The Structure of Police Organizations

The Structure of Police Organizations

The Structure of Police Organizations

The Structure of Police Organizations

Synopsis

This study examines, in a comparative fashion, the limitations orconstraints imposed upon police organizational structure by agency size, technology employed, and agency environment. The book is based on data collected from 175 police organizations. It is not a study of the "bestway" to organize the police, but looks at the way different organizations work so the reader can decide for himself.

Excerpt

Police organization is both controversial and mystical, and has been from the beginnings of the idea of municipal police. From the earliest days in Peel's England to the present, there has been little in the way of firm evidence to use in selecting one type of police organization over another. To date we have relied on organizational myth (what someone or something says without a refutable basis) for the definition of good, proper, or efficient police organization. Without an empirical basis for arranging police resources, a society is at the mercy of powerful people and organizations and may be victimized by well- intentioned people who are simply ignorant of the ramifications of their decisions and actions.

Police organizations are controversial because police are controversial. Police protect, or fail to protect, control or fail to control, provide or fail to provide a host of ill-defined services, always under the color of force and as agents of the state. Force and its exercise, irrespective of the popularity of the state, are certainly provocative and ensure that the police will always be controversial. The effect of the volatility of police purpose ensures that the police are continually under siege from one source or another. On one hand, the "good people" are not properly protected from "bad things" and "bad people." "Bad people," on the other hand, feel they are subjected to abuses of power, noting that they are harassed, beaten, and even shot to death.

The no-win position police find themselves in takes its toll on the organization. People dissatisfied with police performance clamor for reorganization, while reformers within the police industry promise better days with different organizational arrangements. However, because neither group has anything but mythology on which to base its recommendations, the positions, the existent organizations, and the organizations that follow have no defensible basis. Managers are not in a position to say convincingly that a particular recommendation is feasi-

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