Why Study Police Deviance and Accountability?

Posted: January 16, 2013 by shannonwatersafety in Uncategorized

Why have I decided to study police deviance and accountability? Why does anyone want to study police deviance? It comes down to simple interest.

As children, we grow up learning that police officers are always the “good guys”. When we’re children, when we see police in movies or on TV, they are always helping someone out, or they are doing they’re job, as in this clip from Bobby’s World. As we start to get older and into our early teens, we start to watch movies where police brutality is accepted or possibly even humorous, as seen in Rush Hour 3 with Chris Brown and Jackie Chan. As we start to grow up and learn more about the world, we begin realize that even though these movies and TV shows are complete fiction, these events may, and do happen in real life.

Why do police become deviant? What makes a person, who has sworn on an oath to not only abide by the law, but enforce the law, stray from the norm? How do they fall into the path of corruption, and at what point do they realize that they may never be able to be a “good cop” anymore? Psychologically speaking, have these police gotten to the point where they truly believe that the deviance or brutality they are committing, no matter if it’s minor or major, is okay?

We have heard about police deviance and brutality for a long time, however, it wasn’t until 2007 that we could record videos on cell phones. By 2010, most phones could record video, even the inexpensive ones¹. Since we have all had easy access to videos, it has been much easier to record times when police have abused their privileges and stepped out of line. I feel as though this generation records everything, which is how we see lots of videos of police breaking the law minorly, being drunk while pulling someone over, or majorly, using excessive force when force is not needed.

So back to my initial question, why have I decided to study police deviance and accountability? I am studying police deviance to be aware of what goes on behind the scenes, and to try to understand how we can avoid as best as we can to help ourselves and others not become deviant.



  1. Mike Larsen says:

    You present an interesting set of questions regarding police deviance and accountability.

    This response makes excellent use of the blogging platform, with helpful links to additional resources (the videos are particularly helpful).

    You note that “As children, we grow up learning that police officers are always the “good guys””.

    I would note that while this statement may reflect your experience – and even the norm in many communities – it is not universally valid. Many people learn – through socialization and / or experience – a different story about the police growing up.

    As a criminology student, what do you think about the concepts ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’? Are these helpful concepts, or are they doo dichotomous to be useful? Are they problematic?

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