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Police Officers/Law Enforcement Officials

Police in the United States serve three primary purposes, which vary in priority from agency to agency, place to place, and time to time—namely (a) enforcing the criminal law; (b) maintaining order; and (c) providing miscellaneous services ranging from offering directions to tourists, to changing tires, and watching vacant homes while owners are vacationing. Broadly, this amounts to protecting, maintaining, and furthering the existing social order, respectively. Insofar as the existing social order is directed chiefly by straight, White, Christian males, the police, at times, have been unreceptive—or downright hostile—to anyone else. The police have traditionally been very conservative politically and have scored high on measures of right-wing authoritarianism. As American policing in particular and American society more broadly have evolved, however, the police have ...

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