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The media and its approach to the sensitive issue of law and order has come in for some criticism from crime experts recently

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Introduction

The media and its approach to the sensitive issue of law and order has come in for some criticism from crime experts recently who say that media spin on crime is driving populist law and order policies that don't work. But perceptions appear to be almost as important as crime itself these days as it plays a vital role in the way police operate. The community judges law enforcement personnel by what appears in the media. Very few citizens have direct contact with police officers; so, they make decisions on the police department's effectiveness based on what they read, see, or hear. I have created a discussion thread on an internet forum for car enthusiasts know as OZHonda. In this thread I asked the users about their thoughts on media's role in policing, the users on this site vary in age and gender, the responses can be viewed in the assignment appendix. From looking at some of the responses, one aspect of media's effect on policing can be highlighted in post #2 in the thread by the user "Boostzor". ...read more.

Middle

In every subject category, crimes, criminals, crime fighters, the investigation of crimes, arrests, the processing and disposition of cases, the entertainment media present a world of crime and justice that is not found in reality" (Surette 1998, p. 47). These shows do not give an accurate representation of policing to the public and somewhat places certain expectations on the police which can be of negative nature in cases, such as if there is a crime, the victim will expect the police to perform as well as it was seen on the TV show otherwise the victim will not feel reattributed and will show rejection towards the police. Public attitudes towards police are not always negative (Huang and Vaughn 1996). News accounts tend to exaggerate the proportion of offences that result in arrest which projects an image that police are more effective than official statistics demonstrate (Sacco and Fair 1988). The favourable view of policing is partly a consequence of police's public relations strategy. Reporting of proactive police activity creates an image of the police as effective and efficient investigators of crime (Christensen, Schmidt and Henderson 1982). ...read more.

Conclusion

Negative or positive attitudes towards the police may influence police policy making and strategy. Second, citizen attitudes towards the police may influence decisions to report crime. Third, both fear of crime and punitive attitudes may influence policy making and law making by government agencies, as public support or opposition may determine policy. Given that most Australians rely on media accounts of crime and criminal justice for their understanding of the crime problem, research suggests that many citizens are thoroughly misinformed about criminal justice policy and police work in particular. In my research on the show "CSI," I concluded that overzealous and unrealistic portrayals of police effectiveness, portrayals of police as superhero crime fighters who always catch their man, in the end actually work to compromise our ability to fight crime and harm police by placing unrealistic expectations on them. However much we might want to believe that simply hiring more police and building more prisons to house their arrestees will solve the crime problem, long lasting solutions to the crime problem clearly depend on addressing the underlying social problems that make police work such a challenging occupation. ...read more.

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