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International Journal of Police Science and Management;17(3)
Whether the police should routinely carry firearms is an ongoing debate in Norway. Although the police can carry weapons under special circumstances, the normal situation for the police in Norway is to store firearms in sealed cases in the police cars until armament orders are given by the police chief. In the present study, we examine attitudes towards routine police armament among Norwegian police students. First, we investigate the distribution of these attitudes among the students, and then we study possible factors influencing their views on the matter. Specifically, we ask how gender, educational background, career plans and perceptions of police work influence their attitudes about armament. Our study is based on survey data from the research project Recruitment, Education and Careers in the Police (RECPOL). Our sample included one cohort of students from the Norwegian Police University College graduating in 2013 (N = 513). Students were divided on the armament question, with roughly one third in favour of armament, one third against and one third undecided. The results of multinomial logistic regression analyses show that men are more likely than women to be in favour of armament, rather than being against. However, the gender difference is largely explained by differences in career plans and perceptions of the police role. Students who foresee a police career in patrol work and have an autonomous, non-legalistic perception of the police role are more likely to prefer armament. Previous education does not seem to influence students’ opinion on this issue.
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