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Police Accountability Through Community-focused Officer Training

Jodie M. Dewey (Chestnut Health System’s Lighthouse Institute, USA)

The Emerald International Handbook of Activist Criminology

ISBN: 978-1-80262-200-3, eISBN: 978-1-80262-199-0

Publication date: 9 August 2023


The call to defund the police emerges globally from the voices of those who stand up to police brutality. Reallocating funds so that non-criminalising entities can meet community needs is crucial, but it does not address the problem in the system of policing. Further, the call for accountability cannot just emerge after a police-related death but must extend to the process of police work, beginning with police academy training. The author can identify and solve the most pressing issues by examining officer training as it is foundational to departmental work culture, organisational structure, and daily decision-making. Based on participant observation of academy lectures, scenario training, and informal conversations at two police academies in the Midwestern part of the United States, the author uncovers daily processes in which new recruits are socialised into their role as officers. Data reveal officers are taught a racialised decision-making logic that prioritises arrest, and perpetuates harm against its citizens. Training also devalues formal education, undermining knowledge that can expand officer thinking and critical self-reflection. Adhering to the goals of activist criminology, this chapter illuminates deeply rooted patterns of oppression and suggests reform aligned with critical social justice and anti-racist principles.



Dewey, J.M. (2023), "Police Accountability Through Community-focused Officer Training", Canning, V., Martin, G. and Tombs, S. (Ed.) The Emerald International Handbook of Activist Criminology (Emerald Studies in Activist Criminology), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 351-362.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Jodie M. Dewey