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- Police officers are an integral part of our society, they exist to establish and maintain stability and safety for the citizens which are in their jurisdiction.
It has been argued that public opinion, known to be both largely uninformed and frequently misunderstood, both indirectly and directly affects policy.
It is known, for example, that politicians and policymakers look to polls and other measures of public opinion to gauge the mood of the public or the popularity of proposed crime policy.
Misconceptions aside, public opinion data from a variety of sources offer policymakers a window into the views of their constituents.
Some have argued that punitive criminal justice policy is simply evidence of “democracy at work,” with policymakers simply responding to the desires of their constituents.
With the emphasis placed on democratic values in contemporary society, much attention has been paid to the role of public opinion in the formation of public policy generally and criminal justice policy specifically.
The punitive turn in criminal justice policy, epitomized by policies such as “three strikes” laws, truth-in-sentencing, and mandatory minimums, is often attributed in part to demand for harsher criminal justice responses from an increasingly punitive public.Indeed, there are a number of competing theses about the nature of the relationship between the media, public opinion, and public policy.The media is certainly the source for most of the information the public processes about crime, and research has consistently found that the media, with its focus on stories that emphasize the most unusual and extreme (yet least common) types of crime, offers a decidedly distorted picture of the nature and extent of the crime problem.When used in conjunction with more current work such as Flanagan and Longmire 1996 or Peter D.Hart Research Associates 2002, Hindelang 1974 and Stinchcombe, et al.Wood and Gannon 2009 provides a recent edited (and eclectic) collection of essays on public opinion across an array of topics relevant to crime and justice.The various works of Roberts and colleagues, and the edited collection of from Wood and Gannon 2009 are notable also for their international focus.Our law enforcement staff is no exception to this rule; in 2010 there were 4,861 reports of police misconduct in the United States (NPMSRP).Police misconduct can mean anything from fraud or theft, to sexual assault or the use of excessive force....Roberts, who has authored numerous influential books and several survey articles on public opinion and criminal justice.Though slightly outdated, Roberts 1992 is a classic and will remain so until a similarly comprehensive survey article on the topic is published.