New Models of Participation and Expertise in the United States and Europe
Edited by Thierry Delpeuch and Jacqueline E. Ross
The first part of this chapter explains how police science conceives of modes of knowledge and decision-making within police organizations through a binary opposition of scientific rationality (disseminated through analytic approaches and instruments) and professional common sense (often seen as an obstacle to the modernization and democratization of the police). This perspective insists on a chasm between the actual practices of seeing, thinking, and deciding within police departments, and the ideal of an organization that is based on objective knowledge. However, this approach does not take into account the diversity of modes of knowledge in the police, and thus it does not fully grasp the dynamics by which evidence-based and science-based approaches are put to work in the management of police organizations. Our alternative pluralist framework posits multiple intelligence regimes, or cognitive communities, within the police. Our conclusions are based on our own ongoing research in eight French cities and four American cities, from 2007 to the present. Through interviews with police and other institutional actors with whom the police interact regularly, as well as observations of intelligence units, meetings of the command hierarchy within the police and local security partnerships that involve the police, as well as ride-alongs with ground-level personnel, and the perusal of training material, computer programs, and intelligence reports, we sought to identify the ways in which the police make sense of a variety of local as well as national security problems, and how analysis of such problems differs across units within the police at each site we visited. Most of our illustrative examples in this chapter are drawn from this research, though others are drawn from parallel research conducted by ourselves and a parallel German research team on the use of preventive policing strategies in Germany. Cross-national comparisons of radically different policing institutions bring out systematic differences between the ways in which the cognitive ideal-types we posit organize what the police know and what they do with that knowledge, in both the United States and in France. The cognitive frameworks or professional cultures that make up the many métiers of policing are remarkably similar in both countries, in spite of the enormous structural and institutional differences between a national police force, like that of France, and the highly decentralized and fragmented policing agencies of the United States. We challenge the binary opposition of endogenous ‘folk knowledge’ and exogenous ‘scientific’ expertise to posit the existence of multiple cognitive communities that make policing and law enforcement agencies a composite of different professions, each with its own analytical framework, affinities for certain types of knowledge, both internally and externally generated, and its selective resistance to others.
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