‘Darker shades of blue’ : a ten year gender comparison of police culture attitudes in the South African Police Service

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 5
  • Abstract:

    Numerous police establishments around the globe, including the South African Police Service (SAPS), have augmented the quantity of female police officials in their staffing complement with the resolution of counteracting various of traits of the police culture that accentuate the cynicism of and isolation from the public. The current study asks whether the introduction of more women police officials in the SAPS [by the organisation] assisted in counteracting the police culture traits mentioned supra. More specifically the study asked, “Are there signs demonstrating attitudes of police culture themes of solidarity, isolation and cynicism amongst a random and representative sample of specifically categorised SAPS police officials?” If so, “Are these markers gender neutral as well as change in relation to Van Maanen’s (1975) and Manning’s (1989) stages of police culture socialisation: [1] choice- at the start of basic police training (January 2005); [2] admittance- at the end of ‘college’ training (June 2005); [3] encounter- at the end of ‘field’ training (December 2005), and [4] metamorphosis- nine years after concluding basic police training” “(June 2014). The study established that South African Police Service (SAPS) cadets that commenced their basic training at the six basic training institutes in South Africa (Pretoria, Chatsworth, Oudtshoorn, Graaff-Reinett, Phillippi and Bisho) in January 2005, entered the organisation with predispositions in furtherance of police culture themes of solidarity, isolation and cynicism. The period of ‘college/ academy training’ (January 2005 – June 2006) did not significantly counteract these tendencies, neither the subsequent ‘field training’ (July 2005 – December 2005). Nine years on, and these attitudes intensified to an overall average of 69.85%. The study further found that for the duration of the project (10 years), female trainees, and their ensuing conversion to fully-fledged police officials, had mostly stronger values exhibiting police culture solidarity, police culture isolation and police culture cynicism, compared to their male counterparts. These findings provide some credence for a ‘nurtured nature’ understanding to the acquirement, preservation and firming of police culture themes of solidarity, isolation and cynicism postures of police officials. The study furthermore, contradicts contemporary ethnographers (Cockcroft 2013; O’Neill, Marks & Singh 2007; Sklansky 2005) who fashionably argue that conventional characterisations of police culture are antiquated, illogical and useless due to new developments in policing.