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Police deviance and community relations in Trinidad and Tobago

Nathan W. Pino (Department of Sociology, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA)
Lee Michael Johnson (Department of Sociology and Criminology, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Georgia, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 23 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

Corruption and poor relations with citizens are known to be pervasive in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS). Police deviance permeates all levels of the TTPS and threatens the sustainability of reforms. The purpose of this study is to explore the nature and consequences of police deviance in Trinidad and Tobago through the perspectives of community leaders.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were obtained through individual and focus group interviews with members of local community‐based and non‐governmental organizations and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service in 2009. The data were examined to reveal respondents' perceptions concerning the nature and consequences of police deviance as well as its solutions.

Findings

The types of police deviance that emerged as major themes were inadequate crime control and protection of citizens, maltreatment of citizens, capricious response to criminals and bias toward less serious crimes, and police corruption and collusion with criminals. However, respondents also offered solutions and expressed optimism about police‐community cooperation.

Social implications

Results suggest both the need and potential to improve police‐citizen relations and reduce police deviance. The paper discusses possible solutions, giving special attention to sustainability and democratic policing reform.

Originality/value

Very little research has been conducted on police deviance in the Caribbean. The few studies that can be found focus on brutality and rely more on police survey and official data. Using in‐depth interview data, the current study adds to this small body of research by describing the impact of police deviance on community relations in Trinidad and Tobago.

Keywords

Citation

Pino, N.W. and Johnson, L.M. (2011), "Police deviance and community relations in Trinidad and Tobago", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 454-478. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639511111157519

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited