The police forces have been developing for over the centuries. The main aspect of its evolution includes Police management process, the elaboration of core strategy for providing the value for community. The position of police chief has always been an ambitious job, which requires the full use of abilities. The chief should know how to rule a huge and complex organization. These people have to possess strong leadership skills and vision for meeting the requirements and demands of the community. In practice, the police force has exceptional power and authority over people. The thesis of the given paper can be formulated as the description of the role of police chiefs, their duties, responsibilities, personal features and the issues of their authority importance in terms of public safety.
It is a well-known fact that any organization can fail without strong leaders. Every officer of any police agency has an opportunity and responsibility to become a leader. The origins of leadership lie in the chief executive of the agency and have to be extended on all layers of the organization including the line officers. The reason for this is the fact that the line officers have the closest contact with citizens and have extended discretionary powers. Therefore, line officers have to operate as leaders any time they response a call-for-service — the perfect communication abilities, skills of problem-solving and critical thinking have to be demonstrated.
It is extremely significant for the realization of the role and significance of a police chief in the society to examine the history of policing. Such aspects as the strategies elaboration and police department organization have been crucial in the evolution of police administration. The history of policing can be traced to the Babylon time. However, it is considered that the model of nowadays policing emerged after the founding of London Metropolitan Police. Sir Robert Peel was the one who introduced the idea of the police necessity to the Parliament and insisted on its legalization. It inspired the establishment of local police agencies in the United States. Many federal-level and state police organizations had a long history; the issues of policing strategies have been elaborated. The notions and strategies of policing have altered from being the political orientated and community servicing to prevention and fighting of crimes during 1850–1930 (Dempsey& Forst, 2009, p.26).
In the course of the evolution of policing, the tactics, methods and strategies have been changing in terms of political, historic and economical background of the country. Thus, in the origin of policing, there was a special kind of patrol known as slave patrols. The officers were in charge of slaves and other minorities’ behavior and obedience. The police officers and their leaders of those periods were known to be cruel people abusing their power and authority. Thus, the modern police have nothing in common with police of those times as the special police professional ethics was integrated into the policing and the purposes and methods of modern police officers are quite different. Later, policing methods and strategies proliferated and many of them created the ground of Sir Robert Peel’s principles.
The idea that the police department has to be evolved exists over the past 100 years or even more. It is generally agreed that August Vollmer was the first professional police leader in the USA. In 1920th, American police leaders including Vollmer were primarily concerned by the structural organization of their departments. The main purpose of Vollmer was to establish a well-run professional team, to fight the corruption and set a proper tone for the police leadership. The Progressive era in the USA was accompanied by the increased range of crimes; the and disorders entailed new requirements to cope with. Serious corruption problems appeared within the police departments. It is generally known that Vollmer put a great emphasis on the professional selection and training of future officers. He declared these issues to be the fundamental ones in the establishment of professional police department. Under his conduction, new training programs focused on the functions and roles of police officers were created. One of the most important issues according to Vollmer was the correct interaction between police officers and publicity.
The early 1950s was the period of increased necessity of the strong centralized form of police leadership. However, although the chiefs of police tried to concentrate on the issues of development of professional skills of officers and corruption combat, there were still serious problems with the relationship of officers’ discretion power. The undermining of individual rights of citizens and the law of officers’ decision-making process were urgent problems of that time. James Isenberg (2009) describes the main responsibility of police chiefs of those times as following: “The chief’s primary mandate was to prevent charges of police misbehavior while instituting policing and controls to prevent the inappropriate use of police discretion in the community” (p.3). The police leaders were considerably slightly concerned with the collaboration of communities with their departments. There were only formal connections.
Later, many nations’ police leaders began to prioritize direct challenges to their authority while other continues emphasized on the professional managerial perfection. Numerous riots and streets blood struggles between police officers, and citizens occurred in cities demanding the reaction to the legal right protection of citizens. It was considerably difficult for the police chiefs of that time to find the golden mean between efficient functioning of police officers and fairness to individuals, without violating their rights. These riots and struggles between the police forces and community became the main reason of the emergence of new strategies and tactics oriented towards the close cooperation with the community. These strategies were initiated in order to engage citizens in positive relationship with local police departments. Thus, the chiefs of police who formerly were trying to keep the distance from the community responsibility were made accept the new rules.
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The community and politicians demanded police leaders to create new policies and strategies for their department to obtain more support and respect from local citizens. Police officers made efforts to accept internal regulations of the use of force and profusion of rules in terms of policing community. Police chiefs realized that there is a necessity for creative approaches in managing the relations between community and police officers. After the pursuance of several researches, it became clear that the police forces were not trained enough to prevent crime and the police-community orientation approaches require improvements. The police leaders attempted to balance between the elaboration of proper police culture, elaboration of new practices and norms, and the satisfaction of community necessities. Thus, the history of police leaders in America did not develop as an increased succession of noticeable visions; it was a continuing challenge, which demanded chiefs of police to describe a vision constantly during their terms (Dempsey & Forst, 2009, p.30).
The modern world is changing: the globalization, urbanization and alteration of the publicity attitudes on the life and authorities demands special approaches. The rise of crimes, disorders on the streets, homicides, burglaries, prostitutes and terrorism have made the police forces lay the greatest emphasis on the homeland security providing. It can be done only under the conduction that the police departments will be managed by great leaders, strong individuals who are qualified enough to take the whole responsibility and be ready to manage the work of the other police officers. The city governor or city council is usually responsible for appointing police leaders. In some cases, they may be elected. The police top officers are expected to provide annual and monthly reports in regard to issues of the police department on the city meetings or managing councils. In some areas, the police leaders are called chief constable, sheriff or police commissioner.
The job of the chief of police has always been very challenging and demanding. These officers have to work very hard in order to identify best practices and policies for meeting the demands and requirements of the community. Different police agencies have to be in close incorporation with each other in order to learn how to cope with critical issues they are facing every day as the chief of police is responsible for it. The chief of police seems to be a noticeable leader in the government of the city. The chief supervises the financial state and all the operations of the police department. Chiefs are highly glorified for successes and have to take the whole answerability for failures. However, things may go fatally wrong even in a police department with a perfect skilled chief, who provided thorough officers’ training, obtain good policies and solid management strategy. The order and success of the police department lies with each separate officer. The instant wrong decision of a single officer or massive criminal incident or even natural catastrophe can bury the department’s capabilities.
It is undeniable that the police administration, in particular police chief, holds huge responsibility, especially in critical situations. The police leaders can try to lessen the extent of damage or danger to the community, and prevent the disaster in critical moments. The community members notice the intensive efforts of the police chief and police officers to handle the occurred disaster instead of making an emphasis on the incident itself. A very few person have this authority and possibility; they are the city mayor, manager and police officer, and they need to work in close cooperation and constant communication to ensure the community safety and order. Police chiefs are also responsible for arranging press conferences and answering questions from media in case of necessity.
Indeed, the job of a police chief is extremely challenging and difficult. In addition to the responsibilities and duties to the community, they also are in charge of the operation of police departments. They have to ensure the proper running of their departments, as well as control the accomplishment of all missions that police officers are responsible for. They also need to control the proper training programs and policies implementations, as well as police abidance of police ethics, norms and regulations. Despite the sizes of police departments are different, as well as the corresponding responsibility of the police leader depending on the demographics of the area they serve, the main purpose remains the same: to protect community and public property, as well as to lead the police force of the city or town. The top law enforcement officer has to oversee the police officers who comprise the police force in order to implement their main purpose. The goals, missions and directions of the police officers are set or established only by their chief (McDevitt &Field, 2010, p.8).
The majority of daily operations of the police department are carried out automatically, without the involvement of the chief of police. For instance, there is no necessity for the police chief to know all traffic violations or small burglaries. In contrast, the larger cases require the attention and conduction of the police leader and cannot be carried out without his permission. For example, the operations on the terrorist attacks combat or gang violence issues are to be controlled by the police leaders because he/she is responsible for establishing strategies, plans and operations to deal with the situation. Creating plans to combat gangs or mass street graffiti and carrying out task forces on anti-terrorism are bright instances of his or her activities. The police leader may very often spend the whole day attending meetings devoted to criminal issues and management concerns of the department.
The range of police chief duties and responsibilities is extremely wide and may vary depending on many factors. One of the primary obligations of the top law enforcement officer is to manage the department’s budget. The community, which the police department serves, expects the police department to carry out their duties using the least possible amount of funding. For this reason, the police leader has to develop a lean and functional budged to meet the necessities of the police department and community’s requirements. It includes making rigid decisions on staffing and distributing according to plan necessary resources for training, equipment and staff. There is also a need to delegate funds and take measures for big department wide range of purchases. It is especially difficult for the police chief of large cities where the managing budget is extremely large, and the chief should oversee thousands of civilian employees and police officers.
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The chief of a police department is expected to maintain perfect relations with publicity considering the fact that these departments are funded by them through taxes. Although ensuring the protection of the publicity remains the main mission of the police force, the relations between the police officers and the community are of the greatest importance to preserve the atmosphere of mutual respect and confidence. Misunderstanding between the officers and citizens may result in violence and bloody struggles as mentioned above in the historical evolution of police administration. Usually, the police leader serves as a spokesperson for the department and ensures the connection between the community and the police department. Police leaders also are responsible for the maintaining constant interaction with different city departments including fire institutions, transportation institutions, maintenance, ambulance and other institutions in order to ensure safety in case of emergency (McDevitt & Field, 2010, p.12).
Due to the efforts of August Vollmer in the past, now, the police chiefs should pay more attention to the staff of police department. They are responsible for firing, hiring and selection of candidates. They are also in charge of training programs, guiding, screening the officers’ operation and solving conflicts or managerial misunderstanding within the team. As every leader of any type of organization, police leaders have to observe the work of subordinates by giving the complete and accurate guidance, incentives, rewards and criticism. It is the task of the police chief to make sure that every police officer in the department clearly implements his or her duties, responsibilities and obligations and knows how to do this. In order to accomplish this difficult task successfully, the chief of police needs to possess such qualities as cold mind, patience, liability. He/she also has to be a good coach and psychologist, restrained in the use of force, collaborative, file problem solving and close to the community. A good police leader has to take responsibility on the supervising and elaborating volunteer programs engaging citizens, especially youth to take part in them, for instance, the program of volunteer neighborhood watch. The job of police officer and the police chief is rather self-sacrificing as they are obliged to be on-duty twenty four hours a day, which means that they hardly have a private life. David L. Couper (2012) underlined very accurately in his book: “It soon becomes apparent to new officers that it is a lot easier and safer to socialize with fellow police than with old friends and acquaintances” (p.19). This fact proves that the profession of police officer is very difficult and self-denying.
One of the brightest examples of a skilled police chief is the Detroit law enforcement leader James Craig. He became his law enforcement career in 1977 and took the position of Detroit chief in 2013. He began his career as a police officer in Detroit before his moving to Los Angeles. There, he made a brilliant career from sworn officer to the top rank officer getting the rank of Captain III. Further, he moved to a drastically different city, Portland to become the chief of police. In Portland, he achieved great results and highly contributed to the community safety. Under his management, the crime rates in Portland were ten percents lowered due to Craig’s excellent strategic plan (CBS Detroit, 2014).
Craig represents a devoted, responsible, well-trained and skilled chief of Detroit police. He is not afraid of challenges and is always ready for an innovative way of conduction and implementation of new policies and strategies that corresponds to the time. Being a successful police chief, Craig put a special emphasis on the police department cooperation with community. After the Ferguson case with shooting, he gave several press conferences pointing out the reason of it as the troubled interrelations between the police department and citizens. He stated: “The most successful police departments are those that work in partnership with their neighborhoods” (CBS Detroit, 2014). In order to prevent such incidents in the town he serves, he conducted a range of lectures with youth.
He believes that the proper communication between police officers and community is the main guarantee of secure society and reduction of crime rates. At the very beginning of his career of the Detroit police chief, he promised to earn the authority and trust from the community and he did it. He is also trying to provide the department with modern vehicles and necessary equipment. The rate of crimes has lowered 8 percent since 2012, the rate of homicides decreased from 55 to 47.5 per thousand residents. The cases of stolen vehicles, sexual and aggravated assaults and burglaries have also been reduced. He insisted on the armed citizens underlining the fact of strict regulations in regard to selling the assault guns, banning high-capacity magazines and internet ammunition sales. James Craig conducts a successful policy for the securing of publicity safety by being the great authority for the publicity.
In general, the chief of police is obliged to set a behavioral model not only for police officers but also for the community. The publicity should feel protected and secured under his/her rule. A good leader of police department has to elaborate an internal system of continuous improvement taking into consideration political and economic situation, as well as the emerged necessities of citizens. The history of policing origins, its evolution and development shows the importance and, at the same time, complexity of this profession. The police chiefs take great responsibilities in order to ensure crimes reduction and security of citizens.