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It is also common practice for federal law enforcement agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration DEA , the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms ATF , and the Immigration and Naturalization Service INS to be called into local and state jurisdictions to collaborate in solving certain offenses, especially those that cross jurisdictional boundaries. While newsworthy cases such as the Oklahoma City bombing highlight the collaboration between local and federal authorities, more routine collaboration occurs regularly in police agencies around the nation.

Cooperation between agencies also exists at an international level. Although INTERPOL is not an international police force and does not have police powers, it serves as a means of communication between law enforcement agencies across the world. Each member nation has a central headquarters called a National Central Bureau NCB that is managed by law enforcement officials from that country.

INTERPOL has been responsible for solving international crimes dealing with religious cult groups, drug-trafficking, art thefts, the child sex trade, computer software fraud, organized crime , counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and money scams. To foreign observers, the American system of policing seems disorganized and perhaps a bit chaotic. Despite the large number of agencies, a variety of mechanisms have been developed to seal the gaps between agencies. Thus, while law enforcement agencies at different levels of government do experience poor communication with other agencies and an occasional squabble over jurisdiction, they also cooperate with one another frequently.

Some critics of the present system continue to suggest that the proliferation of small agencies results in a less efficient and effective system. Others find the American policing system to be the epitome of decentralized government, with local governments able to exert control over the kind of policing they receive. One consequence of having so many police agencies of different sizes and types is that there are important differences between them.

The following section examines two of these: variations in the styles and structures of American police organizations. Until the early s, American policing was a "closed" institution. State and federal politicians did not routinely run for elective office on platforms related to crime and policing. The average American citizen probably had little knowledge of what police work entailed. Courts did not devote much energy toward scrutiny of the police.

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In all, policing remained closed to the eyes and ears of the public and their representatives. Several circumstances in the s converged to open up American policing to external audiences. Police use of force and discriminatory treatment of minority citizens became a prominent theme during protests over civil rights and the war in Vietnam. Several of the riots that engulfed American cities occurred in the aftermath of police actions such as shootings, traffic stops, or raids Walker.

Classic news stories of the era captured images of police officers using excessive force against citizens. The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders found that "deep hostility between police and ghetto communities" was a primary determinant of the urban riots that it studied. The U.

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Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren , began to closely scrutinize the activities of the police. In several landmark cases, the Court restricted the powers of the police to conduct searches e. Ohio, U. Arizona, U. Illinois, U. Finally, rising crime rates during the s also began to cast doubts on the effectiveness of the police. Research since the early s has shown that police officers have a great deal of discretion in their day-to-day work. They must regularly make decisions about conducting searches, making arrests, using force, stopping vehicles, issuing warnings, and many other discretionary activities in which police engage daily.

While the criminal law structures some of the decisions that police officers make, it does not, in most cases, dictate what they must do. Therefore, police officers are frequently left to their own devices in making decisions.

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Since the s, however, a number of controls have been instituted to reduce the amount of discretion that police officers have to make certain decisions. For instance, many agencies have formal written policies governing the conditions under which police officers can pursue a fleeing vehicle or use deadly force against a suspect.

Some state legislatures and police agencies have instituted statutes or policies that require police officers to make an arrest when they see evidence of domestic violence.

SAGE Books - Contemporary Issues in Police Organizations

Despite these types of controls, the conditions under which police officers do their work make it difficult to curtail their discretion very much. As long as they continue to work alone in low-visibility settings in the absence of direct supervision, police officers will need to rely on some degree of discretionary decision-making.

Because they have so much discretion, police officers develop different styles of policing. Some are aggressive, busily making arrests, stopping vehicles, and seeking out offenders. Others prefer a more laid-back approach, counseling juveniles and issuing warnings rather than making arrests whenever possible. Even when police agencies try to constrain discretion by declaring "zero-tolerance" policies for offenses such as drug possession, officers sometimes prefer not to make an arrest in certain situations.

The notion that a police officer develops his or her own "working personality" is in stark contrast to the image of a police officer as an automaton, responding impartially to every situation according to the letter of the law. In , James Q. Wilson observed patterns of discretionary behavior in eight police departments.


He found that police organizations, like the individuals within them, also tend to develop unique styles of policing. Wilson developed a taxonomy to describe three prominent styles of policing that he observed: legalistic, service, and watchman. In legalistic-style departments, officers initiate formal contact with citizens and structure their work according to the criminal law. For many years, the Los Angeles Police Department was regarded as the prototypical legalistic police agency, with its reputation for neatly pressed uniforms and the "just the facts, ma'am" reputation popularized by Sergeant Joe Friday on the television series Dragnet.

In service-style departments, officers initiate informal contact with citizens and rely less on the criminal law. In watchman-style departments, officers neither initiate contact with citizens as frequently, nor rely as much on the criminal law. Wilson argued that the social and political environment in which a police organization is situated has an effect on the style of policing that it adopts.

Cities adopting the legalistic style tend to have more heterogeneous mixed populations and professionalized, nonpartisan, "good governments" exemplified by the city manager form of government. Service-style departments tend to be located in cities with more homogeneous populations and professional, nonpartisan governments. Cities with watchman-style departments tend to have more heterogeneous populations and a more partisan political tradition exemplified by the mayor-council form of government. Police agencies are not only defined by their styles, but also by their structures.

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According to Robert Langworthy, structure is "the framework on which a police organization arranges its resources to conduct its activities" p. The following seven elements are the core dimensions of a police organization's structure adapted from Langworthy and from Maguire :. Police organizations adopt different structural configurations.

Some have up to twelve levels of command, while others have as few as four. Some are centralized, with decisions flowing down from the chief's office, while others are more decentralized, with decisions flowing up from patrol officers. For much of the s, police reformers debated the best ways to structure a police organization. Following trends in the private sector, police management textbooks for much of the twentieth century urged police executives to adopt formalized, centralized, specialized, and hierarchical structures.

Community policing seeks to reverse this trend, urging decentralized, less hierarchical, more generalized, and less formal structures. Research has shown that police organizations are changing their structures slowly, but not as radically as urged by community policing reformers.

Nevertheless, there is a small but growing trend among police agencies to reject traditional structures. Given the variations in the styles and structures of police organizations, is there one best way to manage and administer them?

Most experts in management do not think so. They draw on one of the iron rules of organizing: that successful organizations adapt to the specific circumstances or contingencies of their environments. This is known as contingency theory, and it is the framework for the following discussion. Traditional methods of police management emerged from two sources: a militaristic view of policing, and management concepts from the private sector that were established in the beginning of the twentieth century.

The most influential writer on police management from about to the early s was Orlando W. Wilson, former superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Wilson's popular textbook on police administration reinforced classic managerial principles: span-of-control having a limited number of subordinates per supervisor or manager , an unambiguous hierarchy so everybody knows to whom they must report , and centralization of command in which decisions are made at the top and flow down. This school of police management has become known as the "military" or "professional" model.

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Since the early s, reformers have urged police administrators to adopt more democratic styles of management. As Egon Bittner wrote "The core of the police mandate is profoundly incompatible with the military posture. On balance, the military bureaucratic organization of the police is a serious handicap" p.