It Is Time for Real Change: In Search of a Compensation Strategy for Community Policing

Article excerpt


This paper discusses alternatives to job-based compensation systems that would incorporate Total Quality Management (TQM) principles into the policing industry and move police services toward fuller adoption of a community-policing model. The contrasts between traditional and contemporary policing, and the rationale for adopting community policing, are presented within a Strategic Human Resource Management framework. It is suggested that, given the existing police culture, an intermediate strategy should be implemented whereby some portion of the compensation package is linked to skill or knowledge acquisition. This move should aid police services in developing a professional atmosphere oriented toward providing valued customer services as well as facilitate the transition to more performance-based pay.

It is clear that policing strategies in Canada and around the world have altered considerably over the past 30 years. The traditional strategy, comprised of police working in isolation from the community in order to apprehend criminals and control crime, has continued to give way to the contemporary strategy of community policing. Under this strategy, police organizations work with stakeholders, including employees and community members, to identify and deliver quality service. It has been suggested that implementing a community policing strategy is fundamentally akin to introducing a Total Quality Management (TQM) initiative into the police service (Hoover, 1996) in that the objective is to produce a customer focus atmosphere, teamwork, and fact-based decision-making to achieve customer (or client) satisfaction (Adebango & Kehoe, 1998; Gunther & Hawkins, 1996; Morgan & Murgatroyd, 1994). It is the contention of this article, however, that the move toward community policing may be somewhat hampered by the current job-based compensation system typically found in police services. While it is unlikely that fully implementing TQM principles by introducing performance-based pay into policing organizations is feasible, modifying the current compensation system to reflect at least some TQM principles should be possible.

In order to support this contention, the article reviews the principles of contemporary policing, evaluates these principles in relationship to TQM, and proposes a number of alternative compensation systems that might be instrumental in aiding police services to move further along the path to community policing. Although these systems might be perceived as innovative in policing organizations, they are based on TQM principles that are increasingly common in the private sector and are spilling over into the public sector as well (Carter, 1995). New compensation systems could serve as catalysts for achieving the goals of contemporary policing organizations with regard to community policing. Examining compensation systems from a TQM perspective highlights the shortcomings of the current job-based compensation system typically found in police services.

Contemporary Policing

Under traditional policing strategies, control was historically found at the top of the organization and a long way from the point of service delivery. Those delivering the service and directly interacting with the public had little or no control regarding policy and, as such, no choice but to adhere to bureaucratic procedures. According to Dunham and Alpert (1997), this situation created an environment in which the creative potential of police personnel was relatively untapped and the empowerment to adapt to environmental circumstances was absent. This situation altered dramatically, however, as the social and economic turbulence of the 1970's and early 1980's placed increasing demands on police services in North America and the concept of community policing began to take hold (Dantzker, 1999).

According to Friedmann (1992), two of the more prominent features of the community policing model are its decentralization of command and its flexibility of governance. …


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