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Accountability and Police Violence: a Research on Accounts to Cope with Excessive Use of Force in Italy

Abstract

Accountability is a vital element of policing. Over time, the public has demanded more control over police activities, while policing has attracted a good deal of controversy, such as the discriminatory and violent manner in which police officers treat individuals. In this paper, we explore Italian police accountability when faced with violent actions following the articulation at two levels: a micro-level—the communication strategies adopted by the police unions to account for their actions—and a macro-level—the understanding of the political and social system in which the police act, namely the Italian system. The results of the thematic analysis highlighted the recourse to excuses, justifications, and apologies. In terms of the effects on the audience, the unions divide into two groups: the first made exclusive use of defensive accountability strategies (excuses and justifications) and the second used reconciling accountability strategies (apologies). We discuss these findings regarding the interaction between the police and the public in Italy.

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Notes

  1. Extended meaning of the abbreviated labels: COISP: Coordinamento per l’indipendenza sindacale delle Forze di Polizia—Coordination for trade union independence of the Police Force; CONSAP: Confederazione sindacale autonoma di Polizia—Independent union confederation of Police; SAP: Sindacato autonomo di Polizia – Independent Police union; SIAP: Sindacato italiano appartenenti di Polizia—Italian union of Police members; SILP: Sindacato dei lavoratori di Polizia—Union of Police workers; SIULP: Sindacato italiano dei lavoratori della Polizia di Stato—Italian union of State Police workers; UGL: Unione generale del lavoro—General union of work.

  2. SAPPE: Sindacato autonomo Polizia Penitenziaria—Independent union of Penitentiary Police; SINAPPE: Sindacato nazionale autonomo Polizia Penitenziaria—National independent union of Penitentiary Police; OSAPP: Organizzazione sindacale autonoma Polizia Penitenziaria—Independent Penitentiary Police union organization.

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Correspondence to Adriano Zamperini.

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Zamperini, A., Siracusa, V. & Menegatto, M. Accountability and Police Violence: a Research on Accounts to Cope with Excessive Use of Force in Italy. J Police Crim Psych 32, 172–183 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11896-016-9208-7

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Keywords

  • Accounts
  • Apologies
  • Excuses
  • Justifications
  • Policing
  • Social communication
  • Violence