Because peer pressure can intricate to group cohesiveness and a negative subculture, having strong leadership within all ranks of a department is vital. When does group cohesiveness cease to be positive and become pathological? Group cohesiveness is a vital trait to retain when a group of individuals has to work together. According to More, Vito, and Walsh (2012), cohesiveness is regarded as a characteristic of a group in which all of the forces acting on members to remain in the group are greater than those forces acting on them to leave it (Chapter 12).
One of the most important traits of group cohesiveness is the ability to bring positive energy, and attitude to the group as a whole. Understanding the goals of the group is vital to obtaining the appropriate amount of cohesiveness. Group cohesiveness can cease to be positive when the goals of the group violate rules, department policy, or the law. In the case of Officer Barton, the gang unit members violated the law on several occasions. It is against the law to initiate a traffic stop or arrest someone without probable cause.
The group Often detained individuals illegally just to get some suspected gang members off of the street. The gang task force unit valued loyalty and secrecy, so anyone who did not share similar beliefs would be excommunicated from the unit (More, Vito, & Walsh, 2012, Chapter 12). Conformity is also a valued shared by the unit. Any member that did not conform to the culture of the gang task force unit would be seen as an outsider. Are subcultures in police work inevitable? It would be a very difficult task to get rid of subcultures in any police organization because there are too many moving parts.
There are several different units with a department, and they all have varying beliefs and cultures. Patrol, Criminal Investigations, Detention, Dispatch, Internal Affairs, Records and Property, and Traffic among others all have their way of doing things (Bedford Police Department,” 2015). Social norms often cause officers to act a certain way without the officer being aware. Subconsciously the officer conducts him or herself in a similar manner as fellow officers with a department or individualized unit.
In the patrol division of a department, some of the officers might not place a high value on traffic infractions. They may have the mentality of enforcing “real crimes” instead of “minor” traffic infractions such as improper lane hangers or illegal “U” turns. On the Other hand, officers within the traffic division would focus on all traffic violations, and would never let any infractions, no matter how small, get away. The attitude towards certain crimes and violations would vary from unit-to-unit based on priority levels.
What steps would you take, as a police commissioner, to prevent department subcultures? The police commissioner needs to ensure that all departments are on a similar working standard even if the departments are not closely partnered. Leadership at all levels has to be held accountable for his or her officers’ actions. When a department rule is violated, someone needs to step up and say something. Changing the values and attitudes of all officers, especially leadership has to be the number one priority of the police commissioner.
Subcultures can be the detriment of an entire police department (More, Vito, & Walsh, 2012, Chapter 12). In many cases, the subculture off unit can be so entrenched that actual department policy is never exercised. Department policy need to be explained and taught to every officer in the unit. Clear and decisive policy’s need to be drafted by all members of leadership. If an officer violates policy after they are explained and initiated, leadership needs to make an example out of them.
There should be a zero tolerance policy on behalf of the commissioner’s office. In Robert Baron’s case, the police commissioner needs to ensure that an officer has the ability to file a complaint if he or she sees something wrong within a unit without the fear of excommunication. Conclusion A subculture with a department can be a harmful thing if the culture violates policy. Officer Robert Barton is afraid to speak up, fearing that he will be excluded from the gang task force.