Violence and the Police

  • Jean-Paul Brodeur

Abstract

Egon Bittner defines the role of the police as “a mechanism for the distribution of nonnegotiably coercive force employed in accordance with the dictates of an intuitive grasp of situational exigencies” (Bittner, 1970/1990:131).1 This definition should be read in conjunction with Max Weber’s dictum that the State is defined by its monopoly on the use of legitimate force (Weber, 1946) and Norbert Elias’ work on the domestication of violence within Western societies (Elias, [ 1989], 1996). With slight variations, it stands as the customary definition of the role of police in the scientific literature of different countries (Bayley, 1983; Monjardet, 1996; Funk, 1986; Schneider, 1987; Lofthouse, 1996; Waddington, 1999). The use of force is then viewed as the core of policing. Hence, far from being inherently problematic, the relationship between violence and policing is viewed as fundamentally unquestionable.

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

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  • Jean-Paul Brodeur

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