I have studied the issues of the Swedish periodical, Polistidningen, over a period from 1974 to 2008 to examine how the image of the police is constructed. My main ambition was to explore how the magazine in question constructs the concept of the good police officer, in other words, what kind of police attributes were rewarded or encouraged. To do this I wanted to study changes over time in order to reveal the development of the concept of the good police officer as it evolved. Through a critical discourse analysis of the material, I identified three themes that together formed a comprehensive picture: the police culture, the woman police officer and police education.
During the 1970’s, the police officer was a man with a neat appearance. The view of education was mechanical and the police officer was fed with theoretical knowledge. He was a police cadet in Stockholm and in a climate of contemporary hatred towards the police, the job was tough. The police culture provided him a sense of safety and confidence, but his female colleagues were not welcome.
In the 1980’s, the police officer was a man and the job was seen as labourer work. The neat uniforms were replaced by leather jackets, which were a physical protection against knife stabbings and a mental shield against the hatred towards the police from the outside world. The police officer was described as a superman: a tough policeman with a heart of stone. If the police officer worked at Norrmalm, a district in central Stockholm, he worked in a culture where violence was a part of everyday life and where rumours of military marches beating time when the baton swung in the air were spread in the media. The spirit of the police body was the police officer’s shield against criminal charges and he protected his colleagues under the same premise. His female colleagues existed, but were not to be seen.
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2012. , 105 p.