How German police officers reflect their organisation’s learning processes during the pandemic.
The paper is based on interviews that have been conducted in autumn 2020 with 30 police officers in different positions who work for the Länder Niedersachsen and Northrhine-Westfalia. They have been interviewed for a project that aims at understanding the forms of knowledge that are being activated in the police profession.
Amongst many things we asked the interviewees what kind of learning processes they were seeing within the police that might have been impacted by the pandemic. The answers they have been given hint a lot at the “porous passivity” (“löchrige Passivität”) that the psychologist Stephan Grünewald has found to be the answer of the general German public towards the measures takes against the corona-virus.
We found there to be five different aspects that the answers of the interviewees can be ordered into – one is the impression that police work does not change much due to the pandemic. 2.) but police officers miss being with their colleagues a lot, 3.) many say that the contact between the general public and the police has become more difficult a) because of the mask that makes mimicking and understanding the other more complex and b) because people might think it to be too difficult to get into contact with the police. 4.) protection against invisible threats such as viruses and bacteria has been an issue before corona so officers are happy that finally theses concerns are being taken seriously, 5.) the maybe most interesting answers concern the impression of at least some officers that corona is something that comes from “above” (in the hierarchical sense) and that they have to deal with it even though they regard the real danger to be much smaller than assumed by the political class.
So, in short, the police officers we talked to do not seem to see much learning during the pandemic – but they miss being police officer “out there on the street” they and are not really sure if they pandemic is at all that dangerous.
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