Profession-specific ideologies : a latent class analysis of police officers’ opinions on the role of the police
In the absence of surveys on how police officers vote, study of profession-specific ideologies – ideologies that in this case reflect the politicization of ordinary police officers, politicization that is an integral part of their professional socialization – allows for approaching political orientations in the world of the police. Using a questionnaire survey of 5,221 police officers of all ranks, we identified ideological dissension in how the job of police officer is conceived. The latent class method brings to light three opinion classes that we designate « repressive », « median » and « preventive ». These three profiles allow for distinguishing police officers by their responses to the questions of what the primary tasks of the police are, what groups should be monitored, who the police should choose as partners, and causes of delinquency. Analysis of the social and professional attributes of police officer respondents in each of the three opinion classes then reveals the preponderance of professional characteristics over socio-demographic variables in the three-class distribution.