Date of Award

Fall 12-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


College of Urban and Public Affairs

Major Professor

Dr. Pam Jenkins

Second Advisor

Dr. Martha Ward

Third Advisor

Dr. David Gladstone

Fourth Advisor

Ronal w. Serpas, Ph.D.



The culture of law enforcement is an all or nothing proposition with no gray area where membership into this society is concerned. You are either “on the job” or you are not. Even references among officers to “the job” indicate there is only one job. Likened to a secret handshake, that initial phrase if answered correctly opens the door to instant fraternal acceptance, get out of violation passes, and the many other assumed privileges of brotherhood. Manning (1980) describes the powerful mystification of policing as the “sacred canopy”. He further asserts that “the police role conveys a sense of sacredness or awesome power that lies at the root of political order, and authority, the claims a state makes upon its people for deference to rules, laws and norms” (Manning, 1980, p. 21).

These elements make policing unique to all other American occupations. The sacredness of the profession creates social autonomy protected by the officers’ code of silence. Operating in this vacuum apart from public accountability fosters an environment for behavior outside of laws the institution is charged with enforcing. My research shows the process of occupational socialization ushers officers into a state of becoming blue, or the enculturation of expectant behavior and actions. I confirm that assignments into the Special Operations Group (SOG) facilitate a subculture separate and apart from the institutional ideals (Librett, 2006) and encourage a darkening of the shade of blue identifying officers with a labeling of deviance.

While previous research identifies the code of silence as a by-product of the policing culture, my research identifies it as fundamental for maintaining the covenant of the dark blue fraternity.


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