To become a police officer, an individual should acquire certain qualities and skills most useful to this profession as well as to the community. Police experts report that core five skills must be present in candidates, namely integrity, intellect, communication skills, initiative, and honesty (Capps, 2014). Each of them is crucial to the community they serve and a police agency at large.
Integrity encourages a person to strive to commit only legal actions, uphold the police values, and have the public confidence. Integrity regards the ability of the police to make decisions and communicate with both colleagues and community members on a daily basis. Therefore, the police are supposed to be fair and operate ethically protecting the public from unlawful acts. Integrity is a perfect quality that helps command loyalty of people. The relationships based on trust involve the public to help the police.
Intellect plays an important role in the profession of the police officer which involves intellectual work such as reception and processing of information. Capps (2014) suggests that intelligence contributes into the tracking and prediction of crime with the aim to control it. Intellect helps the police analysts investigate the reason, the way, the time, and the place of crimes committed. Furthermore, only intellectual employees are able to develop tactic and strategic assessments and profiles to monitor the crime. Such employees are needed to improve the effectiveness of the agency and secure the community.
Perfect communication skills help the police develop the relationship with stakeholders and achieve effective solutions. The nature of the police work encourages officers to communicate with people from different backgrounds; therefore, they may appear in complicated and urgent situations. To avoid them, they should be able to assess what kind of a person they communicate with, namely whether he or she is a convicted felon, a suspected, or an anxious member. Moreover, the police officers must possess a code-switching language when communicating with the emphasis on their authority showing respect and concern. Such a quality is also needed to support the subordination within the agency.
The initiative is a duty and inalienable right of every employee in the police regardless of the rank. It allows the staff to generate new ideas and implement them into daily environment. Only initiative employees are able to introduce changes in the agency searching for new tools and strategies. A police agency can be successful in case it is based on the initiative officers who are prone to make changes and develop a new organizational culture. The initiative helps the police make decisions in the emergency.
It is obvious that honesty matters in the police administration because honest people cannot be involved in corruption and unlawful activities. Probity allows the community to form the public opinion. Only honest policemen can enlist the support of the citizens and earn the trust of subordinates, chiefs, and other stakeholders. This skill prevents police officers from corruption and abuse of their position.
Vertical communication is based on the authority levels within a police agency.
This differentiation combines hierarchical stages in the organization and its parts. These communication channels are transmitting prescriptive and reporting information creating stability in the police agency. The issue of power and influence are resolved within the vertical links (Swanson, Territo, & Taylor, 2008). Vertical communication flow within a police agency occurs among employees of different positions. In this kind of communication, a lower unit reports to senior managers in the service of what is happening. For example, the police supervisors may provide instructions, directives, and orders to subordinates and receive feedback from them. Vertical communication is more formal than horizontal and is very important in leadership. It can come from one head or the entire service.
On the other hand, horizontal communication requires a connection between two or more equal status members. Its goal is to promote the most effective interaction between the police departments. Horizontal communication helps strengthen the vertical linkages and make the agency more resistant to environmental changes. It is based on activity rather than on rank (Swanson et al., 2008). Clientele differentiates many activities in the police. For example, while communicating with dispatchers, the police should be clear and right to the point. With a suspect, the officer should sound direct and authoritative whereas when communicating with civilians, the police are supposed to be active listeners. Their communication with subordinates often depends on their posture, authority, and command respect.
Diagonal communication flow within an agency is relatively a new type of differentiation introduced by progressive leaders who tend to establish quick and effective communication in emergency actions. It takes place between the officers who have different ranks and serve under diverse commands; for example, communication between a patrol officer and the chief detective at the scene of a crime. Diagonal communication is the most direct type of interaction; however, it can destroy lines of authority.
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Leadership styles help law enforcement professionals develop effective leadership behaviors in order to avoid errors. The literature identifies three types of leadership in the police, namely charismatic, traditional authority, and rational legal (Swanson et al., 2008). The main advantage of this behavior is the ability of a leader to persuade and lead the subordinates. Charismatic leaders are prone to implement innovations in the agency and inspire people to new achievements. Charismatic leadership style is based on the belief in specific and unique qualities of a leader. This leadership style lacks strict regulation of rights and obligations. The demand for charismatic leaders is acute in times of crisis and emergency. At such times, the belief in salvation by the presence of the charismatic leader supplants the desire to use rational strategies and democratic procedures in solving problems.
Traditional authority maintains a strict control, discipline, power, and the unity of the command. Management is carried out by coercion methods rather than by explanation and persuasion. It is also characterized by the rigidity that humiliates the dignity of people. Moreover, it involves excessive demands to subordinates, which restricts their initiative and independence. However, traditional authority helps achieve higher results because subordinates experience fear forces them to unquestioningly follow commanders’ orders. It is associated with excessive exaggeration of the role of a manager. Traditional authority can be regarded the most effective tool in the police because an agency needs a culture that presupposes the subordinates to comply with the supervisor’s instructions immediately and unconditionally. This style would be used to make the employees respect the chain of command and discipline.
Rational-legal authority relies on the collective conscious of the police with highly developed professional and personal skills. In the ideal, subordinates should behave according to normative rules controlled by a leader. It can have advantages in a police agency in which the staff has confidence in the power by virtue of the established traditional order. However, in modern workplace, it is difficult to obtain understanding and support of the employees. This leadership style can work in organizations that practice equal rights and duties. However, the police are based on the authority. For these reasons, rational legal body may have disadvantages, namely it generates a lack of discipline and subordination of power. Its incompatibility with police agency environment proves that nothing would lead to using it there.
Discipline is necessary for a police agency to identify consistency, eliminate disparities, and provide sanctions against those committing acts of misconduct (Swanson et al., 2008). Officers must know their duties, understand the working standards and review them periodically with their supervisors. The front-line supervisor is one of the most challenging jobs, which aims to create a healthy work environment. The supervisors maintain abidance by rules and regulations, policies, values, and the department’s mission into operational practice. Therefore, they establish the overall expectation for the police and create the agency’s culture. Effective supervision helps to manage officers by providing coaching instead of the threat of disciplinary punishment. Discipline encourages the personnel to obey the work standards. The traditional “code of silence” may undermine the discipline and discredit the police in the eyes of the public. Positive disciplinary actions serve as an effective tool allowing the front-line supervisors to punish, prevent, and change problem behaviors or respond to citizens’ complaints.
A progressive discipline model has certain benefits because it implements more severe penalties for transgressions than for civil organizations. This model provides oral reprimand, verbal counseling, monetary fine, written reprimand, transfer/reassignment, loss of promotional opportunity, suspension without pay, demotion, and termination (Swanson et al., 2008). Therefore, the police will think about the consequences before breaking the discipline. Police agencies have specified rules that determine misconduct that may be handled within a division, a first-line supervisor, at the bureau level and PS/IA units. Clearly defined rules help the employees and the authorities to balance their work without disturbances as well as to achieve goals. Progressive discipline encourages the police to follow the instructions thus affecting the disclosure of crimes. Moreover, it increases the public trust and respect to the police agency that can be a reliable place to provide safety and support to the citizens.
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Innovative training approaches can help a police agency to provide a better community service. The findings reveal that new technology based on the Internet software allow the police officers to hone their skills in a cost-effective manner (Editorial Board, 2016). Virtual training offers to use high-tech goggles to immerse into any potential situation from domestic disputes to violent crowds. The training teaches to react effectively in different situations. Another approach suggests using blindfolds or blur goggles to increase the effect of a fight. In the process, the instructor controls the trainees’ actions and creates scenarios with conceal weapons to put the police off guard.
According to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the agency must address the implications of the law. It must be performed in order to maintain the civil rights of people free from any kind of discrimination based on color, race, sex, religion, and national origin (Swanson et al., 2008). Thereafter, a police agency has established equal access to employment of diverse workforce regardless of the race, gender, and sexual orientation. The act encourages authorities to protect employees from illegal firing or hiring due to the age or disability.
According to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, an agency must address the implications of the law avoiding the age discrimination in employment and mandatory retirement (Swanson et al., 2008). This law prohibits an agency to refuse a potential candidate because of his or her age. Moreover, employees receive benefits by being protected from illegal reduction of wages because of their age are more free to change their working opportunities. Regardless of limitations in different states, this act is important for the police since their employees cannot be limited in promotion due to their age. With the act’s adoption, police agencies have developed new rules for hiring, promotions, back pay with interest, and other items.
Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act established in 1990, people with disabilities received new opportunities to be protected legally. The police must address the implications of the law to be an example. With the adoption of the act, people received the right to avoid discrimination based on their disability (Capps, 2014). They have equal access to the benefits of the various activities, programs, and services for disabled. Moreover, the police who become disabled receive guarantees for compensations, training, privileges, and another employment term.