to a distinctive personality type.

One of the defining characteristics of the police working personality is a strong sense of cynicism and suspicion towards the public. This is often a result of the occupational experiences that police officers have, where they are exposed to the darker side of human behavior daily. This can lead to a general mistrust of the public and a tendency to view all individuals as potential threats.

Another characteristic of the police working personality is a strong sense of loyalty to fellow officers. This loyalty can sometimes lead to a code of silence, where officers are reluctant to report misconduct by their colleagues. This can create a culture of secrecy and protectiveness that can undermine accountability and transparency.

The police working personality can also be characterized by a need for control and order. Police officers are trained to maintain control over situations and to use force when necessary. This can create a mindset where control is prioritized over community engagement and de-escalation.

The police working personality can also be influenced by broader social and political factors. For example, police officers may feel that they are being unfairly criticized or targeted by certain groups, such as the media or activist organizations. This can create a sense of resentment and defensiveness that can further reinforce negative attitudes and behaviors.

While the police working personality can have negative consequences, it can also serve as a source of resilience and support for police officers. The strong sense of camaraderie and loyalty that exists within law enforcement organizations can be a powerful motivator and can help officers cope with the stresses and dangers of their job.

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Last Modified: 03/13/2023


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