The purpose of this article is threefold: (1) to provide an analysis of autoethnography as a method in policing research; (2) to distinguish between policing as a practice and policing as an institution; and (3) to outline the characteristics of policing as a practice. I deploy an autoethnographic method to identify the characteristics of the practice of city policing in democracies. These characteristics – heroic struggle, edgework, absolute sacrifice, and worldmaking – draw attention to a crucial mismatch between policing as a practice and policing as an institution. I conclude by suggesting ways in which the characteristics of the practice can provide a firm foundation for further research into the contemporary problems of policing as an institution.
- cop culture
- urban policing