The constable generalist as exemplary citizen, networker, and problem‐solver: Some implications

Willem De Lint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


For some time now the constable generalist has been a favoured model of the front‐line state‐funded general duty police officer. However, despite being favoured as an ideal, it has yet to be widely practiced. This paper seeks to address what impediments exist between the ‘model’ of the constable generalist and the reality of its widespread implementation. It is contended that the constable generalist can be broken down into three subtypes: the exemplary citizen, the networker, and the problem‐solver. Each of these variants are institutionally impeded from becoming practical realities. The constable generalist conceives police officers to be exemplary citizens, but law enforcement officers are tainted by crime‐taking exigencies. The constable generalist conceives the police to be networkers or network managers, but police as state representatives are traditionally seen as delimited in the information they have a right to act upon. The constable‐generalist conceives the police officer as an analyst and problem‐solver, but the police are bound to strong distinctions between applying and making public policy. In general, while the term constable generalist suggests many capacities on the part of the police, little thought has actually been given to how these capacities can be legitimately fitted to be constitutional parameters of the office. Where the constable generalist does find institutional favour as a deployment of policing is outside of police institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-264
Number of pages18
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Community policing
  • Police function
  • Police role


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