Special of the week; Issue 41-69
NDE are the national educational radio network presents special of the week. From Yale University from its series called Yale reports. Lauren order is a phrase that has much to do with our society today and seems to have much to do with the way people regard the police. To some our policemen seem too lenient and to others too harsh. What problems do the police themselves face when faced with unruly crowds or mob violence. Talking about where the police fit into our society and how they do their job is Albert restrainer professor and chairman of the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan. Wendell Bell professor and chairman of the Department of Sociology at Yale and Robert Stevens professor of law mysteries society has its dirty work occupations and the police are obviously a dirty work. I keep a shoe. When any one of us
cannot maintain order in the situation we call the police. We expect them to handle situations which we cannot handle. Clearly our college administrators our college faculties when they have demonstrated their capability of handling the situation without resort to other means they call in the police and then they say now you the police restore order for us so that we can go about our business in the way in which we are accustomed to go about it. At the same time we want to feel quite free to tell you that you do the job badly. In short I want to make they observation that most are very alert and to police attitudes couched in very sophisticated terms exist among college professors and students which troubles me and I see very little sympathetic effort to deal with the police and their problems. Well would you like to tell the listeners what you how you personally feel about the behavior of the police in campus disorders.
Well in campus to stories I think we have a very special problem for the police and we mind it not long ago Marty Lib. said at Harvard University he wrote a little piece for The Atlantic. And he pointed out that probably the most difficult policing situation. What is that of a college campus not simply b. And from the standpoint of the college but from the standpoint of the police and it poses this kind of problem in our society the police are typically recruited from what we might call a lower middle class and they have high aspirations for themselves and for their children and their highest aspiration happens to be education that money will pay them well enough for them to aspire to that. In fact many of them take courses at night at college as an indication of how deeply involved they are in education. And then they go to a college campus. They're called
pigs. And students spit in their face. In other words spit in front of them only in a physical sense but in front of their values and they're deeply affronted by that. And that sets the stage of course for a kind of conflict we probably don't get anywhere else. And this is the same sort of problem they face in the streets when one's talking about police behavior in the streets. We certainly in primary thinking about the riots we've had in in a sit is over the last two years I suppose in a generation it would be in connection with strikes. But what about the main problem the priest faced in psychological terms of any other terms when they're face to face with rising the unicity. Well I think that in the riot situations in the inner city the police have behaved in different ways and sometimes not quite comprehensible to the public. For example every newspaper carries pictures of the police standing around watching the people loot and
carry things off and they don't quite understand. That of course to stop people in mass behavior takes more than a few police officers it takes very large numbers. Normally no Metropolitan Police Department has sufficient police to stop large numbers of people I think that's one reason why we have to call in the military the militia under such circumstances. Now I suppose with the other aspect of it you're taking about is of course their use of force or what's called police brutality to the public. And one I think should rather ask the question why isn't there more of it. That is to say given the fact that in disorder situation a policeman may often be afraid for himself. It's not a simple situation to be faced with large numbers. The surprising thing is that I think they control themselves quite well. Can you make any generalized statements about how you feel the police have responded to these
current crises. Well I would say that in some respects the police in my judgment have not behaved as I would want them to behave. I would hope for a civil society which I don't think we have in American society. But given the level of the problems the fact that a society is split over controversy and that indeed the sympathies of the police tend to lie on the whole with the more conservative status quo elements in the society given their low level of training for that position. I wonder whether one shouldn't ask the question don't they behave better than we have a right to expect given the kind of investment is a political position they have in the society et cetera. Wendy how do you respond to these initial statements that have been making about the police.
Well ambivalently I think. On the one hand it's quite clear that one can sympathize with the difficult problems that the police face today. One can understand why they don't always behave the way we would like them to behave. On the other hand one would wish they would behave better right at the moment for example I've been reading some materials from the university California-Berkeley that include student accounts and accounts of faculty members that describe a whole series of police acts that are very regrettable and I suppose I'm wondering I would like to ask Al to comment on on how we can expect our police to behave better at Berkeley. Some were were beaten. There was an awful lot of that. But a few students were unnecessarily hit the teeth were
knocked out their heads were clobbered with billy clubs. These reports from victims themselves seem to indicate that. The police did not behave in an the way that they quite easily could have behaved I was this necessary why did the police and Gage and these unnecessary illegal acts. I would like to just make one point because I don't want to be misunderstood when I am calling for the use of competent force and asking the police or whatever other force may be brought in to control campus disturbances or urban riots. I'm not in any way saying that the the rioters or the dissidents or the students breaking laws should not be prosecuted under the law for their illegal behavior I'm not asking for any leniency in that sense I think one must look at every situation and
the people in it should respond in such a way generally so that the laws are supported. But then at the same token I don't see why we can't have a competent force brought in so that people's rights including the dissidents including the lawbreakers are are protected while they are in fact. Being processed so to speak and hopefully punished if they are guilty of crimes I think it's true that some of the police do do that job badly. Journalist Sorry but now let's let's sort out what they do badly. They certainly do badly. The loading into trucks instead of the squadron they're apt to even put them in the police garage rather than the jail why. Why do they do it. Well our society is certainly not prepared for disorder.
We haven't even prepared our police to police disorder and that's very important. We haven't even invested and we don't have 20 squad rolls or a hundred to call out to carry away the Berkeley students or the Yale students or whatever other student group of students they are we've got to commandeer. What is available. Similarly we don't have that many cells to put that in and we're geared to a normal routine operation. And I think again it reflects a kind of you know how I'm middle class attitude as to how I want to be treated. If one is going to be taken in a disorderly situation. And I find it somewhat whimsical in some ways. But now the other side of it the actual use of force and use of force improperly. My own research so show is that it's much higher. In the high crime rate areas of our society than I would like to believe
they would know what is higher. They used to force improperly but then so was the use of force in the entire society. That is to say America is a violence oriented society. We believe in people carrying arms we are one of the armed societies of the world and citizens believe in that. I would hope we could move toward a society in which we literally reduced violence in the sense of disarming everyone including the police. I'm quite convinced that whenever one empowers people with means of violence that the war will break down. Now there's a special problem however for the police and that is that I don't like the military. When you give them on arms they're very closely supervised and there's a high
supervision to man ratio that doesn't exist in police departments. Secondly as contrasted with the military the military is used to operating in group situations. The police are not they're used to operating in dispersed command situations so that none of the kinds of requirements of the disorder situation are normal police ways of operating. My own feeling is I would hope that we didn't train our police to be riot police. Well I can I can I come in here. First of all I think we're all agreed on this table that there's a probably a need for public education in the sense that if we're going to be involved in riots we can't necessarily expect to be put in a room at the Hilton when the police collect us are not treated in it with exactly it with kid gloves. But then you are suggesting that even making allowance for that. There are probably is a need for greater training.
But now I think perhaps for most of our listeners and certainly for me you were jumping over a few steps I mean it may well be that we can ultimately de-escalate violence in the society and reach a state where nobody has guns and nobody and none of the police carry guns. But there's an intermediate stage where at least one one hears it suggested the better police training might produce less extreme reactions as it appears the police have over responded I think is the correct way. In some situations the most obvious being Chicago but also there being some elements of this I think in Detroit and possibly more recently in Madison. Now how in the short how are we going to go about training or organizing our police forces so that we avoid this major over response. Let's separate out two things. One the disorder that is
spontaneous and there in the sense that Iran has with almost no predictability to it such as in the Detroit riots or they watch riots. Because I think what you can prepare for in that kind of situation is quite different from what happens in the case of college campuses or strikes or the kind of situation which one can predict that police might policing might be necessary. My own belief there is that as important as anything else is the administrator or the policy men who make the decisions to call in the police and what and what rests with them is. Questions like how many police are available given the magnitude of the problem. And it is absolutely clear to me that we have not yet call in the police with sufficient numbers to police it properly. That is the major reason for the
breakdown of the policing is that we don't have sufficient numbers of police present to deal with the situation. You know orderly way. Now how can I demonstrate that. When finally the University Wisconsin had to call in the National Guard and call them in large numbers they could could they had no fear whatsoever. If twenty thousand University of Wisconsin students collected they didn't have to rush the thing to get it over with to keep the mob from collecting they could go about intake if necessary can our history move. Each student one by one carrying him gently from the building has ensured I'm say the kind of exigencies of the situation just and there they fail to see under great pressure after I've talked to them you know to get them out quickly because they're afraid of these large numbers collecting and destroying property you know breaking out and creating an even worse situation.
And I think we have to really keep that in mind that no police force in this country is prepared to deal with disorder on any scale. But it is that you know a question of scale a space could be relatively easily dealt with. But what about the psychological attitudes of the police is this is a serious problem. Well they psychological attitudes of the place are once again separating out Sacred College campuses are quite minorities is very much like that of large segments of the general public. And it's to say I'm a policeman. In fact our studies show that 8 of weekend policemen are prejudiced toward the negro minority for example. That's not unlike the same class level from which they come. It's not unlike people with the same education they have. Again most citizens in fact the overwhelming proportion nine out of every ten Citizens United States is not at all in sympathy with college students in their collective disorders. It's not surprising the
police are not sympathetic with college students I think what you're saying is how can one take people who are not sympathetic and make them do something that no one else wants to do. And we have only one answer to that. That's a kind of professionalization. And what do you mean by professionalization. I mean by the professionalization not necessarily that one has to have high education I mean that they are trained and highly trained to remove themselves from involvement in situations. That doesn't necessarily mean that one changes added to it fundamentally but one teaches them to learn how to deal with their attitudes in situations. In short one has to create a kind of collegial
order in which the responsibility is to one's duty and what one does rather than to oneself. I mean in some ways the way the lawyer will say his duty is that he doesn't concern himself with the guilt or innocence of the Besant he's defending Now we all know there's a good deal of hypocrisy in that but at least that's the kind of ideal to which lawyers and he say they are. As I understand now the attitudes of the police perhaps are somewhat irrelevant. The problem of scale for example and the problem of proper training the problem of numbers these problems it seems to me are such that one raises the whole question about whether there is any police force in this country competent to handle. Riots of any large scale whether on the campus or in the inner city. And that leads me to the question of who then who then should do this. For example how can the
police mobilize say 5000 men or 10000 men. Can any police force in this country mobilize that many men in times of emergency. If they can't who can. And then under what arrangements and with what kind of command structure is a competent professional force brought in. I think that's very good because it tends to tie together these two points and the question what do we do do we train them to we professionalizing if we want to control public order. Clearly you don't have to do that to maintain public order if you have a structure like the military and military the typical soldier does not have high education or anything but he responds to internal discipline within the corps and the commanders are the ones with education. But that's because you're operating essentially in a military situation. Now dance your question when it seems to me that the only two or three cities in
this country can mobilize anything like large enough numbers to deal with kind of any needed large crowd disorder and they can maintain that only for a relatively short period of time. The main reason is this that I could show you very quickly that any time that something breaks out in any city. That for the total city no more than three seventh of its total manpower is immediately available. That seems shocking you see people say New York has 28000 police but they could have 20000 policemen on duty. Of course that's nonsense because they're split three ways. They work a five day week so that they can count on about three seventh to be available. Well I mean this whole city of New York unit count on 5000 plates Well it's at high traffic time in Manhattan clearly the number that you would have available to
mobilize eat me it really is extremely small. We can go on what's called an emergency basis but remember even if you throw them to 12 hour goody and cancer all leave. You can maintain it only for a relatively short period of time. There is no reserve manpower and that's why historically in this country we created originally a militia and a National Guard that is. At least the argument for it was that his police manpower within the society as well as without They they perform the dual role I think that's interesting that we can't forget that the National Guard sit between the police and the military in our society. They're expected to go either way. I said we don't maintain the beautiful distinction we think we get well is one of the problems then the fact that on any normal day a police force is in a sense already mobilized doing a full time job
so that in case of these emergencies and the riots we have to take men from a job to do some other job where we bring a man from his weekend or from his off duty hours. Or that if we were the National Guard that's not so in a sense they are in reserve not doing a full time job like the military they're waiting to be. Go into battle in the sense they were really saying I'm afraid al is that for the foreseeable future if we are to have campuses if we are likely to have riots in the streets whether we like it or not the National Guard or some other military force is an essential part of the police function. Unquestionably. So whatever we do in one sense it's have I think from the layman a somewhat pessimistic view of the world but whatever we do however well we train the police however well we pay them how well we organize them. If we are to be faced with the kind of disorders we faced in the past two years and I presume will be faced in the future while this in this
era of rapid change then. If the break is to be put on the brake will not be put on somebody by the regular police forces in a very important sense. Society creates police to police the status quo. To police in the interests of the status quo the police in the interests of disorder not to police interest or change. Except in so far as that is what the structure in the sense of the ruling or power structure of the society stands for then must inevitably put revolutionaries against the police. But you can be sure when the revolutionaries come to power they will have a police to police the status quo. I wonder how far the situation in this country is different from other Western societies and perhaps others a rather different society is. Well certainly in Canada last
summer and this so-called June 24th day in Montreal when Mr Trudeau appeared in Montreal there were charges of police brutality. It sounded just like the US that I strongly suspect that when ever a society begins divided South and it sort of becomes quite common that they tend to look too much a lie. But now the question is whether societies differ in their capacity to tolerate a great deal of tension and conflict without going to the kind of disorder that requires police intervention and I think there are yes there are very important differences. Some of those are due to things we don't want in our society. That is in some societies that's because the military is much more of a police force and one has a police state. You know other societies and I suppose you're really asking the question of are there nice comfortable
societies where everyone can feel that things are in control and there is no violence. Well how would you compare England with the United States that's my impression. There has been existing there a de-escalation compared to the United States where the policemen do not carry arms for the most part neither do their clients the criminals and insensibly the number of murders the number of acts of violence are much less than in the United States. When you were saying that because you're excluding Northern Ireland rather more. Yes well I think that's that's very good because that's the point in the day today or what I call a policing of every day life. Clearly there are very marked differences in societies and some societies are far more civil than ours and the police are as a consequence also more civil in those societies. I
like to make the point that I do not believe one can have a civil police in the long run without a civil society the two are intimately intertwined. But again I think even in the civil societies and England is a good case in point. And there are some nasty incidents in Wales time ago and I wanted to ask Al to expand a little bit on his meaning of civil society. I mean a civil society is one in which people to be tautological behave toward one another in a civil fashion. And that is simply to say that the response people have to one another is respect for one another as individuals. On the one hand and on the other a kind of demeanor which says not only that I respect you as an individual but that I will behave toward you.
As an individual as a person I think there's a conflict in American society because Americans don't want civility that the English settled for civility. It's a kind of in-between solution. Americans want to be treated and not simply sort of as human beings. But it's very unique individual persons and so we have the human relations perspective one is supposed to be outgoing and jovial you know and that's quite different from civility. And on the other hand obviously we don't want to settle for uncivil. Now do you have any data in in your studies on the level of respect in the society for police for example. Yes. Let me say there is a paradox there because within the society as a whole the police have far more respect than they believe they have. Is that really what there is respect for them is an occupation what the
police do not get however is deference. In large amounts from the society and I want to make a distinction here between respect and honor. In Germany and in England the police not only have respect but they have that is it is an honorable occupation and one serves the society. And that's very important in American society. We do not have deference for authority on the one hand and we do not consider it an honorable occupation. The most we will give it is a kind of prestige that it's better than a lot of occupations. And so therefore it's not something bad to go into as work. Now that's very different because that doesn't relate us to it as persons. The hope for a civil police in a civil society with Albert Reese Jr. professor and chairman of the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan Wendell
- Special of the week
- Issue 41-69
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- APA: Special of the week; Issue 41-69. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-1z41wc47