All organizations, especially law enforcement agencies, require leadership. Maintaining a dependable leadership structure is key to the success of any organization. The philosophy of the modern style of police leadership involves a leader who is strong, competitive and unreceptive to change. Police leadership is based from an autocratic style which is founded on integrity and courage, embracing teamwork, involvement and shared leadership (Cordner & Scarborough, 2010). This style of leadership works well in an emergency situation in which rapid decision making and strict control is needed. The negative aspect to this style of leadership is the inability of the organization to function with the absence of leadership.
A common style of police leadership is a more bureaucratic style where the leader manages “by the book”, everything must be done in accordance with pre-written policies and procedures (Cordner & Scarborough, 2010). When a certain problem or concern isn’t covered by the book the leader refers to the next level for a decision. This style removes the ability of the leader to manage and forces a strict accordance to the “book”. This style can be very effective when dealing with dangerous situations which can be a common occurrence in police work.
American law enforcement agencies are based off the English models which began in the early 1800’s. In 1829, the English Parliament passed the Metropolitan Police Act (Walker, 1983). Sir Robert Peel who has been credited as the father of modern policing introduced this act to Parliament (Walker, 1983). This act established the London Metropolitan Police which was the model for American policing. This method of policing incorporated a hierarchical authoritarian organization which inserted impersonality into the command structure (Walker, 1983). This method of crime prevention gave way to the idea that it was better to be proactive than wait until after a crime has been committed. The strategy of using preventative patrol was how law enforcement eventually achieved deterrence.
This English method also contributed three features: limited police authority, local control of the police agency, and a fragmented system of law enforcement (Walker, 1983). A fragmented system of law enforcement is very evident today. The United States currently has approximately 15,000 different police agencies. These individual police agencies are subject to little coordination with minimal national regulation (Walker, 1983).
Research / Analysis
The style of police leadership has gradually changed over the last several years. The traditional belief that the solitary leader who possessed the wisdom, integrity, and courage to manage a police department, or a shift of officers has been replaced with the concept of teamwork (Wuestewald, 2013). The idea of using a team to manage an organization is nothing new in the private sector, however, replacing...