Danger, Duty, and Disillusion: The Worldview of Los Angeles Police Officers by Joan C. Barker
228 pages, $30.95 list
self-contained study guide
eBook availability
Danger, Duty, and Disillusion
The Worldview of Los Angeles Police Officers
An insider view of an urban subculture! While much of the literature on police analyzes critically what they do, few works address issues of how police officers feel about their chosen profession, their worldview, or their visions. This refreshingly original and unique ethnographic contribution by anthropologist Joan Barker exposes the human element—one rarely seen by non-police—of officers working for the often-controversial L.A.P.D. During her twenty years of fieldwork, Barker gathered valuable information through formal, in-depth interviews and firsthand experiences, distilling her findings into an illuminating, coherent account. She discovers that five phases of occupational socialization normatively mold officers’ experiences and perceptions. “Fleshing out” her discussion is the compelling narrative of “Fred,” a traditional officer whose authentic voice reveals feelings and attitudes that manifest the essence of the human who does the job of policing. An “insider” view of an urban subculture usually known only from its public presentation.
“The author displays deep knowledge of the institution, and in this way provides an important counterpoint to strictly historical and structural analysis.” —J. Costa Vargas, University of California, San Diego

“As a former police officer for 25 years, I find the book to be remarkably intuitive. It clearly outlines a career path that many officers follow or that may be pre-determined for them.” —Robert Grebert, Sage College

“. . . an interesting, comprehensive examination of the true law enforcement environment.” —Susan Gearheart, Aims Community College

“This is a wonderful insider view of the police subculture and a great ethnographic contribution. Incredible fieldwork—20 years!” —Elka Hsu-Laferl, Saddleback College

“Barker’s book will be a great help for the understanding of urban problems, especially for students from a rural background. Many of them will work and live in big places such as L.A. I like the author’s unobstructed approach to the field of study.” —Michael Reinschmidt, California State University, Chico

“As a retired police officer, I found some of the personal comments to be right on the money!” —Thomas J. Doyle, Community College of Philadelphia

“I thoroughly enjoyed the book! It is, without doubt, one of the best pieces of research in street policing that I could ever think of, or have ever seen . . . it truly portrays the real street and what it is like for street cops.” —Richard E. Weaver, SUNY, Brockport
Table of Contents
1. The L.A.P.D.
2. Methodology
3. The World of Policing
4. Phase One: Hitting the Streets: The First Three Years
5. Phase Two: Hitting Their Stride
6. Phase Three: Hitting the Wall
7. Phase Four: Regrouping
8. Phase Five: Deciding to Retire
9. Reflections of a Traditional Officer
10. Making a Difference