The Manners and Customs of the Police

The Manners and Customs of the Police. New York: Academic Press, 1980.
By Donald Black

This book brings together major findings from the most extensive study of the police ever conducted and, at the same time, illustrates a theoretical strategy by which these materials may be predicted and explained. The findings pertain to the behavior of the police in three American Cities and address the social conditions under which officers define incidents as crimes, make arrests, and handle disputes between people who know each other (such as husbands and wives, parents and children, and neighbors).

The book surveys a wide range of other police activities as well, including modes of criminal investigation and the control of vice, juveniles, skid row, traffic, and rebellion. It also contains an analysis of how cases come to the attention of police and other legal officials, an exploration of techniques by which people might be encouraged to handle their own conflicts, and, as appendices, a note on the measurement of law as a quantitative variable and an example of the observation forms used during the field study. Though the specific focus of this work is the behavior of the police in modern America, its larger aim is to apply the sociological theory of law, and thus to contribute to an understanding of legal life as a natural phenomenon.