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  • Shadow82
    replied
    Id like to thank all who replied and helped me out with my questions. I found it very interesting to see the night and day differences between what actual experience birngs to answering my questions compared to what my text book actually trys to explain. BTW I checked out about the author...I dont see anything about police experience...Dont ya think a book titled "Law Enforcement" should be written by someone with experience?

    Leave a comment:


  • Sparky
    replied
    While I disagree somwhat with the term "role conflict", the phrase is used to refer to conflict in role expectations or divergence (twenty dollar word for the day) in what we see our role as and what it actually ends up being.

    The key is not what our role really is or isn't, but rather what we and others believe our roles are.

    What I think of most in terms of "role conflict" are, say, when you're working a rape case. You're job is to find the perp and put him away. But you always find yourself dealing with the victim's emotions. Being sensitive to them and their needs.

    I'm not sure I really consider this a conflict as I consider this part of the job. You need to interview them and work closely with them and part of that will include not telling them, to "shut up" about how they feel. That would be extremely unprofessional. They certainly wouldn't feel comfortable describing the details of the assault to you if you act like an uncaring [email protected], y'know?

    And this is why I am more comfortable with the term "role expectation conflict". I've seen many officers, myslef included, who inwardly felt a little frustrated that we end up in those situations without better preparation for them. I've heard officers say things like, "Man, that isn't my job.", or, "I'm not supposed to have to do that.", or, "That's not my job to do so I am not doing it."

    When we view our own job (our own role expectations) as investigating and prosecuting criminals and do not view our roles as including a little hand holding, then this can help to creat additional stress for us. We resist the responsibility and when forced to accept it, we are still reluctant which causes more frustration about it.

    OTOH, when victims naturally turn to us because we are symbols of strength only to hear that we don't want to hear about anything but "facts" of the case, then they can become frustrated.

    Being the police, our job is to respond to, prevent, and prosecute crime. Nowhere in our job description is it mentioned that you will counsel with the needy.

    As another example, I'll offer this. We've all had to do death notifications, but how many of us had any training in how to do it? How many of us were told, "You're going to have to do this. This is the way you do it."

    If we received a call of "somebody is depresed, go talk to them" you'd say, "are you nuts, that's not my job" But when you are on a case or a call sometimes, you end up doing just that only it's in the context of soething else.

    We are there to gather facts and evidence, but we end up dealing with emotions, and people naturally turn to us for other advice relating to the offense. This is, from my understanding, what is refered to by "role conflict".

    I've usually heard it only in the context of talking about officer stress. You'll hear officers talk about how frustrated they are that people look to them to solve or help with certian problems which are not their responsiblity or job.

    Leave a comment:


  • SGT Dave
    replied
    Still, shadows, this board of working cops has said it...there is NO "role conflict." Any and every cop I've worked with, who was worth their salt, who wasn't washed out after a few months, or left LE after a year or two when realizing it wasn’t for them, has no difficulty in figuring that one out. There are times when we must use some serious “people skills” but a modern professional officer can revert between these personas easily, and doesn’t have the opinion he/she is a social worker, or SHOULD be a social worker.

    As several said, we have never even heard of the term or the issue-evidence someone who wrote the textbook or curriculum is trying to over think the issue-a common trait of the non-participant. This is not a slam on you-I encourage you to continue your study and make the best grade possible, as more and more agencies look for “education” (which of course, to them, has been oversimplified to simply mean “college”.) But afterwards, BE A PARTICIPANT! Of course, it sounds as if that’s your plan. I also applaud you for asking and verifying for yourself the things they are filling their textbooks with-with that mentality, you will go far, in education and law enforcement, as well as life. I personally loathe anyone who BLINDLY follows four years of curriculum and then assumes they “know” more than anyone who doesn’t have the degree. In other words, don’t get into LE and take up anyone’s time telling them that the poor little inner city kid is more prone to crime and violence because of the angst he feels from growing up in poverty and without a positive male role model…blahblahblah. We all know that…but we are problem solvers, not academics. The knowledge is fine, but IRRELEVANT on the street. Many choose to try to mix the two…maybe that’s where the “social worker” image still tries to manifest itself! Most of the guys and gals I know admit that the degree is useless on the street. DON’T share this with the professor-he’ll just say I’m an uneducated “hick” and don’t know what I’m talking about!

    I have seen some officers that wanted to delve way too far into the personal lives of customers and go out of their way to try to be the "social worker" but most don't last in the real world of modern LE. They usually leave for various “personal reasons.”

    Bear in mind here that the "social worker" image and stereotype originated many years ago when there was no such thing as mandatory arrest or a “pro arrest policy” for domestic violence. Being the “social worker” THEN was just good police work, and officer survival, since the female victims almost never pressed charges, so the cycle repeated itself often, with no end in sight, so officers tried their hat at being shathouse social workers, in attempt to try to limit their exposure times on repeat calls.

    Now, I find that walking in, arresting everyone who took an offensive part does a TREMENDOUS job at reducing repeat calls. It was like night and day in 1994 when my agency, acting on advice from the State Attorney General, and following the lead of other agencies in the area, went to a mandatory arrest policy on DV, regardless of whether or not the victim cooperated or pressed charges. At homes where we had seen calls every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, we walked in and took Bubba to jail (here it is a mandatory 48 hours at “no bond” and then bond is set AFTER 48 hours.) Bubba goes to jail on Friday night and sits there until about lunch Monday, misses half a day at work, has a court date with the OFFICER pressing charges for Assault on a Female, and all of the sudden, it dawns on him, “You know, I better not do this again…” I’m not saying it stopped them cold-I’d be a liar. I did however personally see repeat calls at the same homes drop to nil, and the severity of assaults drop, after word got out.

    I know DV still happens, but modern day laws help us act in the role we’re REALLY trained for and paid to be, AND reduce exposure time for me, my guys, and my fellow officers. Some people actually argue with them, saying they’re “too harsh” or that now the women are afraid to report it, knowing he’ll go to jail-OH FREAKING WELL! I can take it longer than they can.

    So to summarize, yes to people skills at times (patience, sympathy, empathy, calm dialogue, sincere desire to help WITHIN THE PARAMENTERS OF LAW ENFORCMENT AND ACCEPTED POLICE PROCEDURES) and NO to the notion that any modern (even “educated&#8221 working patrol officer or supervisor has any “difficulty” in “role conflict.”

    Leave a comment:


  • Shadow82
    replied
    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 ]

    Leave a comment:


  • Darth Tang
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • ateamer
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • txinvestigator1
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Shadow82
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • txinvestigator1
    replied
    uuuhhmm,

    Did anyone ever figure out what role conflict is?

    Leave a comment:


  • Shadow82
    replied
    Thanks a ton for the responses! I am thinkin with all your help this should be an A paper =)

    Leave a comment:


  • Sparky
    replied
    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!

    Leave a comment:


  • Pigskin
    replied
    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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  • Johninaustin
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Shadow82
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • ateamer
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:

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