Police officers share a set of attitudes, norms and values that are very essential in their extremely tough working environment. It is these set of values and attitudes that constitute what is referred to as the policing culture. The police culture has been dynamic in recent times due to philosophical and organizational changes that have completely eroded the conventional meaning of police culture.
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The policing culture is very difficult to understand because personal characteristics of officers are completely different from their occupational characteristics. Conventional wisdom portrays a completely different notion about the outlook of police officers. The policing culture varies from one country to another because each country has its unique structures and code of conduct of the police. This paper will examine the similarities and differences between the policing culture in the U.S and Japan.
The policing culture is very broad and it consists of both the organizational and the occupational culture. The modern policing culture in the U.S and Japan has been inherited in order to maintain historical legacies (Dammer, 2010).
Routines like parades and saluting are part of the policing culture that has been around for a very long time. Police officers in the U.S and Japan are expected to be physically and mentally strong at all times. This policing norm makes the officers to be reliable and always ready for action when called upon (Gains, 2011).
The American and Japanese police officers have a similar mentality when it comes to masculinity. Feminine traits such as gentleness and sensitivity are not part of the policing culture. Police officers encounter criminals in the course of their duty, and they are therefore expected to be very vigilant (Gains, 2011). The masculine culture is slowly fading due to the inclusion of women in both the American and Japanese police forces.
Group solidarity is another policing culture common in the U.S and Japan police forces. The police have a tendency of isolating themselves from the general public. Police solidarity motivates the officers while at the time increases efficiency in their line of duty.
The culture of solidarity comes naturally within the police force because the officers share similar fates, challenges and histories (Gains, 2011). The culture of group solidarity is sometimes abused by officers because they use it to cover for fellow officers in case of misconduct (Dammer, 2010). The solidarity culture is very common in almost all police forces across the world including Japan and America.
Japan is a politically stable country with the majority of its departments being corrupt free. The police force in Japan is forbidden from corruption and involvement in local politics (Dammer, 2010). It is this sense of integrity that has led to a more efficient police force without having regular police rotation.
A good number of departments in the U.S are corrupt and therefore rotation is meant to restrain the police force from being involved in corruption and local politics. Uniforms are part of the police culture that is meant to give them identity and legality when dealing with citizens. The culture of uniforms is very common in both the U.S and the Japanese policing culture (Das, 2003).
The number of policemen in Japan is small compared to the number of police officers in the U.S. Despite their small number, the Japanese police force is more effective and efficient because the Japanese police have a culture of maintaining a close relationship with the citizens (Das, 2003). Apart from law enforcement and crime prevention, the Japanese police are also involved in resolving domestic disputes.
The U.S police are only involved in law enforcement and crime prevention. It is this culture of maintaining a close relationship with the public that has considerably reduced the Japanese government’s spending on correction facilities, courts and police (Dammer, 2010). The situation is completely different in the U.S because the U.S Government spends a lot of money on security including massive recruitment of the police every year (Das, 2003).
The policing ideas in Japan are very different from the ones used in the U.S because Japan has a homogenous culture that promotes peaceful co-existence. The homogenous culture in Japan gives their police force an easy time in doing their job because the police do not have to deal with racial and cultural conflicts (Dammer, 2010). The Japanese police encounter very few hate and racial violence crimes compared to their U.S counterparts.
The fact that the Japanese police force comes from one race makes it easy for the officers to work together because their cultural and occupational norms are very similar (Dammer, 2010). The American police force consists of officers from different races and this may lead to ideological differences within the police force. Maintaining law and order in a multi-racial community is a difficult call for the police officers because they have to come up with special tactics for each culture.
The Japanese society is associated with politeness and this is also replicated in their police force. The situation is very different in America where the police are known to be aggressive with politeness and gentleness not being part of their vocabulary (Dammer, 2010). The aggressive nature of the U.S police force is attributed the type of environment that they operate in.
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Crime is very prevalent in the U.S compared to Japan, and this makes police officers to use some excessive force when bringing some situations under control. The structured nature of the Japanese society enables police officers to develop a good relationship with the public. The Japanese culture lays much emphasis on groups where every person belonging to a particular group is expected to guard the interests of the group (Dammer, 2010).
The actions of every group member are supposed to affect the group in a positive way. The group philosophy is strictly followed in Japan right from the family level to places of work. The Japanese police officers are able to solve many problems because of the positive group influence (Dammer, 2010). The U.S police force lacks this form of positive peer pressure that is advantageous to the Japanese police force. According to the Japanese culture, peer pressure that leads people to doing good things is what brings development to the community.
There are quite a number of factors that make policing ideas and culture in Japan to be different from those in the U.S. To begin with, Japan has strong gun control laws compared to the U.S (Gains, 2011). The size of American population is almost twice the population of Japan.
Enforcing law and preventing crime in a very populous country like the U.S needs special police tactics and ideas. Some of the most prevalent crimes in the U.S compared to Japan include drugs and firearm crimes. Bravery and secrecy are essential elements of the police culture.
Brotherhood and solidarity build the working personality of the police force in Japan and America (Gains, 2011). Authoritarianism is embedded in the culture of the U.S police force. There are situations where the police feel overwhelmed because they are expected to play many roles with some of the roles being beyond their knowledge. The value system of police officers depends on the kind of training that the officers receive.
The training of police officers in the U.S puts much emphasis on crime prevention than maintaining a good relationship with the public. It is a great challenge to harmonize the police culture in the U.S because of the sociological and anthropological differences within the police force (Gains, 2011).
In conclusion, the policing culture in Japan and America has a fair share of similarities and differences. The homogenous nature of the Japanese culture is what makes policing in Japan to be much easy compared to the U.S. Solidarity and brotherhood are some of the universal elements of the police culture in many police forces across the world.
The police are always associated with aggressiveness and brutality especial during violent situations. The Japanese police force has a different approach to policing that involves building good relationships with the public.
The aggressive nature of the American police force has been influenced to a large extent by the high number of crimes that take place in the U.S. The American police are completely isolated from the public as a way of maintaining their secrecy. Social, cultural and racial orientation of country has a great influence on the country’s policing culture. Japan has the most effective policing system compared to the U.S because of its homogenous cultural orientation.
Dammer, H., (2010). Comparative criminal justice systems. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Das, D., (2003). Police mission: Challenges and responses. New York, NY: Scarecrow Press.
Gains, L., (2011). Policing in America. New York, NY: Elsevier.