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Conducting a Research into the Police Force
As stipulated by laws of different nations across the world, the rule of law is paramount in preventing criminal acts in any society. The police force is the principal organ used in most if not all setups to maintain law and order. However, this profession faces numerous challenges that range from ensuring effective delivery of services, personal security risks, and controversial pay packages for police officers among others. Therefore, the profession offers a rich and fertile ground for research. This is because there are many facts that could be unknown or unverified and at the same time these are responsible for the different probable observations within the police force. This paper presents a research methodology that can be used to investigate effectively and expose various facts such as nature of this job and expectations among other issues behind various police performance outcomes in relation to the criminal justice system.
Undertaking a research into effectiveness of the police force falls under social research. In this regard, the most salient factor to consider is the manner in which data of the highest quality is obtained. Therefore, a social approach to research is vital in extracting data from the police. It is also worth noting that the police force is an extraordinarily sensitive organ. This means that the need to seek consent from the respondents is not negotiable. According to Dantzker (2011, p. 23), a consent will eliminate any chances of becoming intrusive; thus, avoid causing harm to the respondents. This will ensure that the necessary confidentiality measures are put in place due to sensitivity of the information to be obtained. This means the consent has to be voluntary and obtained after trust has been attained between the researcher and the respondents.
The methodology that will work well for this research is the one based on acquiring data from the primary sources. This implies that data collection will be obtaied directly from the police officers. That will ensure that the data collected is of the highest quality since it is original. For the research is built upon factors that affect the effectiveness of the police, this will provide a timely opportunity to explore and analyze original data. This way, error or misconception, will be avoided. However, secondary data sources such as books and other publications are necessary to relate past observations and the current trends. This is important because the police force is an old profession and is faced with the same conventional challenges.
According to Maxfield, & Earl (2011, p. 175), in-person interview surveys are remarkably effective in conducting this type of research. This is because they engage the respondents directly; thus, aiding in getting most out of the respondents. In addition, these interviews will be small-scale, implying that less time will be taken due to the sensitivity and nature of the profession. Similarly, confidential information can be obtained since a respondent can be convinced easily in the presence of an interviewer to give more information. Such information may be involving salaries and other remuneration disparities and organizational weaknesses, which may affect the effectiveness of the police force.
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When conducting a research, especially the research that touches on the criminal justice system, it is crucial to remain neutral during interviews. This is meant to avoid biased responses from the respondents. It is particularly helpful in avoiding harmful research, meaning that emotional harm is probable. In this regard, the questions asked will be objective. This implies that the questions address issues directly, with the aim of getting the targeted information only. Examples of such questions will be:
- What do you think is the main problem that hinders the police force from performing as expected?
- Is the police code of ethics effective in outlining what is expected from the force?
- Does acaademic qualification affect the manner in which police officers work?
These questions are objective because they target specific issues that depend on specific questions to be answered. They avoid getting into personal issues; thus, making the collected data reliable.
The data analysis suitable for the research is qualitative analysis. This is a non-numerical data analysis method that is based on observations from an individual. Therefore, the data collected will be descriptive rather than numerical. The use of qualitative analysis is believed to have a greater sense of meaning. However, it is recommended that the data be quantified when analyzing the results. This will help in interpreting the data based on the frequencies or magnitude of its citing by the respondents.
Qualitative data analysis is also effective in measuring professionalism. Carter (2006) posits that professionalism in the police force can be assessed objectively by counting the number of times a police officer was engaged in certain activities. Therefore, obtaining the correct data regarding how professional an officer is can be used to assess the effectiveness. Similarly, the most probable reasons can be traced by the use of numbers, that is, by considering the qualitative nature of the data. Therefore, qualitative data analysis will be prioritized and then quantified. This is necessary, for numbers will be required to arrive at accurate interpretations and conclusions in the research.
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In conclusion, it is evident that conducting a research involving the criminal justice system is a social research. Therefore, fundamental social factors have to be observed in order to obtain data of the highest quality. It is also crucial to know the nature of the respondents contacted; thus, coming up with the necessary prelude steps. In this case, the sensitivity of the data expected necessitates seeking for consent before setting out to collect the data.
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