Understanding Police Recruits' Attitudes Toward Public Interactions: An Australian Example
Recent events, particularly in the United States, have highlighted strained police-citizen relations and the importance of citizens viewing police as legitimate and trustworthy. Perceptions of unreasonable police officer conduct, particularly related to demeanor and physical force, are often at the center of public complaints. The present study used survey data to explore the attitudes of 577 Australian police recruits regarding behaving disrespectfully toward, and using force against, citizens. Over all, recruits’ attitudes were positive, likely reflecting present screening processes. However, some variation was evident and predicted by selected police culture dimensions, including cynicism and police authority, as well as officer characteristics and background factors. Further, attitudes more supportive of disrespect and force were, in turn, predictive of the code of silence for such behavior, measured through hypothetical unwillingness to report colleagues’ behavior. The implications for understanding police attitudes are discussed, as well as attempts to reduce negative attitudes and behavior.
Criminology not elsewhere classified