Group Socialization and Cohesion in Policing


Imagine two young police recruits from similar backgrounds who are hired by a police department at the same time. For the purpose of this hypothetical but conceivable scenario, both are males of the same race from the same community, and they have similar socio-economic backgrounds. They attend the police academy together and receive the same formal training. Upon graduation, they enter the same field training program with their department. Upon graduating from field training, the two recruits’ paths diverge for the first time—one gets assigned to patrol team A, while the other joins patrol team B.

From this point forward, their careers take different directions. Officer A finds himself part of a team that places high value on functional group norms that fulfill the department’s mission. The group reinforces the core values, guiding principles, and ethical standards that the recruit internalized during formal academy and field training. As Officer A grows and develops as a police officer, he adopts a positive view of his organization and his relationship with the community. He excels at his job and quickly attains success and satisfaction.