This course is an introduction to the role of law enforcement in a constitutionally-based criminal justice system. An emphasis will be placed on the historical development of the law enforcement function. The current practices of policing, the challenges and rewards of careers in law enforcement, and the dilemmas inherent in policing a free society will be explored. This course is designed to provide students with realistic expectations about policing as well as to promote critical thinking about the appropriate role of the police in society.
by: Rebecca Howrd, Tonya Rudzik, and Veronica Thornburg
One of the feared crimes to a community is murder (Homicide). Homicide is killing of a human or multiple humans by another human. Not all Homicides are criminal: they could be justifiable or excusable. A suicide is treated as a homicide until it can be established as a suicide. Different types of Homicide's and there definitions are Justifiable Homicide This involves the intentional but lawful killing of another. The state commits justifiable homicide in carrying out a death sentence handed down by a judge after conviction. justifiable homicide is also committed when a police officer kills a human being who shoots at the officer first: or when and individual , believing his or her family or self is being threatened with a weapon, kills the person they believe is putting them or there family in harms way.
Another type of homicide is Excusable Homicide. Excusable Homicide is where a person kills another person by accident, without intent to injure somebody or without gross negligence.
Suicide is defined as taking one's own life. Even though it is not considered a crime, it is considered as a public wrong in many jurisdictions.
The definition of Criminal Homicide is the unlawful taking of a human life. There is also two different types of Criminal Homicide; murder and manslaughter.
Murder is the unlawful killing of another person with intent or premeditation.
Manslaughter is the killing of someone without intent.
Different Investigative activities used in a Homicide:
1.Record details at the crime scene. For example: photographs, sketches, and notes of the different things you see.
2.Recognize, collect, and preserve all the physical evidence. So that you will be able to facilitate and reconstruct the crime. To link a suspect to the victim, crime scene, or both. Also identify a substance like poison, narcotic, blood, and semen, or an object like bludgeon, or a gun in order to locate the source and trace the owner.
3.Identify the victim or victims.
4.Establish the cause, manner and the time of death.
5.Ascertain the motive for the crime. From the way the crime was committed-using evidence at the scene, and trauma inflicted on the victim for psychological profiling. From those who had knowledge of the victim’s activities (social, familial, business).
Partitioning all of the responsibilities:
Evidence Technician- Recording the crime scene, Recognizing, collecting, and preserving physical evidence.
Criminalist- Recognizing, collecting, and preserving physical evidence. Sometimes responsible for: recording the crime scene.
Forensic Pathologist- Identify the victim or victims, estimate the time of death, establish the cause and manner of death, and sometimes recognize, collect, and preserve physical evidence. Forensic Pathologist also ascertains the motive for the crime.
Forensic Anthropologist- Recognize, collects, and preserves the physical evidence. Forensic Anthropologist also identifies the victim or victims.
Detective (Investigator) - Record crime scene, recognizes, collects, and preserves physical evidence. Detectives also ascertain the motive for the crime, seeks additional information, question suspects, and develops authentic information for identifying the victim or victims.
The following list covers most of the apparent reasons that impel one person to kill another. Sometimes it can be a combination of motives:
- Financial Gain
- Sexual gratification
- Apparently sex-connected homicides
- Emotional factors
- Removal of an inconvenience or impediment
- Apparently motiveless crimes
- “Thrill” of killing
Some associative evidence suggests what we might be looking for at a crime scene like:
1.Traces of the person
a.Finger and palm prints
b.Blood, semen, saliva, hair
d.Other skin patterns such as ear prints and lip impressions, or teeth marks
2.Traces of wearing apparel
b.Weave pattern and stitching of clothing and gloves
3.Impressions left by
a.Weapons-firearms, cutting or stabbing devices
b.Tools- jimmies, metal cutters, hammers, metal punches
c.Shovels- used to bury a body or weapon (some types of soil, such as clay, retain striation marks left by the digging edge of a shovel.)
Answers to information entomologists may be able to provide include:
1.How did the death occur?
When the body is in an advanced state of decay, it may be possible to offer an opinion.
2.Was the body mutilated after death?
Insect secretions or bites sometimes seem to have a pattern, appearing to have been inflicted by a handmade tool. If a similar pattern were observed in another homicide shortly thereafter, investigators might infer that a disturbed person was involved. Clearly, this would be an unproductive effort if the mutilation pattern is that of insects.
3.Was this animal, especially a species protected by law, killed illegally?
A conflict regarding time of death- (1) as “told” to an entomologist by studying the insect population and (2) the story told by a suspect as to where or when the carcass was discovered-can have significance for an investigator.
(James W. Osterburg and Richard H. Ward) (James W. Osterburg and Richard H. Ward, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2007)
Police Officers: Entering Police Work
By: Lindsay Frahm, Bryce Marble, Darik Stithem, and Jake Cox
The profile of the traditional American police officer has changed a lot of the last 30 years. In today’s times they are more likely to be more educated, better trained, African American, or even more likely to be a female. Today most officers go on after high school and get more education. This benefit’s the officer in many ways like for instance they get more education on how the laws work and will get more training and know how to be more safe out on the streets.
Our book states that being a police officer is a lot more than just a job but a career. You will do your job and learn many things but after you retire many are not done just yet. They may become a teacher and teach others about law or become a consultant, or there are many other opportunities.
The next part that everyone in police work has to deal is the being stereotyped. Pretty much all the stereotypes cops have are bad ones. Most say how they just eat donuts all day, or all cops are bad and are worthless. But there are some people who understand how stressful the jobs are but still rarely give it the positive stereotype that it should have. These stereotypes may even affect young people who want to be involved in law but don’t want to be judged not because of how they do there job but because of just simply what their job is.
The recruitment process can be very difficult or somewhat easy depending on the department you want to join. For the recruitment process there are 3 elements: (1) you have to have the minimum qualifications, (2) you have to make the recruitment effort, and (3) your decision to apply for the position. One of the first things that employers look at is your age. The typical minimum age is 21. There are height and weight requirements but they are rarely enforced. Ohio State Patrol was the first to start a program that did enforce that your weight had to be proportional to your height and if it was not meant or broken by veteran officers there would be a penalty. There are requirements for college degrees but that depends a lot on what department you want to work for and what area of that department. In 2000 62.9% of recruits for police jobs had just a high school degree and 9.7 for a two year degree. There is also a residency requirement for your job it may be you have to live in the city or maybe just live in the same county. As you can see there are many things that have to be thought about before you decide what department you want to work for or if you even want to have a career in law enforcement.
You may wonder what would motivate someone to want to become a police officer. In our book a survey that was done by two Midwestern police departments by both males and females lists the top 5 reasons.
1) To help people
2) Job security
3) Fight crime
4) Excitement of the job
5) The prestige of the job
Some other things that police departments may do when you are applying for a job is do background investigations and drug tests.
Once you are hired on the force you are on probation from 6 months to 2 years. During this time a officer can be fired and not given a reason for it. After this period is up they must be given a reason. During the probation period about 7% of recruits either resign or are dismissed.
The profile of the American police officer has changed a lot of the last 30 years. There are more racial-minority, female, and college educated officers than there has even been before. Pretty much all of the old practices have been eliminated and replaced with new up to date practices. Meanwhile the training has also improved significantly to help keep the officer safe while performing his job duties. The police recruiting will keep improving every year for the benefit of everyone.
(Walker, Samuel and Charles M. Katz. Police in America. Ch 11 pg 360-380.)
The Police and Crime
By: Lindsay Frahm, Bryce Marble, Jake Cox, and Darik Stithem
Crime control is one of the major responsibilities of the police. This involves several specific activities responding to criminal incidents, conducting criminal investigations, and arresting offenders.
People usually think about the subject of the police and crime in terms of patrol and arrests. The subject is actually far more complex, involving a number of different assumptions and strategies.
1) Proactive v. Reactive
a. Proactive – the police themselves initiate it
i. Ex. Drug enforcement
b. Reactive – they occur in response to a citizen request for service
i. Ex. 911 calls
2) General v. Specific
a. General – they are directed at the community at large, not at any particular crime
b. Specific – they are directed at particular crimes, place, offenders, or victims
3) Particular Crimes
4) Specific Places
5) Specific Offenders
6) Specific Victims
The primary crime prevention activity of the police is routine patrol. The visible presence of police officers in the community is designed to deter individuals from committing a crime. Apart from officers who are responsible for random preventative patrol, many police agencies today have officers allocated toward crime prevention efforts. Crime prevention officers are often responsible for meeting with citizens to explain how they can protect themselves against crime, working alongside neighborhood groups to establish and maintain neighborhood watch groups and education youth about drugs, crime, and gangs.
Crime prevention is a basic element of community policing and many problem-oriented policing programs. The basic principle of community policing is that the police need to establish a better partnership with neighborhood residents.
The second major crime-fighting responsibility of the police is to apprehend criminals once a crime has been committed. This process involves a complex set of social and organizational factors. The police must first learn that a crime has been committed, officially record it as a crime, and then attempt to identify and arrest a suspect. Police learn about crime through citizen reports, police officer on-view observations, and police-initiated investigations.
Once a crime has come to the attention of the police, and it has been officially recorded, and no suspect has been immediately arrested, the criminal investigation process begins. The process of investigation a crime consists of two basic stages: the preliminary investigation and the follow-up investigation. The preliminary investigation consists of five basic steps:
1) Identifying and arresting any suspects
2) Providing aid to any victims in need of medical attention
3) Securing the crime scene to prevent loss of evidence
4) Collecting all relevant physical evidence
5) Preparing a preliminary report
Police officers exercise great discretion in making arrests. The decision to arrest is influenced by a number of situational factors. Generally, the probability of arrest rises when the evidence is relatively strong, the crime is more serious in nature, the victim requests an arrest, the victim and suspect are strangers rather than acquaintances, and the suspect is hostile or disrespectful toward the officer.
Official data on arrests are also extremely problematic. The even referred to as an arrest has four different dimensions: legal, behavioral, subjective, and official. An individual is legally arrested or in custody when deprived of his or her liberty by legal authority. A police officer must have the intent to arrest, mush communicate that intent to the person, and must actually take the person into custody. During the time in custody of the police and not free to leave, its considered legally under arrest. Someone is behaviorally arrested when a police officer performs any of a number of actions: a stop, a verbal statement that the person is “under arrest,” or physically restraining a person. Someone is subjectively arrested whenever he or she believes they are not free to go. A police officer may regard an encounter as only a stop, but the individual may believe he or she is under arrest. An individual is officially arrested only when the police make an official arrest report of it.
(Walker, Samuel and Charles M. Katz. Police in America. Ch 11 pg 360-380.)
By: Lindsay Frahm, Bryce Marble, Darik Stithem, and Jake Cox
Many people know what discretion is, but what does it really mean? Discretion is defined as an official action, criminal justice official, and the judgment of an individual about the best course of action (360). Many people think that police officers have no limit on the way they use discretion. This is not true officers have bureaucratic factors that they must follow:
Supreme Court decision
Ex: Mapp v. Ohio (1966)
State court decisions
Ex: Iowa state law on arrest for domestic violence
Ex: Department policy limiting high-speed pursuits
Ex: A sergeant’s informal policy emphasizing traffic enforcement
Street-Level Bureaucrats: Patrol officers have been giving this name due to being the gatekeepers into the criminal justice system. If officers don’t make arrests then there will be less case loads, therefore a decrease in workloads. Officers discretion can decriminalize laws when officers decided to let suspect go who had little amounts of marijuana, creating a public policy.
Discretion must be used carefully to insure that there will be no abuse of it. Police departments must control discretion to insure that officers comply with the law, and be fair and lawful. When this is don’t done correctly major problems could occur: discrimination, denial of due process, police-community relations problems, poor personal management, and even poor planning and policy development.
On the bright side officers use discretion positively. For example, if an officer reports to a crime and there is no evidence then he should leave. This could anger some citizens, but the officer must think clearly about what he could do. If there is no physical evidence of a break-in then backup is not necessary. Some results of positive discretion are: proper exercise of professional judgment, effective use of scarce resources, individualized justice, and a sound public policy. Discretion must be allowed, but controlled carefully, to insure that it is not abused.
There are many factors that could affect the use of discretion are:
Seriousness of the crime
Strength of the evidence
Preference of the victim
Relationship between victim and suspect
Demeanor of the suspect
Characteristics of the victim
Race, ethnicity, and gender of the citizen
Behavior of the citizen
Characteristics of the neighborhood
Characteristics of the individual officer
Official department policy
Informal organizational culture
Local political culture
Administrative Rulemaking is used to put discretion of officers through department rules and regulations, making officers write reports stating what happened. These rules may consist of:
1. What an officer must do in certain situations.
2. What he or she may not do in those situations.
3. Where an officer may properly exercise discretion.
Some examples of this are the use of deadly force, domestic violence situations, and high-speed pursuits. These rulemaking process targets specific objectives such as: confirming, structure, and check discretion.
(Walker, Samuel and Charles M. Katz. Police in America. Ch 11 pg 360-380.)
Police and Socitey
Autumn Preston, Kaleb Howe, Ryan Downing, Tony Pham
What exactly is a law enforcement agency? This seems like a straight forward question. Most of the time the answer to the norm would be some forms of an agency that enforces the law. But this answer is only partly correct, there are many agency’s within the government that do different things to enforce certain things. Such are general service law enforcement agencies: those that are regularly engaged in preventing crime, investigating crimes and apprehending criminals, maintaining order, and providing other miscellaneous services.
There are agencies, but who enforces those laws? Police officers are the most commonly associated to as the law enforcers, also known as peace officers. “All police officers are peace officers, but all peace officers are not police officers.” The legal status of peace officers is defined by statue. Iowa law, for example, designates eight categories of peace officer, the last coming under the catchall phrase: “all other persons so designated.” One name I’ve personally heard them called is “social janitors.” Due to the fact of what police officers have to do for society, which is almost anything that they are called to do is part of their jobs. Another name, or myth, of police officers would be to consider them as a crime-fighter. But as most myths, it’s exaggerated a lot. Only about a third of a police officer’s job includes actual “crime fighting.” Sounds like a great job to do, be considered maybe even as a hero in society. Reality is police play an extremely complex role in today’s society. Herman Goldstein warns that “anyone attempting to construct a workable definition of the police role will typically come away with old images shattered and a new-found appreciation for the intricacies of police work.” Many studies of police work document the complexity of the police role. For example, the Policed Services Study (PSS), which was the last study conducted of its kind, examined 26,418 calls for service to the police in three metropolitan areas. The data says only 19 percent of the calls involve crime, and only 2 percent of the total involvement for violent crime.
Another part of policing reality is the factors that shape the role police follow. Several factors contribute to the complexity of the police role. Most important is the fact that police services are available 24 hours a day. Telephones make it possible to call police any time of the day for any kind of problem. Goldstein also argues that the police end up handling many problems “because no other means has been found to solve them. They are the residual problems of society.” Even though they are provided with the power to enforce the laws of society, they have certain procedures to go about it. Such as their authority to use force, their social control. The police are part of several different systems of social control. They are considered “gatekeepers” of the criminal justice system. The decision by a police officer to make an arrest initiates most criminal cases. The decision not to arrest keeps the incident out of the system. Thus, the police determine the workload for the criminal justice system. At the same time, police efforts are deeply affected by the actions of other criminal justice agencies. Also police are an important part of the social welfare system. They are often the first contact that the official agencies have with social problems such as delinquency, family problems, drug abuse, and alcoholism. Last is the police are an important part of the political system. In a democratic society, the political system ensures public control and accountability of the police: the people, acting through their elected representatives, determine police policy, such as community policing, or not and aggressive enforcement of traffic laws, or not.
The form of policing we currently have is not the only one that is possible. The idea that the police do not and cannot change is a myth. The history of the police indicates that they have changed dramatically over the years. The real question is what kind of policing do we want to create?
Katz, Charles. Walker, Samuel. The Police in America. New York. 2008.
History of America Police
By: Autumn Preston, Kaleb Howe. Ryan Downing, Tony Pham
The relevance of the history of American Police is important because it gives us a greater understanding of how the system is operated today. American policing is constantly changing. We must learn from past mistakes, and try to fix the loop holes within our system. The study of our history also gives us an understanding on why these changes occurred. Problems in the past such as racial profiling and police corruption have had a major influence on many or the changes to way things are run in our police system today.
Our American policing system originated from our English colonists. The English colonists brought over with them a criminal justice system. This heritage included the English common law, the high value placed on individual rights, the court system, various forms of punishments, and different law enforcement agencies. The English heritage contributed three core features to American policing. The first core principle was the limitation of policing authority. This was one main reason’s the colonists went against the English rule. The second feature was the tradition of local control of law enforcement agencies. The final feature we’ve adapted from England was a highly decentralized and fragmented system of law enforcement.
Robert Peel deserves to be called the “father” of policing. As a member of England’s elite social and political class, he fought for over 30 years to improve the basic structure of law enforcement in the country. The old system of law enforcement began to collapse in the early nineteenth century. By this time, London had grown into an industrial city with problems revolving around poverty, disorder, ethnic conflict, and other local crimes. The 1780 Gordon riots, a clash between Irish immigrants and English citizens, triggered a 50-year debate over the need for better public safety. Robert took this issue upon him self and finally persuaded the English Parliament to create the London Metropolitan Police in 1829. The London police introduced three new elements that became the basis for modern policing: mission, strategy, and organizational structure.
The first English colonists created law enforcement institutions as soon as they established organized communities. The Sheriff idea was originally adopted from England. The Sheriff, appointed by the colonial governor, was the chief local government official. In addition to regular law enforcement, the Sheriff’s responsibilities included collecting taxes, conducting elections, maintaining bridges and roads, and other civic duties. The police force where called watchmen. They acted as basic forms of police by patrolling the city, guarded against fires, mediate crime, and maintain order.
Colonial law enforcement was often times inefficient, corrupt, and subject to political interference. For this reason, the early colonists never achieved a “golden age” of efficiency and integrity, in terms of crime control, order maintenance, and/or service.
Modern police forces were established in the early 1800’s. The old system of law enforcement broke down as it did in England do to the impact of urbanization, industrialization, and immigration. One of the leading causes of the transgression from older law enforcement to the new modern law was a wave of riots beginning in 1830. Ethnic differences were the main causes of these riots. Other issues involved moral decisions like the medical study of cadavers at hospitals. People attacked hospitals for this reason. Whore houses were another cause of moral riots. Finally, racial riots which included pro-slavers attacking abolitionists and free slaves in the north. The period between the 1830’s and 1900 has been called the political era. Inefficiency, corruption, and lack of professionalism were the chief results.
The personal standards of the nineteenth century police were not that of today’s standards. Officers back then were selected entirely on the basis of their political connections. Men who had no education, bad health, and criminal records were hired as officers. In New York City, a $300 payment to the Tammany Hall political machine was the only requirement for appointment to the force.
Overall, our law enforcement system has come a long way. We’ve had many advancements from the original English law system and the old colonist system, to todays modern system and how thing are run. History has a lot to do with these changes. We’ve learned from our past mistakes and have made changes to our system to fix the mant loop-holes we had in our older systems.
Contemporary Law Enforcement Industry
By: Autumn Preston, Kaleb Howe, Ryan Downing, Tony Pham
Law enforcement is an extremely complex activity in the Untied States. There are tremendous differences in the size, role, and activities of these different agencies. Services done by our police are categorized into four groups.
Each level of agencies has different responsibilities, duties, and roles. The largest police departments are: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, and Detroit. According to David N. Falcone and L. Edward Wells they have the assumption that “policing is policing” and they argue that the sheriff “represents a historically different mode of policing that needs to be distinguished more clearly from municipal policing.”
England has a total of forty-three police departments: forty-one provincial department and two police forces in London. The Japanese police system also balances central coordination with local control. There are 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States. It includes 12,656 local police, 3,061 sheriff departments, 49 state police, 1,376 special police agencies, and 45 federal agencies. Presidents Crime Commission in the year 1967 incorrectly reported that there were 40,000 agencies, repeating an unconfirmed figure that had been used for years.
According to statistics in 2003 there were 729,642 full-time sworn law enforcement officers employed by local and state law enforcement agencies. There were also 105,000 officers authorized to carry firearms and make arrests in the year 2004. The Violent Crime Control Act of 1994 granted funs to hire 100,000 new officers. In the year 2000 there were about 78,000 more sworn officers than in 1990. The process of replacing sworn officers with nonsworn personnel for certain positions in called civilianization. In the year 2003 33.4 percent of all local police department employees were civilians. Civilians are defined as those who follow the pursuits of civil life and are not employed as sworn officers or officials. There are several reasons for utilizing civilians in police work.
1. They free up sworn officers for critical police work that requires a trained and experienced officer.
2. They possess needed expertise in such areas as computers or data analysis.
3. They are less expensive than sworn officers, thereby representing a cost saving.
The President’s Crime Commission of 1967 suggest that “a fundamental problem confronting law enforcement today is that of fragmented crime repression efforts resulting from the large number of uncoordinated local governments and law enforcement agencies. Fragmentation has four main problems:
1. Lack coordination between agencies in the same geographic area.
2. It can lead to crime displacement, especially with respect crimes.
3. Experts believe there is a serious problem of duplication of services, with the resulting increase in costs.
4. Leads to inconsistent standards.
This problem is not an easily solved situation. The major remedies for fragmentation include the following. Consolidation and contacting are the two remedies. Experts believe that small agencies should be consolidated into larger ones and small agencies to contract with larger agencies for specific services.
There are several different types of police that serve the community and do their duties to server and protect everyone. Here are the different police authorizes we have a short definition of what they do.
Municipal police—represent the majority of all law enforcement agencies and sworn officers, and they duty is not deal with serious crimes. In the year 2000 they represented seventy-one percent of law enforcement and employed sixty-two percent of sworn officers. County police—operate on a countywide basis, but don’t have any of the nonlaw enforcement roles of the county sheriff. Sheriff—is elected on a countywide basis in all but two states, and serves all three components of the criminal justice system. Constable—is an office whose roots can be traced back to colonial America. Special district police—agencies serve particular government agencies. Tribal police—agencies whose primary responsibility is to provide general law enforcement services for Indian Nations. State police—agencies that have statewide police powers for both traffic regulation and criminal investigations.
The Department of Homeland Security was six main federal law enforcement employers: customs and border protection, immigration and customs enforcement, federal emergency management agency, transportation security administration, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Secret Services. After the World Trade Center and Pentagon attack in 2002 the FBI announced it was going to make a change in its mission which focuses on ten points.
1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack.
2. Protect the U.S. against foreign intelligence operations, and espionage.
3. Protect the U.S. against cyber-based attacks and high technology.
4. Combat public corruption at all levels.
5. Protect civil rights.
6. Combat transnational and national criminal organizations and enterprises.
7. Combat major whit-collar crime.
8. Combat significant violent crime.
9. Support federal, state, and local and international partners.
10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI’s mission.
In conclusion there are many differences in the role responsibilities of each agency but consequently, it is extremely difficult to generalize about the police in America.
By: Autumn Preston, Kaleb Howe, Ryan Downing, Tony Pham
Throughout this chapter of “The Police in America,” the organizations of the police force will be outlined and defined. This chapter identifies the major strengths and weaknesses of the current styles of organization and discusses alternative ways of organizing police work. Each section will describe and inform the reader about the different departments, styles, and environments of the quasi-military styles, the departments, the bureaucracy and professionalism, changes, civil service, unions, and their environments.
Obviously police services are given to the public through organizations, but the quality depends on how well a department is organized and managed. There are many that criticize and argue that the nature of police organizations is a major problem. Some of said problems are that the departments are isolated from the public, resist change, and do not make good use of their personnel.
Quasi-military lines are how American law enforcement agencies are built upon, or in easier terms the law enforcement agencies resemble the military in some but not all respects, or in even easier terms, it means that the police agencies are almost like the military. The American police style of organization originated and was adopted from Robert Peel’s plan for the London Metropolitan Police in 1829. The way the police resemble the military is first, police officers wear uniforms, second police departments use military-style rank such as sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and private. Third, the command structure is authoritarian, with commands flowing downwards from the top. Fourth the organizational style is authoritarian, with penalties for not obeying commands or orders, and finally, police officers carry weapons and have the legal authority to use deadly force, physical force, and to deprive people of their liberty through arrest.
Yet the police are different from the military because the police serve a citizen population rather than fight a foreign enemy, they provide services designed to help people, with the services often being requested by individual citizens. Also, they are constrained by laws protecting the rights of citizens and they routinely exercise individual discretion (or judgment), unlike the military who train and are expected to operate as members of military units.
The American police departments are remarkably similar in terms of organizational structure and administrative style. Typically, a police department is a complex bureaucracy, in which it uses a hierarchical structure and an authoritarian management style. Of course there are a few exceptions to this rule, which are very small departments, which have simple organizational structures and more informal management styles. Most of the large police departments are legally bound by collective bargaining contracts with unions representing rank-and-file officers.
Like most things, police organizations are criticized and not very satisfying. There are two schools of thought on how to improve them, with the basic principles of bureaucratic organization and applying them more effectively being the more dominant one, and the use of alternative decision-making procedures that operate within the existing formal structure.
A police union is an organization legally authorized to represent police officers in collective bargaining with the employer. Under American labor law, employers are required to recognize and negotiate with democratically chosen unions. Police unions are extremely powerful, and union contractors are an important feature of police organizations. There are three major police unions today, Fraternal Order of Police, International Union of Police Associations, and International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
The three primary theories that have been used by researchers to understand police organizational structures and operational strategies are, the contingency theory, the institutional theory, and the resource dependency theory. Each of the models emphasizes the importance of understanding the environment in which police operate and how that environment impacts police organizations.