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Lawson Reviewed work(s): Source: Crime and Social Justice, No. 8 (fall-winter 1977), pp. 64-67 Published by: Social Justice/Global Options Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29766021 . Accessed: 28/02/2013 23:53
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Paul E. Lawson


The aim of this essay is to continue a dialogue on police militancy that Gerda Ray began in her article and "Police Social (Crime Militancy" two 1977:40-48). Summer, Justice, Specifically, are some to I wish raise First attempted. objectives content the actual of Ray's issues concerning material. I want also to indicate some thoughts on is likely the direction police collective bargaining to this to take in the next decade or so. Pertinent is a personal second objective ambivalence: my in and of unionism for support strong belief American workers versus my negative gut reactions to some peculiar of collective aspects bargaining I among social control agents such as the police. assume many readers share this ambivalence and is necessary if we believe that a continued dialogue are to come to grips with this increasing collective bargaining phenomenon. ON RAY'S "POLICE MILITANCY'

are In large measure, today's police to collective action by the realiza? moved of the tion that the declining legitimacy state subjects them to the explicit hostility Police of large segments of the population.
work has become harder....

the one hand, by progressive attacked, of their the curtailment groups demanding coercive power and, on the other hand, by for law and elements reactionary calling order and increased police efficiency (p. 43). are to the fact that the police Ray alludes between the system (governmental caught squarely to official adherence expectations concerning moral codes, usually expressed through criminal of and the public statutes) (the conglomerate citizens who hold divergent and highly individual? the ized moral views). Being in the middle means individual officer is trapped between: collec? 1) and privately tively held, public moral expectations social held, situational ethics; 2) calls for absolute versus cries for increased personal responsibility freedom; and 3) opposing social groups with great in power, wealth and political variations ideologies, and all of these groups making conflicting demands on the officer. heat (antagon? From the officers' perspective, at them is directed and outrage) ism, humiliation officer is from all social The spectrums. patrol to be all things to all people. But he or expected she knows that the police cannot solve everyone's their dejec? problems or blues (their pensiveness, of spirit and their depression tion, their sadness instrinsically found within resulting from victimage our society). At best, officers hope for temporary resolutions knowing that no one is entirely happy with their policing efforts. Fall-Winter 1977 / 64





I generally agree with Ray's position on police are comments but a few additional militancy, to more fully understand the emerging necessary collective bargaining potential within police work. First, Ray is correct when she states:


Lawson for

has three Journal Socialist

University Humanistic International (upcoming

at Montana State taught sociology a article His "Toward years. for Prison" in appears Paradigm of Criminology and Penology



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The ability to manage only temporary solutions to community conflict constant with coupled criticism from the public causes to officers at look as a collective increasingly bargaining mechanism for possibly aiding them in acquiring more control over their occupational life. After all, the officer understands that union movements in the private sector have historically aided workers in achieving both higher standards of living and allowed workers to rid themselves of some forms of alienation and exploitation. occupational However, more about this perception and its possible later in this essay. implications Additionally, Ray correctly suggests that police are becoming generally administrators less antago? nistic toward unions and are at least police union officers within their begrudgingly accepting
own departments.

no longer oppose Police administrators unionism of the police as strenuously as they once did. The legality of that position has been eroded and police unions have not had the effect that their disruptive early .Police unions have opponents had feared... not increased the frequency of police strikes and there is some indication that, in the long run, unionized police forces will prove more tractable in labor negotiations than indepen? dent associations 46). (p. It seems to me that Ray is right in suggesting a have path that other union-employer relationships taken in the past, a path that has not always been in the interest of the average union member. After a period of ugly confrontation, often leading to the murder of union leaders and followers, the legiti? of the union is established. macy attempt fewer and fewer differences Eventually appear between companies and unions (at least officialdom or selling out within the unions). Call it cooptation we must realize that union by union officials: are forms of employer relationships generally it allows symbiosis. Each side survives only because the other side to survive. there will Increasingly develop within policing a parallel that can be found within private sector union movements. After awhile there is little difference between big business and big unionism, at least in the actions, values and behaviors of corporative and executives union leaders. A quick look at the political activi? ties of corporation tycoons, and such a bedfellow as in the is all that is 1972 elections, George Meany Not all labor leaders or labor members necessary. followed Nixon and his anti-labor politics, but many did because stood for status quo politics Nixon which were comfortable for many American union

another that I issue, one problem Concerning have with Ray's article centers on what I consider to be her use of politically inspired rhetorical Too often she uses phrases that lack language. and analytical scholarly precision. Examples include: "doing the dirty work of the ruling class" (p. 40), "local bourgeoisie" (p. 41), "most police an anti-working unions espouse class ideology of and "local and 46) police professionalism" (p. national who find it necessary to bourgeoisies maintain the police as an anti-working class force" I certainly agree with the gist of (p. 47). Although her statements, radical analysis of contemporary criminal justice issues does not have to be burdened with "nineteenth Marxist unnecessary century verbiage." Sloppy use of political rhetoric, either from the left or the right, is not to be tolerated if we are truly concerned with a better seeking of social phenomena. In this regard, understanding although Ray is correct to indicate that there is no monolithic police institution, her use of terms like

working class force," etc., monolithic possibilities




gives the impression of within these other



that the police have a Finally, Ray's contention "the local strong class loyalty to something called may in fact be an oversimplification bourgeoisie" of how officers perceive themselves. She states, "Most police have been recruited from the working of them have in the class, but the vast majority course of their work switched their class loyalty to the local bourgeoisie" A truer statement (p. 43). as being might be that the police see themselves had by both the rich and the poor. In this sense they share an allegiance to what we may cautiously call a frustrated middle income view of American society. This perspective certainly is anti-poor and

white Lower mount

to many frustrated "middle Americans." class and/or welfare status become tanta? to criminality because of the perceptions poor show the poor as having little or no social of no social responsibility responsibility. Possession is seen as a prerequisite for engaging in criminal behavior or at least a factor that fosters continued
social unrest.







the false perception that the poor are criminal or upper than middle inherently more income people with the fact that the poor are seen as an excessive tax burden and you have the basis for an attitude of overt anti-lower class feeling. Yet it would be misleading to conclude that the are only directed at the average man's grievances the rich and poor or that his loyalty is with the average powerful. Actually person, working including the police officer, is caught between two of criminality. views is fear of There being Combine

65 [ Crime and Social Justice

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the "middle victimized by the poor. However, also know they are being victimized Americans" by the rich and/or the politically powerful even though of this latter group may be their understanding less than their views on the former. appreciably or should not conclude that the police We a strong in general have "middle Americans" to the "local bourgeoisie" simply because allegiance lower class criminality they feel they understand in the social found higher better than crime hierarchy. We must remember that crimes against persons and simple street crimes against property are more by the average likely to be understood are headline these activities wage earner because news More and televisions. in local newspapers are as crimes these importantly, perceived survival. On the immediate personal threatening other hand, there is a physical and psychological remoteness from such criminal activity as political corruption of a "mundane variety," price fixing and which etc., violations, monopolies, pollution a better understanding of "crimes obscures from of the above." The negative Stereotypie assessment because poor can be maintained poor people, more than middle income people, live out their lives in and come under the scrutiny of public places control agencies such as the police, governmental welfare and health departments. Strictly aligning the police with the economi? fails to credit the cally and politically powerful understand police with some ability to correctly I think it is fair inequality and social exploitation. to suggest that the police do reject bankrupt welfarism associated with liberal But politics. income people, they also along with many middle reject the taxation structure which favors the rich over working class groups. All too often our scholarly efforts cause us to remain aloof from the problems suffered by the on the "silent majority." To dwell excessively traits of middle income people (their negative us sometimes to lose sight of the thought) causes suffered by the vast personal dues and victimage numbers of people who are neither among the poor nor the rich and do not possess a loyalty to either.
sexism, their racism and their narrowness of

within one's work through unionization. making is likely to see less policy Second, the next decade under the rubric of exclusively coming making see police collec? We will prerogative. managerial tive bargaining "intruding" more into the adminis? to seek will continue trative bailiwick. Officers for higher economic union demands traditional gains. These demands will include ongoing activi? ties in the areas of higher pay, pay for court duty time, better pension plans, paid lunch hours, over? roll-call time pay, night shift differentials, pay, benefits and even better sick leave and vacation paid liability insurance. However, more importantly, officers will likely over to acquire issues control attempt greater lives because influencing their daily occupational more as tasks their they perceive becoming a between difficult system they (being trapped and a public they sometimes sometimes question officers, Workers, especially patrol despise). within the "police industry" will seek policy-making such as recruitment, rights in personnel matters selection, training and promotion of officers. Oppo? decrees concern? sition to unilateral administration use of military as ticket such quotas, things ing an assignment rather than ranks, making detective






administration legitimately
ing. center





use of lateral entry will be fought by officers through collective bargain? collective bargaining









the Two points seem apparent when considering of police future activities collective bargaining. are going to be the police First, increasingly of other workers, influenced by the perceptions those in the private sector, and their especially to of their daily control take more attempts lives. Taking control implies creating occupational a strategy to reduce one's own alienation and

issues such as one-officer patrol cars, opposition to certain civilians functions, demands police doing and dogs in patrol cars and for heavier armaments the use of private weapons by officers. Finally, we can expect officers, through union activity, to seek such things as the right to hold second jobs, live in or outside of the city they police (residency seek offices, overtly political requirements), causes and candidates (usually support political and to resist being on call while very conservative) off duty. Movement toward the above issues is paralleled in the private sector. Industrial workers are seeking more control over their jobs. They often refer to in They have engaged increasing "job enrichment." even threatened collective and/or bargaining, carried out strikes and other job actions and have in at least reducing the been successful generally destinies. lack of control over their occupational sector employees, Public including the police and such as probation other social control personnel the same strategies. will likely attempt They will lives into a more all try to bring their personal lives. congruent pattern with their occupational Fall-Winter 1977 j66
officers, correctional workers and parole agents,




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is The problem we face as radical criminologists how to deal with our desire to see the workers take increasing control of their own destinies and at the same time deal with our uneasiness about the demands of social control such as the agents, police, for more autonomy to determine for them? careers selves what their occupational will ulti? be. is she mately Ray absolutely right when that the have lent their police suggests historically support to racist and reactionary politics. Knowing this and also realizing that the public needs more rather than less control over the activities of its social control specialists, how do we reconcile our humanistic concerns for improving the plight of all workers (including the police) with our desire to have and police officers held police agencies to the people and not just to them? accountable needs selves? This dilemma further certainly consideration and discussion. Particular attention to the victimage should be directed suffered by social control personnel as they attempt to do an job." increasingly "unmanageable Let me conclude with what I see as some of the dangers posed by social control agents unionizing to from both total administrative gain autonomy and control the by prerogative public. general events of the last decade Historical already illustrate a dangerous It seems to me precedent. that certain issues should not be determined by the


officers ? themselves through collective bargaining or administrative fiat. We must not allow either or their adminstrative the officers to leaders determine police policy exclusively by themselves, under the guise of decreasing worker alienation, or promoting more "grass roots" decision-making to the and job enrichment giving more autonomy

to allow officers to negotiate: For example, white 1) entrance (thus promoting requirements racism), 2) not wearing name tags or identification numbers of police nondetection (thus facilitating or misbehavior external 3) opposing illegality), citizen investi? investigation powers (thus avoiding but the and themselves) anyone police gation by 4) restrictions on personal weapons (thus increasing the coercive of the police), could sub? potentials over reduce control the in stantially public police or autonomy the name of job enrichment for the

In sum, there is little doubt that the police will to make areas able into traditional of gains They will likely even have prerogatives. managerial public support for their claims. After all, how can or politicians to be anti-law citizens and appear order or anti-police. Yet there is grave danger in the police (under the rubric of collective allowing to achieve increased to job enrichment) bargaining the "hidden agenda" of removing them? promote selves from what little public control there be
currently is over them.

67/ Crime and Social Justice

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