DOI: 10.5553/EJPS/2034760X2022001004

European Journal of Policing StudiesAccess_open


The Significance of Embodied Learning in Police Education

Keywords field training officers, police in-field training, police student, embodiment, supervision
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Linda Antoniett Hoel, 'The Significance of Embodied Learning in Police Education', (2023) European Journal of Policing Studies 138-155

    This article examines the role of the Norwegian field training officers (FTOs) as they see it and what they regard as important to teach police students attending in-field training. In Norway, FTOs are lower rank police officers, many of whom have newly graduated from the Norwegian Police University College (NPUC). The FTOs interviewed in this study described police work as a bodily practice and the subsequent teaching and learning as body oriented. The analysis shows that reflection on policing in-field is “inward looking”. The article situates this focus as an example of the FTOs’ “identity work” as resistance to the institutional requirements related to higher education. The article discusses how the purpose of in-field training and the purpose of higher police education entail an “identity tension” that may result in a salient problem regarding a common and holistic understanding of the purpose of police (higher) education.

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    • 1 Introduction

      Police education varies from country to country with regard to structure, curriculum and length (Paterson, 2011). However, most western educational programmes combine theoretical education with practical training (Cordner & Shain, 2011; Kratcoski, 2004), but with different purposes. Generally, the theoretical education is said to develop “… the ability to conceptualize and expand the theoretical and analytic learning process” (Kratcoski, 2004, pp. 103-104), while the purpose of the practical training is to gain “… the skills needed to accomplish the immediate tasks and goals of police operations” (p. 104). Although this distinction is well established in the literature (Charman, 2017; Heslop, 2011), what and how police students learn in the respective sectors is far more complicated (Charman, 2017).1x For further discussion of the concept of education and training, see Charman (2017). Heslop (2011) underlines how “policing is an inherently practical activity” (p. 330). It is at the workplace where learning of the “craft” actually takes place and not least the cultivation of the police habitus (Chan et al., 2003; Heslop, 2011).
      There is an ongoing debate about what is learned where regarding the two sectors (Charman, 2017). The Norwegian debate concerns mainly the in-school education’s theoretical focus. Students find this focus too dominating and not relevant for practice (Aas, 2016; Hoel et al., 2009; Lagestad, 2013). However, there exists no scientific study of the Norwegian Police University College’s (NPUC’s) in-field training but for a couple of master theses in pedagogy (Dahl, 2009; Kristiansen, 2007), indicating a scientific gap regarding police training nationally. Internationally, this observation is supported by Paterson (2011) and Charman (2017). The latter emphasizes that “the tutor phase of police probationer training remains perhaps the most significant but least well-evaluated aspect of police training” (Charman, 2017, p. 73). Yet studies such as Charman’s (2017), Karp and Stenmark’s (2011), Harris et al.’s (2004) and Heslop’s (2011) claim that the practical in-field training has the greatest influence on the students’ learning and socialization and thus significantly influences the students’ outcome. This article looks closely at the in-field training of the Norwegian police education from the field training officers’ (FTOs’) perspective.
      The Norwegian police education is governmental, and the ministry of justice and public security owns the NPUC. Police education is imparted through a three-year bachelor’s programme comprising in-school education in the first and third years and in-field training in the second year.2x For further details of the NPUC’s educational system, see Aas (2016) and Lagestad (2013). The objective of this structure is to integrate theory and practice so that the students’ critical understanding of policing is enhanced in order to enable them to act as change agents and contribute to the continuous development of the police force. According to the curriculum (Politihøgskolen, 2013/2014), integrating the two aspects is a responsibility shared between the NPUC and the police sector. However, because of organizational structures there are limited opportunities for professional dialogue and cooperation between the two sectors (Moland, 2016).
      Although the in-field training structure seems to vary from country to country (Paterson, 2011), pairing the student with an FTO is a common practice internationally. In Norway FTOs are obliged to follow the NPUC’s curriculum for in-field training; through daily practice teach and tutor on various policing aspects, procedures, technical and communicative skills, as well as stimulate and develop the student’s reflections on practical experiences. In addition, FTOs tutor on academic mandatory assignments that assign credit points (Politihøgskolen, 2013/2014), and the FTOs assess and document the students’ learning process as approved or not approved. The FTOs are lower rank police officers, many of whom acquire their bachelor’s degree from NPUC.
      This study examines Norwegian FTOs’ views on in-field training, in general, and, more specifically, their role and function as FTOs through in-depth interviews. The research question is: what factors do the FTOs claim to be most important when tutoring students to become a police officer? The aim of the study is to gain insight into what FTOs experience as meaningful factors concerning teaching and learning and how this is imparted to students. Furthermore, the article discusses how in-field training for obvious reasons (see Heslop, 2011) differs from in-school education and the implications this may have for police education as higher education. The purpose is not to merit or demerit the FTOs but to investigate whether the organizational structure of police education may be a barrier to develop critical thinking about policing among both the students and the FTOs.

    • 2 Theoretical Considerations

      There is an extensive body of literature on occupational, informal learning and socialization (Hager & Hodkinson, 2009; Heslop, 2011; Kerosuo & Engeström, 2003; Wenger, 1998). It is well established that the in-field training is just as much a socialization process of becoming a member of the police organization as an identity process of becoming a police officer. For instance, research (Chan et al., 2003; Charman, 2017; Fekjær et al., 2014; Fielding, 1984; Van Maanen, 1976) illustrates the potential impact that “cop culture”3x For a nuanced and relevant understanding of police culture’s resistance and change, see Chan (2003). has on students’ views, values and attitudes towards policing. Thus, learning has been synonymous with identifying with the prevailing cop culture as well as “obedience to authority” (Conti, 2009, p. 409). Chan’s study of police recruits, however, proves that recruits adjust their behaviour in order “to ‘fit in’ with the dominant culture of their workplace” (Chan et al., 2003, p. 312) and will not passively adopt the dominant values and attitudes of the cop culture. Chan et al. (2003) report how police students develop a “feeling for the game” at the workplace owing to the socialization process, which is more about “participating” and “becoming” a police officer than learning skills through acquisition and transference (Heslop, 2011).
      There is hardly any literature on the FTOs’ role in this process. Even though this study does not focus on the students’ socialization and learning processes, we may consider that FTOs are officers who have gone through stages of socialization (Fekjær et al., 2014; Van Maanen, 1976) and have thus developed a ‘police habitus’ (see Chan, 1997; Chan et al., 2003; Heslop, 2011). Drawing on Bourdieu’s theory and concepts, Chan et al. (2003) summarizes the characteristics of the police habitus as the following forms of knowledge: The “doxa of policing” (the fundamental assumption about policing), the “police categories” (screening and classifying things and persons based on definitions and labels), “police methods” (procedurals of how to do police work) and “police values” (informal norms of what is good policing). In addition, Chan underlines “bodily knowledge” as the psychic and corporeal dispositions of police officers. The body is a tool for officers, through which they communicate “authority and discipline” (Chan et al., 2003, p. 35). Following Chan, I assume that the participants in our study also have these forms of knowledge.
      The volume of literature concerning the role of the body in occupational practices is increasing (Lindberg et al., 2017).4x Lindberg et al. (2017, p. 384) show that sporting activity outside the workplace “is of importance for professional learning”. For instance, a study (Courpasson & Monties, 2017, p. 33) on French police officers discusses how the body becomes a source for identity work as a

      process through [which the police] define themselves both via discursive (what they say about what they do) and practical means (what they do to demonstrate the legitimacy of their current knowledge); identity work is accomplished through talks and about concrete things.

      The body is a “resource of identity” as there is a close relationship between body and professional identity (Courpasson & Monties, 2017, p. 33). The authors claim that the officers “mobilize their bodies and associated corporeal practices to maintain their vision of their preferred selves” (p. 34). They go further to argue that the body-identity nexus is a form of political response to unwanted internal expectations that threaten the notion of what “real police work” is. Courpasson and Monties (2017) demonstrate how officers use their bodily practices as means of resistance towards upcoming organizational changes, “claiming an identity different from that demanded of the police institution” (p. 53).

      2.1 FTOs Wear Two Hats

      Courpasson and Montie’s (2017) study is of relevance here. Practical training is usually based on the institution’s curriculum, which the FTOs are obliged to observe. Yet studies report that FTOs do not necessarily base their teachings on the curriculum. Tyler and McKenzie’s (2014, p.75) study shows how the “training was actioned by an uncoordinated set of personal pedagogies developed and deployed by police training officers”. Both Chan et al. (2003) and Bergman (2017) note similar findings. Karp and Stenmark (2011, p. 5) report that the teachings depend on the teacher’s individual “‘ideologies’ … about what the ultimate purpose of police work should be, how the work should be done, and how its content should be communicated to police students”. However, Bergman (2017) states that FTOs must think of themselves as “police educators” in the sense that they are obliged to work according to the institution’s steering documents and requirements. In other words, the FTOs wear two hats: they are both police officers with a police habitus (cf. Chan et al., 2003) and police educators with a commitment to the NPUC.

    • 3 Method

      3.1 Context and Selection

      The data for this study5x The study is approved by the Norwegian Center for Research Data. was collected at different police stations in Norway. The first step of participant recruitment was to contact the director of studies (NPUC), who provided a list of all the supervisors in Norway. Supervisors are employed by the police districts and located at the largest police station in a district. They work as the NPUC’s extended arm with responsibility for following up both the students and the FTOs. Supervisors were randomly selected from the list and contacted. They provided contact information of FTOs who might participate in the study. Participation was voluntary. At the time there were approximately 720 FTOs in Norway. 11 FTOs (five women and six men) working at various police stations in the major cities throughout Norway were individually interviewed in depth. The participants had tutored 2-5 students.
      The interviewed FTOs had on average six years’ working experience as police officers. This average may seem low for FTOs. One explanation may be that police officers usually start their professional carriers at the operational police service after completing the NPUC. Officers seeking to rise in rank and salary are expected to acquire three “competence areas”. Being an FTO for 2-3 years counts as one competence area. It is the newly educated police officers who seek advancement and thus apply for the position as FTO. Thereafter they leave the FTO role to focus on the next competence area, causing a high turnover of FTOs.

      3.2 Qualitative Data and Analysis

      The interviews had an informal structure and were based on a semi-structured interview guide. The questions focused mainly on the FTOs’ experiences, and they were encouraged to tell stories from police work and tutoring situations. The FTOs were also asked what they considered important in their own police practice – presumably, there is a connection between what the FTOs believed to be important in policing and what they conveyed to students.
      The data analysis is inspired by Becker’s (1998) analytical approach and was conducted in three inductive phases: firstly, by reading through the whole data material to get an immediate understanding of what the FTOs’ narratives were about; secondly, themes were developed from the narratives. Then, another structured inductive analysis was conducted in order to abstract the themes into an interpreted core of the narratives. An analytic core is not conditioned by time and place and may be characterized as timeless and universal (Becker, 1998). The narratives’ core in this study is the importance of bodily learning in teaching police students. The findings show variations and nuances of this analytical core.
      Narrative interviews are suitable in order to gain insights about the knowledge and values that are transferred in an organization (Schaefer & Tewksbury, 2017). Through interpretation of the narratives’ dominant rules, FTOs’ beliefs and opinions may be uncovered. The narratives may also uncover the police’s “doxa” or “common sense” (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992) – the way of speaking and thinking that are self-evident and not questioned. Interpretation of the narratives may show a connection between FTOs’ experiences with policing and how policing is best learned and imparted to students.
      Studies that draw upon qualitative interviews have limitations compared with an ethnographic approach that combines interviews and in-field observations, as there might be discrepancies between what people say they do and what they actually do (Waddington, 1999). Also, even though the stories the police officers tell varies with the setting, the stories “may be equally true and valid” (Smith et al., 2014, p. 232). It is difficult to assess the degree to which the interviewees’ stories were biased; nonetheless, the study focuses on identifying a common core that may provide insights into what is at play in the in-field.
      The author, who conducted the interviews, works at the NPUC and may be viewed as one of the “academics”. The FTOs’ narratives might reflect different, and perhaps competing, roles in the police education system. Thus, the narratives may be a response to her position as a social science teacher at NPUC (cf. Courpasson & Monties, 2017). In fact, some of the FTOs made a point of NPUC’s theoretical focus and how it differs from policing in practice, emphasizing that NPUC has a different and “more unrealistic” focus on policing. One FTO started the interview by claiming that NPUC advocates “soft police work”. He further said:

      When the students start the practical training year, they need to get a new perspective on what police work is. The real world looks different to a police officer; sometimes the situation demands that you [the police] are more authoritarian than careful.

      The FTOs’ experiences are partly developed in interactions with students, and, naturally, they talked a great deal about the students. However, the study does not seek to say anything about police students as such.

      3.3 The Study’s Information Power

      The FTOs are often selected for the job by supervisors who know the police force’s officers well. Presumably the appointed FTOs are well fitted for the role (Moland, 2016), and presumably so are the FTOs that participated in this study too. However, they do not necessarily represent all the 720 FTOs in Norway. Despite few interviews and the relatively few years of working as police officers on average, the sample of participants holds sufficient ‘information power’ (Malterud et al., 2016) to enlighten the study’s research question. The informants had been FTOs for two to five years and had sufficiently wide and deep experience of the FTO role for the purpose of this study, which is more narrow and comprehensive than broad and descriptive. All participants have a bachelor’s degree in police studies and recent experiences from the NPUC, and presumably knowledge of academic requirements, methods and theory. Thus, informants hold a high specificity for this study. In addition, they come from different police districts and have various experiences and reflections. The interviews show well-articulated informants and clear interactions between the FTOs and the researcher of analytical value (Malterud et al., 2016). Lastly, the information power of this study is supported by established sociological and anthropological theories of the complicated interaction between the latent and manifest ideologies and attitudes of police officers and how this is imparted to students.

    • 4 Results

      The narratives’ core – the importance of bodily learning in teaching police students – is nuanced by three main findings, which inductively emerged from the data analysis: i) personifying the curriculum, ii) facilitating embodiment of police authority, and iii) facilitating inward-looking reflections. These themes will now be examined further.

      4.1 Personification of the Curriculum

      The FTOs claimed that they taught the students what they personally thought was important to learn. They had received learning material from NPUC but viewed this as “very general” and not useful. One FTO said: “I think that much of what I try to teach the student is what I believe is reasonable and what I think is important that the student learn.” Another uttered: “I’ll make a plan for the student, what I think and what I expect of her, and where I set the standard.” These quotes illustrate that the tutoring is based largely on informal values (see Karp & Stenmark, 2011) derived from the FTOs’ individual outlook. This “personification” of what to teach the students is also a finding in other studies (Bergman, 2017; Chan et al., 2003; Tyler & Mckenzie, 2014). The FTOs are required to operate according to the content and objectives of the NPUC’s curriculum, so it is interesting to note that the informants do not acknowledge the curriculum’s objectives and reading list as relevant for practical police work. One explanation may be that they are ignorant of what is being taught at the in-school education (Bergman, 2017; Chan et al., 2003) although most of them recently attended the NPUC. Another explanation may be that the value of academic knowledge is downplayed in the practical training. Previous research (Gundhus, 2012; Holgersson et al., 2008) has documented that experience-based knowledge has a higher standing among street-level officers.

      4.2 Facilitating Embodiment of Police Authority

      Far from the aims and objectives of the curriculum, the FTOs talked about helping the students to develop a certain police authority that is bodily manifested. Based on their personal experiences, the FTOs emphasized the importance of wearing the police uniform with an assumed authority. The embodied police authority is about how the police seek to be perceived by the general public, as reliable legal authorities, and that students experience it as difficult to meet these expectations. One FTO said:

      I tell the student that you must be able to meet the situation even though you aren’t sure of what to do. That’s often what police work is all about. You don’t always know how to restore order, but the public expect you to do so. It’s important to accept the insecurity you may feel and still have faith in yourself and that you can do solve the assignment.

      In relation to this, the FTOs claimed they help the students to become confident as police officers. One said:

      The most important thing is to help the student to develop confidence in himself as a policeman and to achieve a good enough understanding of the police role so that he dares to be a police officer after graduation.

      The FTOs said that wearing the uniform in contexts where it connotes a particular symbolic meaning and expectation might be “too much” for the students. One FTO explained: “Just to put on the blue shirt, the trousers, the equipment occupies much mental capacity.”
      The FTOs explained that as students gain practical experience, confidence in being a police officer will eventually manifest as a physical appearance of authority. If a student does not develop professional confidence, the general public will perceive him or her as a police officer without legitimate impact despite the uniform. For instance, one FTO said the following about a student:

      When [the student] was so unsure of herself, she didn’t have the authority. You could see it on her. I saw that the public noticed this. Sometimes I had to explain to the public that we’re in a tutoring-situation, that she was a student. Unfortunately, the student failed the practical training.

      This quote underlines that the police authority is a specific bodily attitude that signals “legitimate authority” and reflects what the other FTO emphasized: that police students have to develop a bodily manifested ability to speak and act with a police authority that’s perceived as legitimate and trustworthy by the public. One interpretation of this body-orientation is that the role of the body is to express that the police officer is “fit for the purpose” (Courpasson & Monties, 2017; Lindberg et al., 2017), even though they feel insecure.

      4.2.1 Learning by Burning

      The analysis shows that there are various opinions on how long students should merely observe the FTO and other colleagues. Some FTOs thought students should be observers for months, while others would gently push the student to take the lead after just a few weeks in the field. One FTO claimed that it is necessary that students “at an early stage get to bodily feel how police practice works”. To emphasize the meaning of ‘bodily feeling’, some FTOs rephrased one of Dewey’s (2007) most famous phrase “learning by doing” into “learning by burning”. This suggests that it is not sufficient to do something to learn it; the doing has to be painful as well in order to be a learning experience. Another FTO explained:

      The student needs to experience that it’s ok to fail sometimes, in order to understand what’s a better way of doing things next time. This is like learning by doing, or learning by burning, as some like to call it. Mistakes must sear a bit, and saying this sounds awful, but of course it doesn’t really burn, just a sense of sear so that the student grasp the essence until next time, that she thinks a bit more through her actions.

      A much preferred pedagogical method to get the student to understand how the field of policing ‘works’, is not going through the formal curricula or giving exhorting instructions but letting the student try and fail and make mistakes in-field that will sear a bit. The FTOs would – sometimes intentionally – let the students make mistakes and avoid correcting or helping them out of awkward situations. For instance, one FTO narrated an incident where a driver was stopped for speeding and the student “went straight forward to the man and said ‘Hey!’ with a high, dark voice. The communication between the student and the driver got locked. But I let the student go on”. Letting the students make such mistakes is a significant pedagogical method to teach them attentiveness, sensitivity and being prepared for the unprepared, which is hard to learn in any other way. This understanding is in line with the literature that notes that experiences of “trying and failing” will most likely set in the body (Thiele, 2006) and become embodied knowledge of “situational awareness” (see Lindberg et al., 2017).

      4.2.2 A Trusted Body

      The FTO narratives provide examples of what trusting relationships between the FTOs and the students mean. The FTOs communicated in the very first meeting with the student that they expect honesty. The FTOs talked of the patrol car as a space where they share life experiences and bond with the students. Some FTOs even invited students to join in on activities such as working out and going to cafés and the cinema in their spare time. Students are also invited to the FTOs’ home to meet their families. Building a trusting relationship was an ongoing process throughout the whole year of in-field training.
      The FTOs’ investment in trust building and bonding seems to be a response to the more dangerous and demanding aspects of police work (Muir, 1977). Harris et al. (2004, p. 207) claim that police students’ time in-field is problematic because it is “fraught with danger”. Following this, one FTO said it was crucial to know the student on a personal level as personal problems and struggles can make the student unfocused and not fit for the job on a certain day – “[t]herefore, I’ve a good tone with my students and I’m engaged in what they’re doing in their spare time and how they’re doing”. Through this the FTOs impart to the student the value of loyalty and of being a trusted buddy – or body – who can be a life-saver (Courpasson & Monties, 2017). One FTO said:

      I want to know the student very well. I tell my student: ‘I want to know what you’re made of when we’re in difficult situations. What can I expect of you?’ Because the students appear to be police officers right away. The public can’t tell the difference between me and a student. We’re a team from the very start.

      The preceding quote illustrates a problem with the in-field training: the general public is unable to distinguish a police student from a police officer and will expect the former to handle a situation with “competent engagement” (Harris et al., 2004, p. 207). In light of this, investing in trust building may be about reassuring that the student will be a trusted body on the streets. The implication of becoming a trusted body contains purposes beyond a pedagogical aspect. The purpose of bonding is not merely to pass on values like solidarity and trustworthiness, which is well documented in earlier police studies (Chan et al., 2003; Loftus, 2010; Muir, 1977; Reiner, 2010). It is also a discursive way of demanding collective identity through bodily competence.

      4.2.3 Learning How to Apply the Law in Practice

      The police’s power and authority derive from the law (Skolnick, 2011). Thus, the FTOs regard it as critical that the students learn how to apply the law in practice, which is “not like they learn it at the in-school education”. The FTOs explained that students at the beginning of the in-field period struggled with applying the law in practical situations, which often made students insecure and sometimes paralysed. The FTOs spoke at length about the role of the law and various ways to impart the meaning of the law. The analysis shows that the focus was on how the law could be applied in a manner that served the police’s agenda. One FTO said:

      If you don’t know the law, you’ve no business being a police officer. Knowing the law gives you possibilities. For example knowing who can be arrested for what and when. Knowing the law also makes you feel confident and give you greater possibilities for action, especially when it comes to drug-related crime.

      Knowing the law is the key to cognitively understanding how police work is practically undertaken. When students understand how to apply the law, they have cracked the code of policing. One FTO said:

      It is all about daring to jump out of the car, be the first man in, and to trust your knowledge of the law – then much is done. After that the rest will come by itself.

      Furthermore, the FTOs believed that how a police officer perceives the field reflects how he or she is perceived as a police officer by suspects. Knowing the law makes it easier to convey authority when initiating a “stop-and-search”. One FTO lectured the students as follows:

      You must always know why you stop a car; do I want to see the driver’s license or isn’t that important now? No, this time it’s just drugs. You must never give the person time to think. Knowing the law give[s] you the possibility to feed him with questions so he doesn’t have time to think and make up a story. You must be tough from the start, because if he senses that you’re insecure and on thin ice, he’ll come up with a credible story. Then you lose and he has outsmarted you.

      This quote illustrates how the practical use of the law is twofold. Firstly, it emphasizes that discretionary decisions require juridical support. Secondly, it illustrates how practical use of the law empowers the police authority and supports the police as a dominant actor. Using the law to “pump up” the authority and latitude of action is an interesting finding as the purpose of the law is to ensure that police officers use their powers in proportion to the situation (Fekjær & Petersson, 2018). A recent study (Lindberg et al., 2017) shows that Swedish police officers do not support such an approach but prefer to reduce conflict with negotiations and de-escalating approaches – which may be characterized as ‘soft police work’. In contrast to the Swedish informants, the data in this study shows that meetings with suspects or criminals can be mastered with the force of “legal questions” instead of a pro-social attitude that seeks cooperation and trust, which would be more in line with the police’s ethics and institutional requirements (Politihøgskolen, 2013/2014). The data thus suggests that FTOs impart the law as a rhetorical strategy that empowers the officers’ embodied police authority to be an authoritarian police officer rather than an officer with authority.

      4.3 Facilitating Inward-Looking Reflections

      The FTOs thought it important to involve the students in the mental preparations for assignments but also admitted that it was not always easy to remember that they had a student in the car that needed to be cognitively engaged. One FTO said:

      It’s important to make room for the student. But it easily happens that I just do things, because I know my partner well and we don’t have to talk to be prepared.

      The foregoing quote illustrates that mental preparation is a routine that is both personal and collective embodied knowledge and that subsequently verbal communication between the police officers is not needed. Embodied knowledge is difficult to be conscious of and even more difficult to articulate (Collins, 2010). Therefore, in a tutoring context embodied knowledge may be a pitfall with regard to the NPUC’s requirements for critical reflections.
      Nevertheless, the FTOs encouraged the students to reflect while driving to and from assignments. For example, one FTO said:

      I think it’s important to start the process of reflection. If the student doesn’t take the initiative to ask questions or reflect, I’ll ask her ‘What do you think about this assignment?’ Just to mentally prepare for what to expect, or what kind of tasks we need to do. It can be about the law or more theoretical things. I think the student mentally hooks up to the assignment we’re heading for. For example, [shoplifting]. If she lists every task we need to do, I’ll say ‘I hear that you know this, so you can take the lead on this assignment’.

      The foregoing quote illustrates inward-looking reflections, i.e. reflections on concrete procedures and the legal basis of actions (to be) taken on assignments. That reflections centre on the practical procedures corresponds to the findings of Tyler and McKenzie (2014). Another example is one FTO description of how he examined the students’ practical understanding of the law by asking them:

      [Q]uestions like why do we arrest him? Why do we drive with the blue lights on when there’s an emergency? What legal paragraph gives us the authority to do this?

      The foregoing quote illustrates how FTOs use ‘judicial questions’ to train the students’ ‘police gaze’ (see Finstad, 2000) to legally define and justify a situation as ‘criminal’. This aligns with Heslop’s (2011) study of changes in the police’s habitus. The more experienced they became, the stronger their ‘functional’ learning preferences were expressed. The face value of learning was “evaluated in more operational policing terms” (Heslop, 2011, p. 340).
      The data analysis shows that the FTOs are reluctant to reflect when in action. The following narrative illustrates this. A student patrol6x A student patrol usually consists of two students acting as patrol officers while the FTO sits in the backseat. pulled over a driver who did not stop for a pedestrian. The students’ primary reaction was to fine the driver for the violation. But after the student talked to the driver, she doubted their original decision because “the driver had apologized and behaved in a humble and respectful manner”. The FTO recounted:

      Then the two students started to discuss whether the driver should get a fine or not. They made a study group out of it. After five minutes they reached the conclusion that they wouldn’t fine the driver. But you can’t use five minutes to discuss whether to fine a driver or not. Police work needs to be done efficiently – this man was on his way to work, and the traffic must run smoothly.

      When students experienced a dilemma of the police’s discretionary power and became insecure in action, the FTOs did not seem to motivate them for ethical reflections but for action. This corresponds to the finding ‘facilitating embodiment of police authority’, which calls for police officers to act even though they are uncertain about what to do. In those situations police officers must act without hesitation.
      To sum up, the FTOs claimed that it was important to justify decisions legally and, consequently, encouraged students to reflect on the legal basis of decisions before and after they are executed. However, the FTOs’ questions seemed to be related to practical, policing issues, making the reflections more inward-looking and function oriented, more so than ethical and critical reflections.

    • 5 Discussion

      This article seeks to describe and analyse factors that play a part in the FTOs’ tutoring of police students during in-field training. The study takes into account that FTOs are experienced police officers with a police habitus.
      The FTOs’ narratives render the policing occupation unpredictable and demanding and as a duty connected with high social expectations. The FTOs emphasized that even though police officers do not know what to do they must have faith in their ability to handle a situation according to the public’s expectations. This ability relates to the statement that police work “can’t [be] play[ed] by the book”, as Reiner (2010, p. 116) puts it. It follows from this argument that officers must have a clearly expressed police authority. As the police uniform by itself is not sufficient to restore order (Hoel, 2011), police authority is more of a social competency that turns out to be an embodied competency (see Wacquant, 2011).
      The FTOs claimed to draw on their personal experiences when tutoring students. Still, the analysis shows that the FTOs’ ‘personalized curriculum’ shared a common core: the significance of bodily learning in becoming a police officer. Bodily learning is the sovereign pedagogical theory among the FTOs. A literature review (Chan et al., 2003; Charman, 2017; Fielding, 1984; Van Maanen, 1976) shows that this perception has been adhered to for decades. Thus, the significance of bodily learning in in-field training has become a self-evident way of thinking and acting – a pedagogical doxa – among FTOs. Nonetheless, its being a doxa does not necessarily mean that it is untrue, false or irrelevant (Smith et al., 2014). Epistemological theories have established that there is a close relationship between action, bodily experiences and knowledge (Dewey, 2005; Polanyi, 2009; Thiele, 2006).
      The FTOs believed that embodied police authority is gained through various discursive, corporeal practices and inward-looking reflection. The FTOs were heavily body oriented, but not towards muscles and physical strength; they talked about policing as an embodied practice that has developed from within and in interaction with the field of policing. This is similar to the concept of ‘bodily capital’ (Wacquant, 1995) as well as self-confidence or a ‘physical selfhood, as Courpasson and Monties (2017) found among French police officers. The authors argue that the purpose of police officers’ bodily practices is to empower their “physical selfhood” of being “real cops”.

      5.1 FTOs’ Politicization of Bodies

      There is a global shift in the focus of policing. Police forces in various countries are reforming towards more proactive and collaborative approaches (Gundhus, 2012; Weisburd et al., 2010). Based on police science, the NPUC endeavours to educate police officers to be ethical ‘change agents’. According to Christopher (2015, p. 389), the professional aim of police higher education is to

      cultivate life-long learning and a more reflective, culturally aware individual; one who is less susceptible to the invasive and entrenched cop culture (Loftus, 2010) and more ‘fit for purpose’ for 21st century policing.

      To meet the complexity of police work, higher education is viewed as the means of developing a critical reflection on the police’s practice (Christopher, 2015; Peach & Clare, 2017; White, 2006) so that the police officers of the future can act as change agents. This requires both a closeness and a distance to practice. To further explain the stark emphasis on theory and research in police education, let me draw a parallel to Wacquant’s (2011) experiences from an ethnographic study in which he was a participant observer in a boxer gym. He wanted to understand the field from the inside. To avoid getting lost in the inner depth of subjectivism, he claimed he would “‘go native’, yet ‘go native armed’” (p. 87). He entered the gym “equipped with theoretical and methodological tools” (p. 87) in order to be able to detect and uncover the hidden structures and fully understand the field he studied.
      Courpasson and Monties (2017) show that the focus on embodiment among the French police officers is a resistance to new institutional requirements of how police work is to be done. The authors report that “police officers discipline their bodies themselves, with the goal of claiming an identity different from that demanded by the police institution” (p. 53). The Norwegian FTOs’ discourse may also be about claiming an identity different from the one NPUC represents. This study’s analytical core – the importance of bodily learning – points towards a resistance to the ongoing “academicization” of the police profession – a kind of resistance that is well documented (Aas, 2016; Hoel, 2011; Lagestad, 2013). The bodily orientation indicates that the way the FTOs exercise their role is an example of “politicization of bodies” (Courpasson & Monties, 2017). Given the intentions of the NPUC and this study’s findings, we may presume that there is an ‘identity tension’ in what the two sectors communicate to the students. Hence, Wacquant’s idea ‘to go native armed’ takes us to the core of the epistemological gap in police education. An apt question is how does one become a legitimate armed member of the organization?

      5.2 Critical Reflection and Embodied Learning

      The FTOs facilitate an inward-looking form of reflection that resembles Heslop’s (2011) “functional operational policing terms” (p. 340). This indicates that the police’s authority and power is not an object of broader, ethical and critical reflections despite the police education’s purpose and that theory on the subject is at hand. This may be understood as a lack of competency to reflect on the embodied experiences in a manner that cultivates the students’ experiences into knowledge.
      To become aware of one’s habitual way of thinking and perceiving the world requires critical reflection that challenges the bodily practices and discursive and identity work. For a broader perspective of policing, practical experiences need to be contrasted with theories and vice versa (Bergman, 2017; Dewey, 2007). Critical reflection is knowledge of “how to think” (Flores et al., 2012, p. 213) and a skill that needs to be learnt and practiced for it to be a self-initiated and structured learning activity (Christopher, 2015; Flores et al., 2012). As previously noted, FTOs are police educators (Bergman, 2017) and thus obligated to the purpose of police higher education. The FTOs are to stimulate and support the students’ process of going native in a critical manner. However, like Chan’s et al. (2003), this study has revealed a lack of understanding between the NPUC and the FTOs (see Section 4.1). In a Norwegian context this is interesting as the FTOs in this study recently graduated from the NPUC. Nevertheless, what they teach in the in-field training seems to preserve the ‘identity tension’ between the two sectors.

    • 6 Practical Considerations

      A crucial question is how the two sectors may cooperate in regard to the role and purpose of higher police education.
      The FTOs’ focus on the bodily aspect of learning is quite natural as we learn through bodily experiences (Bourdieu, 1984; Dewey, 2005; Polanyi, 2009; Wacquant, 2011). Because embodiment plays a significant role in professional learning, it should not be ignored or talked down at the NPUC. However, the NPUC’s curriculum lacks literature on ‘bodily knowledge’ – a clear sign of this phenomenon being supressed theoretically in police education.
      Supporting and facilitating the students’ process of going native without being blind to “unintended consequence” (White, 2006) entails dedicated FTOs willing to reflect critically on their personification of the curriculum so that they may evoke cultural awareness, effect change and meet new requirements and reforms.
      Most of all, however, this undertaking demands continuity, which is difficult to comply with owing to the high turnover of FTOs. Nevertheless, if it is important to arrange a holistic education it is timely to re-evaluate the incentives to become an FTO. Instead of gaining a “competence area” by being an FTO for two years, the FTO could, for instance, “learn to be an FTO” (see Bergman, 2016) before applying for the position. Furthermore, senior officers with long experience from operative work could be motivated to apply for the position. The incentives should increase the status of the function to ensure FTOs with tutoring competence.
      This study’s practical implications show that Norwegian policymakers need to rethink the organizational structures of the police education in order to resolve the ‘identity tension’ between the two educational fields. The solution could be to develop police agency-police education collaboration (Fyfe & Richardson, 2018), more specifically FTOs students-academic teachers collaboration (see Lejonberg et al., 2017). This undertaking may, in addition, bring about an acknowledgement of the role of bodily learning and practice by the ‘academics’. Further research is needed on the possibilities to professionalize the FTOs and on collaboration between the two sectors that aims to develop a ‘profession-oriented practice’.

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    • 1 For further discussion of the concept of education and training, see Charman (2017).

    • 2 For further details of the NPUC’s educational system, see Aas (2016) and Lagestad (2013).

    • 3 For a nuanced and relevant understanding of police culture’s resistance and change, see Chan (2003).

    • 4 Lindberg et al. (2017, p. 384) show that sporting activity outside the workplace “is of importance for professional learning”.

    • 5 The study is approved by the Norwegian Center for Research Data.

    • 6 A student patrol usually consists of two students acting as patrol officers while the FTO sits in the backseat.

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