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Abstract

Examines police decision making by focusing on stories from 10 officers & drawing together contemporary thought about identities & police subculture. The inquiry suggests that police decision making is both improvisational & patterned. Cops are moral agents who tag people with identities as they project identities of their own. They engage in raw forms of division or stereotyping, marking some as Others to be feared & themselves as protectors of society, while exercising their coercive powers to punish "the bad." Due, in part, to the many ways that they identify themselves, cops also connect with people as unique individuals, including individuals whose categorical identities (eg, drug dealers) put them at the margins of society. Rather than using their coercive powers to repress these individuals, cops infuse them with certain virtues (eg, good family men) while cutting them breaks. As they complicate representations of themselves, cops also project complex notions of law & legality. Moral discourse seems to infuse their judgments, while they invoke law strategically as a tool to enforce their moral judgments. 1 Appendix, 38 References. Adapted from the source document.

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