Similarities and Differences in the Criminal Subculture
The Similarities and Differences in the Criminal Subculture and the police A police officers job is to protect and serve. An officer is to offer assistance to those in need and to enforce the laws established by the law makers. A police officer’s job is not the monotonous 8-5 job that most have..
… It is ever changing, 24-7. It is not a normal environment. Think about it, a police officer runs into a gun fight..
….. Normal folks run away from it!A criminal is the exact opposite of a police officer. They often do not have jobs and those that do are normally using their job to commit their crimes! They are interesting in protecting and serving themselves and those in their group but that’s where it stops.
A criminal is normally self-absorbed and is obviously not enforcing laws but rather breaking them. However, a criminal’s “job” is rarely monotonous and is certainly not normal. As for the gun fights that cops run to, the criminals are the ones having it in the first place!So you see, while the goals and objectives of a police officer and a criminal are polar opposite, they also have many similarities. They are both a subculture of the population as a whole. A subculture is a subdivision of a culture defined by occupation, ethnicity, class, or residence. A subculture forms a functioning group, unified by shared values, beliefs, and attitudes. The police subculture and the criminal subculture are both based on shared expectations about human behavior (Lyman, 1999).
It is interesting to research how these subcultures develop. The police subculture develops from a work environment.Officers see multiple problems and are placed in situations where they must grapple with he serious problems in life. These include the problems of injustice, pain, suffering, and death. This environment begins shaping an officer’s interpretation of events. What they would normally view as heart wrenching over the years becomes “just another day/’ (Lyman, 1999). Police officers have an incredible amount Of authority.
Police officers are a symbol Of authority that must often be assertive in establishing authority with citizenry. This can lead to conflict, hostility, and perhaps overreaction and police brutality.Officers are expected to remain detached, neutral, and unemotional even hen challenged and in situations of conflict. There is a high sense of morality in the law enforcement subculture. Morality helps police overcome dilemmas. These dilemmas include the dilemma of contradiction between the goal of preventing crime and the police’s inability to do so, the dilemma of using discretion to handle situations that do not always strictly follow established procedure and the dilemma officers’ face when they must invariably act against at least one person’s interest, including the possibility of injuring or killing someone.Morality is helpful in encouraging police to serve he public under difficult conditions, but may also lead to negative impact if police use morality to engage in categorizing people (Hickman, Vaquero, and Greene, 2004).
Police officers are also constantly faced with danger. Officers become what a normal person might see as paranoid because they are so attentive to signs of potential violence because they work in dangerous situations. The colonization process starts from the beginning and teaches recruits to be cautious and suspicious.Orientation toward watching and questioning can also contribute to tension and conflict in contacts with the public. Police officers are constantly on edge watching for unexpected dangers, on duty and off duty (Layman, 1999). Based on all of the factors and even though the public is generally supportive of the police, the police often perceive the public to be hostile. For this reason, officers tend to socialize primarily with other officers.
An officers contact with the public is frequently during moments of conflict, crisis, and emotion.Because police officers are identified by their jobs, members of the public frequently treat them as police, even when off-duty. This increases the need for bonding and socializing between officers, officers’ families, and families of other officers. Officers are often unable to step back from jobs and separate their professional and personal lives (Hickman et al, 2004). Because this separation is so difficult, officers often manifest a perceived sense of factorization. This is where someone feels like a victim, whether real or imagined, is also the first step on the Continuum of Compromise.As a sense of perceived factorization intensifies, officers become more distrusting and resentful of anyone who controls their job role (Lyman, 1999).
Sometimes the perceived sense of customization leads to the second step on the slippery slope which is Acts of Omission. This occurs when officers rationalize and justify not doing things they are responsible for doing. Acts of Omission can include selective non- productivity, such as ignoring traffic violations or certain criminal violations.It can also include “Not seeing’ or avoiding on-sight activity, superficial investigations, omitting paperwork, lack of follow up, doing enough to just “get by”‘ and other activities which officers can easily omit (Lyman, 1999). Once officers routinely omit job responsibilities, the journey to the next Step is not difficult one to make, Acts of Commission. At this stage, instead of just omitting duties and responsibilities, officers commit administrative violations. Breaking small rules is no big deal.
Unsuspecting officers can unwittingly travel to the next and final stage of the continuum, Act of Commission- Criminal. A gun not turned into evidence and kept by the officer can become “It’s just a doper’s. What’s the big deal? ” The initially honest, dedicated, above reproach officer is now asking, “Where did it all go wrong? ‘ “How did this happen” as they face realities of personal and professional devastation and rimming prosecution. Officers who reach the final stage did not wake up one day and take a quantum leap from being honest hard working officers to criminal defendants (Lyman, 1999).According to Lawrence (201 0), “The code of silence prevails among many police officers. Policemen often face a difficult decision every day on their beat: loyalty to their community versus loyalty to their fellow officers. ” Because of this code of silence, some officers may choose loyalty to their fellow officers rather than protecting and serving the community.
Lawrence (2010) suggests that this can be attributed to the allowing: First of all, police officers are an identifiable group with uniforms, badges and guns. Secondly, this group shares a common way of life.They share similar dangers, setbacks, and rewards that outsiders rarely see outside of the movies. Thirdly, these dangers foster an “us against them” mentality not just against criminals but politicians, bureaucrats and concerned citizens who are perceived as impediments to enforcing the law. Police officers have a hard job. They truly are servants who see things most could never even fathom. It is a subculture filled with adrenaline rushes where failure is not an option.
It is one where the officer must out smart and out fight the bad guy.To do otherwise could and has often lead to the demise of the officer or to those he is trying to protect. It is no wonder they develop a subculture and while this subculture is not necessarily wrong and may even be healthy, It can also spiral across the line and become a different kind of subculture. There are multiple theories on the criminal/delinquent subculture. One that has similarities with the police subculture is Walter Millers theory. Miller explained crime in terms of a distinctive lower-class subculture.He believed hat Americans in the lower-class social bracket had developed a subculture which had its own values and traditions separate from those in a higher social bracket.
These values and way of life were passed on from generation to generation. The values inherent in the lower-class culture actively encouraged lower-class men to commit crime. This subculture had a range of interests and characteristics, sometimes referred to as focal concerns, of its own which included an appreciation of toughness, smartness and excitement (Jacobs, 1994).Miller explained toughness as an expression of masculinity, rejecting immunity and weakness. The toughness manifestation can lead to violence in order to maintain a reputation for toughness. Toughness can be seen in the police subculture as well (Jacobs, 1994). Another focal concern that Miller explained was smartness.
Smartness is the quality that emphasizes the ability to outsmart or ‘con’ another person (Jacobs, 1994). As previously discussed, officers must outsmart the criminal, even if they must use trickery, which is allowed by the courts.Police officers are not normally lab’. Years but they must have the smartness of not only a lawyer, but also a social worker, actor, judge, psychologist, etc. Another focal concern that Miller explained was excitement. In this focal concern, the person is searching for emotional stimulus and excitement. Excitement is found in gambling, sexual adventures and alcohol.
All these activities can be obtained during a night out on the town (Jacobs, 1994). The desire to be tough and smart and to seek excitement, carries risk. The result can be physical harm and disruption to one’s life.Miller explained that with specific regard to adolescents in lower- class subculture, such activities and focal concerns are particularly exaggerated because the generally belong to a peer group which demands conformity to group norms. In addition, adolescents are especially concerned about status which is achieved via peer group norms. In other words, status here will derive from being tough and smart in the eyes of peers (Jacobs, 1994). Miller believed that delinquency was essentially about the acting out of the focal concerns Of lower-class subculture (toughness, smartness etc.
Its roots lay in the colonization into a subculture with a distinctive tradition, many centuries old with an integrity of its own. Such a subculture has a life of TTS own. The reason for its existence is due to a need for a pool of low-skilled laborers. These kinds of workers had to be able to tolerate routine, repetitive work as well as periods of unemployment. Lower-class subculture, with its emphasis on excitement and risk-taking activities, allowed these workers to endure the monotony of their work. The activities of the delinquent subculture relieved them from the boredom of their working lives (Jacobs, 1994).While Miller focused on a social approach to explaining delinquent subcultures, Gresham Sykes and David Matzo wanted to build upon Arthur Sutherland Differential Association theory which stated that an individual learns criminal behavior through “(a) techniques of committing crimes and (b) motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes” which go against law-abiding actions Jacob, 1994).
Naturalization is a technique which allows the person to rationalize or justify a criminal act. Sykes and Matzo defined five techniques of naturalization.They are denial of responsibility, denial of injury, denial of victim, condemnation of the condemners, and the appeal to higher loyalties (Jacobs, 1994). Denial of responsibility is a technique used hen the deviant act was caused by an outside force. This technique goes beyond looking at the criminal act as an accident. The individual feels that they are drawn into the situation, ultimately becoming helpless. These juveniles feel that their abusive families, bad neighborhoods and delinquent peers predispose them to criminal acts (Jacobs, 1994).
Denial of injury occurs when the criminal act causes no harm to the victim. Criminal acts are deemed deviant in terms of whether or not someone got hurt. Using this technique, the delinquent views stealing as merely borrowing. The use of this quench is reaffirmed in the minds of these juveniles when society does not look at certain acts, such as skipping school or performing practical jokes, as criminal, but merely accepts them as harmless acts (lacily, 1994). Denial of victim is used when the crime is viewed as a punishment or revenge towards a deserving person.This technique may be used by those who attack homosexuals or minority groups. “They deserve it.
” Jacob, 1994) The technique called the condemnation of the condemners places a negative image on those who are opposed to the criminal behavior. The juvenile ends p displacing his deviant behavior on those they are victimizing and also viewing the condemners as hypocrites, such as corrupt police and judges (Jacobs, 1994). The appeal to higher loyalties technique is used when the person feels they must break the laws of the overall community to benefit their small group or family.This technique comes into play when a juvenile gets into trouble because vitrifying to help or protecting a friend or family member (Jacobs, 1994). So how does the police subculture and the criminal subculture because one in the same? Are there focal concerns truly similar as Miller suggested? Or are there similarities emerge due to the five techniques of naturalization? While both arguments are compelling, a recent article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette summarized this potential similarity in the two groups very well so I will end with this article.YOU’RE SPECIAL. You’re special because you have a badge.
You can ticket mayors. You can stop a governor on the highway. Haven’t you seen the movies? Cops are special. You’re special because you can give an athlete a break. A hell of a break. You’re special because you can even chew him out while you’re doing it. You’ve got a career ahead of you What I should do is bend you over here and whap your butt.
” You’re special because you can tell a prominent athlete you should whap his butt.You’re special because you can tell a kid you’re taking his gun and letting his coach decide what to do with it. Not a judge and jury. You’re special enough that you don’t need a judge and jury. You are judge and jury. It’s confirmed. You’re special.
Then the whole matter becomes public. Then you’re no longer so special. You’re not even on the force any longer. What happened? When did you stop being special? Answer: not soon enough. Because if you hadn’t been allowed to think you were special, you would have stuck to the rules and regulations and still have that badge.Those of us who let you develop that illusion did you no favors. There are a couple of lessons here-?at least.
Certainly for Arkansas State University athletes, or any athletes at any college. Certainly for the Arkansas State Police, or any lawmen at any agency. Here’s hoping other athletes and other law officers have learned by these sad examples in last week’s news. And that the rest Of us have learned something, too-?about humility and equal treatment under the law and not to assume we’re so special, either.