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“It's a Constant Juggling Act”: Toward Coherent Priorities for U.S. Policing
Justice Quarterly  (IF4.717),  Pub Date : 2021-11-24, DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2021.1999483
Meret S. Hofer


Democratic police reforms have reduced the isolation of officers from the public, putting recent public demands for changes to U.S. policing into stark relief with existing practices of police agencies. This qualitative study examines role conflict related to negotiating external expectations for policing among 48 U.S. police officers. Findings suggest that role conflict related to incoherent policing priorities is a robust feature of officers’ experiences and results from operational processes that are poorly aligned with agency or officer priorities, and public expectations that are incompatible with officers’ work realities. Given the legitimacy crisis facing U.S. policing, policymakers and practitioners should develop strategies that directly address this incoherence by (1) assessing and reflecting public priorities in the generation of public safety, and (2) developing organizational resources and processes that strategically support valued activities. Doing so may strengthen the foundation for improving police-community relations as public priorities are incorporated into police practice.