Danger is also what patrol officers make of it

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this paper, it will be argued that proactive policing and patrol actions are creative, timed, executed but concealed policing activities. Proactivity appears as an arranged, organised and meaningful cultural artefact. It involves rituals performed in an enacted or staged environment in which images of a dangerous environment, crime, suspiciousness of the population and an organisational context of an unstable ‘fire brigade’ patrol department serve as a background to engage in practices that define, even reconstruct, the environment as such. Hence, this paper elaborates on how patrol officers ‘cope’ with mundane reactive policing in an unpredictable organisational context by enacting dramatized crime-fighting roles. In order to explain and frame the proactive patrol activities that appeared, a cultural sociological framework is suggested which questions a stress-coping model to explain how culture and action develop and which allows us to understand these activities from a subjective point of view. This article thereby focusses on meaning-making, agency and contexts of street-level policing and folklore.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-468
JournalEuropean Journal of Policing Studies
Issue number Special Issue: Observing the observers
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Police
  • Policing
  • Ethnography
  • participant observation
  • Proactivity
  • Practices
  • Occupational culture


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