Old versus new : a South African Police Service culture attitudinal comparison.
Contemporary ethnographers (Cockcroft, 2013; O’Neill, Marks & Singh, 2007; Sklansky, 2005) argue that new developments in policing have changed the police, and that traditional understanding of police culture, as a consequence, are no longer relevant. More specifically, these researchers fashionably imply that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has changed many of the traits of police culture that accentuate the cynicism of and isolation from the public. This masters’ dissertation is an attempt to contribute to this narrative by comparing the police culture themes of solidarity, isolation, and cynicism attitudes of two (2) different cohorts of new South African Police Service (SAPS) recruits separated by ten (10) years. By making use of the 30-item police culture themes of solidarity, isolation, and cynicism questionnaire, designed by Steyn (2005), the study established that a representative sample (138 out of a population of 140) of new SAPS recruits from the SAPS Chatsworth Basic Training Institute (August 2015), had remarkably similar attitudes in support of police culture themes of solidarity, isolation, and cynicism, compared to a representative sample of all new SAPS recruits that started their basic training in January 2005 (Steyn, 2005). Although small in representation, the current study refutes the claims made by Cockcroft (2013), O’Neill, Marks & Singh (2007), and Sklansky (2005), that traditional understandings of police culture are no longer relevant. The current study further argues that new developments in the South African Police Service (SAPS) over the past ten (10) years (2005-2015) have not done much to counteract traits of police culture that accentuate the cynicism of and isolation from the public.
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