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American Policing and the Danger Imperative

50 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2016  

Michael Sierra-Arévalo

Yale University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Department of Sociology, Students; Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Date Written: November 1, 2016

Abstract

Despite the fact that policing is growing safer in the United States, the danger associated with police work continues to structure departmental training and police behavior. This article describes how police are socialized into a cultural frame conceptualized as the danger imperative — the preoccupation with violence and the provision of officer safety — and the unintended, deadly consequences of their perception through it. Using nearly 1000 hours of participant observation and 94 interviews across three urban police departments, the author demonstrates that officers are formally and informally socialized into this frame, and learn both policy-sanctioned and policy-deviant behaviors to protect themselves from violence. However, policy-deviant behavior such as not wearing a seatbelt when driving, though justified as necessary to allow officers to defend themselves from violence, places officers at grave risk of injury and death in high-speed car crashes.

Keywords: police, social control, deviance, danger, ethnography

Suggested Citation

Sierra-Arévalo, Michael, American Policing and the Danger Imperative (November 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2864104 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2864104

Michael Sierra-Arévalo (Contact Author)

Yale University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Department of Sociology, Students ( email )

493 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.sierraarevalo.com

Institution for Social and Policy Studies ( email )

89 Trumbull Street
New Haven, CT 06515
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.sierraarevalo.com

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