Organizational Management and Operations
Law enforcement in the United States is an extremely large and complex area comprising of over 23,000 local, state and federal agencies working alongside security service providers, and industry that hires more than one million people. Among the over 90,000 officially declared police personnel, 13% are specifically working for federal agencies, another 13% hired by special or state agencies while 74% work in the local law enforcement agencies. These law enforcement bodies are mandated with various roles and responsibilities, with the main aim of protecting the society. These responsibilities include prevention of crime, maintenance of law and order, and public service. The agencies are segmented into federal, state and local agencies. However, they operate in unison towards controlling, deterring and fighting crime, although, in certain situations, every agency may work independently from the others. It should be noted that all the levels of law enforcement are governed by outlined set of rules, responsibilities and procedures (Carter, 2004).
This paper shall undertake the identification, comparison and contrast of the policing function at the local, state and federal organizational levels. Besides, it shall also give an analysis of how the organizational management, administration and operational functions at these three organizational levels are similar or different and why that is so.
Local Police Agencies
The local policing agencies are made up of the local police, sheriff’s department, campus police as well as the municipal and park police. They are all charged with the duty of protecting societal needs like patrol work, traffic duties, response to calls for service and provision of general help to the public. They are also charged with the enforcement of the laws of the particular cities or towns that they serve. Besides, they are also responsible for enforcement of ordinances; however, these must be in accordance with the areas’ jurisdiction (Peak, 2010).
Based on the policing culture, especially at the local and state law enforcement levels, the officers who are out in the field on patrols often act independently without the need for consultation or supervision. A greater percentage of their duties entail ‘’low visibility decisions’’ or especially when these decisions do not require making any arrests or reports to the supervisors or office, a fact which highlights the need for review (Carter, 2004).
State Police Agencies
Also known as specialized police, state police agencies operate at the state level. State officers are assigned the roles of response to calls for service which are then backed by investigative operations. They also handle administrative, training and technical duties as well as court related responsibilities. In smaller towns where there are no local police departments, state officers are responsible for offering security and law enforcement services to these towns. Since the terror attack of 9/11, potential significant consequences for the state police agencies were highlighted. In all the states, the police created some homeland security agencies charged with roles like advising the legislature and governor on matters of security, to oversee threat assessment of the state, infrastructure protection, receipt and distribution of DHS funds, provision of assistance and training services to local jurisdictions among others. Based on this, state police officers have assumed the duty of countering terrorism in their respective states (Whisenand, 2009).
At state level, one would also find specialized police units that undertake special police functions. For example, fish and game wardens are responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting and boating laws. Different states have also invested in independent policing agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles, Alcohol Beverage Control and Department of Criminal Investigations. These agencies are responsible for law enforcement and conducting investigations, which must be in accordance with the powers assigned to them by the state. In conducting their roles, they work together with other police agencies. Other special police divisions include HAZMAT, SWAT and K-9 units (Cordner & Scarborough, 2010).
Federal Police Agencies
These are police agencies that are regularized by the federal government and are charged with the role of handling enforcement and security issues that are beyond the state boundaries and those that affect regions of the country or the whole of America. The Federal police agencies include the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Border Patrol and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. These agencies deal with matters related to drug sales, immigration, weapon and arms regulation, and threats to internal security like terrorism. Their jurisdiction is also above that of the local and state law enforcement agencies (Carter, 2004).
Similarities and Comparisons
The three levels of law enforcement agencies are the same in that they are all charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights and ensuring the safety of citizens that they serve within their areas of operations. They enforce laws, make arrests, protect and serve the citizens in the particular areas that they are assigned to work (Cordner & Scarborough, 2010).
The first difference between the police agencies is the manner in which they hire. In many cities and towns, local police officers are appointed by their respective city governments, with methods of recruitment that are different from one city to another based on their rules and regulations. Because of the nature of having many specialized agencies at the state level, the top management is often made up of political appointees, although these are handpicked from a team of experienced professionals. Middle level managers are then appointed from within the force, a process conducted by civil service or based on merit. Most of those who hold managerial positions use paramilitary titles and ranks like ‘inspector.’ Appointments in the federal law agencies, especially the senior management, are conducted by the president. The process must however, be done within consent and advice of the senate. The mid-level management in the federal agencies is comprised of internal officers who have been promoted on the basis of merit, or civil servants. The three agencies are also varied based on the roles that they play, and also their areas of jurisdiction as outlined in the report (Carter, 2004).
Based on the similarities or differences between the organizational, management, administration and operational functions at these three organizations, they all work according to the laws and regulations governing the areas in which they operate. Federal agencies abide by the federal laws while state police agencies operate under the laws set out by their statutes of operations. Local agencies on the other hand, are governed by the rules of their municipalities or cities. However, state and local policing agencies are also governed by federal laws while local agencies are guided by the laws of the state government that they serve (Cordner & Scarborough, 2010).
For instance, the failure of a comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level saw the states and municipalities take matters into their own hands by deciding to pass a combination of statutes, ordinances and ballot initiatives. These new ordinances and statutes would facilitate the officers in actively pursuing illegal immigrants within the areas of their jurisdiction. These duties are in certain ways similar to those that are carried out by the Immigration and Naturalization (NIS). This would also impact additional work for the officers and their departments, thus, creating the need for training, enlarging the workforce that will eventually result into a reduction in the time available for fighting criminal activities (Peak, 2010).
In 2012, Washington and Colorado legalized the personal use of marijuana. Today, there are more than 18 states that are advocating for the use of medical marijuana. Thus, as laws change with time, the duties and responsibilities of state and local agencies are directly affected. In this regard, state and local agencies are no longer expected to make arrests to people who are found in possession of small amounts of marijuana. However, until that time when the federal government amends the status of the use of marijuana as illegal, federal agents working for the DEA will still be required to undertake the enforcement of drug laws at the federal level (Whiseland, 2009).
Leadership Characteristics and Responsibilities
For a police leader to be effective in performing their duties, they must have some characteristics of leadership. To begin with, a police leader should possess technical skills, meaning that they must have special knowledge and analytical ability in the use of techniques and tools for their specific duties and responsibilities. Some of these duties which require the application of technical skills include budgeting, use of computers and basic knowledge on using some specialized tools like the breathalyzer machines. Human skills are also basic and critical for leaders of the various police agencies. These skills are related to the ability of the executive to effectively perform as a member of a team and enhance cooperation. Such a leader should be sensitive to the needs of the people, who in this case are his junior colleagues as well as the general public that they offer services to.
Besides, a leader should also be able to tolerate ambiguity while also empathizing with people bearing diverse views from his, and also people from different backgrounds. The third important characteristic of a leader is conceptual skills which are ideal for coordination and integration of activities and interests with minimal conflict. As pointed out earlier, police activities are diverse and may not always be easy to coordinate especially because of emergency response calls. As a result of this, the leadership should be alert and organized in order to avoid overlooking and neglecting some duties, while giving unnecessary attention to others. This skill requires adequate planning and understanding of policing (Peak, 2010).
Leadership responsibilities include those of the CEO, the middle managers and supervisors. The CEO, being the overall head of the police service, is charged with overseeing the entire organization; operations and efficacy of the whole police fraternity. The duties of the CEO include formulation and communication of clear vision for the organization. They also make sure that there is a management team that is committed to translating the organization’s visions into action. Finally, the CEOs are also expected to ensure that the bureaucratic obstacles in the organization are eliminated, and this goes a long way in making sure that there is a chain of command to enhance easier communication among the various levels of power. Effective communication ensures the smooth running of operations (Whiseland, 2009).
Middle managers include captains and lieutenants who act as the bridge between the top management and the junior police officers. They are responsible for maintaining and use of their powers to make sure that their subordinates are empowered to confront and resolve issues more creatively and actively. They build on strengths of their much junior officers by capitalizing on their competence and training, while also encouraging the supervisors and patrol officers in the performance of their duties.
It is also the responsibility of middle managers to develop systems, support mechanisms and resources towards ensuring that all the officers get the best results in their activities. This is because the supervisors and officers are not able to undertake their duties without necessary reinforcement, equipment and resources (Peak, 2010).
Finally, the line supervisors work directly with patrol officers, and the officers answer directly to them every single day. Their responsibilities include:
- Time, resources and staff management
- Understanding and solving problems
- Promotion of teamwork amongst the officers
- Assisting the officers in mobilizing stakeholders
- Tracking and management of the problem solving skills of officers
- Making sure that officers have constant and timely feedback and support (Peak, 2010).
Cordner, G. & Scarborough, K. (2010). Information sharing: Exploring the intersection of policing with national and military intelligence. The Journal of the Naval Postgraduate School Centre for Homeland Defense and Security. 6 (1).
Carter, D.L. (2004). Law Enforcement Intelligence: A guide for state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University. Retrieved on 2nd February 2014 from http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/e09042536.pdf
Peak, K.J. (2010). Justice Administration: Police, courts, and corrections management. Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, Inc.
Whisenand, P.M. (2009) Managing Police Organizations. Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, Inc.