Book Review: O'Hara, P. (2005). Why Law Enforcement Organizations Fail: Mapping the Organizational Fault Lines in Policing. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press. pp. xii, 216

Published date01 March 2008
Date01 March 2008
AuthorJohn M. Marks
Subject MatterArticles
/tmp/tmp-17W6kNNU5PYl2M/input Book Reviews
observed by race and ethnic groups. They go further by assessing public opinion of how
much misconduct occurs and what misconduct means to the public. Much like the other
chapters in the book, this discussion is guided by theory, and their findings are presented
clearly using both quantitative and qualitative analyses.
Their work is guided theoretically by the group-position thesis, which is an added con-
tribution to the literature on perceptions of race-biased policing. This thesis is particularly
relevant to this work because the thesis stresses perceived (and not necessarily real) threats to
dominant group interests. However, one issue is that their data tended to lack direct measures
of the group-position thesis. Their research nonetheless provides evidence reflective of this
thesis and, by offering theoretically driven work, this research advances the theoretical
investigation of police behavior. Another issue I had was with some of the measures. One
indicator of “racial diversification” of police departments comes to mind. Although they
incorporated several questions to tap public attitudes toward the need to diversify police
departments along racial lines, one in particular was, “Do you think that minorities should
be given preferences in hiring so that a police department will have a similar racial makeup
to the racial makeup of that city?” The political nature of this question, in particular the
rather widespread misconceptions by the public concerning affirmative action and unfair
practices, would likely influence their responses. On the other hand, the chapter on police
reform, and specifically the discussion of the level of support for certain kinds of reform
across racial groups, was not only original, but could be useful in informing public policy.
Few researchers have addressed police reform efforts directly and none at the level of detail
offered by Weitzer and Tuch.
At the end of the book, what we find is that the public is divided...

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