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Breaking the Code of Silence: The Importance of Control Systems and Empathy Toward Outgroups

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 49 Issue: 11 Dated: 2022 Pages: 1637–1655
Date Published
19 pages

This study examines changes in new officer recruits’ attitudes toward the code of silence in the context of control systems and attitudes toward outgroups.


This study using data from 654 new officers attending several training academies in the United States to examine changes in recruits’ attitudes toward the code of silence showed that recruits’ experiences at the academies strengthened their adherence to the code and that shifts in officers’ attitudes about the community, seriousness of the misconduct, expected discipline, and familiarity with agency policies were directly associated with changes in their adherence to the code, but changes in job satisfaction and perceptions of organizational justice were not. Female officers exhibited less adherence to the code in incidents of physical violence compared with male officers. The results confirm the need for reform in police training. Specifically, academy leaders should ensure that instructors and training materials present positive images of the community as well as strengthen social control systems which reinforce the importance of reporting coworker’s misconduct. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2022