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Police Culture and Officer Behavior: Application of a Multilevel Framework

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 56 Issue: 4 Dated: 2018 Pages: 780-811
Date Published
32 pages
Since several significant research gaps remain in the study of police culture, including deficiencies in theoretical development and the lack of research on culture's influence on police practice, the current study applied a multilevel theoretical framework to the examination of officers' cultural attitudes and behavior to help bridge these gaps.

In doing so, police culture was treated as a collective feature of patrol groups as opposed to an individual-level attribute. Furthermore, the study extended previous work by introducing the concept of culture strength as a moderator of the culture-behavior relationship. After drawing on survey and behavioral data from a national multimethod project, the study then tested this framework with two empirical examples from each of the primary work environments (i.e., street and organization) in which police culture originates and operates. The findings reveal that workgroup culture is associated with officers' behaviors, representing a collective effect, and that the relationship between culture and behavior may not always be linear. The results provide support for incorporating a multilevel approach to the study of police culture and officer behavior. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2018