CAHSS Faculty Articles

Generation and Police Values: Much Ado about Nothing?

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Law Enforcement Executive Forum



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Anecdotal evidence such as that portrayed in these epigrams inspired me to explore generational differences among police officers. As a police supervisor, I shared some of the same frustrations evidenced by the words of these two lieutenants. It seems these sentiments were shared by many of us Baby Boomer manager types who were convinced that many of these younger police officers simply were not wired the same way older officers were. These younger officers lacked commitment to the job, they wanted immediate gratification, and they did not have a clue as to what the words loyalty and sacrifice really mean. These younger officers were self-centered, impatient, and, for lack of better terminology, just plain spoiled. They lacked an interest in doing real police work. All they were really interested in was finding a way to acquire the latest electronic device and getting next Saturday night off. If they could not get Saturday night off through legitimate means, we could count on them to call in sick, leaving the rest of the shift to work short or creating overtime liability. There was, I thought, good reason to suspect these differences were real. A literature existed to support my assumptions. A literature also existed to support my fear that the influx of younger officers and different values was eroding the traditional occupational culture of the police, and that these new values had already impacted police relationships (Bender, 2005; Dwyer, 2009). These concerns impelled this examination of police values.





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