Police Organization and Management

The managerial process in police organizations consists of five main components: management, planning, organizing, leading, controlling, and chain of command. Management consists of directing individuals to achieve organizational goals in an efficient and effective manner, planning consists of the process of preparing for the future by setting goals and objectives and developing courses of action for accomplishing them, organizing consists of the process of arranging personnel and physical resources to carry out plans and accomplish goals and objectives, leading consists of motivating others to perform various tasks that will contribute to the accomplishment of goals and objectives, and controlling is the process by which managers determine how the quality and the quantity of departmental systems and services can be improved, if goals and objectives are being accomplished; controlling is concerned with efficiency and effectiveness. Chain of command indicates that he higher the position one holds, the greater the power, authority, and influence he/she possesses.

There are four levels in the chain of command: top managers, middle managers, lower managers, and the rank-and-file. Top managers conduct the overall goal formulation and make policy decisions regarding allocation of resources, middle managers, formulate objectives and plans for implementing decisions from above and coordinate activities from below, lower managers implement decisions made at higher levels and coordinate and direct the work of employees at the lowest level of the organization and the rank-and-file carry out specific tasks.

Police management has evolved through three major developmental perspectives. The first is known as classical police management, the second as behavioral police management, and the third as contemporary police management. Classical police management was bureaucratic, meaning that an organization needs to operate on a rational basis. There are seven classical principles of organization: specialization, authority and responsibility, discipline, unity of command, the scalar chain, centralization, and the paramilitary model. By the early 1970s, the classical perspective was falling out of favor with management theorists. By the early 1970s, the classical perspective was falling out of favor with management theorists. Behavioral police management addressed the need for a more flexible and democratic organizational model. Research indicated that police work was not directly related to law enforcement, but rather to maintaining order and providing social service.

The findings from behavioral science research led to the development of systems theory and contingency theory and the movement toward private sector influences. These helped develop an understanding of the importance of community relationships to the police. Systems theory means that all parts of a system are interrelated and dependent on one another. There are both open and closed systems. In an open system, the police organization interacts with and adapts to its environment, while in a closed system, it does not. Contingency theory is based on open systems theory and recognizes that there are many internal and external factors that influence organizational behavior. Contingency management contends that successful management depends on the particular situation. Total quality management (TQM) is a customer-oriented approach consisting of quality-control techniques and the process of continuous improvement.

Organizational designs are concerned with the formal patterns of arrangements and relationships developed by police management to link people together in order to accomplish organizational goals. In a tall structure, there are many hierarchical levels and narrow spans of control and an attempt to coordinate activities through centralization. In a flat structure, there are few hierarchical levels and wide spans of control, leading to a decentralized structure in which authority and decision-making are delegated to lower organizational levels. As many departments have moved toward community policing, paramilitary design was being questioned, since strict rules cannot be applied to policing because of the nature of the work, orders are rarely required, while a great amount of initiative and discretion are required. Paramilitary structures have a managerial philosophy that is characterized by an attitude of distrust, control, and punishment, none of which works well in a department with a community-policing focus.

The influence of community policing is seen in the organizational changes that it requires. There are three key components of community policing: geography, data and information systems, and a move from authoritarian to supportive management. Managing discretion can be difficult, since officers often have to make snap decisions in the field. It is difficult for managers to prescribe what officers are to do in each situation; in fact, managers find that they must manage discretion after the fact. Three strategies for managing discretion are careful hiring practices, focused training, and clear and effective policies and procedures.

It is important that police managers measure behavior that matters, i.e., behavior that will make the agency more successful. Police managers should measure and monitor seven dimensions: reduce crime and victimization, call offenders to account, reduce fear and enhance personal security, ensure civility in public spaces, quality services/customer satisfaction, use force and authority fairly, efficiently, and effectively, and use financial resources fairly, efficiently, and effectively. COMPSTAT may be used to monitor crime as well as the police unit's response to it. However, it can be short-sighted, focusing only on recent crime, and the pressure it puts on commanders and officers can lead to dishonest reporting. The seven-dimension framework is more useful for measuring police units.

The most effective style of supervision is the active style. Managers who serve as good role models and are strict have a positive impact on ethical behavior and research reveals that this leads to fewer citizen complaints. An officer's organizational commitment determines his/her performance. Studies of officers' discretionary time indicates that they are underutilized. As departments moved toward community policing, the paramilitary design, with its comparison of police officers to soldiers, was being questioned. Paramilitary management does not work well with community policing for four reasons: strict rules cannot be applied to policing because of the nature of the work, orders are rarely required, and a great amount of initiative and discretion are required, and this managerial philosophy is characterized by an attitude of distrust, control, and punishment.

Police managers must know how to manage group behavior, such as that of police

Subcultures. How an officer is socialized determines his/her view of the job, given that officers may adopt a manager's culture or a street cop's culture. Police subculture varies among departments. The public world of policing presents a police force dedicated to protecting and serving, while the private world of policing reveals a police force that is conservative, cynical, and protective of itself. Police officers may belong to unions and/or fraternal organizations.

Greater diversity may, in the future, lead to more types of employee organizations. Little research has been done on police unions. Recently, unions have been influential in opposing demands for greater accountability, and negotiations between unions and management focus on salaries and benefits, conditions of work, and grievance procedures. Given their influence, unions should be respected by management.

Finally, it is vital that managers understand how to managing critical incidents. Police have employed special units (SWAT) and systems such as Incident Command systems to manage a variety of crisis situations. Important, too, is the need to establish strong media relations and strategic communications. Police managers should aim at greater transparency with the media and the public. To that end, most departments employ a public information officer (PIO), and police have begun to utilize social media. Police managers need to better prepare strategies for dealing with the media during crisis situations.