Educated Police - An Ethnographic Study of Opinions
Tom Staciwa is a current serving Detective Senior Constable in the NSW Police Force. This book contains research conducted with police in NSW on the effects of different types of education for police officers. This research will be useful to serving police, those interested in joining the police and members of the community interested in policing and education. More
This research examines different policing degrees in NSW and the impact of different levels of education not only on the officers themselves but on the Police Force as an organisation and on the community it serves. A review of the literature discussing the positive and negative effects of higher education reveals that the operational police concerned are rarely given a voice. Instead, external armchair theorists evaluate data solely from their own ideological perspectives. Countering this, 12 semi-structured interviews with NSW Police Officers were compared to see what differences in opinions and beliefs exist between NSW Police Officers who hold a policing related degree; a non-policing related degree; or those who do not have a degree at all. Although the thesis utilises Gramscian education theory (1971) it does this away from class based arguments, following instead more recent approaches by theorists such as Holub and Connell. It emphasises the importance of intellectual critique, derived from certain kinds of higher education, in maintaining democratic principles. The data analysis reveals that policing degrees can give officers not only specific ‘tools’ for everyday policing but also a better capacity to understand power relations within society. However, education is not a panacea for good policing — experience, commitment and loyalty are qualities essential to this. The data analysis also reveals that statistical performance measurement is misused by a minority for personal advantage, creating a problem for both the organisation and the community which needs to be addressed through the education of officers about the uses of policing statistics. Managing the NSW Police Force as a business has meant cost cutting in regard to police education as recruits no longer receive a wage or have their education expenses defrayed. This has affected the quality of graduating police officers and severely restricted the potential to field recruits from a wide cross-section of the community, adversely limiting the necessary diversity in the NSW Police Force today.