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Police Socialization: A Longitudinal Examination of Job Attitudes in an Urban Police Department

John Van Maanen
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 20, No. 2 (Jun., 1975), pp. 207-228
DOI: 10.2307/2391695
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2391695
Page Count: 22
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Police Socialization: A Longitudinal Examination of Job Attitudes in an Urban Police Department
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Abstract

This article documents changes in the attitudes of police recruits moving through the series of experiences associated with their early careers. The data were obtained from questionnaires which were administered longitudinally to newcomers in a big-city department and cross-checked by the researcher who was a participant-observer in the police training program. The analysis concentrated upon the motivation, commitment, and need satisfaction of patrol officers. The findings indicated that recruits entered the department highly motivated and committed to their newly-adopted organization. However, their motivational attitudes declined swiftly. Evidence is presented which suggests the less motivated patrol officers are perceived by their relevant supervisors as better policemen than their more motivated peers. Commitment attitudes also dropped over time, although expressed commitment remained relatively high compared to several other occupational samples. A positive association was present between superior evaluations of performance and commitment attitudes. Need satisfaction remained fairly constant across time and a positive relationship was detected between evaluations of performance and reported satisfaction. These findings denote the speedy and powerful character of the police socialization process resulting in a final perspective which stresses a "lay low, don't make waves" approach to urban policing. The findings also suggest the beginning of a general theory of organizational socialization.

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