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  • Role Conflict

    Hi there, I am new to posting on this board although I have been following it for some time. I would just like to introduce myself before asking my questions. My name is Alex, I am a sophomore criminal justice major in NJ. I hope to become involved in law enforcement in the future although I am not sure about what area. Well now that thats out of the way I have a few questions. I am taking a Law enforcement class and was asked to interview a sworn LEO. I figured this would be the best place because I would get opinions from all over the world. Well I hope this wont be asking to much and I will greatly appreciate any responses i get. The topic is Role Conflict and here are the questions:

    1) Do you face the problems of role conflict in everyday work? If so how?

    2)How do you think the media and entertainment industry influences what people think "real police work" is all about?

    3)Would you think police are expected to follow the role of "crime fighter", or the so called "social worker with a gun"?

    4) Which of these roles do you think you most resemble yourself?

    5) Do you have any other opinions on role conflict?

    Once again I am extremely grateful to anyone who can help me by answering these questions. If its not too much to ask If you can also leave where you are an officer that would be great. I would like to compare answers from all different areas. Thanks again!! I appreciate it!

    [ 03-05-2002: Message edited by: Shadow82 ]

  • #2
    The only conflict I have with roles at work is the decision to have a Hard-Roll or a Sweet Roll.
    "If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead & rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing."-Ben Franklin

    "Once a Marine, Always a Marine!"

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    • #3
      I guess they gotta find some way to fill all those college hours.
      "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final"--Bill Jordan

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      • #4
        Yes, the media has a lot of influence over the sheeple. This is the first time I ever heard the term "role conflict". I just do my job. My opinion on it is that I don't care what people think my job is because they aren't the ones doing it.

        By the way, you'll find out that cops are a cynical bunch - of course, I define cynicism as hard realism.
        Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

        I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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        • #5
          Thanks for the responses..From what I understand so far the general concensus is that role conflict is not so much a problem from the responses given so far. Just wondering if anyone has experienced role conflict in the way I described it

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          • #6
            Role conflict? Never heard of it. Of course, that does not mean I don't have heartburn with the media. Currently there is only one TV person allowed anywhere near me, for the simple reason she's the only one locally that has not misquoted me or made up facts for her newscast. Hint: spotlights do wonders for those "Long distance shot because they won't let me near the crime scene" videos. As for the job description, "Social worker with a gun" pretty much covers it.
            Remembering the drain plug really improves the boats performance and reduces panic among your passengers.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Shadow82:

              1) Do you face the problems of role conflict in everyday work? If so how?

              "Role conflict" is a new one on me but, yes, we see role conflict everyday. People watch a cop show on TV & they expect real police to be the same way. Especially now that there are so many "reality" shows, people really expect you to do as they saw on TV, even though the laws or circumstances might be different. People expect you to punch up on a computer a complete description based on a fingerprint or hair strand & they expect this done within the hour. It just doesn't happen that way.

              2)How do you think the media and entertainment industry influences what people think "real police work" is all about?

              With the media it's usually bad news is news so people become used to hearing about bad cops & assume all are. With TV & movies things are so dramatic & blockbuster special effects that people expect the same from cops. Just because some cop on TV jumps through a plate glass window to shoot a hostage taker doesn't mean I'm going to do it.

              3)Would you think police are expected to follow the role of "crime fighter", or the so called "social worker with a gun"?

              Right now the social flavor seems to be on crime fighter. A decade or so ago & it was social worker.

              4) Which of these roles do you think you most resemble yourself?

              I think that most cops consider themselves a crime fighter rather than social worker.

              5) Do you have any other opinions on role conflict?

              Officers will be challenged by the public to "do like on TV" & extract that fingerprint that will identify the suspect or send the evidence to the lab for processing or catch, prosecute, & incarcerate the suspect within the hour. We have to maintain our professionalism & not scoff at their misbelief & simply explain what the real procedure & time frame will be.

              [ 03-05-2002: Message edited by: Shadow82 ]

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              • #8
                I think the difficulty here is in the term "role conflict". What exactly is a "role conflict"?

                What it seems that you are getting at is a conflict in role EXPECTATIONS e.g. when someone expects the police to be able discipline their kids for them, or to make their neighbor's cat quit doing it's business in their yard.

                1) Do you face the problems of role conflict in everyday work? If so how?

                I'd say that most of deal with this every day in one form or another. People find themselves in all sorts of situations where they feel they have been wronged and the first solution they think of is to call the police.

                People buy a used car that turns out to not be in perfect condition and they call the police. Officers get there and tell them that there is nothing they can do since no crime has occurred and the people often get riled up about us "not doing our job" when actually they have no idea what our job really is.

                Or then there are the folks who blame us for not "protecting" them when the guy who beat them up gets out on bond.

                People expect us to "protect them", and this is part of our job in a general sense. However, some people have thier own definitions of exactly what "protecting them" means.

                I've even seen calls where someone wanted the police to tell "all the telemarketers" to leave them alone.

                2)How do you think the media and entertainment industry influences what people think "real police work" is all about?

                I don't think the news media in genral really has a clue about the true mission of local, state, or federal LE, not do they seem to be in any hurry to learn. The popular news media consistantly misrepresents things and bases stories on incorrect assumptions about our jobs.

                The entertainmnet industry, I don't think, has any responsibility to. It's entertainment. If it were too accurate, then it would be more like real life... and who would want to see movies and TV shows like that? Some of the more realistic crime dramas I don't even like to watch. Not that they are very accurate, but still. It makes me think of work. I have enough stress, thnkyouverymuch.

                And I don't care for the crime shows such as "New Detectives". My wife loves them, but a one hour show, even if it is based on fact, can leave folks who don't know better with an unreal expectation. Like mentioned above. Some folks expect us to do a hair and fiber search, and bounce lasers off the moon, to process thier house after someone kicks in their door and grabs their VCR.

                Of course these programs don't show you info about the thousands of crime scenes processed where you don't find any latent prints, or hairs, or DNA. They don't tell folks that trying to get DNA off of a cigaratte butt is about impossible. They only see the shows in which this happened. Then when you tell them that the butt at their crime scene didn't come back with anything, they thhink YOU are the idiot. After all, they saw it on TV, right?

                I don't blame TV really. It's the people who are wrong in considering themsleves an authority on anything from just watching the idiot box who are the problem.

                3)Would you think police are expected to follow the role of "crime fighter", or the so called "social worker with a gun"?

                This will depend on the agency, to some extent. Each area is different and each agency has it's own culture, traditions, and mission. Some agecnies are set up to encourage officers to do what they can to assist with what are technically non-law enforcement prblems. While others do not.

                Generally speaking, I think most people expect us to be both. They expect us to be whatever it is that they think we should be at any given time. Someone may say that they think we should be out "fighting crime", but then turn around and complain when they hear that some officer didn't help some lady change their tire or get some cat out of a tree.

                Additionally, while many people, especially in high crime areas, want us to get "tough on crime", they then complain about our tactics. As if they know how to do our job. They expect us to be able to do things, but they fail to recognize that our business is to deal with the "bad" people that they are scared of. They expect us to be able to miracle people into giving up, confessing, quit using drugs, whatever.

                They are scared to go out at night because of all of the shootings and drug dealing, but when we go in against these thugs to clean up and end up having to open up a can of whoop ***, the very same folks complain about us being brutal.

                Folsk then expect us to be "social workers" to some extent. We're expected to not only arrest them for dealing drugs, but then also deal with whatevr issues present themselves that caused people to do drugs to begin with.

                4) Which of these roles do you think you most resemble yourself?

                Depends on what I am doing at the time. Primarily, my job is to investigate and prosecute crime. That's what I get paid to do. The public does not pay me to act as your surrogate support system, or counselor, or legal assistant. But at the same time, the public does expect me to do my job in such a way that is helpful and considerate to the needs of the victims and surviving family that I work with.

                It's a balancing act. I can't spend all of my time and effort playing "social worker". It's not what I have been trained or equipped to do, nor is it what I am responsible for. I spend most of my time and effort doing my job, but when I try to do it in such a way as to be of the most benefit to those I work with. If that means just listening to someone on the phone for an hour while they let off steam about the upcoming trial, or their need to understand what happened, I'll try to do it. I then try to make sure that they seek whatever assistance they need from friends, family, or other professionals.

                5) Do you have any other opinions on role conflict?

                I used to work in retail, and I have had good success with useing a common customer service tactic when faced with situations where I fee there is a conflict in role expectations.

                If someone were, say, to complain to me about a civil matter, say a landlord who won't refund their deposit; I repeat back to them what my understanding of the problem is. I then ask them what they want done about it. I try to show concern for their problem. This means that I fake it.

                Then I explain to them that it is not a LE function, that I cannot do anything, and then provide them with the information that they need to address the problem.

                If they get upset, then there isn't much I can do about it. I've done all that I could and tried to explain to them why. Oftentimes, though, they understand and appreciate the help.

                I also try not to treat them like idiots. Sure, I may be thinking that they are an idiot, but it doens't help anything to treat them like they are.

                I'm grateful to some of the folks in my life who must have thought I was an idiot, but they were nice enough not to treat me like one.

                It's like rookies. Just looking at a rookie makes me tired. But we try to help the rookies because the poor saps don't know anything yet. We try to help them along and hope they turn out okay.

                Well, civilians are like rookies only they aren't even rookies. They don't even know THAT much.

                Hope this helps!
                -Sparky

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                • #9
                  Thanks a ton for the responses! I am thinkin with all your help this should be an A paper =)

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                  • #10
                    uuuhhmm,

                    Did anyone ever figure out what role conflict is?
                    "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final"--Bill Jordan

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                    • #11
                      Let me try to define it as discussed in my class. By role conflict I mean the conflict arrising within an officer when he or she must decide whether to act as a crime fighter, social worker, etc. From what I understand from these responses and leos I have talked to, role conflict is not so much a conflict but simply part of the job. From what I read and learned in class this "role conflict" can be very confusing and tough on an officer. I wouldnt know since I am still in college Hope that explains role conflict a little better.

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                      • #12
                        There is no decision as to act as a crime fighter, social worker.

                        The law is clear, and most departments have clear policies.

                        This sounds like more liberal CJ instructors trying to make LE more complex than it really is.
                        "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final"--Bill Jordan

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                        • #13
                          There's no conflict in deciding whether to be a crime fighter or social worker. There is no conflict because we do what we have to do and don't worry about defining a role.

                          Most college CJ instructors have very little experience working as a street cop. Two years back in the 70s doesn't count. Personally, I think that no college should hire CJ instructors with less than 15 years patrol experience.
                          Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                          I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            1) Do you face the problems of role conflict in everyday work? If so how?

                            I'm not sure what you mean by 'role conflict'. I'm a street cop; by definition, this means I referee the activities of morons.

                            2)How do you think the media and entertainment industry influences what people think "real police work" is all about?

                            Both protray police work as shooting a suspect every 10.5 weeks, interviewing people in strip clubs, meeting buxom, good-looking victims, and solving crimes in 45 minutes or less. Seldom seen are the negative-tooth-to-tattoo types I encounter and the weird crap people call the police about.

                            3)Would you think police are expected to follow the role of "crime fighter", or the so called "social worker with a gun"?

                            Mainly, our role falls more along the lines of 'babysitter', and 'referee'. Maybe 'moron herder', too. I can't say that in my twenty years I've 'fought' much crime, or done any real social work.

                            4) Which of these roles do you think you most resemble yourself?

                            Neither. I just keep the peace. That amounts to doing what needs to be done, whether it is arresting, BSing, lying to, conning, or manipulateing the unwashed cretins who make up 80% of my encounter base into behaving until the end of my shift.

                            5) Do you have any other opinions on role conflict?

                            Nope.
                            Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow; do not walk behind me, for I may not lead; do not walk beside me; in fact, get the hell away from me.

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                            • #15
                              Actually I blaim this on poor books rather than instructors. Even though its a community college our program is quite good. The instuctor for this particular course has many years of police work behind him including police chief for some 20 years. I think the purpose of this assignment was to compare "real life" opinions to the term role conflict to class work and discussion. I guess its a learning process

                              [ 03-11-2002: Message edited by: Shadow82 ]

                              [ 03-11-2002: Message edited by: Shadow82 ]

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