The municipal police : their place in American society
Kinser, Sandra Senne
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This paper is a study of the place of the municipal police in American society. The specific question to which it is addressed is, to what extent and in what ways are the police integrated into the larger society? This question is pursued in the context of five criteria developed from the general theory of Talcott Parsons. The criteria are as follows: (l) that the values which are institutionalized in the police reflect the major value orientation of the society as a whole, namely, universalism and achievement; (2) that the reward system of the society be integrated with the occupational roles of the police; (3) that the occupational structure of police work be open; (4) that the police function as a subordinate part of a larger system; and (5) that there is an indication of mutual identification between the police and the larger society resulting in loyalty between the two. The sources used for the study are published and unpublished literature and the author's own research which she conducted with three Illinois police departments. The focus of these sources is primarily upon the way the municipal police are organized, their procedures of work, the milieu within which they function, the kinds of communication between them and their various publics such as citizens, legislatures, and the media, and the opinions which they express about their work and their publics. The author's research includes two phases: (l) participant-observation of police officers on their work assignments and in police stations, and (2) the administration of an interview schedule to officers on an individual basis. The conclusion of the study is that the police are poorly integrated with the remainder of the society. Several recommendations are offered in the last chapter which the author believes would promote a more integrated social system.