When analyzing and studying the criminal justice system, much attention has always been directed toward the federal court system as well as the Supreme Court; however, over the last few decades, more and more attention has been drawn toward the smaller criminal justice institutions, such as police officers. Political controversies arising from incidents such as those played out in Ferguson and Baltimore have resulted in the magnification in attention toward societies law enforcement officials, putting such institutions under the public scope. In a time littered with widespread mistrust between police officers and the communities the have sworn to protect, it is critical to understand the policeman’s personality in order to come to a better understanding of those officers society relies upon. This paper will analyze William Muir’s “Police: Street-corner Politicians” as well as evaluate Muir’s theoretical validity in opposition to the work of other scholars such as Jerome Skolnick and Ellen Hochstedler.
William Muir, in “Police: Street-corner Politicians” attempts to classify different typologies of police officers, beginning first with the two dimensions, Perspective and Passion, deriving, “from Weber’s (1946) work that offers a model of a mature professional-political man. Muir first argues that these dimensions are applicable generally to human beings in a variety of settings, then tailors his discussion of the dimensions to show that they apply to police work,” (Hochstedler, 303). Muir then goes on to recognize four viable types of police officers: the Professional, the Enforcer, the Reciprocator, and the Avoider. It is important to note that Muir’s methodology involved intervie...
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...thetic understanding of human motivation and suffering. This officer, then, is both uncomfortable with the tool of his trade (coercion) and unappreciative of the citizenry he serves,” (Hochstedler, 306). This leads to an apprehensive officer confused by his duties as an officer. Muir notes that this leads the Avoider to do exactly what his name means, and avoid his responsibilities. He explains that the attitude and personality of the officer often varies from rude to nervous and bumbling. Finally wrapping up his discussion of the Avoider, Muir iterates that, “Lacking the skills, the motives, the courage of public life, he pulls back within himself, avoiding power, hating much of his work, despising the diversity and challenges of the world, fleeing from the confusions to which much of his work exposed him, and suppressing the memory of obligations unmet,” (Muir, 35)
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