The Vulnerability of Police in Policing the Vulnerable Community of Macquarie Field
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This chapter, through the lived experiences of police officers, examines the vulnerability of police performing duties in the socially disadvantaged community of Macquarie Fields, a suburb in south-western Sydney, Australia. Interviews conducted with 27 street police and three police managers revealed work-related vulnerabilities. These arose from negative interactions between police and those community members with whom they had the most contact; unemployed youth from the local housing estates. The vulnerabilities which police experienced included initial shock when commencing duties for the first time at Macquarie Fields. These consisted of officers being shocked by disrespect and physical abuse exhibited by community members towards police as well as vast perceptions of lifestyle and moral differences held by police towards those community members. In addition, police participants lacked a sense of community belonging and felt unappreciated, used and frustrated in their attempts to assist these community members. Police also perceived vast degrees of otherness between themselves and those community members with whom they came in contact. These perceptions of difference included: ambition; care of children; morals and values; drug use; education; employment; hygiene; motivation and respect for authority and family. In discovering ways to assist police overcome such vulnerabilities, the chapter explores the enhancement of Macquarie Fields and implementation of practical policing strategies.
KeywordsCommunity Member Police Officer Police Attitude Service Learning Social Disadvantage
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