TRANSACTIONAL POLICING: REFRAMING LOCAL POLICE-COMMUNITY RELATIONS THROUGH THE LENS OF POLICE EMPLOYMENT
Rocha Beardall, Theresa Ysabel
From the death of Michael Brown to Walter Scott, Philando Castille to Laquan McDonald, several high-profile incidents of police use of fatal force have renewed public and scholarly attention to police engagement, particularly in minority communities. Prior sociological research documents disparate exposure to police and police use of force by race and socioeconomic status and emphasizes how officers’ implicit bias and citizens’ mistrust underlie police-citizen interactions. Less well understood, however, is how police officers’ roles as city employees and civil servants shapes police-citizen engagement. In this dissertation, I introduce a new perspective on the study of police and citizens that I call transactional policing. The framework of transactional policing expands the sociological understanding of policing in society by shifting away from the view of citizens as subordinates to police power and positioning the police as public employees -- and city residents as their municipal employers. Transactional policing also shifts focus from street-level police behaviors, officer discretion, and implicit bias to an analysis of whether and how police behaviors are aligned with police employment expectations. I investigate three critical mechanisms of transactional policing: the police union contract, the establishment of citizen review boards, and citizen complaints about police behavior. For each, I consider the extent to which they reflect or promote the position of officers as employees of city residents. Drawing on ethnographic and archival data, I find that police union contracts define both police employment protections and police accountability, thus providing a lever, which is arguably underutilized, for shaping police interactions with citizens. I also show that citizen review boards are under-resourced to fulfill their responsibilities as a check on police behavior, but local residents use and value these opportunities to hold police employees accountable. Finally, my analysis of citizen complaints about local police misconduct reveals behavioral patterns that commonly underlie police-citizen conflicts – which could be (but are not) mitigated through police oversight and retraining. Taken together, these three studies illustrate the value, potential, and challenges for citizens to utilize police employment as a vehicle for community demands for social change, police oversight, and tangible measures of accountability.
Citizen Oversight; Employment; Police; Police Misconduct; Social Change; Sociology; Police Unions
Cornwell, Erin York
Tach, Laura; Haskins, Anna R.
Doctor of Philosophy
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
dissertation or thesis
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
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