Why are Cops such Jerks?

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Abstract

Personal perceptions based on peoples’ particular paradigms guide interpretations of phenomena and influence reactions, decisions, and judgments people make, in turn impacting relationships. Personal experiences, including those informed by mass-media communications, influence the development and/or modification of paradigms. This phenomenological critique examines the troublesome tendency, at least in the part of some individuals, to essentialize the character of law-enforcement officers based on particular paradigms related to their embodiment, which may be apprehended in a negative manner. While such perceptions may prove accurate in specific cases, blanket generalizations to the whole population can lead to erroneous judgments and poor relationality. Important consideration is given to the idea that law-enforcement officers and those they ostensibly “serve and protect” are situated “in-relation,” thus they co-constitute one another. The dynamics informing such co-constitution can influence the type of relationality that ensues. Understanding that perceptions and paradigms are limited, it is suggested that an ability and willingness to suspend, even if temporarily, the tendency to essentialize others due to perceptions of their “family resemblance” with particular populations, as well as increasing the willingness to engage in genuine dialogue, can assist in reframing perceptions and allow for positive relationality.