Law Enforcement

Conflicting frames, always the dupe?

It’s probably not entirely amazing that most people don’t associate a traffic fine with ‘Democratic state plus article 6 ECHR plus presumption of innocence plus Salduz = alert police!’ Let alone when the police is enforcing the law during riots. In the narrative frame of Savage, Victim and Savior the police is not naturally regarded as the Hero protecting the democratic constitutional state.

But if the organization doesn’t take care, it can easily be viewed as the villain, who cannot afford any mistake without being insulted or even receiving death threats on social media. This has got everything to do with the frame that people (mostly unconsciously) use to opinionize on the police. If not as a major player in the aforementioned constitutional state and as such bound to the rules of due process, than maybe through the eyes of ‘catching thieves’. The same behavior receives different judgments. Another frame might solve this problem.

Our service: frame research, choice of a different (existing) frame, issues management policy with a matrix of priorities, internal embedding in the management structures and an operational calendar with speciale attention for media policy and wording.

Read more on police framing

Adding meaning is a matter of (re)organizing our experience. This (re) organization is commonly called ‘framing’. When public opinion is framed, people will find more and more facts that fit the frame. This is how a new reality is created, whether this suits the organization or not. The birth and development of issues is grounded on frames. Once the (moral) frame is widely felt in society, it attracts the facts that suit this frame. Facts that don’t fit this jig-saw are not being perceived or recognized. Issues therefore are processes of meaning. Issues management and stakeholder management are professional efforts to organize a dialogue, break open the process of development of public opinion and adequately manage meaning. That meaning is usually what people believe. In this phase, again, the facts follow that fit this believe. By then we believe that we ‘know’, and we use the facts to substantiate. National Police forces all over Europe seem to be wrestling with new key functions, reorganizations, safety and security issues and issues concerning the use of force and due process. In short: police is always balancing between being understood and appreciated and ‘simply doing their job’.


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