The lack of understanding of the population about the role of the police or their powers, or even the suspicious behavior that society as a whole possesses concerning the police organizations, is not only the result of current tensions and facts but of a whole historical conjuncture (Prause & Mujtaba, 2015). Throughout the history of police organizations in many parts of the world, the police force is always seen as the enemy in handling conflicts. This negativity can be attributed to the perceived notion that they are more focused on the protection of the State against society.
The fact of being consistently present in people's lives, whether in their daily activity of policing, whether, in events or the great tragedies, coupled with constant exposure in the media by positive and negative factors, the police are viewed in a contradictory way by the citizens. The situation becomes complicated when police are trying to handle conflicts such as domestic conflicts; reluctance by the aggrieved to be open to the police about their problems, thus making it difficult to adequately and comprehensively manage related domestic disputes (Prause et al., 2015). Society expects more from the police and the legal system, in the name of the so-called "sense of security," a highly subjective and on which there is no consensus on ideal levels.
Domestic conflicts are among the acute set of social conflicts that extends across many families through different spheres (Prause et al., 2015). In attempting to minimize domestic disputes, the police utilize mediation technique to create a rapport which opens up the parties to amicable resolution. In short, conflict, almost always taken as something negative, is understood by mediation as something positive, natural and necessary for the improvement of the relations, and its proper administration represents the path to understanding and harmony between the parties14. Whatever the relationship between a group of actors, there will always be convergent or divergent relations, and the quantity of one or more, on the other hand, will define the difficulty of administering conflicts.
Domestic conflicts are characterized by a shortage of resources and a sense of hostility, and are associated with feelings and situations resulting from a relationship - hurts, frustrations, betrayals, love, hate, and anger (Prause et al., 2015). The conflicts present great difficulty for dialogue, because of the intensity of feelings. Community policing has introduced the police into a new social order, in which the respect for the dignity of the human person is the preponderant factor of the police action. Based on the police-society partnership, the community policing seeks to overcome old paradigms and antagonisms, approaching people, associations and local leaders, with the objective of necessary support for the construction of strategies aimed at resolving conflicts and ensuring social peace.
One of the unique aspects of domestic conflicts is that their real reasons can be different from those declared by the contenders. For Toch (2002) the conflicts can be divided into apparent disputes and real conflicts. Apparent conflicts are those narrated by those involved but do not mirror what is causing discontent, anguish, restlessness or other feelings that worsen the situation (Reuss-Ianni, 2011). In some cases of disturbance occurrences the tranquility of others, for example, although being discussed as due to noise pollution, the real cause is the enmity between neighbors, born of a commercial dispute. Another example is the parent who fails to pay alimony, alleging lack of financial resources, when the truth is that they are jealous of the ex-partner, who started a new relationship.
The goal of policing in conflict resolution is that the members of the community, on their initiative, start to look for the police officer to solve their problems (Reuss-Ianni, 2011). At the same time as the conditions are created so that the police officer, in the exercise of their function, can identify, with precision and speed, problems of coexistence, friction in domestic interpersonal relationships and small disorders of conflict that can be solved. Conflicts are inherently perceived as negative, but if managed correctly, they have the potential for better future decision making.
Positive Consequences of Domestic Conflict
When the police are called to solve a dispute involving two parents, the police might use negotiation skills to persuade the couple to have an understanding with each other. In effect, the couple may realize the confrontation was ill-advised possibly from a misunderstanding. The result is that the police will have assisted in solving the conflict and alleviating future problems.
Conflicts have the potential of bringing more serious issues into the open. The police may aid the conflicting parties in having open conversations with each other, from which they develop respect, trust and a healthy relationship with each other. The simple fact can generate a domestic conflict that one wishes something and, at the same time, think that the other needs it too. Even if this conflict originated from a false fact, everything goes so that it becomes true. These considerations approach the escalation of violence, which is born with fear (real or not) and is composed of actions and reactions of aggressiveness. However, if there was honest communication between the conflicting parties, a working solution could be reached (Hall, Dollard, Tuckey, Winefield & Thompson, 2010).
Negative Consequences of Domestic Conflict
Most domestic conflicts may be prolonged especially is the aggrieved parties are not confident in sharing their frustrations with the police due to the nature of the conflict. For instance, a child might be reluctant to share details of torture and mistreatment by an alcoholic step-father. If the police fail to realize, a long-term solution may be hard to achieve. When the police cannot deepen the discussion and get to the real motive, the real cause of the conflict, there is a risk that the situation will only be resolved superficially, aggravating the conflict, which could lead to violence.
Domestic conflicts have substantial social and emotional implications. A homicide induced conflict may subject an officer including aggrieved parties to lots of stress, thus being a barrier to effective conflict resolution.
Hall, G. B., Dollard, M. F., Tuckey, M. R., Winefield, A. H., & Thompson, B. M. (2010). Job demands, workfamily conflict, and emotional exhaustion in police officers: A longitudinal test of competing theories. Journal of occupational and organizational psychology, 83(1), 237-250.
Prause, D., & Mujtaba, B. G. (2015). Conflict management practices for diverse workplaces. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 6(3), 13.
Reuss-Ianni, E. (2011). Two cultures of policing: Street cops and management cops. Transaction Publishers.
Toch, H. (2002). Stress in policing. American Psychological Association.
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