A Divided Fraternity
Transnational Police Cultures, Proximity, and Loyalty
|Helene O.I. Gundhus|
|journal||EJPS (ISSN: 2034-760X)|
|issue||Issue 2: Policing, Boundaries and the State – Guest editors: Chris Giacomantonio & Helene O.I. Gundhus|
|date of publication||Nov. 24, 2015|
|keywords||loyalty, accountability, proximity, Transnational police culture, Frontex|
Based on extensive interviews with officers participating in the operations of the EU external border control agency, Frontex, the article examines the nature of police culture and, in particular, the role of social and cultural proximity in transnational policing and its implications for our understanding of police loyalty and accountability. Precisely the possibility of proximity, of being “where the action is” and developing personal bonds and networks, is what makes this type of work attractive to the officers and is an important motivational driving force behind the agency’s dynamic expansion. The findings therefore support the orthodox accounts of police culture, which stress the importance of physical action, excitement and informal connections, rather than legal regulatory frameworks and formal and technological connections. However, by examining Frontex through the social dimensions of proximity, the article also brings attention to important internal divisions, cultural differences and divided loyalties within what might at first appear as a unitary culture of transnational policing. This is important for understanding the dynamics of closure, insularity and lack of accountability which has been a defining and problematic feature of transnational policing. The article concludes by discussing the implications of the empirical findings for bringing into light previously unexamined potential for greater openness and for improving the democratic ethos within the field.