The Importance Of Proper Training And Policies In Policing

The police serve a fundamental part in society as its defenders. Officers pay special mind to the citizens and strive to ensure their safety and joy whenever possible. Throughout the years, however, the public and researchers have queried the use of force, prejudice, and internal corruption, as well as other forms of misconduct by law enforcement officers. Some scholars suggest that many of these problems are misunderstood by the media and overly dramatized, arguing that these officers are merely doing their jobs. Yet, others argue that such incidents can be traced back to poor training and procedures. Still, others maintain the entire system needs to be changed, and with the rise in crime, officers have shifted from protectors to enforcers.

A policy is defined as a deliberate strategy to guide decisions or a framework for decision-making within an organized structure. A procedure, on the other hand, is often regarded simply as a consistent method for a task. In cases of police brutality, officers might view strict policy, which calls for thoughtful scrutiny, as just procedure, which may not have consequences if breached (Kinnaird 203). Consequently, officers might exploit nebulous policies or procedures. Various studies have shown that vague or unclear policies, those devised with the wrong objectives, and those implemented with little input from the enforcers can result in increased instances of police misconduct and prove significantly ineffective (Kinnaird 203). Poor policy has been shown to have the opposite effect too. In numerous cases of police death or injury, officers have reported hesitation in applying necessary force due to uncertainty about what force options were permissible under law or department policy (Petrowski 25).

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Researchers stress that adequate policy involves more than just documentation—it also requires the implementation of written policies as ‘proactive management’ (Kinnaird 209), ensuring the maximum safety of both civilians and officers. Training is another essential element when assessing officer conduct on the job. There are three primary considerations that warrant the necessity of training. The first is social advancement—police forces must adapt to changing times.

For instance, during the 1960s and 1970s, the primary focus was on firearms and physical control of offenders to gain compliance, whereas contemporary policing demands social skills, such as understanding human behaviors, emotions, attitudes, and reactions (Kinnaird 204). The second factor necessitating training is legal mandates, which entail the comprehension of civil liability and the ever-changing laws (205). Police departments have begun spending more money defending themselves in court than protecting the public. This makes training essential for informing officers of laws and helping prevent situations that could possibly lead to a lawsuit over the use of excessive force (206).

The third motivation behind satisfactory Farrar training is to maximize performance. Brian Kinnaird, Executive of Research and Training at the Forceology Research Group in Kansas, asserts, “without training, officers are completely autonomous. However, with training, they are equipped with better judgment and discretionary skills” (206). Police and criminologists note specific differences between the phrases ‘use of force,’ ‘unnecessary force,’ and ‘brutality.’ According to experts, the use of force is crucial and essential for an officer to carry out his job effectively. Unnecessary force, however, is often the result of poor training, such as when an officer barges into a situation where excessive force is needed to remove him or herself from danger. In this case, caution and better training could have prevented the situation from happening.

On the other hand, brutality is “a conscious and dishonest act by officers who often take great pains to conceal their misconduct” (Lawrence 19). According to this definition, brutality is not necessarily associated with poor training, while unnecessary force often is. It is important to make the distinction between these frequently conflated terms. Often times, the public is quick to judge police officers and label a necessary physical action as brutality. Many people, particularly officers themselves, believe that the public does not understand the daily pressures of being a police officer and the many complex situations where it is unclear how much force should be applied. Although the specific actions that constitute unnecessary force or brutality might be easy to determine in articles and police manuals, officers often find it difficult to decide how much force is truly necessary in the heat of the moment (Lawrence 19). Often, this concern persists for years.

Functionalism, Conflict Theory, And Symbolic Interactionism In The Movie A River Runs Through It – Immigrations Social Theories

In the movie A River Runs Through It, interactions between Norman, Paul, and the rest of the Maclean family can be seen through different sociological perspectives such as functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. From a sociological standpoint, functionalism within the Maclean family is shown especially through the religious teachings from Norman and Paul’s father. As a Presbyterian minister, Reverend Maclean assumes most of the responsibility for teaching the boys the difference between right and wrong.

Norman and Paul were raised with strict rules to guide their behavior within and outside the house. From an early age, it was made clear to them that they had responsibilities and obligations stricter than those of their peers. For example, when the boys were homeschooled by their father to learn reading and writing, they did not attend Missoula Elementary with their friends. Reverend Maclean and his wife impressed upon their sons that problems should not be discussed openly, which shaped Norman and Paul’s behavior and caused them many issues later in life pertaining to communication and problem-solving in other relationships.

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Conflict theory is depicted in the movie by how the Maclean family handle issues that arise, and in the relationship between Norman and Paul. From an early age, Norman and Paul experienced a lack of communication with their parents. For instance, when Paul refused to eat his oatmeal as a kid, he was made to sit at the table until he ate it. Eventually, Reverend Maclean realized that he wasn’t going to eat it, and the family proceeded to have dinner as normal without any reference to the oatmeal incident. Moreover, Norman and Paul had starkly contrasting personalities–Norman being the responsible, quiet, serious older child and Paul being the energetic, carefree, and spontaneous younger brother.

This eventually causes severe conflict between the brothers, as Paul engages in heavy drinking and gambling, accumulating severe debt, with which Norman does not agree. Norman can often been seen disapproving of Paul, but rarely ever voices his opinion. He also often picks up Paul from the police station after he gets into trouble without ever discussing the incident that led to his arrest. This lack of communication is prevalent within the Maclean family, particularly during several incidents when Paul abruptly leaves the dinner table to go “see his friends,” which the entire family interprets as gambling and drinking. However, no one protests further than casting a disapproving or dismayed look.

Reverend Maclean, after Paul leaves for yet another one of his expeditions, makes the disapproving remark that Paul has changed the spelling of their last name to “MacLean”, but he makes no mention of any other issues he has with Paul, although it is clear there are many. Eventually, this tension builds up to the point of a physical fight between Norman and Paul. Their mother walks in and gets caught in the middle of the fight, causing her to fall. However, when Norman and Paul blame each other, she claims she just “slipped” and walks away without another word. There is much visible conflict between Norman, Paul, and the rest of the family, illustrating the concept of conflict theory.

Lastly, symbolic interactionism is most obviously seen in the film in the form of fly fishing and the Blackfoot River. The film begins and ends with the river, which is more than just a river for Norman, Paul, and their father. To them, the river represents family, connection, hope, and even despair. No matter how far Paul or Norman may travel, everything comes back to the river. When the three men are fly fishing together, everything seems right. There is a level of understanding between them when they are fly fishing—an unspoken rule. There is a rhythm and purpose to each interaction between the men, from attaching the bait to collecting the fish. Words aren’t necessary because each fishing session is a ritual; each man understands and attaches meaning to it.

No matter how rocky relations become between Norman, Paul, and Reverend Maclean, it no longer matters once they are in the river together. This connection is understood and treasured by each member of the family, even their mother, who sends them off each day with their gear packed and waits faithfully for them to come home with their catch. Fly fishing is an essential part of life for the Maclean family, and it may well be the one thing that holds them together through all the conflict they face. For them, fishing gives life meaning and purpose—an escape from the chaos of everyday life. As said by Norman himself, the two most important things in life are fly fishing and church. Fishing is sacred to the Maclean family.

The film highlights many important sociological concepts and perspectives, particularly functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. The interactions between Norman, Paul, and Reverend Maclean show the meanings of family and the different ways in which it can be interpreted.

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