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Does size matter? Short and tall officers policing the streets

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Author(s): Pål Lagestad

Journal: Professions & Professionalism
ISSN 1893-1049

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2013;
Original page

ABSTRACT
The importance of physical characteristics is rarely addressed in the literature on professional competence and authority. In police work it is almost taken for granted that height is advantageous in police work, despite a lack of research on the topic. This study examines how height may affect police inter-actions with the public and how short and tall men and women experience the importance of their height in patrol work. Results show that being tall was perceived as beneficial in patrol work. Furthermore, the authority of short police officers is challenged more often by the public, and short female police may have a particular focus on verbal communication. Tallness will probably be perceived as beneficial in fields in which physical conflicts arises.
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