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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751

Abstract

STEYN, Jean. Darker shades of blue. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2008, vol.48, n.4, pp.412-438. ISSN 2224-7912.

The South African elections of April 1994 ushered in a democracy and redefined the political and social context within which policing in South Africa would take place in the future. The South African Police Service (SAPS) was established on the 27th of January 1995 in terms of section 214 of the Interim Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1993. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act No. 108 of 1996, subsequently made provision under section 205 for the establishment of a National Police Service that is transparent, accountable, representative, legitimate and impartial. The Constitution further implicitly prescribes in section 222 community policing as the style of policing to be adopted by the SAPS as a vehicle to improve police-community relations and, in general, enhance service delivery to all of its citizens.For change in the policing style to be effective and long lasting the ideology must be supported by the life and worldview within the police culture. This includes changing the basic assumptions of individual police officers with regard to the organisation and its environment. To this effect, the Minister of Safety and Security, at the time Mr Sidney Mufimady, stated that: The philosophy of community policing must inform and pervade the entire organisation. Changing the police culture is perhaps one of the most significant challenges facing the new government (South Africa, 1994). In partial achievement of this transformation the SAPS implemented a national policy of ensuring gender equity in the make-up of the Service in order to become more representative of the larger society. Such a policy is likely to have a direct impact on the maintenance of the traditional culture of the South African police as manifested in the previous South African Police (SAP). Alpert, Dunham and Stroshine (2006) have argued that an increase in diversity, to include women, may result in fragmenting, if not destroying the concept of a singular police culture. Specifically it is argued that employment of females may undermine some of the more "masculine qualities of police culture and instead engender a "softer, kinder" form of policing" (Miller, 1999). Paoline, Myers and Worden (2000) have also argued that the inclusion of women in police organisations may effect the negation of many of the characteristics of the police subculture that have emphasized the distrust of and isolation from the public. By contrast, Brogden and Shearing (1993) have suggested that policing style is unlikely to change as a result of changes in recruitment policy. Martin (1980), Sutton (1992), Heidensohn (1992) and Young (1991) also note that women recruited into male-dominated police organisations adapt either by embracing the male police culture, and thus becoming 'defeminised' into police-women; or by taking on a more traditional, service-oriented role, and thus becoming 'de-professionalised' into police-women. This article reports on a preliminary investigation into the presence/absence of deviant police culture themes (solidarity, isolation and cynicism) that go against the grain of principles of community oriented policing - among South African Police Service recruits entering basic police training in January of 2005 and changes that may have occurred in these attitudes over the period of the six-month basic training and the subsequent six-month field training experience. The research found significant evidence that the SAPS is recruiting newcomers that have attitudes that conform to a police culture of solidarity, isolation and cynicism. The study further found that the SAPS basic training (generally) only serves to either maintain or strengthen newcomers ' attitudes in support of a police culture of solidarity, isolation and cynicism.

Keywords : Police culture; solidarity; isolation; cynicism; theme; South African Police Service; basic training; new recruits.

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