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When we think of a police officer we are most likely to come up with a familiar image. Andy Griffith playing Sheriff Andy Taylor for instance. Or just a generic clean cut individual like this Miami Police Officer taken in 1945:

Portrait of Miami police officer Johnnie Young

Portrait of Miami police officer Johnnie Young

Local call number: PR20205

Title: Portrait of Miami police officer Johnnie Young

Date: ca. 1945

General note: Born July 2, 1914, in Fitzgerald, Georgia. Moved to Miami in 1934 to join his step-brother. Married Annie Ruth Hall in 1935. Joined the Miami Police Department in 1945. On March 7, 1947 he was accidently shot by Officer R.A. MacFarland while trying to catch burglary suspects. He was the second black police officer to be killed in the line of duty in Miami. His name is inscribed (West Wall, Panel 23, Line 10) on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Title of Work: Forgotten Heroes: Police Officers Killed in Dade County

This imagery and others such as the silhouette of a NYPD officer in a double breasted tunic and a physique like Chesty Puller serve to inspire the public not to panic when things go bad.

We use these images as a social talisman to keep people who are social animals capable of stampeding from doing anything more than backing away. Instead they watch and utilize the mantra 911 to ward off injury to themselves. This is a good way to social engineer. These images and lore about the police are used also to prevent vigilante justice. TRIGGER WARNING-Seriously horrible imagery:Which is wrong on so many levels.

The social idea behind this imagery is to help remind the public of consent to police. No consent to police isn't about telling a cop to fuck off and speeding away when you don't feel like it. It is a sociological phenomena in which the public not only gives the police permission to violate social norms of nonviolence in their duties. But the public also assists the police by being cooperative and pulling over when lights are flashed behind you. And providing information to assist the police when they are trying to solve crime. They also consent to police in being jurors as that too is part of the justice system in which allows Americans to feel they have a chance to vindicate criminals that have wronged themselves by proxy. We as a society do this without the promise of a reward beyond good social order. Because that is what you get when you consent to police, good social order. Ideally.

What does it look like when the consent to police is withdrawn? Excessive rewards:

Average reward for a murderer in LA County is $50,000. Still exceptionally high. Because any reward shows that at least some portion of society had withdrawn consent to police.

I'm not against the obvious propaganda of promoting the police as valiant protectors. It is a much better way of policing than fear:

More subtle models of crime-control recognise
that formal criminal justice is only one of many
systems of social control, most of which have a
significant normative dimension. Individuals comply
with the law for reasons other than an instrumental
calculation of benefits and risks of offending. Most
people obey most laws most of the time because it
is the ‘right thing to do.’ Socialisation, psychological
development, moral reasoning, community context,
social norms and networks all sustain the routine
compliance that is ingrained in everyday life.
Because fear of the police and the criminal justice system will not bring the 9% that will commit a crime anyway from doing so. But it will retard the public's willingness to cooperate in ways that help the police do their jobs. Fear of the police invariably puts the legitimacy of the police into question. It is a poor tool to use if one is interested in protecting society.
Models of crime-control of this sort recognise the
importance of the legitimacy of justice institutions
and the legal system. Legitimacy is the public belief
that institutions have the right to exist, the right to
undertake the functions assigned to them, and the
right to dictate appropriate behaviour. A legitimate
authority has the right to exercise power: it
commands consent (a sense of obligation to obey)
that is grounded in legality and moral alignment
In many communities in the US police are seen as an occupying force. They do not patrol the areas in small numbers. They use overwhelming force to capture individuals, snatching them from the street to disappear in a justice monster that wants to be fed money. Money many do not have. This creates and attitude of the public of total non cooperation. Making the streets even less safe.
Importantly, legitimacy shapes law-related
behaviour: when people believe that the police
and legal system are legitimate, they recognise its
power to determine proper behaviour (they feel a
sense of obligation to obey the police and the law)
and they justify its power by feeling that the ethical
and normative standpoints inherent in the system
are aligned with their own. Motivated to support its
values and regulations, people who see the police,
courts and legal system as legitimate tend to obey
the law because it’s the law; they also tend to
cooperate with authorities because they believe it
is the right thing to do.
There is a direct relationship between consent to police and how the justice system is perceived to actually mete out justice. Not surprisingly.
Yet, studies in the US, London and elsewhere
have consistently found that trust in the procedural
fairness of the police is far more important in
explaining variation in cooperation than trust in
the effectiveness of the police. Procedural justice
seems to strengthen the connections between
individuals and institutions, generating the sense
that the police have the right to dictate appropriate
power and are acting according to right and
proper moral standpoints; this, in turn, seems to
encourage people’s willingness to cooperate with
the police and courts, separate to their sense of
police effectiveness. And importantly, procedural
justice is not just confined to people who have
direct encounters with officers. Even people
without direct experience of the police have
opinions about whether the police would treat
them fairly, if they were to come into contact.
Citation for the link: Jackson, Jonathan, Hough, Mike, Bradford, Ben, Hohl, Katrin and Kuha, Jouni, Policing by Consent: Understanding the Dynamics of Police Power and Legitimacy (October 30, 2012). European Social Survey, 2012.
A growing body of largely US research shows an association between the experience or perception of the procedural fairness of the criminal justice system and perceived legitimacy of the institution in question. Legitimacy is, in turn, correlated with greater public respect for the law and stronger felt obligation to obey the law (Tyler and Huo, 2002; Sunshine & Tyler, 2003b; Tyler, 2003;
Tyler, 2007). On the basis of various surveys of the public, Tyler has demonstrated that public perceptions of the fairness of the justice system are more significant in shaping its legitimacy than perceptions of its effectiveness. Existing when the policed regard the authorities as having earned an entitlement to command, legitimacy is formed most importantly via interpersonal interaction, particularly through the experience of procedural justice. Tyler’s findings suggest that procedural justice – i.e. fair and respectful treatment that ‘follows the rules’ – is more important to people than obtaining outcomes that that they regard either as fair or favourable to themselves. It is the quality of treatment received that is more important in encounters with the police than the objective outcome.
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