The police body of the US is the largest and the oldest fraternal police organization in the whole world that means that it must be the most widespread, with its membership spanning to greater regions in all its member countries. Its membership is open to both members that are active in the force as well as the already retired law enforcers. All organizations, especially the large ones, are characterized by many challenges, and the American Police organization is no exemption. The organization aims at uniting all its members to enable them to operate as a single unit and maintain law and order in their areas of jurisdiction by getting them involved in social, cultural, and other allied activities. The organization is also involved in forums that are geared to create harmony and unity among its member states. These activities include; Recreational and rest programs, Visits, and Study groups to spark innovation among their members. The police force is also charged with such responsibilities as; General enforcement of the law, public safety, community relations, human resource management, and as well as information and fiscal management (Geller and Stephens, 320). Three major forces that have been identified to affect the police force from 1960-2001 have been discussed below.
Relationship with the Community
A good relationship with the community is mandatory in order to achieve public confidence. The police are faced with the need to strike a balance between competing conflicting values; for example, an officer is required to serve the interest of the people by protecting their fundamental human rights and at the same time adhere to the rules and regulations that guard their operation ethics (Mastrofski, Stephen and Lum).
A good perception by the public of the police force is important to help build a rapport between the groups and ease the work of the police. The police work in a society where they have to deal with people with different cultures who have been shaped up by different circumstances in life. Such individuals have therefore developed varied ideas, principles, and beliefs. This makes their work t be quite a big challenge.
Availability of Resources
Resources, such as (funds and recruits) are also major factors that impact that police organization. An investigation report published by the Post-Dispatch in 2003, “The Law in Disorder,” gives out possible solutions to the problems faced by those smaller police organizations that are faced with the problem of limited resources. The cost-cutting measures that such small police organizations take include; Using reserve officers for the full-time (active) police work and hiring other agencies to do the work. Such private agencies charge less for the services they provide. If a police organization falls short of funds, it will be forced to cut off some very important practices like carrying out a thorough investigation and going on patrols, such activities would have, in normal circumstances, considered top priorities.
Availability of resources also determines the level of training of its members. Thorough training is required to counter the technology applied by gangs and terrorists involved in organized criminal activities. The police, therefore, have to review their training regularly. Since 1960-2001, there has been reported the development of new crime trends, with the pioneers who mastermind them globally having their roots normally abroad, making it so hard for the police to force to crack them. With limited funds and resources, it will prove to be an uphill task for the police force to successfully fight the gangs.
The Police Organizational Structure
The organizational structure of the police force is a major contributor to the inclination or shift that has been witnessed in the police organization in the past half a century. The internal structure, operation procedure, and orientation of any organization have an impact on the behavior of its members. For example, bureaucracy, if applied as an administrative means, will result in fewer opportunities and motivation among the members-hence slow decision-making. On the other hand, it is seen as a mechanism employed by organizations to control and coordinate decision-making (Perrow, 1972: 56). “…impersonal rules delimit, in great detail, all the functions of every individual within the organization. They prescribe the behavior to be followed I all possible events” (Crozier qtd. in Hall, 2002: 168). It is this bureaucracy that forms the basis of the police organizational structures that will eventually affect the way the police execute their duties. It creates barriers and has therefore become a major concern that needs to be reviewed (Norman, 175).
We can therefore draw a conclusion that; whatever has been ailing the police organization in the last six decades are all related to infrastructure, safety, and the environment in the setting where that particular organization operates.
The police force is quite a unique type of public servant who is charged with the use of force on the same citizens that they are supposed to protect. This makes their dealings relatively complex.
For an efficient service delivery within the police force, there needs to be a critical look at the process of selection of the members, training, monitoring, and their motivation. The factors that have been highlighted above should be put into consideration if efficiency is to be witnessed in the police force.
Geller & Stephens: Fostering Integrity and Professional Standards: Local Government Police Management. Washington, DC: ICMA: 2003: 315-352.
Hall, Richard, Eugene & Norman, 1967: Organizational Size, Complexity and Formalization: American Sociology Review, 32(6):908-909.
Hall, Richards, 2002: Organizations, Structures and Outcomes. 8th Edition; Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
Mastrofski, Stephen and Lum: “Meeting the Challenges of Governing the Police of Trinidad and Tobago” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology (ASC), 2008. Web.
Norman H. Stamper, 1992: Removing Managerial Barriers to Effective Police Leadership: ISBN#: 1-878734-29-6: 175.
Perrow & Charles, 1979; Complex Organization: A Critical Essay; 2nd Edition, Dallas, Texas: Scot Foresman &Co.