On this episode, Professor Don Kurtz and I discuss the role of storytelling in law enforcement. How do the gendered stories officers tell influence police culture and the rest of society? We also discuss the uncertainty of post-Coronavirus higher education and the utility of gallows humor.
Perhaps the most interesting social worker in the world - he once had an awkward pause with a client just to see what it felt like. He can break down defense mechanisms with a look, or thirty hours of behavior modifications - either way Don Kurtz became an assistant professor of social work at Kansas State in the summer of 2008. His research interests include juvenile justice, probation outcomes, youth violence, family aggression, and the link between gender and violence. His research is published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Feminist Criminology, Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, and Western Criminology Review. Prior to completing his doctorate, Don was employed as a social worker in a juvenile probation office and he has many years of direct practice experience in the criminal justice system.
Tom Baker has been a PhD student in UMSL's Criminology and Criminal Justice program since 2017. Tom received his BA in Political Science from Arizona State University and worked as a police officer for approximately nine years. His research interests include police culture, use of force, and qualitative research methods. https://www.umsl.edu/ccj/Graduate%20S...
Kurtz, D. L., & Upton, L. L. (2018). The gender in stories: How war stories and police narratives shape masculine police culture. Women & criminal justice, 28(4), 282-300.
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Tom Baker: Hey, thanks so much for taking the time to join me today. I appreciate it. Could you just start by telling us your name, where you work, and what it is that you study
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Donald Kurtz: Sure. My name is Don curds and I'm a professor of Social Work at Kansas State University, and also criminologist all my research has been in that area and I'm the department head of sociology, anthropology and social work at Kansas State.
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Tom Baker: And are you are you there right now in Kansas or
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Donald Kurtz: I am yeah I mean I'm locked into my virtual office in the basement, like a lot of people now we're
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Donald Kurtz: We moved off campus in March about mid March.
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Donald Kurtz: We sort of had to transition obviously our spring break was when things start getting pretty real here in Kansas, and then we quickly made the move to
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Donald Kurtz: Virtual semester. And we did that. The week after spring break. We gave everybody a sort of gap week to figure things out. So there were supposed to be no assignments and other things like that. And then we develop plans for office basically our, our campus buildings, pretty much locked
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Donald Kurtz: There's some people have access, we're lucky in that our disciplines. Well, they do have labs. They don't have sort of like the biological science labs where there's things you have to worry about as much. So we're able to transition and shut those down pretty well.
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Donald Kurtz: You know, we're in the College of Arts and Sciences here where there's, you know, biology, chemistry, physics, so those areas were a little more difficult.
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Tom Baker: Are you are you finding it. Are you still managing to stay productive or super stressed.
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Donald Kurtz: You know, research production falls a little bit. I did get a
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Donald Kurtz: An article that was toward the end finished and how with a journal, but especially since I'm I was interim department head and just accepted the position is permitted here a week ago, but
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Donald Kurtz: You know, I had a lot of stuff we're transitioning and managing that that kind of kills research by teaching. I was alright. I was teaching a
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Donald Kurtz: 200 level Social Work class on basic skills of working with people and I'm a little bit lucky in that I've taught online before. So the transition wasn't as extreme for me as I know it was for
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Donald Kurtz: Other people
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Tom Baker: Will take it on taking on a talk about transitions taking over department and the midst of this must not be, it must be have some unique challenges.
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Donald Kurtz: Yeah. You know, I had, I was interim for a year. So I guess, you know, in that sense, that I was able to transition some into but you know there's
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Donald Kurtz: Higher Ed is in for, I think, a bumpy ride. I do think it'll read. It's going to recover and there'll be some transitions and maybe look a little different but you know it is going to be an interesting time for sure.
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Tom Baker: Yeah. Well, luckily, I'll be hitting the job market, just as all of this trouble really comes
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Donald Kurtz: Settles know, it's interesting. We just had a
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Donald Kurtz: brown bag with our graduate students and, you know, was about the job market. Now we plan this in January. So it was going to be
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Donald Kurtz: More of a general idea of planning when you're going to graduate. You know, when you go out on the market, just what the process is. And you know, it's a whole year out for most of those jobs so
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Donald Kurtz: But obviously, a lot of the questions now or what's the market look like next year and you know you have to be honest to say not particularly strong but
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Donald Kurtz: You know, we'll see. It just depends on if there's problems with sort of a second wave of Kobe. And it continued way before we recover fairly quickly. You know, I could actually see some growth areas for sort of disciplines. We teach
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Donald Kurtz: Right, so I know
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Donald Kurtz: Social Work sociology criminologists there's when there's the sort of major crisis is and they see social meaning and some of those jobs. I do think there could be people that come back and if the markets, a little slow, some will come back because they can't get
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Donald Kurtz: You know, a job that
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Donald Kurtz: They will choose college
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Tom Baker: I think, I think I read that the following the 2008 nine crash that there was a surge immediately following I wasn't in academia, at the time, but I think something like that did happen. Do you know are
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Donald Kurtz: Now for Pre K state our largest probably your enrollment was maybe 2011 or 2012 so was
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Donald Kurtz: A build up. Now it's a little complicated, because when there's economic crashes to the share of state funding also starts to
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Donald Kurtz: Age or managing budgets. So we're becoming like most schools more reliant on tuition dollars in funding dollars. And so we're really tied to the number of students and, you know, number of credit hours and things like that.
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Tom Baker: Yeah, you really, I really noticed that, because I was in school when I was younger and then come came back at an older age, I could really see how the market had penetrated academia and these sort of market based I these neo liberal sort of
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Donald Kurtz: You know,
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Tom Baker: You know, have really gotten into academia.
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Donald Kurtz: And even, I would say the structures have gone more see oh models. You know, I think they're there, they're heavier hierarchies. Now, in terms of
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Donald Kurtz: You know compensation for presidents and additional executive staff and things along those lines.
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Tom Baker: Yeah, I went to ASU Arizona State, and Michael Crow who's like, I think, is the perfect example are of that like the CEO president of the university, you know, business model private
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Tom Baker: Partnerships, how to fund back and it's it's gonna be interesting to see how that shapes up for this crisis. So, where, where, where are you from, are you from Kansas or
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Donald Kurtz: I'm actually from Kansas City area. So I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and
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Donald Kurtz: I went to a Catholic high school and can see the ambition word and then I actually when I was younger wanted to be a police officer, so right out of high school.
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Donald Kurtz: I joined the Kansas National Guard is a military police officer. My idea was, well, I'll do this and maybe start community college when I come back and and when I'm 21 and you're eligible to be a police officer. I could go off and do that.
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Donald Kurtz: And my interest was always sort of in crime and justice areas and you know it was early 90s kid to where all the I mean our whole society became
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Donald Kurtz: Pretty infatuated with a crime areas, partly because that was the heart of the spike and in crime and then I
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Donald Kurtz: Came back and started going to community college, and then I transferred and started looking into social work.
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Donald Kurtz: As a major and then kind of fell in love with that and I knew that my interests were still in areas of crime and justice, but
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Donald Kurtz: Maybe not as a role of a police officer. So when I got out. I did a master's degree in clinical social work and then I got out and work in juvenile probation for several years and then went back for a doctorate.
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Tom Baker: Okay. And so for this this particular project, it might not. This might not be familiar sort of methodology for a lot of folks. Can you tell us a little bit about. So how you collected your data for this project how you code process that data and then how you analyze it. So just how
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Tom Baker: Are you collected work with these data.
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Donald Kurtz: So, and it's interesting you, I believe you read one of the the narrative papers which were sort of the, the long arc of my interest there. So my
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Donald Kurtz: PhD in interest was in stress in policing in particular, I wanted to look at sort of gendered element of police organizations and my idea was concerned, was that sort of
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Donald Kurtz: The nationalization of the professor would make it difficult for officers to manage the trauma of the job in maybe the more pro social ways
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Donald Kurtz: You know, going to see a therapist if it was needed, you know, employee assistance programs I had plenty officers, tell me. That's kind of a, you don't want to get known as somebody who went and did that.
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Donald Kurtz: And so that was kind of where I started was my interest and I did a mixed methods dissertation. I use a data set and ran some analysis had to use a proxy variables for
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Donald Kurtz: Gender element in police organization. So whether the department accepted women or whether there were sort of offensive gender jokes. And what I found was the departments that have reported higher levels of that.
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Donald Kurtz: Had higher stress responses and burnout responses by the officer. So now that was you know proxy analysis, but then I conducted interviews with just under 30 officers and departments of various sizes.
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Donald Kurtz: And these were more detailed and I initially I went in with questions about stress and whether you could talk about it and mental health.
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Donald Kurtz: But I had one particular question that then sparked this the arc of this project that's kind of continued. And that was how the officers interact with each other and what kept coming up was this idea of stories like oh we tell the stories we tell war stories.
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Donald Kurtz: And so that became a little
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Donald Kurtz: Part of my
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Donald Kurtz: Dissertation but what what happened was I then became more interested in it and I started looking over and over for
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Donald Kurtz: More elements of storytelling literature that was out there. And I came across Fletcher's work and then it kind of set on that I wrote up a paper called reinventing the matron that looked at how sort of
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Donald Kurtz: The images and depictions of women sort of fit that old classic idea of a matron, you're with the juvenile delinquents. The
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Donald Kurtz: victims of sex offenses and things like that a little bit that persisted.
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Donald Kurtz: But then narrative criminology came along and I started reading more than that area and that fit. So I went back and re analyzed all my original areas where they talked about stories.
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Donald Kurtz: And with that, in greater police storytelling literature. I got exposed to, I realized that there were that this was a big heart of what they were talking about. And I sort of used a qualitative analysis techniques. Now I will tell you, I'm an old school coder, which means
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Donald Kurtz: I have Word documents I go read them. I start making notes and I use color coding
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Tom Baker: So this stuff. So just, just a backup let's have this started didn't start as a qualitative project that started with you sort of finding a way to operationalize managing stress and operationalize
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Tom Baker: This these levels of masculinity within departments and you found that
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Tom Baker: Departments that were engaging these masculine like playing out these masculine roles. There was an association with higher levels of have difficulty maintaining
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Donald Kurtz: Well, and what I would say was
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Donald Kurtz: Officers who reported that reported higher levels of stress, they originally said I used was actually Baltimore police. It's an open is PCR data set.
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Donald Kurtz: Okay. And so if you go back you can see I sort of published in two arcs quantitative data.
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Donald Kurtz: About police stress and its impact on women, but then I also was interested in more qualitative detail because there's not
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Donald Kurtz: I didn't have the money, especially early, early in my career to go out and do a gigantic data set collection. So, but I did have the ability to access officers and interview them.
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Donald Kurtz: And then from that I conducted. I think it was 28 or 29 total interviews and then I audio tape them all and then had them all transcribed.
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Donald Kurtz: As well was the offshoot of some of my qualitative work.
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Donald Kurtz: And it was included in the dissertation and then a couple of early publications out of it and switch the focus to narrative.
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Donald Kurtz: Which now continues. I'm actually have on an NSF grant, we're looking at cyber security units, but my interest in at some of the narrative elements. So I have that included in the interviews, we're doing now as well.
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Tom Baker: So this move the shift from the. So you started with a little bit of qualitative stuff, but it was it was
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Tom Baker: A shift to the narrative of the to analyze narratives came as the methodology developed. So as you were exposed to.
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Tom Baker: New ways of analyzing data and collecting, processing data that's when you're sort of you shift the music. Nice. And so, so you collect. You have to do the interviews, your coat you code the interviews. Your you find these themes and then write write about these themes
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Tom Baker: And that's, that's sort of the process.
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Donald Kurtz: Right. Yep. And go back and reread the themes I color coded them again when I went back and looked at narrative elements. So this time I was looking
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Donald Kurtz: And what one of the limitations of what is actually the data I collected personally because I had a lot of officers talk about stories in provide a few examples.
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Donald Kurtz: But they didn't provide me very detailed stories. And so any future data as I collect. In fact, I have a chapter on looking at
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Donald Kurtz: A narrative for law enforcement in the new handbook.
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Donald Kurtz: Of narrative criminology that's coming out. And it identifies what I think should be areas, people look for when they go and interview police officers, if they're interested in narrative elements.
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Donald Kurtz: And then I also had another data set, a colleague of mine, Travis Lindemann had collected with his
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Donald Kurtz: PhD dissertation that interviewed officers and other areas, and I had some narrative elements of analysis, I could pull from though, so I have another paper in critical criminology that and incorporated both datasets, where I use narrative themes
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Tom Baker: Okay and and to talk a little bit about. So we were talking about narratives can just talk a little bit about what you mean by narratives and the context of research and how narratives and stories can help us better understand culture. And can you talk a little bit about that.
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Donald Kurtz: So a presser and Sandberg his original argument was that narratives basically pick on a couple of forms one is sort of an official record and having been a probation officer and previously a military police officer.
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Donald Kurtz: That makes sense. You write a narrative report with almost anything you've done
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Donald Kurtz: And so their idea that these exist a court report, all these are examples of official narratives and you could take this expands to a lot of
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Donald Kurtz: Mental health you know therapist note, things like that. So it's a this fits with what we often think of. It's an official written report. The other part is a narrative that sort of becomes what we tell about an event so
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Donald Kurtz: You and I could experience the same event and develop different narratives, right. So, and, you know, this is from family interactions and other things that
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Donald Kurtz: We have all kinds of events life things that happened to us. And over time, we can develop a narrative related to that event. And actually that narrative can change. Even though the underlying events.
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Donald Kurtz: Right. The first ones more factual based on we although we know that those kind of narratives can be wrong to all people are wrongfully convicted in court.
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Donald Kurtz: Etc. And also the same.
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Donald Kurtz: Narrative sort of official narrative could be different from different vantage points. Right, right.
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Donald Kurtz: The second one's more psychological and cognitive so it's how you internalize an event. And then what your processes. So I teach social work and
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Donald Kurtz: I bring this up and I do it in sort of a way that even 2122 year old college students can get. And I will say, think of your first significant other relationship boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.
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Donald Kurtz: And now, at that time, it was really important. Maybe if you broke up with them high school how it was this big life altering of the
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Donald Kurtz: Answer that was an actual experience you felt it those those feelings. Don't go away. But even a few years later we develop a narrative around that like
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Donald Kurtz: Oh, that was sort of a childish relationship or that made me who I am today, those sorts of things. And even you know college students who don't have as much
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Donald Kurtz: World experience can wrap their heads around that and so that that's the second part of the narrative. It's sort of the development. We have about it. And those are interesting because they change.
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Donald Kurtz: Over time, and some are more static. Some are more malleable.
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Donald Kurtz: sommerstein changed by alternate events that happened later. And then the third one is that I also kind of interested in is that narratives that then shape your choices.
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Donald Kurtz: So if you think of somebody who takes on the identity of, say, a juvenile delinquent. Something like that. They that identity becomes internalized and then it affects how they interpret events and then the choices they make
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Donald Kurtz: And so those are sort of the, the big frameworks that exist out there for narrative. And then you can actually see how these can play a role in research in a number of ways. If somebody
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Donald Kurtz: Wanted to go back and go through court records. I could go through official narratives, I could do interviews with people understand up and then also
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Donald Kurtz: The more hard analysis or more difficult analysis is then, how does this narrative then shape behavior or choices. And then these, these have been explored a lot of ways, a lot of individual research. But then there's also bigger things like
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Donald Kurtz: You know it's become pop in popular culture as well. Do you can see newspapers will even use the term narratives are controlled narrative political identity is also about trying to control the narrative. So those are the main three areas.
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Tom Baker: Of the first one is, these, these official errors and I totally attest to that like when I was a police officer, there's
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Tom Baker: There are a lot of pressures on an individual having when they're constructing these narratives. So if you're sitting down to write your police report.
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Tom Baker: You have to make it fit the legal framework that you operate under you have the policy framework, you have the cultural signals that you're sending to the culture, the people that are going to read it.
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Tom Baker: And all of these things help shape what and you may not even be you may not be being dishonest.
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Tom Baker: You may be, but if you're if you're if you're being honest, it's going to vary depending on all of those and and also your there's an also a personal imprint on on those official documents.
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Tom Baker: And then those the that's the first one. The second one, or the narratives that
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Tom Baker: You're saying they like can change over time because it's where and when you are in time and space and who you are as an individual at that moment is going to influence the meaning you ascribe to an event that took place right
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Donald Kurtz: So they're interpretive of the situation, but then also interpretive of who you are and who you are in social context.
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Tom Baker: Right and your audience as well.
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Donald Kurtz: Well, of course.
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Tom Baker: Yeah, I'd be telling these stories there a performance where when we tell a story, even if we're not aware of it. We're trying to tell the person
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Tom Baker: Something about us, or about a lesson or there's there's some meaning or else why why tell the story. Right. And then the last one. You talk about is this
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Tom Baker: Where there's like a sort of a label being ascribed to a person, but the drama like this, is that where you're
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Donald Kurtz: Like a lead can kind of become an identity, but for the narrative analysis, it's
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Donald Kurtz: Then how does this identity, I guess, for lack of a better term, then shape your behavioral choices going forward.
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Tom Baker: Okay. And this is one of the things I love about this is that is it's such an ancient
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Tom Baker: Way of that human beings relay information I I grew up until I was nine or 10 years old and a small fishing village on an island in Canada and Nova Scotia on the on the East Coast. Just a few hundred people and
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Tom Baker: There was a little gas station in the middle of town with some benches and the
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Tom Baker: Old men from the community, the old fisherman would sit on the benches and they would tell these stories to one another. And it's recreation, but it's also a certain body of knowledge that's being generated and transmitted to people that are going to maybe have similar experiences.
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Donald Kurtz: Right yeah later to that. And this isn't necessarily what pleasing, but I've gotten interested in family narratives and then how they shape intergenerational ones.
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Donald Kurtz: So if you think about the stories you've been here about yourself before you're born, then shape kind of who you become. And so I was just having a discussion.
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Donald Kurtz: On a juvenile delinquency grant
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Donald Kurtz: An online seminar, whatever. And one of the participants said that
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Donald Kurtz: Her son sort of got labeled this way and it kind of carried with them. And she said, It's partially true. But
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Donald Kurtz: He had trouble latching on her breast, when he was born and on the nurses report they put he's, he's a stubborn, baby.
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Donald Kurtz: And so those stories, got told him, and she's like he just sort of took on this stubborn persona.
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Donald Kurtz: That like stuck to his life and she's like he is stopper. But how much of that is even that this story got told him when he's three or four and you start to develop an identity that relates to that and then your behaviors are then shape a little in that identity.
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Tom Baker: Right. Or we have a yeah people people in the community, they say things about us and we, you know, maybe something positive about us thats related to a certain characteristic and then we're drawn to want to
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Tom Baker: Continue right we're just, it's one of the things I love about qualitative methods is because it really shows it shines a light on the fact that human beings are infinitely complicated
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Tom Baker: Right, and so it's
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Tom Baker: When you break down numbers you measure its value. But it really just
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Tom Baker: Leave so much unsaid about what's happening.
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Donald Kurtz: Yeah, I like to I'd like, yeah, I do a lot of mixed method. I think one can start to tell you a story or, at least, what's a trend is. But then you really have to dive in.
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Tom Baker: Absolutely.
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Donald Kurtz: So when I tried to explain the difference to students. I give an example that the you know the understand if I give a quiz.
00:22:58.920 --> 00:23:10.560
Donald Kurtz: What I do is initially just quantitative go pull up the quiz statistics and you can look and see. Oh, sir, certain percentage. The got one question wrong and then from that sometimes they even give you stats like the top
00:23:11.730 --> 00:23:17.970
Donald Kurtz: You know 20% scores did better or worse than the bottom and then from there, that if it's real like
00:23:18.660 --> 00:23:28.440
Donald Kurtz: You know, a big portion of class got it wrong. That tells me, something's going on. Then you go up and read the question. You can also find it. That's where it becomes qualitative is the wording off.
00:23:29.040 --> 00:23:43.020
Donald Kurtz: As something misplaced or something like that. So I always think of those as as how quantitative and qualitative can fit together. You can see a trend quantitatively, but that doesn't tell you really what's going on with the trend, the same way qualitative
00:23:43.770 --> 00:24:02.280
Tom Baker: Absolutely, absolutely. So the, the, the net, the role of narrative, the role of stories across all human cultures, it's fair to say it's an it's an important thing. Police culture, is there something distinct because I've, I've had a bunch of different kinds of jobs.
00:24:03.510 --> 00:24:17.610
Tom Baker: And interacted with people from a wide variety of lifestyles. But there's something about police culture in my mind that stories. They're just an integral part of the culture. Do you, do you feel the same you
00:24:17.700 --> 00:24:19.560
Donald Kurtz: Know, yeah. And I think there's a lot of literature that
00:24:19.560 --> 00:24:30.600
Donald Kurtz: Pointed out that out. And I would say, maybe even in criminal justice. I know that as a probation officer, oftentimes, when we were grabbing beers after work, we were sort of telling the stories.
00:24:31.320 --> 00:24:45.360
Donald Kurtz: But there's some really important things about police culture that I think are relevant where that is a narrative are really important one. I think it's a bonding element as well. Intel officers connect to each other in some ways and
00:24:46.920 --> 00:25:00.510
Donald Kurtz: You know, obviously, in some ways, police organizations and as a culture, you know, and I know there's conflict about whether to call it a culture or not, but they do, they can feel socially isolated in a lot of ways.
00:25:01.380 --> 00:25:13.950
Donald Kurtz: And so their interactions are often with each other and then some of that relates to work. So I had lots of them officer, say, well, all, all of our interactions and talk is almost always about work and then it goes to stories.
00:25:15.540 --> 00:25:22.170
Donald Kurtz: Another thing that I think is unique for policing is. It's one of the few professions that you may be come to the job.
00:25:22.650 --> 00:25:37.740
Donald Kurtz: With all kinds of stories from our popular culture. We all you know dime store books, movies, all the TV shows, etc. And then those don't necessarily reflect what's the day to day part of the job. So the stories allow
00:25:39.210 --> 00:25:52.320
Donald Kurtz: The collection of the more dramatic events that will ignore that may be four days, not much happened, but boy, we had to split Chase, one day, and that becomes the store and that color collapses time and space, in some ways,
00:25:54.690 --> 00:26:05.820
Donald Kurtz: And then I think this is where they pre narrative fits a little bit so you have an idea of what you think the job be so then you can fit your story's a little bit to fit with the popular culture view.
00:26:06.720 --> 00:26:13.350
Donald Kurtz: I think a big part of its interaction. I think a big part of it is in our broader culture and then another area that that
00:26:14.250 --> 00:26:27.510
Donald Kurtz: I think is useful is that some of what you do in policing is not like you can just pull out a policy and procedure manual break it down. So those become frameworks, but how officers.
00:26:28.530 --> 00:26:38.220
Donald Kurtz: teach each other is through stories like oh back the first time when I was a rookie. I did this and here's how you learn it. Here's how you
00:26:39.300 --> 00:26:43.200
Donald Kurtz: manage that. And so I think there's that element. And then thirdly,
00:26:44.940 --> 00:26:59.550
Donald Kurtz: A few jobs, it really becomes an identity element and the stories help manage that identity both what you tell and don't tell people write stories officers tell each other and not the same as they share with the general public and most cases.
00:26:59.550 --> 00:26:59.880
00:27:01.710 --> 00:27:02.310
Donald Kurtz: And then
00:27:03.750 --> 00:27:08.850
Donald Kurtz: And then I also still remain interested in how storytelling, it becomes a form of de stressing
00:27:09.750 --> 00:27:10.440
Tom Baker: Right and
00:27:11.580 --> 00:27:13.980
Tom Baker: The last. The last thing you touched on is sort of
00:27:15.000 --> 00:27:17.640
Tom Baker: I found. And again, this is my experience.
00:27:18.840 --> 00:27:29.820
Tom Baker: But that there was the gaining of the story. So going out onto the street and engaging in police work. One of the things that I was searching for was an experience.
00:27:30.300 --> 00:27:41.040
Tom Baker: That would lend itself to the construction of a great story because in the social gatherings and we'll talk a little bit about the different types of social gatherings. But as I was engaging in the social gatherings.
00:27:41.700 --> 00:28:02.310
Tom Baker: Almost my whole life was exclusively with police officers, because that bubble that you find yourself you find yourself in that the ability to earn prestige and and the respect and and friendship was really tightly tied to the ability to come and sit down and tell a fun
00:28:02.610 --> 00:28:12.330
Tom Baker: Police story, and it really did drive, I think. And again, this is me telling the story years after. So who knows why and constructing it this way.
00:28:12.420 --> 00:28:13.620
Donald Kurtz: Now you could start with the idea
00:28:14.430 --> 00:28:23.850
Tom Baker: But at this particular this particular time and space I'm placing importance on that. And I think there's some some truth to it. Do you, do you feel as though there's a prestige element.
00:28:24.510 --> 00:28:30.750
Donald Kurtz: Oh, yeah, yeah. And I think for one of the gender element. This is where one of the critical points because
00:28:32.700 --> 00:28:36.390
Donald Kurtz: It's hard, a lot of officers acknowledge that these stories are kind of bullshit.
00:28:36.420 --> 00:28:50.220
Donald Kurtz: Like based out is there's a real event there but it becomes a more dramatic thing over time, right, or something that everybody was sort of scared or worried about becomes a humorous event.
00:28:51.630 --> 00:28:53.130
Donald Kurtz: Not always quite like
00:28:54.930 --> 00:29:06.180
Donald Kurtz: It. Some of it was dark humor. Not quite. Black humor, where you're completely making fun of a you know a victim or something like that or an offender, but there's could be elements of that. But I do think
00:29:07.620 --> 00:29:15.720
Donald Kurtz: That that's an interesting element because it removes the idea that there was fear you could be more heroic in the retelling of the story and I did find that, you know,
00:29:16.470 --> 00:29:25.740
Donald Kurtz: Sometimes women felt a little excluded from that part. Because if it's like I walked into it and it was like four people here and I had to fight with four of them or something like that.
00:29:26.100 --> 00:29:37.650
Donald Kurtz: That they might get more challenged on the the baloney part of a story, whereas the men tended not to get so I had one in my interview, say you got to be really careful about that as a woman.
00:29:39.180 --> 00:29:45.300
Donald Kurtz: jumping in and telling you know sort of war story like you're the hero of it because people might get challenged. My challenge you.
00:29:45.750 --> 00:29:50.010
Tom Baker: Okay, so the in the worst or as a feeling of being being child.
00:29:50.490 --> 00:29:54.330
Donald Kurtz: Right, not excluded all from stories but you know maybe
00:29:54.540 --> 00:30:02.340
Donald Kurtz: In there are some in the literature, where maybe they have to be more consumers of the story, or be a part of the story, but not maybe the lead character of it.
00:30:02.730 --> 00:30:09.360
Tom Baker: So they they weren't able to enter the enter that space and then portray themselves as the protagonist in the story where the
00:30:09.360 --> 00:30:09.930
Donald Kurtz: Same way,
00:30:10.080 --> 00:30:26.100
Tom Baker: Where they're carrying out this sort of heroic role. Did you, this is, this is something because I I encountered stories where women were in my policing experiences where women were the protagonist and they were carrying out these
00:30:28.380 --> 00:30:39.510
Tom Baker: Very like performing masculinity in a way that you would want like in the culture. We want our male hero warrior officer to perform
00:30:39.930 --> 00:30:57.780
Tom Baker: Masculinity and I think for when I heard those stories and total and told those stories and continue to tell those stories. I think there was an element of maybe laying out what it would take for a woman to live up to it and they're just as unrealistic as
00:30:58.860 --> 00:31:04.530
Tom Baker: The stories we tell about our male colleagues did you, did you hear, did you hear stories where
00:31:04.950 --> 00:31:16.140
Donald Kurtz: I did have one. It was a community officer and she talked about it and she was actually African American, and this one always stuck out to me and she's like, man I had like there was sort of a double disc. Trust me when I started like
00:31:16.590 --> 00:31:28.230
Donald Kurtz: In her her estimation. And one of the things she said the other officers didn't truly trust me until I accidentally broke a dude's our struggle.
00:31:28.830 --> 00:31:34.650
Donald Kurtz: And she says, what happened really was. He was up on this wall that was like six feet on the ground above the ground.
00:31:35.040 --> 00:31:42.030
Donald Kurtz: And she went up to approach him and he kind of went to try to run and she's like he he literally just fell down the wall and broke his own or
00:31:42.990 --> 00:31:49.080
Donald Kurtz: But, and she's like, I was actually panic that I was gonna get blamed for this, but for whatever reason she's like that story took off that
00:31:49.710 --> 00:31:58.590
Donald Kurtz: You know, I was able to break this guy's arm for being resistive and combative. And then after that, she said she felt more accepted by the group.
00:31:59.310 --> 00:32:09.540
Donald Kurtz: And so that's one example that I think fits with yours in the story became that's why she, you know, I've had this long time ago. So this is even my story of a story.
00:32:10.290 --> 00:32:11.550
Tom Baker: Right when
00:32:11.730 --> 00:32:16.230
Donald Kurtz: He said that people were saying that she was like, Oh, she must be really skilled in combat like
00:32:16.260 --> 00:32:26.460
Donald Kurtz: You know, MMA arm breaking techniques or something like this. And so it became a funny point for her that. That's when they started to trust her in a more direct way.
00:32:27.210 --> 00:32:27.810
Tom Baker: Just
00:32:27.990 --> 00:32:29.430
Donald Kurtz: A little bit with what you're saying.
00:32:30.090 --> 00:32:37.290
Tom Baker: And I don't know if you. I just thought I found this particular this particular thing. Interesting. DID YOU DO YOU THINK THAT DID SHE MENTIONED if
00:32:37.800 --> 00:32:47.190
Tom Baker: If this was them not understanding what had happened or them knowing what it happened but constructing this story to framer this for their web, you know,
00:32:48.090 --> 00:33:03.780
Donald Kurtz: You know, in this was back when I conducted those interviews and press the narrative, so I can't. And it would be really strong speculation on my part, because I didn't ask follow up questions I had that interview now that that part would take like 30 minutes just go
00:33:03.780 --> 00:33:04.110
Tom Baker: Right.
00:33:04.680 --> 00:33:06.480
Donald Kurtz: But I got the sense that she
00:33:07.830 --> 00:33:17.220
Donald Kurtz: That sort of they projected that but she also felt like, oh, it created a space for her to be accepted and she wasn't going to refute it in a lot of ways like
00:33:17.970 --> 00:33:29.280
Tom Baker: Right. And it's because it's or there's something that's even if it's not necessarily the truth. It's earning her prestige and position within, within the department. So, these, these stories.
00:33:30.420 --> 00:33:41.460
Tom Baker: We need to take them with a grain of salt. Obviously, but does, does it matter. So like, it doesn't matter if the story isn't true can still tell us well.
00:33:41.820 --> 00:33:45.630
Donald Kurtz: The narrative. People will say, specifically, it doesn't matter if a story is true.
00:33:45.660 --> 00:33:50.700
Donald Kurtz: If it becomes an important part of identity becomes a way people shape things
00:33:52.140 --> 00:34:02.760
Donald Kurtz: What I always think would be the interesting part is a story that's told sort of as a worst story. But then how it's testified to in court and the differences because I think officers would know. Like, I'm not gonna
00:34:03.180 --> 00:34:09.000
Donald Kurtz: You know, this is a you know baloney story when we're all centered around, but that's not how I can testify in court.
00:34:10.320 --> 00:34:27.900
Donald Kurtz: So that tells you that they in the officers. I interviewed many of them said, well, we know these are kind of fake stories. No one of them. So I think direct quote was something along the lines of, we kind of tell what we did. But then we add add stuff and so
00:34:29.430 --> 00:34:47.160
Donald Kurtz: I don't think the truth matters in the same way. There's a couple of authors that argue that that these become folklore metaphors are other things that explain what the culture is how you're supposed to be helped shape behavior, more than it's supposed to be a factual account.
00:34:47.730 --> 00:34:55.800
Tom Baker: Right. And I found it having interviewed you know thousands of people in policing like people who are suspected of a crime is
00:34:57.000 --> 00:35:07.950
Tom Baker: Having them tell a story, starting with a narrative of that particular day, the things that they tell you that are incorrect can sometimes shed more light than the things that they
00:35:08.310 --> 00:35:21.120
Tom Baker: They tell you that are that are true. It tells you about intention, what they're what type of drama. They're trying to play out for you how they're trying to influence you. So that totally, totally makes sense.
00:35:21.180 --> 00:35:26.250
Donald Kurtz: I didn't even in every story, depending, you mentioned audience earlier because we play in differently to
00:35:26.580 --> 00:35:37.170
Donald Kurtz: But the details we include exclude are often shaped by our audience. And what we want to convey at any given time. So sometimes we might include more details and other times we might hold out something
00:35:37.800 --> 00:35:44.430
Tom Baker: Right, because the story is, is the ultimate performance. We have some information about ourselves or some lesson that we wanted to transmit
00:35:44.700 --> 00:35:51.180
Tom Baker: And we needed. We recognize who who what the prejudices and previous experiences of our audience are and we're going to
00:35:51.450 --> 00:36:06.090
Tom Baker: We're going to shape that the story I tell my wife is different than I tell my son or my daughter or, you know, the A their age, you know, or a friend or a colleague my policing friends, my friends who are in academia, they're going to be completely different stories.
00:36:06.360 --> 00:36:14.940
Donald Kurtz: And he's also a current family. So I think it's a I was a few years back was telling a story or my brother was telling a story and one of us.
00:36:15.390 --> 00:36:31.950
Donald Kurtz: Couldn't figure out which one this really happened to from from your kids. I swore I was the one that this happened to me, my younger brother swears. No, it was him. And so just think about how that that story changes over, over time, and can affect us that way.
00:36:32.340 --> 00:36:38.280
Tom Baker: Absolutely by my wife and I did the same thing she's constantly stealing my jokes and then claims that she came up with them.
00:36:39.000 --> 00:36:44.160
Tom Baker: See, eventually the other way around. Just kidding, just to back up a little bit about gender.
00:36:44.790 --> 00:36:57.690
Tom Baker: You talk you talk about gender. Can you talk a little bit about so people who are not familiar with the you know the masculine or feminine feminist literature. Can you talk about doing doing gender what that what that means. So
00:36:57.900 --> 00:37:08.730
Donald Kurtz: The idea of doing gender in most simplistic terms is it's sort of a performance, which then in a lot of ways fits with this narrative analysis as well. And so the idea that
00:37:09.780 --> 00:37:24.720
Donald Kurtz: Certain behavioral scripts or mannerisms, or other things are then become related to gender and that's separated from biological sex and that doing gender often is these performances that we can develop over time.
00:37:25.740 --> 00:37:42.000
Donald Kurtz: And then they can vary from setting to setting. So it can be done in a lot of ways. And so in criminology, it's been looked at a couple ways. Some things like violence as a masculine resource for doing gender. So you look at most violent crime, it's still pretty much tied to two men.
00:37:43.440 --> 00:37:46.800
Donald Kurtz: And also, it could be eliminating element so
00:37:48.480 --> 00:37:59.400
Donald Kurtz: You know performances by women may not be accepted in the same way. And so that that's kind of a precept and then the idea of sort of nationalized organization is one where
00:38:00.300 --> 00:38:08.460
Donald Kurtz: The culture is more geared toward I would say those those masculine type scripts and so you brought up a good example that
00:38:10.110 --> 00:38:23.520
Donald Kurtz: Sometimes they'll talk about when a police officers is like, well, it takes a special type of woman to make it through this job. So the idea that they can adapt to that sort of masculine environment is what's implied by that in most cases.
00:38:25.410 --> 00:38:35.550
Donald Kurtz: And so I think, I think that fits well within a framework of looking at policing and then by the way, it still remains one of the most gendered jobs in terms of the distribution of
00:38:36.150 --> 00:38:45.480
Donald Kurtz: Men and women. So I looked at the most recent data. But, you know, around 14% women. I know it's been growing, but it's also been hard to recruit
00:38:46.440 --> 00:38:56.670
Donald Kurtz: Women in particular. And part of that relates back to the idea that policing is about making arrest and physical confrontations which ignores
00:38:57.150 --> 00:39:14.250
Donald Kurtz: All the other things are really good cop does like talks to people interacts with individual helps people when they're in need service calls has to write well has to be able to communicate well. So, it collapses the entire job down to who can win a fistfight it
00:39:15.750 --> 00:39:27.780
Donald Kurtz: Becomes an interesting aspect for women is because of on average size differences. It sort of creates this idea that women aren't good for the job or or they're going to be in trouble if
00:39:28.230 --> 00:39:35.940
Donald Kurtz: There's a physical altercation doors, the fact that their officers have all kinds of range of physical abilities. Right. A 16 years
00:39:35.940 --> 00:39:36.270
00:39:37.320 --> 00:39:53.040
Donald Kurtz: 35 pounds overweight is not going to do particularly well in a fistfight with a 21 year old who's you know tweaking on math or something like that. So, but I, you know what I found in some of the literature pointed out that women get pointed to this as a problem.
00:39:54.090 --> 00:40:11.160
Tom Baker: Yeah I know when I was at the colleague got to teach at the police academy and we had a female recruit who had a difficulty with some physical fitness stuff and the combative stopped. She had some difficulty, she was
00:40:12.240 --> 00:40:24.420
Tom Baker: Well educated her report writing was top off the charts her ability to carry out a conversation interview people social skills social intelligence, all of the
00:40:24.780 --> 00:40:34.230
Tom Baker: All of the skills that we're going to make her a fantastic investigator a fantastic at dealing with the public of calming people down all of those skills.
00:40:34.620 --> 00:40:45.450
Tom Baker: Were completely ignored and all of the focus amongst the Qadri the people who are in charge of training or Ron well she's going to get her ass kicked. She's going to get somebody hurt.
00:40:47.340 --> 00:40:50.970
Tom Baker: Violence as a component of policing. But like you said.
00:40:53.100 --> 00:41:00.780
Tom Baker: The vast majority of the time you're not. You're not. You're not hustling around in the dirt you're interviewing people you're reading reports.
00:41:01.080 --> 00:41:06.960
Donald Kurtz: Right. Any in some of the other skills you described could also lead to avoiding some of the physical
00:41:07.710 --> 00:41:12.480
Donald Kurtz: Or at least controlling them verbally until somebody else could come help so
00:41:14.460 --> 00:41:24.510
Donald Kurtz: Fletcher and she cited in the article, we will look her up, but she had looked at storytelling and she was specifically looking at women and she had this concept of the core story.
00:41:25.170 --> 00:41:37.980
Donald Kurtz: And this was the idea that it was often dictated toward women officers, but it was a story that, what are you going to do the day you're in an alley and you don't have your gun and
00:41:38.520 --> 00:41:47.310
Donald Kurtz: Radio in this 250 pound monster or a gorilla or whatever the term they use for a really big guy is there and it's just you and him.
00:41:48.180 --> 00:42:01.830
Donald Kurtz: And how you going to manage that and it was particularly used to gets women. Now the reality of that is any officer by themselves without older equipment without their ability fighting a 250 pound man is
00:42:02.490 --> 00:42:12.660
Donald Kurtz: Not going to be in a good position. And the other part is Nope. What do you leave in your all your other equipment in the car and just strolling around on duty. So there's a real absurdity about the story.
00:42:13.380 --> 00:42:29.790
Donald Kurtz: But what I found interesting when I came across her literature and she did that in the middle 90s. And she said, this came up in some 200 interviews and then of my interviews a decade later, it came up multiple times. And it's a story that's out there. Yeah.
00:42:29.820 --> 00:42:38.910
Tom Baker: Drunk jumping a patrol car today. I mean, it's been a handful of years for me, but I would call them, I call them the stories so
00:42:39.390 --> 00:42:47.160
Tom Baker: We and and our department 101 was the radio call like the code for a female
00:42:48.570 --> 00:42:55.260
Tom Baker: So the story would be, we were doing X, Y, and Z and 101 officer shows up and X happens and
00:42:56.490 --> 00:43:14.460
Tom Baker: It would always be some type of tactical snafu that left people in a dangerous situation and those stories like we're told throughout the day of the very, very common story so i think it's it's it's probably the same story. I just gave it a different name.
00:43:15.060 --> 00:43:16.830
Donald Kurtz: Right. And related to that, to
00:43:18.450 --> 00:43:26.070
Donald Kurtz: You know, a couple of the women officers. I interviewed said that a mistake by a woman officer was always held up as, like, this is why women can't do it.
00:43:26.430 --> 00:43:35.910
Donald Kurtz: In a state escape mistake by a male officer was not held up in the same way. It's just like, oh, this person made a mistake. And so one of the stories I did, including the paper.
00:43:37.140 --> 00:43:40.860
Donald Kurtz: You read was about a woman officer who went into a jail and you
00:43:41.730 --> 00:43:51.300
Donald Kurtz: You know, most gels, have you turn your gun in but their department didn't want their gun and physical possession of somebody else. So they made it a policy you put your gun. Your sidearm in the back of your
00:43:51.930 --> 00:43:57.990
Donald Kurtz: Truck your car she goes and goes about her day at work comes out and shows up somewhere. It's not wearing or cider.
00:43:58.710 --> 00:44:09.690
Donald Kurtz: And this am a big story that everybody told about her and and she, you know, discussing with like multiple people have done this, but this became about women officer, so he's like one of the
00:44:10.110 --> 00:44:25.920
Donald Kurtz: police detectives are big shot detectives or somebody in higher ed men did this and was on TV later walking around without their gun and nobody ever talks about it, but I did it. And it became an idea like, well, got to be careful about women officers, they'll do things like this.
00:44:26.430 --> 00:44:32.280
Tom Baker: Right, so, so the experience was that the the story of the things that were happening for
00:44:32.940 --> 00:44:38.610
Tom Baker: For everybody can happen to anybody like to me. That's something we had to do with the jail is take your weapon out, put it in the trunk.
00:44:39.030 --> 00:44:51.750
Tom Baker: And multiple times, I found myself driving down the road to a call and got to the habit of checking to make sure I put my weapon back in my holster, because it's a very you get in your car and you leave, and it's easy thing to forget.
00:44:52.020 --> 00:44:52.860
Donald Kurtz: Right, exactly.
00:44:53.040 --> 00:45:00.330
Tom Baker: But for the women they were finding that the same stories took on new meaning because they had there was a gendered element because they were female
00:45:01.050 --> 00:45:15.060
Tom Baker: That story then became part of a collection of stories designed not designed that frame women in a certain way and in this particular culture policing culture. I'll call it culture.
00:45:16.920 --> 00:45:20.040
Tom Baker: Do you what. So what are the what are the implications of this so
00:45:20.100 --> 00:45:29.520
Tom Baker: So you have women being framed in this particular what are, what are some of the implications if I'm a citizen and I'm interested in having a professional Police Department. What does this mean for me.
00:45:30.870 --> 00:45:36.690
Donald Kurtz: Well, I did to me. I think it's partly explanatory, but why fewer women go into law enforcement, you know,
00:45:39.390 --> 00:45:56.730
Donald Kurtz: It would be hard to be at a job to feel like you have to carry everybody who's similar to you in some way so you know the the idea of negative tokenism. I guess who's got what I could think of the where okay you're here because we need women, I'm doing air quotes and
00:45:58.140 --> 00:46:11.460
Donald Kurtz: And look, we can find all these failures that are failures. Anybody might do, but then it becomes a justification for why women shouldn't be here. And if you work in a job like that, then it can be hard to want to stay and do it.
00:46:12.900 --> 00:46:26.670
Donald Kurtz: And then the. The other idea of the. It takes a special woman concept is will you adapt to us that the organization in the culture doesn't really need to adapt to work environments. The same way most others have
00:46:27.420 --> 00:46:35.460
Tom Baker: So we're, we're, we're going to both not get so this is you're saying it's going to discourage females from remaining in or being drawn to the profession.
00:46:35.790 --> 00:46:49.710
Tom Baker: And then also, it inhibits the ability of the department to change in ways that citizens, I think, right now, in particular, maybe, maybe want that. Were you getting it right.
00:46:49.740 --> 00:47:04.020
Donald Kurtz: And then it become you know even though there might be formal policies informal efforts to recruit which I've really gone up to recruit women that it's harder than that because then the informal elements step in and make it difficult
00:47:05.280 --> 00:47:12.090
Tom Baker: Another thing I won't give you, I'll just take a few more minutes. Eric, I know your time is valuable. One thing I didn't, didn't ask you about was
00:47:12.690 --> 00:47:28.110
Tom Baker: You you sort of distinguish between stories so that we talked about the importance of stories and police culture, but there is a distinction between the war story which you mentioned that as a category. And then the sort of end of shift.
00:47:28.620 --> 00:47:36.780
Tom Baker: Stories, for us it was we would go to work, the night shift so work overnight, and we would all go to the calls would slow down at like four
00:47:37.110 --> 00:47:47.580
Tom Baker: And then five we'd all roll into Denny's, and we tell our, our stories as first shift came on, what's the difference between those stories and the war stories. Can you talk about setting and meaning.
00:47:48.390 --> 00:47:59.940
Donald Kurtz: So I, I would say that the there's the sometimes called flow of action stories which are this just happened, and you get together and maybe as the even if you made an arrest or something, they're still in the
00:48:00.480 --> 00:48:07.140
Donald Kurtz: Holding area and people start talking. Oh, we had to do this and that and some of that actually probably translates into the actual formal narrative.
00:48:07.620 --> 00:48:13.200
Donald Kurtz: People will start running their story. What did you see what did I see. And then they start putting it together.
00:48:13.710 --> 00:48:21.150
Donald Kurtz: And then the end of shift stories. I think are interesting, a couple ways because you have four or five six officers get together.
00:48:22.140 --> 00:48:34.380
Donald Kurtz: You collapse that time and space again to one person might have a more interesting story. And they tell it and then that becomes part of the shared identity of everybody. Again, I think those are closer to
00:48:36.060 --> 00:48:49.680
Donald Kurtz: You know, a camaraderie building there closer to probably the factual account narratives and then over time. Some of those probably do become more stories, right. So if you had a particular event. I also see those as
00:48:51.240 --> 00:49:03.150
Donald Kurtz: The, the end of shift ones is also a decompression element, too. So I think of those, you know, the arrow area that I was interested in stress. I actually think of those as a real positive area it to the most degree. Right.
00:49:03.510 --> 00:49:16.470
Donald Kurtz: That they can be a way of processing difficult situations that happen you're in a job and then also they they become a look into where officers indicated that they would talk about what did you try this, or did you try that.
00:49:17.970 --> 00:49:32.700
Donald Kurtz: The war stories are completely social they're completely for that element of telling a story. They're usually done and more, you know, people talked about doing them campaign or at the bars or you have been involved in war stories.
00:49:34.080 --> 00:49:40.920
Donald Kurtz: People talked about shift parties as well that like if you work night shift. She couldn't get off and go have a beer somewhere. So, people might
00:49:41.550 --> 00:49:53.610
Donald Kurtz: All congregate at a house and they'll drink beers at eight o'clock in the morning because you get an overnight, you're scrambling eggs and setting around and then they tell stories. These are also the ones that get more exaggerated over time.
00:49:54.120 --> 00:50:01.560
Donald Kurtz: But in some ways they can shape identity even more because there's the social context of them. And then there's also
00:50:02.820 --> 00:50:05.070
Donald Kurtz: The greater mean ascribed to those, I guess.
00:50:05.790 --> 00:50:14.430
Tom Baker: So yeah you at the end of so you're so you're saying is at the end. At the end of the shift. There's you there's a lot of you immediate utility and and
00:50:15.630 --> 00:50:29.880
Tom Baker: Pretty creating a shared narrative of the experiences that we had that night, as a group, making you know making some sense of them maybe learning how we can handle it better. There's, it's much tighter to the data, I guess, like, tighter to the story.
00:50:30.210 --> 00:50:30.540
Donald Kurtz: Where
00:50:31.290 --> 00:50:42.510
Tom Baker: The war story is more removed and more about these broader like meaning of who we are as police officers and
00:50:42.540 --> 00:50:51.480
Donald Kurtz: Is that yeah I think so, but then they're also there's for comical effect to write, you mean are there that camaraderie building in a more general sense
00:50:52.140 --> 00:51:01.290
Tom Baker: What do you think the I've heard this come up a ton. When people talk about the dark gallows humor dark humor. The police officers nurses
00:51:02.760 --> 00:51:06.060
Tom Baker: And you obviously heard this in your in
00:51:06.510 --> 00:51:07.710
Donald Kurtz: Your story. Now, I was a
00:51:07.770 --> 00:51:09.120
Donald Kurtz: Social worker and a probation.
00:51:09.120 --> 00:51:09.390
Tom Baker: Right.
00:51:09.690 --> 00:51:10.860
Donald Kurtz: dark humor exist.
00:51:11.700 --> 00:51:18.870
Tom Baker: So why, why do you, what would be your explanation for why human beings in particular walks of life.
00:51:19.950 --> 00:51:20.520
Tom Baker: Rely on
00:51:21.600 --> 00:51:22.470
Donald Kurtz: Well, I think any
00:51:24.630 --> 00:51:25.050
Donald Kurtz: You know,
00:51:25.200 --> 00:51:30.300
Donald Kurtz: I bring this up with my students to are going into social work. I'm like, when you first go in, you're going to hear
00:51:31.500 --> 00:51:36.450
Donald Kurtz: You know, grizzled Social Work telling stories and at first you might be mortified like oh my god
00:51:37.080 --> 00:51:43.290
Donald Kurtz: Are we respecting the clients are we were expecting the people are horn. But I do think that when you experience.
00:51:43.860 --> 00:51:59.550
Donald Kurtz: You know, traumatic or or very difficult situations that you have to have a way to decompress that and so sometimes gallows humor in dark humor become a way of laughing at a difficult situation. And so, the thing I tell students is a little bit like
00:52:01.440 --> 00:52:13.980
Donald Kurtz: Have you ever been so stressed that then something happens and you just start laughing and it becomes this cathartic let loose or have you been, I mean every funeral. I've ever gone to have somebody close at some point somebody starts telling stories.
00:52:15.270 --> 00:52:32.910
Donald Kurtz: And we we decompress. So I think there's a human element thats related to that. And so I think we have to be cautious of being overly critical and I think it can go there being overly critical of the gallows humor, because I do think it kind of exists across professions.
00:52:34.380 --> 00:52:36.240
Donald Kurtz: And it probably is a useful tool.
00:52:37.470 --> 00:52:39.600
Donald Kurtz: Now, and I don't think it necessarily
00:52:41.880 --> 00:52:51.510
Donald Kurtz: develops the narrative in the same way that some of the other things do. So I don't think somebody's telling a gallows humor and consuming gallows humor instantly becomes
00:52:52.950 --> 00:53:00.180
Donald Kurtz: More aggressive or problematic when they're working with with the community. And I think most people know to separate those out. So
00:53:01.860 --> 00:53:12.450
Tom Baker: Right. And I, I definitely saw what it was called a coping mechanism and I had recently working on a project like a violence reduction project and
00:53:13.260 --> 00:53:30.000
Tom Baker: Talking to a citizen who reported a extremely vicious crime and the police officers responded and she saw one of the police officers sort of joke like joking about it was a hallway, a really horrible thing and it really
00:53:31.620 --> 00:53:41.850
Tom Baker: Traumatized her like seeing behavior by the police officer like you really hurt her and law and is going to something I think you can have a lasting impact on her.
00:53:43.290 --> 00:53:59.850
Tom Baker: But for the officer. I think was going through the same thing. They were experiencing this absolutely horrible event and they're experiencing these things on a regular basis. So you use this as a way to like shield yourself from
00:54:00.570 --> 00:54:11.490
Tom Baker: From the reality of what you're witnessing I and I apologize to any James Baldwin fans if it wasn't James Baldwin, but I think he, I think it was him talks about how
00:54:13.620 --> 00:54:24.240
Tom Baker: When you're you're witnessing. These things are you seeing the people around you exposed to horrible things that it's like, but for the grace of God. It could be me.
00:54:24.690 --> 00:54:25.230
Tom Baker: Saying what
00:54:25.260 --> 00:54:31.200
Tom Baker: You're. It's a way of being almost like gratitude of this shit happens and
00:54:32.250 --> 00:54:39.810
Tom Baker: This is how horrible and you laugh because it's it's so unbelievable like that could happen to me, and I spoke spoke to me.
00:54:40.290 --> 00:54:43.560
Donald Kurtz: Right, so you laugh so you don't crack up as they say, right, so
00:54:43.650 --> 00:54:50.160
Tom Baker: Night. Yes, it's just something so simple, but I know I've done it with horrible things where I'm like,
00:54:51.810 --> 00:54:53.280
Tom Baker: To break the tension.
00:54:53.640 --> 00:54:57.960
Tom Baker: To be, I don't know, to just keep yourself from getting choked up you know
00:54:57.990 --> 00:55:02.070
Donald Kurtz: And I think in both medicine and law enforcement, it's social whether these really
00:55:02.790 --> 00:55:16.440
Donald Kurtz: People professions it pretty dominates it. The other part is in most of them. It's not designed to be consumed by others. Right. It is a performance that supposed to be encapsulated and some people even say
00:55:18.000 --> 00:55:28.950
Donald Kurtz: You know, this is where the the clothes culture element can become around humor that you wouldn't even tell those jokes to spouses are very close friends, but right somebody who there and experience it.
00:55:30.480 --> 00:55:31.980
Tom Baker: No, no thank you were sick.
00:55:33.450 --> 00:55:51.210
Tom Baker: And every once in a while, I will even today, I left in 2014 so it's been six years. I'll be telling jokes or reacting to the world around me and I'll say something in front of my wife or colleague and I'm like, oh, that's the wrong audience.
00:55:51.630 --> 00:55:55.920
Donald Kurtz: Right. My wife has jokes about me. That is, like, okay, you're going a little too far, like
00:55:55.950 --> 00:56:06.150
Donald Kurtz: Yeah, like, okay, I'm probably crossed over into the dark humor, a little bit, but even I was doing analysis of these text messages of a police department. They were access via
00:56:07.770 --> 00:56:21.720
Donald Kurtz: Free freedom of information request and I found a little tidbits of dark humor and it were animate one. Was this a they better fire up the crematorium it's going to be that sort of night right where they're, you know, they're not. I don't think they're purposely trying to be
00:56:22.800 --> 00:56:29.490
Donald Kurtz: callous to victims. I just think it's like, Okay, we're gonna have a tough night. Let's all gear up for it, it could be done in a humorous way.
00:56:30.030 --> 00:56:32.580
Tom Baker: Yeah, it's, it's like, oh, it's a coping mechanism.
00:56:33.750 --> 00:56:49.470
Tom Baker: So you've you've sort of laid out this picture of a culture where narratives are constructed and shared and those narratives create an environment that is I would, I would argue, pretty hostile to two women.
00:56:51.420 --> 00:57:08.340
Tom Baker: Yeah, I mean, I think it's a fair fair thing to say. I mean, but having been partners with multiple female officers for extended periods of time and male officers for extended periods. I mean, the reality of doing police work in a male body versus a female body. I mean, they're just two.
00:57:08.370 --> 00:57:14.880
Tom Baker: Completely different roles. I mean experiences. I mean, it's got. I can't imagine how difficult
00:57:15.870 --> 00:57:21.180
Tom Baker: It must be so. And there, and we talked about their, their implications for society. We're
00:57:21.630 --> 00:57:33.990
Tom Baker: Supposed to be a democratic society that shapes our police department. And this isn't this is an impediment to that. What would you, what would you say is needed to to change things to get things on track and create a different environment.
00:57:34.650 --> 00:57:40.320
Donald Kurtz: And that's where it becomes sort of a complicated issue because I do think you know more
00:57:41.400 --> 00:57:49.680
Donald Kurtz: Demographically appropriate police department is probably useful but you know if there's difficult in recruiting and informal practices.
00:57:50.280 --> 00:57:58.380
Donald Kurtz: Are an impediment to that and also thank you, you'd see develop I have another paper on narrative, but I am police departments and I tried to explain
00:57:58.980 --> 00:58:09.030
Donald Kurtz: The sometimes use of force through a narrative analysis. And I think part of the stories that are also told create the idea of the environment is particularly hostile
00:58:09.540 --> 00:58:17.700
Donald Kurtz: And you're living your work in a war zone. This becomes really problematic when police, like, you know, St. Louis out of the town and
00:58:18.840 --> 00:58:19.470
Tom Baker: Ferguson.
00:58:19.920 --> 00:58:32.460
Donald Kurtz: Ferguson. Yeah, I used to the analysis to but I had some of the grand jury testimony and the way they described the community they patrolling was like it was a war zone. We know they all hate us. If we go there, things are going to be bad.
00:58:33.210 --> 00:58:43.410
Donald Kurtz: And so, and part of that was many of the officers didn't live in the community patrolled and that sort of a separation effect as well. And so
00:58:44.160 --> 00:58:54.660
Donald Kurtz: You know and I know some departments to greater or lesser degree of a fact of required that you live in the city limits or county limits or something like that. But I do think there's that that
00:58:55.830 --> 00:59:09.030
Donald Kurtz: Separation from where you live, to where you patrol while sometimes I could see being very useful. You don't want to every time you go to out to eat with your family, see people you've made an arrest, too, but it also then creates a
00:59:10.710 --> 00:59:16.740
Donald Kurtz: Realistic to go with the sort of philosophical separation between officers and community.
00:59:18.630 --> 00:59:21.420
Donald Kurtz: Across the board, and then I was interested, then
00:59:23.910 --> 00:59:28.920
Donald Kurtz: You know, a lot of the stories to are told that if you don't do this job right you'll die and there is real.
00:59:29.670 --> 00:59:40.530
Donald Kurtz: Fear of death in law enforcement and there's real chance of death. But if you actually statistically this where we go back to he's typically look at it at it compared to other higher high risk jobs, it's
00:59:41.100 --> 00:59:52.680
Donald Kurtz: Much lower down that risk. But I do believe it comes a part of the identity of police officers and then so it does help explain why you might shoot an unarmed person.
00:59:53.190 --> 01:00:03.720
Donald Kurtz: Enters other prejudices and all that building. I'm not excusing that but I do believe it then becomes part of the you know the, what's the police story. You were rather be judged. Yeah.
01:00:03.750 --> 01:00:05.550
Tom Baker: By 12 and carried by six.
01:00:05.940 --> 01:00:10.740
Donald Kurtz: And carried by six. That is a narrative that's a short narrative about make a decision.
01:00:13.020 --> 01:00:24.030
Donald Kurtz: And so as a side note to that some of my narrative researches. The one question I was at a panel and they said at one hand your research seems really, really critical police officers.
01:00:24.570 --> 01:00:34.380
Donald Kurtz: And on the other hand, they thought it was very excusing of some of the things that I said, well, that probably means up striking a decent balance but i i do believe that that that
01:00:35.580 --> 01:00:43.080
Donald Kurtz: The stories that are told can affect how the officers then interpret as situations. And when you add that into
01:00:44.190 --> 01:00:49.740
Donald Kurtz: Places where I narrative of place become circumstance that it doesn't crease.
01:00:51.150 --> 01:00:55.170
Donald Kurtz: Maybe they use of deadly or forced and Mike what it needed to occur.
01:00:55.860 --> 01:01:00.930
Tom Baker: So the. So two things. So you're saying there's no quick answer to change. You can't change the call.
01:01:02.520 --> 01:01:07.050
Tom Baker: I was hoping you'd have that, because then I would my dissertation would fly by. If you gave me that you have to do that.
01:01:08.490 --> 01:01:20.070
Tom Baker: And what it may be what you're what I'm getting from this is if it's narratives that are shaping the culture. It's the introduction of new narratives are changing the existing narrative.
01:01:20.100 --> 01:01:22.080
Tom Baker: To slightly change this culture is that
01:01:22.260 --> 01:01:34.080
Donald Kurtz: Sort of right so organizational organizations have narratives to as well. Right. And some of them please seems more complex because there's sort of these meta narratives that go across from society and our police shows
01:01:35.010 --> 01:01:43.920
Donald Kurtz: All the way through departments that kind of share them so that very, very similar stories might be told in the middle of Kansas as
01:01:44.580 --> 01:02:00.180
Donald Kurtz: And in Washington DC or is told, wherever. So there's these bigger narratives that could maybe need to change for that, but then also organizational narrative. So, some of that is leadership putting out things. But the interesting thing is if informal culture doesn't want it.
01:02:01.290 --> 01:02:08.910
Donald Kurtz: They just learn how to say the right words around the right people and then continue the cultural elements.
01:02:09.570 --> 01:02:20.490
Tom Baker: Yeah, it's it's a it's a big task and you talk about the separation. I mean, I know I lived in the suburbs and I police in the in the city. And there was a
01:02:20.850 --> 01:02:33.450
Tom Baker: There was a dry cocked called it the drive were on the drive into work. I went through a process where I changed my mental mindset my vocabulary. The way I interact with people I became a different person.
01:02:33.990 --> 01:02:46.860
Tom Baker: And then when I went home, I had to do the same thing and it was because I my perception was that I would be walked all over on at work if I didn't go that ready to go to war.
01:02:47.490 --> 01:02:51.450
Tom Baker: And then if I went home, ready to go to war, I would end up divorced. Right.
01:02:52.380 --> 01:02:58.830
Tom Baker: Like the two that this the role of citizen and the role of state agent were
01:02:59.490 --> 01:03:07.680
Tom Baker: There was a there. You couldn't bring you couldn't do you feel as though they could be brought together. And what you're saying is saying is, maybe like
01:03:08.130 --> 01:03:18.120
Tom Baker: Having people who are living their like their regular life in the community are connected to the community like breaking down that barrier is another part of this as well, or
01:03:18.150 --> 01:03:29.970
Donald Kurtz: Amy, you know you you bring up one thing that can happen for police departments to. Is there a little distrustful of outside agents right someone like yourself who has the perspective of now being out of law enforcement.
01:03:30.660 --> 01:03:34.110
Donald Kurtz: And you've probably even hindsight, you go back and look at things a little differently than
01:03:34.110 --> 01:03:34.530
Tom Baker: Oh, yeah.
01:03:34.830 --> 01:03:50.160
Donald Kurtz: I did, I, I do think there's some credibility to people who have experiences that go and do that. I know when I interviewed officer. I made sure they know, I used to be a military police officer. I was a probation officer this instantly like okay you know a little bit about this.
01:03:50.460 --> 01:03:54.150
Donald Kurtz: Absolutely. And so I think there are some
01:03:56.010 --> 01:03:59.310
Donald Kurtz: Some elements of that that can help change.
01:04:00.660 --> 01:04:14.250
Donald Kurtz: And then I don't know. I mean, our culture is so interesting too because I'm really interested. I haven't got to research on this yet, but how the popular culture of media that we consume shapes and officers before they arrive.
01:04:15.390 --> 01:04:27.420
Donald Kurtz: And even our public perception. So if you think of. We love and movies. The cop who's on the edge, who's, you know, busted somebody's arm and a drawer to get the confession reality. We don't want any of our cops like that because one of their role.
01:04:27.450 --> 01:04:28.230
Tom Baker: You know, great.
01:04:28.410 --> 01:04:37.440
Donald Kurtz: But he might confess that their arms being broken, whether they committed the crime or not. And so, you know, how does that shape, who decides to go into policing it times
01:04:37.980 --> 01:04:46.560
Donald Kurtz: What they expect from it. Do they seek out certain parts of the job at the detriment of other parts that they need to develop
01:04:47.550 --> 01:04:57.720
Tom Baker: It. I think, I think you're definitely definitely on it. I mean, when you're you're drawn to policing that the narratives in our popular culture about policing. What it is is going to you know to
01:04:57.960 --> 01:05:03.120
Tom Baker: Be a filter and deciding who who's drawn to it. And then while you're in a policing role. I know I would.
01:05:03.810 --> 01:05:10.140
Tom Baker: Go home and watch The Wire at the end of my shift and I'm watching McNulty, I'm sure that
01:05:10.680 --> 01:05:25.020
Tom Baker: Some of the ways that I carried myself and behave was probably influenced by that character who I identify just like another human being when you identify it being there's you adopt, you know, changes who you are. So I think that's, that's definitely
01:05:25.020 --> 01:05:32.550
Donald Kurtz: Fascinated more than other jobs there. There are lots of images of police in movies, etc. So, you know,
01:05:33.600 --> 01:05:38.520
Donald Kurtz: We, there are some of social workers, I give that example to my students, but there's a lot less right
01:05:40.260 --> 01:05:43.260
Donald Kurtz: Tons of stuff you can consume on being a police officer.
01:05:44.070 --> 01:06:00.660
Tom Baker: Well, I've had you for over an hour over an hour already so I won't take any more. Your time is there any. So thank you. I'm going to put the article that I read will be in the description below. And as well as a link to your bio. Do you have any final thoughts before we let you go.
01:06:02.910 --> 01:06:09.930
Donald Kurtz: Now, I just, I think it's an interesting area and it can apply to other professions within criminal justice, I would like
01:06:10.920 --> 01:06:27.690
Donald Kurtz: I'd be interested to see judges, you know, because they're consuming narratives and multiple ways to write they read official narrative report. But then they also hear somebody described themselves how others are shaved and then also just even how
01:06:29.160 --> 01:06:42.930
Donald Kurtz: You know, if there's more of this research out there, but how people who have been arrested, Dan, can be defined and then I'm interested in narrative of place a little bit as well. So these are like 20 years of research.
01:06:44.940 --> 01:06:57.180
Donald Kurtz: But how do certain places get defined or even sections of places get defined in a way. So, you know, Chicago, over and over is defined as the murder capital, if you look at it, per capita. It's like something
01:06:57.630 --> 01:06:59.490
Tom Baker: not anywhere near St. Louis, I can tell you that
01:06:59.520 --> 01:07:01.710
Donald Kurtz: Right now, St. Louis is actually, I think.
01:07:02.010 --> 01:07:07.770
Donald Kurtz: It was Baltimore, and I'm from Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, in terms of shootings a PR capital murders is really high.
01:07:09.630 --> 01:07:28.170
Donald Kurtz: But they don't get the same sort of play. And so some of that narrative that develops. So a narrative of place. And then also, this is real quick and maybe I'm a little off a side note, but somebody did research on police officers and they were wearing the heart monitor the whole bio
01:07:28.380 --> 01:07:28.920
Donald Kurtz: Feedback.
01:07:29.700 --> 01:07:34.230
Donald Kurtz: And they were could actually measure their heart rate, how it changed in different parts of the city.
01:07:34.590 --> 01:07:34.980
Tom Baker: Right.
01:07:35.220 --> 01:07:52.050
Donald Kurtz: It's really fascinating to think about that narrative of place right and and some of it can be factually true that there's higher amounts of crime and murder. But also then that becomes, you know, imprinted in them. So I, I kind of didn't have some interest in narrative of places as well.
01:07:52.530 --> 01:08:02.310
Tom Baker: Absolutely and I that's absolutely fascinating in in in cities to talk about a policing context is like having worked in different parts of the major metropolitan city.
01:08:02.700 --> 01:08:09.090
Tom Baker: The, the stories, that's around that precinct they're so different. And then the actual the way
01:08:09.420 --> 01:08:21.660
Tom Baker: People police those areas, what they think they can how they think they should behave and interact with people I think are shaped by those those sorts of implications to fascinating lot of research. Right.
01:08:21.720 --> 01:08:30.600
Donald Kurtz: And to be honest, to one of the big overarching things is that is often these areas that are defined negatively about poverty, more than anything else. It starts with poverty.
01:08:30.870 --> 01:08:31.530
01:08:32.910 --> 01:08:39.270
Tom Baker: Yeah, the root of the root of all crime is definitely I would agree is is is still there. It's a social problems. Oh.
01:08:39.570 --> 01:08:42.870
Tom Baker: Yeah, thank you so much. I really appreciate it and no problem.
01:08:43.290 --> 01:08:44.340
Tom Baker: Have a great day. Thank you.
01:08:44.790 --> 01:08:45.090