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Introduction to Policing

I would like to dedicate this third edition to William P. McCamey and Gene L. Scaramella,
co-authors of the first and second editions, who both lost their battles with cancer. Both Bill and
Gene were close friends and colleagues. I miss them more than words can say. Memories made
over many years remain fresh in my mind.
—Steve Cox
I would like to dedicate my work on this book to the original three authors, Steven M. Cox,
William P. McCamey, and Gene L. Scaramella, whom I never had the good fortune to meet in
person, and whose work established a firm platform for me from which to spring.
I also dedicate this volume to my mother, Sara, who nursed me through an illness that
occurred just as I approached a critical deadline. She instilled in me the values of hard work,
honesty, and perseverance, all of which have proven to be qualities indispensible in arriving at
the completed third edition of Introduction to Policing.
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the men and women who dedicate themselves to public
service in police organizations across the nation and who perform their difficult jobs with
integrity and a balanced sense of justice. We all depend on them.
—Susan Marchionna

Introduction to Policing
Western Illinois University
Criminal Justice Communications Consultant
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Woodbury University

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Copyright © 2017 by SAGE Publications, Inc.
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Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Cox, Steven M. | Marchionna, Susan. | Fitch, Brian D.
Title: Introduction to policing / Steven M. Cox, Susan Marchionna, Brian D. Fitch.
Description: Third Edition. | Thousand Oaks : SAGE Publications, Inc., 2016. | ?2017 | Revised edition of Introduction to policing,
2014. | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2015038734 | ISBN 978-1-5063-0754-1 (pbk. : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Police—United States. | Community policing—United States.
Classification: LCC HV8139 .C69 2016 | DDC 363.20973—dc23 LC record available at
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Acquisitions Editor: Jerry Westby
Associate Editor: Jessica Miller
Editorial Assistant: Laura Kirkhuff
eLearning Editor: Nicole Mangona
Production Editor: Libby Larson
Copy Editor: Melinda Masson
Typesetter: C&M Digitals (P) Ltd.
Proofreader: Eleni Georgiou
Indexer: Will Ragsdale
Cover Designer: Janet Kiesel
Marketing Manager: Terra Schultz

Brief Contents
1. Chapter 1. Policing in the United States
2. Chapter 2. A Brief History of Police in the United States
3. Chapter 3. Police Organization and Administration
1. Chapter 4. Recruitment and Selection of Police Officers
2. Chapter 5. Police Training and Education
3. Chapter 6. Police Work: Operations and Functions
4. Chapter 7. Contemporary Strategies in Policing
1. Chapter 8. The Police Culture and Work Stress
2. Chapter 9. Law, Court Decisions, and the Police
3. Chapter 10. Discretion and Ethics in Policing
4. Chapter 11. Police Misconduct and Accountability
1. Chapter 12. Policing in a Diverse Society
2. Chapter 13. Technology and the Police
3. Chapter 14. Organized Crime, Homeland Security, and Global Issues
4. Chapter 15. Private Police
1. Chapter 16. The Future of Policing in the United States

Detailed Contents
Chapter 1. Policing in the United States
Chapter Learning Objectives
The Concept and Mandate of the Police
Scope of the Law Enforcement Sector
Levels of Policing
State Police
Federal Law Enforcement
A Changing Landscape
Additional Types of Police
Private Police
Special Jurisdiction Police
Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs
Auxiliary/Reserve/Special Police
Conservation Police Officers, Game Wardens
Tribal Police Officers
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 2. A Brief History of Police in the United States
Chapter Learning Objectives
English Roots of Policing
The Evolution of Early U.S. Policing
The Political Era
Police Accountability
The Reform Era
The Era of Social Upheaval (1960s and 1970s)
Research on Police Effectiveness
The Community-Policing Era (1980–2000)
The Homeland Security Era (2001–Present)
Some Contemporary Policing Strategies
Intelligence-Led or Intelligence-Based Policing
Terrorism-Oriented Policing
Policing in the Past, Present, and Future
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 3. Police Organization and Administration
Chapter Learning Objectives
Organizational Structures
Police Hierarchy

Hierarchy and Communication
The Paramilitary Structure
Decentralized and Proactive Organizations
Police Organizations in Context
Operations Division
Administrative or Staff Services Division
Organizational Substructures
Functional Design
Handling Change in Police Organizations
Police Militarization
Police Unions and Collective Bargaining
Police Unions and Professionalism
Police Professionalism
Professional Literature and Research
Code of Ethics
Professional Associations
Academic Field
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 4. Recruitment and Selection of Police Officers
Chapter Learning Objectives
The Importance of Recruitment and Selection
Generational Issues
The Process
Antidiscrimination Legislation
Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act
Entry-Level Recruitment and Selection
Costs of Outreach
Targeted Recruiting
Monitoring and Evaluating
Recruiting and Retaining Women Officers
Women and Promotions
Recruiting and Retaining Officers of Color
Testing of Candidates
Status Tests

U.S. Citizenship
Preference Points
Physical Tests
Physical Agility Tests
Height-Weight Proportion Tests
Vision Requirements
Medical Examinations
Mental Tests
Tests of Intelligence, Knowledge, or Aptitude
Psychological Tests
Tests of Morality
Background Investigations
Drug Tests
Polygraph Examinations
Tests of Ability to Communicate
The Oral Board
Supervisory Recruitment and Selection
Grooming Supervisors
Testing Candidates
Assessment Centers
Strengths of the Assessment Center
Recruitment and Selection of Police Chiefs
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 5. Police Training and Education
Chapter Learning Objectives
Police Education
Higher Education and the Police: A Debate
Arguments in Favor of Education
What Do Agencies Require?
What Do the Police Think?
Research on College Education and Police Performance
Research Results
Positive Results
Inconclusive Results
The Importance of Leadership in Education: What Are Leaders to Do?
Evaluating Leaders
Police Training
Purposes of Training
What Kind of Training and How Much?
Department Support for Training
Types of Training
Recruit Training
Training and Community-Oriented Policing

Field Training
Ongoing In-Service Training
Technological Advances and Online Training
Who Should Conduct Police Training?
Funding for Training
Mandatory Versus Voluntary Training
Training and Police Leadership
Training Effectiveness
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 6. Police Work: Operations and Functions
Chapter Learning Objectives
Basic Police Functions
Order Maintenance and Law Enforcement
Broken Windows and Zero Tolerance Policing
Policing the Mentally Ill
Investigations and Forensic Science
Investigations and Community-Oriented Policing
Styles of Policing
Watchman Style
Legalistic Style
Service Style
Patrol Strength and Allocation
Intuitive Approach
Comparative Approach
Workload Analysis
Other Types of Patrol
Evaluating Patrol
Evaluating Police Performance
Evaluating Officer Performance
Evaluating Agency Performance
Police and the Media
Media Relations Programs
Social Media
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 7. Contemporary Strategies in Policing
Chapter Learning Objectives
Community Policing
The LEMAS Survey
Problem-Oriented Policing

Research on Community- and Problem-Oriented Policing
Criticisms of Community Policing
Rhetoric Versus Practice
Crime Reduction
The Current Status of COP and POP
Innovations in Policing Strategies
Information Innovations
Intelligence-Led Policing
Evidence-Based Policing
Focused Resources
Hot-Spot Policing
Directed Patrol
Differential Response Policing
Changing Up the Environment
Situational Crime Prevention
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
Saturation Patrol and Crackdowns
Collaboration and Organization
Pulling Levers Policing
Incident Command Systems
Policing Processes
Broken Windows
Procedural Justice Policing
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 8. The Police Culture and Work Stress
Chapter Learning Objectives
What Is Culture?
Socialization, Isolation, and the Code
Erosion of the Public’s Trust
Analyzing Police Subculture
Contributing Factors
The Police Personality: How Real?
Types of Stresses in Police Work
Task Demands
Role Demands
Interpersonal Demands

Physical Demands
Effects and Consequences of Police Stress
Personal Pitfalls
Stress and Police Families
Police Officer Suicide
Research on Police Suicide
Police Shootings and Critical Incidents
Counteracting Police Stress
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 9. Law, Court Decisions, and the Police
Chapter Learning Objectives
The 1st Amendment
The 2nd Amendment
The 4th Amendment
Probable Cause and Reasonableness
Searches and Seizures With and Without a Warrant
Police Stops
Police Searches Incident to Arrest
Consent Searches
The 5th Amendment
The 14th Amendment
The Exclusionary Rule
Police Use of Force
The USA PATRIOT Act, Homeland Security, and Terrorism
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 10. Discretion and Ethics In Policing
Chapter Learning Objectives
Police Discretion
Factors That Influence Discretion
The Situation, Setting, and Suspect
Departmental Policy and Culture
The Law
Political and Economic Pressure
The Challenge of Discretion
Ethics and Police Conduct
Ethics in Police Education
Evaluating Police Ethics

Biased Enforcement and Racial Profiling
Leadership and Improving Decision Making
Media Relations
Intolerance of Malfeasance
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 11. Police Misconduct and Accountability
Chapter Learning Objectives
What Is Corruption?
Background of Corruption
Official Investigation Into Corruption
Other Types of Police Misconduct
Nonfeasance, Misfeasance, and Malfeasance
Drug-Related Corruption
Emotional Abuse and Psychological Harassment
Corruption of Authority
Opportunistic Theft
Protection of Illegal Activities
Excessive Use of Force
Research on Police Misconduct and Use of Force
The Impacts of Misconduct
Race and Police Harassment
Research on Profiling
Causes of Misconduct—Bad Apples or Bad Barrels?
Noble Cause Corruption
Misconduct: Management and Administrative Issues
Addressing Misconduct
Accountability and Community Policing
Citizen Oversight Groups
Internal Affairs
Police Discipline
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions

Internet Exercises
Chapter 12. Policing in A Diverse Society
Chapter Learning Objectives
Policing in a Multicultural and Multiethnic Society
Changing Demographics
Mentally Ill
The Problem and Promise of Diversity
Police–Community Conflict
Police–Minority Encounters
Peer Pressure
Forms of Discrimination
Profiling the Muslim Community
Legislation on Profiling
Driving or Walking While Black
Research on Police Discrimination
Public Image of the Police
Police in the Community
Cultural Diversity and Awareness Training
Police Responsiveness
The Community Role in Multicultural Relations
Citizen Complaints
A Representative Workforce
Women in Policing
Women of Color
Challenges for Women Police Officers
Minority Police Officers
African American Police Officers
Why Become Police?
Department Benefits
Challenges for African American Police Officers
Hispanic Police Officers
Challenges for Hispanic Police Officers
Asian Police Officers
LGBTQ Police Officers
Recruiting and Retaining Minorities as Police Officers
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 13. Technology and the Police
Chapter Learning Objectives
The Costs and Benefits of Technology

Video Cameras
Vehicle Cameras
Body-Worn Cameras
Mobile Phone Cameras
Surveillance Technology
Drones and Robots
Crime Mapping
Biological Identifiers
Facial Recognition
Bacterial Forensics
Speed Detection Devices or Systems
Armor and Weapons
Body Armor
Police Weapons
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 14. Organized Crime, Homeland Security, and Global Issues
Chapter Learning Objectives
Transnational Crime
Transnational Organized Crime
Types of TOC
White-Collar Crime
Costs of White-Collar Crime
Foreign and Domestic Terrorists
Types of Terrorism
Intersecting Crime Flows
Local Response to Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime
Antiterrorism and Organized Crime Legislation
Department of Homeland Security
The USA PATRIOT Act and Information Sharing
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act
Race, Ethnicity, and the Police Response to Transnational Crime
First-Responder Preparedness
The Role of the Public
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 15. Private Police
Chapter Learning Objectives
History and Background
The Rise of the Modern Private Security Industry

The Current Private Security Force
Private and Contract Security Personnel
Who Are They?
What Roles Do They Fill?
Security Officers
Private Detectives and Investigators
Executive Protection Agents
Authority, Requirements, and Accountability
Hiring Requirements
Private Versus Public Police
The Benefits of Private Police
The Risks of Privatizing the Police
Coordinating Public Police and Private Security
Moving Forward
Chapter Summary
Key Terms
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises
Chapter 16. The Future of Policing in The United States
Chapter Learning Objectives
The Changing Context
Research and Planning
Ongoing and Strategic Change
Trust and Legitimacy
Policy and Oversight
Technology and Social Media
Policing Strategies
Community-Oriented Policing
Predictive Policing
Evolving Police Personnel
Training and Education
Police Leadership
Private and Contract Security Personnel
Officer Wellness and Safety
Terrorism and Future Policing
Intelligence-Led Policing and Terrorism
Chapter Summary
Key Term
Discussion Questions
Internet Exercises


Police in the United States must operate in the face of a climate that is constantly changing—
politically, economically, socially, and legally.
As the 21st century unfolds, police officers must continue to perform traditional tasks related to
law enforcement and order maintenance. At the same time, they must find innovative ways to be
problem solvers and community organizers. The public expects them to perform all of these diverse
tasks wisely and ethically.
The nation’s police also have had to come to terms with the global nature of crime. The
conditions that exist throughout the world increasingly complicate the organizational and functional
dynamics of the police community. Police executives must think and plan globally in a spirit of
interagency cooperation now more than at any point in history.
A series of controversial and high-profile events have given rise to a new wave of public attention
on the police, especially in regards to the use of force and race.
Standing in relief among several other similar events, the deaths of Eric Garner in New York,
Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, and—perhaps most symbolically—Michael Brown
in Ferguson, Missouri, have galvanized a wave of protests against police practices that much of the
public perceives as unjust. Communities are scrutinizing police behavior and accountability, as has
occurred in other eras. However, today, almost everyone is carrying a video camera around in his or
her pocket or purse. Video footage of police interactions with the public appears instantly online.
Many consider the issues surrounding police use of force, especially in communities of color, to be
the most important civil rights cause of our current day.
There is clearly a vast gulf in understanding between the police and the community that these
events illuminate. In some communities, the public and the police have squared off and are
maintaining polar positions. Men and women in uniform have become the targets of angry and
violent retaliation, while police departments across the nation struggle to defend their policies and
In many ways, Ferguson has become a lightning rod for these critical policing issues. The U.S.
Department of Justice (DOJ) reported in March 2015 that the Ferguson Police Department’s law
enforcement efforts were focused on generating revenue rather than ensuring public safety. The DOJ
also reported that the department’s practices violated the 1st, 4th, and 14th Amendments; caused
significant harm to individual members of the community; and undermined the public trust. The
report applauded the efforts of many of the department’s and the city’s employees who “perform their
duties lawfully and with respect for all members of the Ferguson community.”1 Finally, the DOJ
recommended a host of changes to police practices and court procedures. Primary among these
recommendations is that Ferguson implement a robust program of community policing, which
includes some of the following points—that it fundamentally change the way it conducts stops and
searches, issues citations and summonses, and makes arrests; that it increase its data collection and
analysis; that it change its use-of-force policies and practices to encourage de-escalation; and that it
retrain its officers to improve interaction with vulnerable people. At the same time, the DOJ analyzed
the shooting in detail, cleared Officer Darren Wilson of willfully violating Brown’s civil rights, and
stated that Wilson’s use of force was defensible. Also, many of the media accounts contained
erroneous information about Brown’s actions immediately prior to the shooting, according to the
To the extent that these issues resonate in other of the nation’s police departments, the lessons of
Ferguson will prove to have enormous value. Thus, the public and the police both are coming to

realize, once again, that a basic requirement for effective and efficient civil policing is a meaningful
community partnership. Only when such a partnership exists can the police perform all of their tasks
as problem solvers, service providers, and law enforcers. Only then will the public provide the support
and resources necessary for the successful performance of these tasks. This partnership must be based
on open, two-way communication, trust, and mutual respect.
This text attempts to shed light on the complex world of policing and to help bridge the gulf of
understanding. Although the chapters examine a variety of topics separately, all of the subject matter is
interrelated and is best considered as a totality. Changes in any one area have repercussions in other
areas. Examining the relationships among the issues facing the police helps to bring some much-
needed clarity to this dynamic and multifaceted world.
The Organization
This text consists of five sections and 16 chapters, providing readers with thought-provoking and
contemporary issues that underscore today’s challenging world of policing. The text begins with a
discussion of past and current policing strategies. Part I, Foundations of Policing, encompasses
Chapters 1, 2, and 3 and provides context for subsequent chapter topics by introducing the general
subject of the police, its history in the United States, and how the police are organized and
Part II, Police Operations, includes Chapters 4 through 7, which focus on the human dynamics
that affect policing: the recruitment, selection, and promotion of police officers; training and
education; the operations and functions of police work; and contemporary strategies that take into
account the public perceptions of police and various strategies such as community-based policing and
intelligence-led policing.
Part III, Police Conduct, includes Chapters 8 through 11, which examine the police subculture
that often determines individual and group decision making; the institutional and organizational
structures and processes that pertain to the law; the social, political, and economic forces that affect
the field; discretion and ethics; and police misconduct and accountability.
Part IV, Contemporary Issues in Policing, includes Chapters 12 through 15 and deals with
complex factors that affect the field of policing, including issues such as social diversity, the use of
rapidly advancing technology, the impact of global issues such as terrorism and transnational
organized crime, and the increasingly significant role of the private security industry.
The book concludes with Part V (Chapter 16), Looking Ahead, which takes a view toward the
future of policing in the United States.
Key Features of the Text
Each chapter contains a variety of thought-provoking exercises, highlights, and supplemental
materials. These unique features include the following:
Around the World highlights relevant topics in other nations to afford readers the
opportunity to consider, from a worldwide perspective, what they might otherwise view as
problems unique to U.S. police agencies. The feature also suggests resources for further
You Decide presents students with realistic dilemmas that might be encountered during
a career in policing. Students are encouraged to consider possible solutions to these
dilemmas using information from the text, other sources, or personal experiences. This
feature should help promote spirited classroom discussions.
Case in Point includes real-life examples from current and past events to emphasize one

or more of the major issues associated with the chapter topic. This feature also includes
thought-provoking discussion questions.
Police Stories bring in personal experiences from the field of policing. They are firsthand
accounts that share with students actual incidents from the past that serve as meaningful
learning experiences. Students can reflect on and discuss what they would do under similar
Exhibits are brief supplemental pieces that relate to and enhance the text and provide
additional insight and depth.
Beyond these features, each chapter also includes a set of learning objectives, key terms and
phrases, discussion questions based on the learning objectives, and two to three Internet exercises.
We hope that these key features will make this text even more useful as students develop a deeper
understanding of the complex and dynamic field of policing.
New to This Edition
Each chapter of the third edition has been reorganized and presents the subject in a more
streamlined and direct writing style. Throughout, this edition incorporates issues of ethnicity and race,
including practices and outcomes.
In addition to these overall changes, this third edition:
Contains the most recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that affect the police.
Includes the most important technological developments in policing.
Provides up-to-date coverage of current issues, emerging trends, and innovations in the areas of
technology, use of force, diversity, and police–community relations.
Research, statistics, and data have been updated to provide an accurate snapshot of policing
Ten new Police Stories have been added to include a wider range of officer voices.
Exhibit boxes have been added that provide concrete examples to help students make real-world
The number of figures included in the text has been quadrupled to provide a more visual display
of information.
Over half of the You Decide boxes have been updated to present new scenarios.
Seven new Case in Point boxes have been added to highlight recent events.
The organization and writing style of each chapter has been enhanced to increase student
engagement, comprehension, and retention of the information.
Questions have been added to the Case in Point and Around the World boxes to further engage
students and encourage critical thinking.
SAGE edge offers a robust online environment featuring an impressive array of tools and resources
for review, study, and further exploration, keeping both instructors and students on the cutting edge
of teaching and learning. SAGE edge content is open access and available on demand. Learning and
teaching have never been easier!
SAGE edge for Instructors supports teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and

create a rich learning environment for students.
Test banks provide a diverse range of prewritten options as well as the opportunity to edit any
question and/or insert personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and
Sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses provide suggested models for structuring
one’s course.
Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia
presentation for the course.
EXCLUSIVE! Full-text SAGE journal articles have been carefully selected to support and
expand on the concepts presented in each chapter to encourage students to think critically.
Video and audio links includes original SAGE videos that appeal to students with different
learning styles.
Lecture notes summarize key concepts by chapter to ease preparation for lectures and class
Web resources extend and reinforce learning and allow for further research on important
chapter topics
SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their
coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.
Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts.
Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery
of course material.
Video and audio links enhance classroom-based exploration of key topics.
A customized online action plan includes tips and feedback on progress through the course and
materials, which allows students to individualize their learning experience.
Learning objectives reinforce the most important material.
Web resources and web exercises allow for further research on important chapter topics
EXCLUSIVE! Full-text SAGE journal articles have been carefully selected to support and
expand on the concepts presented in each chapter.
Thanks to Professors Richard Ward, Paul Ilsley, Michael Hazlett, John Wade, Matthew Lippman,
David Harpool, Bob Fischer, Giri Raj Gupta, Denny Bliss, Terry Campbell, Sandy Yeh, Bill Lin,
Jennifer Allen, John Conrad, John Song, Stan Cunningham, and Don Bytner for their friendship,
guidance, encouragement, and contributions to the book. Thanks also to the many police officers who
shared their experiences with us over the years, including O. J. Clark, Jerry Bratcher, Mark
Fleischhauer, Brian Howerton, Jerry Friend, Bill Hedeen, Bob Elliott, Donna Cox, Michael Holub,
Dwight Baird, John Harris, William Lansdowne, Michael Ruth, Anthony Abbate, Timothy Bolger,
and Richard Williams. And thanks to Judges John D. Tourtelot, Edward R. Danner, and Thomas J.
The third edition authors wish to also thank the first and second edition authors, Steven M. Cox,
William P. McCamey, and Gene L. Scaramella. Thanks go as well to current and former police
officers Connie Koski, Dan Kroenig, and John Crombach for their insights and contributions.
Finally, we offer a huge debt of gratitude to Jerry Westby, Jessica Miller, Laura Kirkhuff, Libby

Larson, and Melinda Masson of SAGE Publications for making this book a reality. Your guidance and
patience is of untold value.
The authors and SAGE gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the reviewers who provided
feedback on the manuscript.
For the first edition, we thank Earl Ballou, Palo Alto College; Lorenzo Boyd, Fayetteville State
University; Obie Clayton, Morehouse College; Jennifer Estis-Sumerel, Itawamba Community
College–Tupelo; Arthur Hayden, Kentucky State University; Daniel Howard, Rutgers University;
Richard Kania, Jacksonville State University; Connie Koski, University of Nebraska at Omaha;
Douglas Larkins, Arkansas State University–Beebe; Thomas O’Connor, Austin Peay State University;
Jeffrey Rush, Austin Peay State University; and Rupendra Simlot, Richard Stockton College.
For the second edition, we thank George Coroian, Penn State Wilkes-Barre; Michele W.
Covington, Georgia Southern University; Doris L. Edmonds, Norfolk State University; Michael
Freeman, Mountain View College; Todd Lough, Western Illinois University; Alison Marganski,
Virginia Wesleyan College; Thomas S. Mosley, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Melanie B.
Norwood, University of Illinois–Chicago; Dorothy M. Schulz, John Jay College of Criminal Justice;
and Rupendra Simlot, Richard Stockton College.
For the third edition, we thank Emmanuel N. Amadi, Mississippi Valley State University; Marcel
F. Beausoleil Jr., Fitchburg State University; Heidi S. Bonner, East Carolina University; James J.
Chriss, Cleveland State University; Amber L. Ciccanti, Willingboro Police Department/Burlington
County College; Michele W. Covington, University of South Carolina–Upstate; Mengyan Dai, Old
Dominion University; Jean Dawson, Franklin Pierce University; Paul Brent Foushee, University of
North Carolina at Charlotte; Jon W. Glassford, University of Louisville; David Keys, New Mexico
State University; Connie M. Koski, Longwood University; Keith Gregory Logan, Kutztown
University of Pennsylvania; Kenneth Ryan, California State University, Fresno; Michael R. Ramon,
Missouri State University; Steven Ruffatto, Harrisburg Area Community College; Shawn Schwaner,
Miami Dade College; Amy Stutzenberger, Western Oregon University; and Carol L. S. Trent,
University of Pittsburgh.
We would also like to extend our sincere gratitude to the contributors and filming participants
who have helped make this edition better than ever.
Thank you to Connie Kosiki, Dan Koenig, and John Crombach for their exceptional
contributions to the Police Stories feature. Thank you to Coy Johnston for his help in revising many
of the You Decides. Thank you to Connie Koski for her invaluable assistance providing current
research for this new edition.
To our filming participants, thank you for your time, candor, and expertise: Jeri Williams, Oxnard
Chief of Police; Kevin Wilmott, Southern California Police Officer; and Brian Fitch, author and
retired LA Country Sheriff’s Lieutenant.
As always, your comments and concerns are welcomed.
—S. M.
—B. F.
In the electronic edition of the book you have purchased, there are several icons that reference links (videos, journal articles) to
additional content. Though the electronic edition links are not live, all content referenced may be accessed at . This URL is referenced at several points throughout your electronic edition.

About the Authors
Steven M. Cox
earned his BS in psychology, MA in sociology, and PhD in sociology at the University of Illinois
in Urbana–Champaign. Dr. Cox was a member of the Law Enforcement and Justice
Administration faculty at Western Illinois University from 1975 to 2007. For the past 45 years,
he has served as trainer and consultant to numerous criminal justice agencies in the United States
and abroad and has worked with several universities in the area of course development. In
addition, Dr. Cox has authored and co-authored numerous successful textbooks and articles.

Susan Marchionna
has a varied background in writing, publications, and communications in the criminal justice
field. She has consulted with the Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the
University of California, Berkeley, on a number of projects, such as developing evidence-based
policy and procedures for the San Francisco Adult Probation Department. Other Warren
projects include evaluations of probation caseloads, the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative
(JDAI), and policing and crime in California cities. Susan has worked with the Moss Group on
reports related to Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) compliance and sexual safety in
institutions. She served as the technical editor for the Desktop Guide to Quality Practice for
Working with Youth produced by the National Partnership for Juvenile Services (NPJS) and the
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and served as editor on a
National Institute of Corrections (NIC) policy review for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and

questioning (LGBTQ) individuals in custody. Prior to her current consulting work, Susan was
the director of communication at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD).
There, she developed various agency publications. Susan is a graduate of the University of
California, Santa Cruz, and a longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Brian D. Fitch,
PhD, is an associate professor of public safety administration at Woodbury University. Prior to
joining Woodbury, he served for 33 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
before retiring as a lieutenant. He has worked assignments in field operations, narcotics, forgery
and fraud, advanced officer training, professional development, custody, and correctional
services. Dr. Fitch has trained more than 10,000 law enforcement officers throughout the
United States, as well as internationally in Canada, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United

Arab Emirates, in leadership, decision making, and communication skills. He has held positions
at California State University–Long Beach, Southwestern University School of Law, Cerritos
College, Riverside College, and East Los Angeles College. Dr. Fitch teaches in the leadership
development programs sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Fire
Department, and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Dr. Fitch has published two prior
books with Sage, Law Enforcement Ethics: Classic and Contemporary Issues (2013) and Law
Enforcement Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Management: The IMPACT Model. Dr.
Fitch lives in Orange County, California, with his wife Monica.

Part I Foundations of Policing
© REUTERS/Jim Young
Chapter 1: Policing in the United States
Chapter 2: A Brief History of Police in the United States
Chapter 3: Police Organization and Administration

Chapter 1 Policing in the United States
© REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the concepts and mandate of the police in U.S. society
2. Describe the difficulty associated with attempting to make generalizations about law enforcement and the scope of the
functions they perform
3. Identify the various levels and types of policing in the United States
4. Discuss some of the current concerns of police in the United States
5. Summarize the additional types of police and the functions they perform
Even in its most basic form, policing is a difficult and complex task. Any time one group of people
is given power and authority to control the behavior of others, human nature will insert variety and
intricacy into the equation. By definition, then, law enforcement is a complex and difficult profession.
Unless one has been a police officer, it is difficult to fully grasp what that life is like. One of the goals
of this text is to shed light on the reality of policing.
Today, police officers are under ever-increasing levels of public scrutiny. The actions that a police
officer takes can save a life or produce a string of lasting, catastrophic effects. Although most police
officers perform their duties honorably, ethically, and professionally, the actions of a single officer can
tarnish the profession.
The mid-2010s have seen a series of incidents that the media have amplified, that have sparked
sometimes fierce reactions from all sides, and that challenge the serious among us with a quest for
solutions. Although these incidents represent a small fraction of the tens of thousands of police
interactions that occur every day, when things go wrong, the consequences can be momentous.
After a nationwide drop in crime that lasted two decades starting in the mid-1990s, cities such as
New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Milwaukee began experiencing a spike in homicides
and shootings of 30%–60% over the year before.1 This occurred in the wake of a series of racially

charged incidents involving unarmed young Black men dying in confrontations with the police,
rekindling a smoldering social tension over disproportionate treatment of minorities by law
enforcement and the criminal justice system. One pivotal event was the death of Eric Garner in July
2014, after an officer put Garner in a chokehold during a confrontation on the street. In August 2014,
Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a town neighboring St.
Louis. In April 2015, Freddie Gray died of spinal cord injuries he sustained while in custody of the
Baltimore police. Police–community relations have deteriorated in the wake of these incidents;
communities have sporadically erupted in protests, some ending in more violence. Politicians and
police union representatives are caught up in the fray as well, with all parties demanding protection
and justice.
This emotionally charged atmosphere has also led to increased dangers for the police. In
December 2014, two Brooklyn police officers—Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu—were shot and killed
assassination style as they sat in their patrol car. A review of his social media comments revealed that
the shooter intended to retaliate for the killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.2 Two Las Vegas
police officers—Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck—were ambushed in a restaurant in June 2014 by a couple
who appeared to hold a confused set of political views on government oppression and White
supremacy. A gunman whom authorities characterized as an “anti-law enforcement survivalist”
ambushed and killed Pennsylvania State Trooper Bryon Dickson in September 2014.3
Some observers are calling the violent crime spike “the Ferguson effect” and are suggesting that the
police may be holding back on their discretionary law enforcement duties due to a reticence to open
themselves up to legal and disciplinary risks, beyond the physical risks they take every day.4 In
addition, some fear that the crime spike will compel police departments to abandon progress they have
made in their community-policing efforts and send them back into a more combative style of law
Although the average rate for violent crime is still well below the 1995 level, spikes in crime are
alarming to the public and the police alike. Everyone wants answers, but the causes of crime are
complex and dynamic. Factors such as gang activity, domestic violence, a curtailment of stop-and-frisk
strategies, and even changes in sentencing laws may have an influence on crime. Others believe that
the rise in crime began before the Ferguson incident and point out that a sudden increase does not
necessarily indicate a reversal of the 20-year downward trend. It is simply too soon to say.
This situation points to several key issues current in the larger arena of policing today that are
explored throughout this text—including the complex causes of fluctuations in crime rates. The issue
of public trust raises the question of the basis upon which the police claim to have legitimate authority
over other citizens. In turn, the police and public both must scrutinize police policy and strategy and
the methods used to accomplish those strategies, especially within the limits of the resources that
departments have at their disposal. The use of force in particular must be scrutinized, especially in the
face of the persistent issue of racial disproportion in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
This, of course, is in turn related to the question of how to hold the police accountable and what are
the best measures of police performance. Meaningful measurement is reliant on accurate and complete
data, and achieving that is a constant concern and an area with much room for improvement. Indeed,
without accurate statistics, it is nearly impossible to know the truth about how the police are doing,
especially when high-profile cases and emotionally charged issues dominate the conversation. True
data could reveal that the police are assaulted even more often than they assault, or it could be the
opposite. The data that could allow for an objective assessment of violence involving the police are
simply not available.

Law enforcement is only a portion of the duties of the police, who provide many
additional services, such as order maintenance and crime prevention. Here an officer directs
traffic at a crowded Manhattan intersection.
© Potemkin
Changes in technology and the militarization of the police are also salient issues, as are the
attempts to steer police culture to a model more focused on community linkages and partnerships, on
the health and welfare of the police officer, and on recruiting and hiring the personnel best suited to
participate in a new paradigm. Additionally, terrorism and globalization are tied to the notion of a
broader police mandate, resulting in the need for increased cooperation across police jurisdictions.
The Concept and Mandate of the Police
Every society needs citizens who serve as mediators and arbitrators to settle disputes among its
members. The term police is derived from the Greek words polis and politeuein, which refer to being a
citizen who participates in the affairs of a city or state. The contemporary police officer is just that—a
citizen actively involved in the affairs of the state, in the broad sense of the word.
In all modern societies, specially designated citizens (police officers) are appointed to apprehend
those who appear to have violated the rights of others and to bring them before other specially
designated citizens (prosecutors, judges) who have the authority to sanction undesirable behavior.
Societies experience a tension between the needs of order and liberty, which often results in a
paradox involving the need for police and the need for protection from the police.
The police in civilian society can impose or force solutions on citizens when problems or
emergencies arise—such as making arrests, on the one hand, and providing services for the physically
or mentally ill, on the other. The police are responsible for protecting individual rights and ensuring
an orderly society. To help accomplish the latter, police officers frequently intervene in the daily affairs
of private citizens, for example when enforcing traffic laws or dealing with domestic violence.
Individuals want the protection of the police when they are threatened or harmed, but—especially in
the United States—they do not want the police to interfere in their activities and lives. Many early
settlers came to this country precisely because they did not want government intervention in, and
regulation of, their daily activities.6

This often places individual police officers in difficult positions; both intervention and a lack of
intervention may lead to public criticism. Some types of police agents are far more likely to intervene
in the daily affairs of citizens than others; local police officers (municipal and county) are more likely
than state or federal officers to investigate domestic violence, simple burglaries, and disorderly
Audio Link: Be Guardians, Not Warriors: Training a New Generation of Police
State troopers are more likely to stop speeding motorists on highways, and local officers are more
likely to perform traffic details within city or county limits. Federal officers generally avoid such
incidents altogether, but run investigations into federal crimes.
Regardless of the type of agent, police officers are influenced by the expectations of police
administrators, courts, residents of the community, other officers in the department, and even their
own perceptions, each of which entails expectations of moral and ethical behavior and accountability.
However, the job of a police officer is much more complex than most people realize. Societies
expect police to achieve a variety of outcomes defined by the police mission and mandate.
Reduce crime and maintain order.
Reduce the fear of crime.
Solve neighborhood problems and improve the quality of life.
Develop greater community cohesion.
To achieve these outcomes, maintain order, and enforce the law, police do intervene in the daily
affairs of private citizens. Regulation of morals, enforcement of traffic laws, mediation of domestic
disputes, administration of juveniles, and many other police activities require such intervention.
Neither police training nor the law addresses every conflict or intervention. Police officers exercise
discretion—warn some individuals, arrest or ticket others, or refer parties in a dispute to a private
attorney or professional mediator. Almost all police officers practice some form of discretion with their
actions. However, police must also follow department policies that in some cases remove officer
discretion and require enforcement—for example, that all persons not wearing a seat belt be ticketed
—or mandate the arrest of any persons they observe committing a serious felony.
The police officer’s job involves inherently problematic positions. A brief overview of the history
of American policing may help us understand the origins and consequences of some of the issues
encountered by police officers in a democratic society.
Video Link: The Miranda rights are established
The police are also expected to share in a number of social service functions that require
intervention in cases such as domestic violence, mentally ill and emotionally disturbed individuals,
and child and elder abuse.8 This type of police responsibility is occurring at a time when some police
have begun “severely limiting the types of calls that result in direct face-to-face responses by officers.”9
Police: Derived from the Greek words polis and politeuein, which refer to being a citizen who participates in the
affairs of a city or state
Police Officer: A specially designated citizen whose functions include order maintenance, provision of services, and

law enforcement
Law Enforcement Officer: A specially designated citizen who focuses on enforcing laws through detection and
Exhibit 1.1
Policing Activities Versus Enforcement of the Law
The terms police officer and law enforcement officer are sometimes viewed as interchangeable. In fact, the term law
enforcement officer describes very little of what police officers do. The police in the United States are primarily providers of
services. Among the services they provide are law enforcement, order maintenance, and crime prevention.
Police activities in the area of law enforcement tend to be more visible in the media and interesting to the general public.
We often evaluate the police in this area rather than on order maintenance and service, on which they spend much more of
their time; police provide far more than law enforcement to the communities they serve and devote a relatively small portion of
the day to law enforcement activities.
Police Stories 1.1
Commander Dan Koenig, LAPD Retired
It was a strange call: “See the man looking for information.” But, when the dispatcher sends you a call, you go. So my
partner and I drove to the house and walked up to the door. There we were met by a middle-aged African American man and
his wife. Standing with them was a neatly dressed young man who appeared to be about 16 or 17 years old. Just inside the
house stood a young girl who looked to be about the same age as the young man. “Good afternoon, Sir, how can we help
you?” we inquired of the man. He explained to us that the young man wanted to take their daughter to a movie, and he would
appreciate it if we would “check him out.” We could see clearly that this was a fine young man, but we went through the
motions anyway. He walked with us over to our police car, and we chatted for a few minutes. His family had moved only
recently to a house a few blocks away. He went to school with the young lady in question, and he attended Sunday church
with his family regularly. We all returned to the front porch where we assured the girl’s parents that he came from a good
family, and we believed it would be safe for their daughter to accompany him to the movies. After agreeing to a reasonable
curfew, the young couple left. The parents thanked us for our service, and we left with waves to them and the small gathering
of neighbors that had formed.
As police officers, we have a pretty good idea of what our job is, or at least what it should be. But the community that pays
our salaries and that we are meant to serve often has a much different idea. Law enforcement has a history of being asked to
look the other way on more minor crimes such as gambling, prostitution, and “soft” drugs. But we’re part of the executive
branch, so we don’t get to decide which laws to enforce. We certainly can prioritize, but we can’t legalize through inaction.
While we can’t violate our ethics or the principles that guide us, we are in the business of “protecting and serving,” and that
can take many forms throughout a career.
Scope of the Law Enforcement Sector
Every day, tens of thousands of American citizens don uniforms, pin on badges and name tags,
and strap on equipment belts that may carry a firearm and Taser, extra ammunition, handcuffs,
pepper spray, and a baton. These citizens assemble at distinctively marked locations and disperse from
these locations carrying radios and cell phones in clearly marked and equipped vehicles designed to
make them easily identifiable. They go forth as police officers providing services, maintaining order,
and enforcing the law in large metropolitan, suburban, and rural areas as well as on college campuses,
on the borders between the United States and other countries, in airports and harbors, and in dozens
of other settings.
At the same time, thousands of others cover their badges and firearms with street or business attire
and assemble at distinctively marked locations, both in and out of the United States, to work on
current investigations through the use of phones and computers or to disperse from these locations in
unmarked vehicles to conduct surveillance, to conduct interviews, and to make arrests.

Policing in Practice Video: Why is policing difficult in a democratic society?
Others conceal their identities as police officers and attempt to pass themselves off as members of
criminal groups to obtain information that will lead to arrests.
Other privately employed citizens don uniforms and badges more or less similar to those of the
police; arm themselves with firearms, pepper spray, Tasers, and handcuffs; and proceed in marked
vehicles to work in gated communities, shopping malls, industrial areas, and a wide variety of other
locations to provide security for people and property.
Simultaneously, thousands of others go to work in police agencies of all types and sizes as
nonsworn technicians, as communications personnel, as administrative assistants, and in dozens of
other capacities.
Levels of Policing
American police personnel are employed at the international, federal, state, county, and municipal
levels. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) conducts comprehensive and detailed surveys of
police agencies in the United States. There is one census for state and local agencies and another for
federal agencies. In both cases, the most recent BJS data are from 2008. At that time, there were over
1.1 million police personnel employed full-time at the state and local (city, county, suburban) levels in
approximately 18,000 agencies. Of those employees, 765,000 were sworn full-time officers, and
369,000 were nonsworn full-time; another 100,000 were part-time, both sworn and nonsworn.10
These state and local officers worked in agencies ranging in personnel size from 36,000 (New York
City) to one (some 2,125 agencies with only one sworn officer were reported in 2008). Some agencies
have no full-time sworn personnel, and instead hire a number of part-time officers or contract with
outside agencies to provide their police services. See Table 1.1 for statistics on police personnel.

This photo shows a nontraditional view of police officers. Here, rural county sheriff’s
department officers travel by all-terrain vehicles in search of meth labs that have sprouted in hard-
to-reach locales.
© AP Photo/Darron Cumming
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—which uses a different methodology from the Bureau
of Justice Statistics—also keeps statistics on law enforcement employment. The most recent FBI data
available (from 2011) report 14,633 city and county agencies that employ over 1 million sworn,
nonsworn, and civilian staff members.11 In addition, there are approximately 106,000 state police
State Police
All states have some type of state police agency. In addition to their basic tasks, many of these
agencies provide statewide communications or computer systems, assist in crime-scene analysis and
multijurisdictional investigations, provide training for other police agencies, and collect, analyze, and
disseminate information on crime patterns in the state. Also, many state police agencies have expanded
their services to include aircraft support, underwater search and rescue, and canine assistance. State
police agencies may also be responsible for state park security (park police or rangers), security of state
property and state officials, and regulation of liquor- and gambling-related activities.
Video Link: A Day in the Life
State police agencies have the responsibility for traffic enforcement on highways, particularly in
areas outside the city or township limits. Some agencies focus almost exclusively on traffic control
(highway patrol departments), and others maintain more general enforcement powers (state police
investigation departments).13 Typically, the state police are empowered to provide law enforcement
service anywhere in the state, while the highway patrol officers have limited authority based on their
specific duty assignment, type of offense, or jurisdiction.
Federal Law Enforcement
At the federal level, in 1789, U.S. marshals were the first police established for the purpose of
enforcing directives of the federal courts. The U.S. Secret Service was founded in 1865 as a branch of
the U.S. Treasury Department. It was originally created to combat the counterfeiting of U.S. currency
—a serious problem at the time. Later, in 1901, following the assassination of President William

McKinley, the Secret Service was tasked with its second mission: the protection of the president.
Today, the Secret Service’s mission is twofold: (1) protect the president, vice president, and others;
and (2) investigate crimes against the financial infrastructure of the United States.
Customs and Border Protection is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The
responsibilities of the DHS are as follows:
Prevention of terrorism and enhancement of security, management of national borders,
administration of immigration laws, security of cyberspace, and ensuring disaster resilience.
Security of the nation’s air, land, and sea borders to prevent illegal activity, and facilitation of
lawful travel and trade.
Coordination of police activities among agencies at a variety of levels, and provision of training,
grants, and resources.
Other federal agencies that employ law enforcement officers include the Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA), the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Supreme Court, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Amtrak,
and the Library of Congress, among many others.
Other federal agencies employed more than 104,000 full-time sworn personnel in 2008.14 For the
most part, they do not engage in the activities that local and county police normally provide.
Relatively few federal officers (usually referred to as agents) are uniformed, and their primary duties
involve investigation and control of federal crimes, such as bank robberies, illegal immigration, and
interstate crimes. They are also responsible for protecting federal property and federal officials. At
times, federal agencies provide training and logistical support for state and local police. Although each
agency has a set of specific duties, there is still some overlap and duplication among them. See Table
1.2 for a description of the five largest federal agencies with authority for firearms and arrest.
You Decide 1.1
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, police are expected to achieve the following outcomes:
Reduce crime and disorder
Reduce the fear of crime
Solve neighborhood problems and improving the quality of life
Develop greater community cohesion
To achieve these outcomes, police intervene in the daily affairs of private citizens. This includes asking or telling citizens
not to move, where to stand, what to do, how to behave, and when they are free to leave. When citizens refuse to cooperate,

police have the authority to force citizens to comply if necessary.
Police are most often called upon to stop some act of violence, unwanted behavior, or threats to public safety. In these
situations, the use of unnecessary force by police can lead to negative consequences, including avoidable injuries or death,
community complaints, distrust of the police, civil liability, civil unrest, and federal injunctive orders. On the other hand,
insufficient use of force exposes officers to their own harm or death, negatively affects an officer’s ability to enforce the law,
and may increase the danger to public safety. Fyfe (1987) concludes that unnecessary force “could be avoided by measures such
as better training, officer selection, and other use-of-force options.”
1. Should police officers be permitted to use force when unarmed citizens refuse to comply?
2. What do you think would be a viable alternative to use of force in situations where citizens will not comply?
3. Which poses a greater risk to the community, unnecessary use of force, or insufficient use of force?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
Department of Homeland Security (DHS): Federal agency responsible for a unified national effort to secure the
country and preserve freedom
A Changing Landscape
Police agencies vary in many ways beyond mere numbers. Many agencies use modern
technological equipment, while others lack advanced equipment. Some officers are well trained; others
receive very little training. Some routinely intervene in the daily lives of their fellow citizens; others do
not. Some departments are keen to adopt new or promising strategies; others are more resistant to
change. Some are held in high regard by their fellow citizens; others are not. The chapters of this text
will discuss these and many other variations among police departments.
Regardless of their status as public or private, full-time or part-time, sworn or nonsworn, police
personnel currently find themselves operating in a rapidly changing environment. For example, the
use of unmanned aerial vehicles for crime-scene mapping, traffic control, and border monitoring is
slowly increasing, as is the use of global positioning systems (GPS) and sophisticated video
surveillance.15 At the same time, the USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by
Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act extended
government authority to tap phones and computers, which requires the police to process huge
amounts of information.

Web Link: Future Trends in Policing
All of these changes have been happening at a time when many municipalities are facing declining
tax revenues and increasing tax burdens for middle-class citizens, leaving city officials struggling to
balance public safety needs with other infrastructure needs.
Partly or mostly as a result of the economic downturn starting in 2008, the number of police
officers started to decline in some areas. For example, in 25 of California’s cities that have a
population greater than 140,000 people, the number of sworn police officers declined from 23,355 to
22,129 between 2009 and 2011.16 During the same period, an estimated 53% of counties were
working with fewer staff in 2011 than in the prior year, and more than one-third of the agencies that
applied for federal funding reported a drop of at least 5% in their operating budget.17

Federal agencies exercise police powers regarding a specific set of duties. For example, the
Drug Enforcement Administration is tasked with enforcing controlled substance laws.
© AP Photo/ Mark Wilson
One set of projections suggests that approximately “12,000 police officers and sheriffs’ deputies
[were] laid off in 2011; approximately 30,000 law enforcement positions [went] unfilled; and
approximately 28,000 sworn personnel faced work furloughs of at least one week.”18 Many
communities are asking themselves how much protection can they afford or afford to be without.
Case in Point 1.1
Racketeering, Drug Conspiracy Charges for 27 in Schenectady,
New York
[In April 2012,] United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian announced the unsealing of two indictments returned by a federal
grand jury for the Northern District of New York in Albany, New York[,] which, in total, charged 27 with a federal racketeering
conspiracy and/or federal drug felonies. . . .
Hartunian praised the outstanding cooperative efforts of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that participated
in this investigation and emphasized that his office will continue to work closely with authorities at all levels to prosecute gang
members and narcotics traffickers. . . .
[Police agencies involved in the investigation included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement
Administration, the New York State Police, the Schenectady Police Department, and the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office.]
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, “This multi-agency investigation and subsequent arrests
extinguished an organized criminal network responsible for infusing illegal narcotics into the Schenectady community. This is a
solid example of how collaborative law enforcement efforts work to make our communities safer.”
1. Despite the considerable resources directed at the “war on drugs,” narcotics continue to flow into this country. What kinds
of improvements should justify a continuation of the war on drugs?
2. If you were a local police chief, how would you address the growing problems of gangs and narcotics in your city?
3. What would be the advantages and disadvantages of legalizing drugs in the United States?
Source: Racketeering, drug conspiracy charges for 27 in Schenectady, New York. Targeted News Service (USA)—Friday, April
6, 2012. Record Number: 3833234. Copyright (c) 2012 Targeted News Service. All rights reserved.
Around the World 1.1
Making Lives Safer—A Cop’s Career on the Thin Blue Line
One incident in the career of Sergeant Greg Donaldson stands out as he reflects over his 23 years as a police officer in

“When I was a dog handler there was a young nine-year-old girl who was abducted by a convicted murderer and I turned
up to Mount Druitt and had to drive up to the Queensland border as soon as I could,” he said.
“With the help of two Aboriginal trackers, we tracked for the next 12 hours overnight and recovered the girl safe and well.
Given the guy’s form there is no doubt in my mind she would have been killed at some time and we saved her life that night.”
Sergeant Donaldson joined the police force because he has a good sense of what’s right and wrong and he stayed on
because he enjoys the diversity of police work. Over the years, Donaldson has been a street cop, an undercover officer, and a
dog handler. He notes that in private business you can change employment to enjoy different experiences, while in policing
you can do a variety of things while remaining a police officer. “You don’t have to change supers and you accumulate your
long service leave. It’s good.”
Donaldson concludes, “No two days are the same, no two jobs are the same, and the mates you make, the blokes who
cover your back and back you up and sit by you for hours, there are not many jobs that build those friendships and trust.”
1. Considering the negative press surrounding law enforcement, what can police agencies do to interest the right kinds
of people in a law enforcement career?
2. Police officers are often forced to work long hours doing a thankless job. What can law enforcement agencies do to
keep their officers interested and motivated?
Source: Sharples, S. (2012, February 29). Making lives safer—A cop’s career on the thin blue line. Parramatta Advertiser.
Sydney, Australia. Edition: 1—Main Book, Section: Features, Page: 099. Record Number: PAG_T-20120229-1-099-823321.
Copyright, 2012, Nationwide News Pty Limited.
Additional Types of Police
Private Police
Estimates of private security and contract personnel indicated that between 11,000 and 15,000
companies employed at least 1.2 million private security personnel in a number of different
occupations ranging from private security or contract guards, to executive protection, to private
investigators, to industrial security, to contract employees for the military.19 (See Chapter 15.)
Special Jurisdiction Police
Special jurisdictions include college and university police, public and private school police, and
agencies that serve transportation systems and facilities.20 In many cases, special jurisdiction police are
both sworn and nonsworn police officers assigned to a specific geographic jurisdiction.
University police officers respond to requests for service that cannot be fulfilled by local police. As
an example, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign provides specific class training in the
following areas: active threat training, safe walk programs, crime prevention classes, rape aggression
defense classes, and courses related to intolerance/hate crime prevention.21
Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs
Sheriff’s departments provide police services to counties, and sheriffs are one of the only elected
law enforcement officials still in existence today. A majority of sheriff’s deputies perform duties similar
to those of municipal police officers: routine patrol, criminal investigations, traffic control, and
accident investigation. Additional duties and responsibilities of a sheriff include maintaining the safety
and security of courthouses, which often involves sheriff’s employees serving as bailiffs. Sheriffs are
also responsible for the security of jurors when they are outside the courtroom, serve court papers,
extradite prisoners, and perform other court functions.22 Likewise, in most counties, the sheriff is
responsible for the jail, the supervision of inmates, and the transportation of inmates to court.
Auxiliary/Reserve/Special Police
Auxiliary, reserve, and special police assist regular police officers. They usually work part-time;

they can be armed or unarmed and either paid for their services or volunteer. The extent of training
varies in many cases based on the duties assigned, but the training is usually very similar to that
completed by full-time sworn police officers. This type of officer may be assigned to vehicle, foot, or
bicycle patrol. Table 1.3 includes a list of some of these special tasks and the percentage of
departments that designate personnel to perform each task.
SAGE Journal Article: A Sheriff’s Office as a Learning Organization
Conservation Police Officers, Game Wardens
These types of police officers usually have full police authority and statewide or federal
jurisdiction. The enforcement duties of Illinois officers, for example, include enforcement in state
parks of criminal laws, vehicle laws, drug laws, fish and wildlife laws, timber transportation laws,
endangered species laws, and snowmobile operation; as well as patrolling Illinois lakes and rivers to
check boating safety equipment and watercraft registration.23
Tribal Police Officers
As of 2008, American Indian tribes operated 178 law enforcement agencies. A majority of these
police departments are general-purpose police agencies, and the others are special jurisdiction agencies
that enforce natural resource laws.24
These agencies provided a broad range of police services on tribal lands, including “responding to
calls for service, investigating crimes, enforcing traffic laws, executing search warrants, serving process,
providing court security, and conducting search and rescue operations.”25
A County sheriff bailiff separates women after a confrontation broke out in the court. Court
security is one of the key areas of responsibility of sheriff’s deputies.

© ZUMA Press, Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Given the diversity and breadth of police services in the United States, there is a great deal of
jurisdictional overlap. Thus, for example, a college student may be subject to the jurisdiction of the
campus police, the city police, the county police, the state police, and a variety of federal police
agencies all at the same time. In point of fact, which of these agencies is likely to become involved
depends on the type and location of the offense in question and the existence of formal and informal
agreements among the agencies. Although each agency has its unique qualities, all agencies face many
of the same issues. The extent to which American police are prepared to perform their jobs varies from
agency to agency.
Policing in Practice Video: Tension between serving and protecting but enforcing the laws
1 Under Review
Chapter Summary
The term police is derived from the Greek words polis and politeuein and refers to a citizen who participates in the affairs of
a city or state. This is an excellent way of describing the role of the contemporary police officer—he or she is a citizen who is
actively involved in the affairs of a city or state. Thus, a police officer is a specially designated citizen appointed to apprehend
those who appear to have violated the rights of others and to bring them before other specially designated citizens such as
prosecutors and judges who determine whether further action is justified.
To maintain order and enforce the law, the police are granted the right to intervene in the daily affairs of private citizens.
Yet some kinds of police intervention generate suspicion and hostility toward the police. Citizens want the police to address
their concerns and to solve the problems they bring to the attention of the police, but would otherwise prefer to be left alone.
Therefore, police officers occupy inherently problematic positions in our society.
American police agencies operate at the local, state, and federal levels and come in a variety of sizes in both the public and
private sectors. Especially when considering private police and their relationships with public police, the disparities in size and
jurisdiction often make it difficult to comprehensively define the nature of the police, the relationships between officers and
agencies, and the policies and practices of departments. Nonetheless, there are commonalities and shared challenges among
these agencies.
In a democratic nation, we expect the police to operate within the framework of our defining principles—equal treatment,
respect for individual liberty, and accountability. When police reflect these principles, they play an important role in social
control and the overall well-being of society, which results in a more willing and cooperative public.
Ongoing social tensions point to the complex issues that departments are grappling with on a daily basis—appropriate
policy and procedure, officer recruitment and training, policing strategies and operations, police performance, officer safety,
optimal use of technology, and many others.
Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.
Police 4
Police officer 5
Law enforcement officer 5
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 9
Discussion Questions
Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.

1. Why is it so difficult to discuss and generalize about the police in the United States?
2. Describe and discuss the various levels of public police in the United States.
3. What are some of the contradictions and tensions inherent in policing?
4. What are some of the issues currently confronting police in the United States?
Internet Exercises
1. Using your browser, locate information on public police agencies in your state. What is the size and jurisdiction of the largest
agency? What information can you locate about your local or county agency?
2. Search for information online concerning private police in your home state.
3. Using your browser, see what you can discover about order maintenance and law enforcement as police functions.
Student Study Site
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SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and
links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.

Chapter 2 A Brief History of Police in the United States
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the influence of English roots of policing on U.S. policing
2. Describe the influence of technology on the evolution of early U.S. policing
3. Summarize the issues facing policing during the Political Era
4. Explain the effect on policing of the changes implemented during the Reform Era
5. Describe the relationship between the social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s and the increased emphasis on research
on police effectiveness
6. Identify aspects of the community policing model and problem-oriented policing
7. Evaluate at least three contemporary policing strategies in terms of their effectiveness
8. Describe the challenges facing contemporary police departments
Police in the United States provide an extremely wide range of services, many of which may have
little to do with crime or law enforcement. There is a great deal of variation among police agencies
with respect to size, degree of specialization, and officer discretion, for example. This variation creates
a striking complexity. Still, police agencies share many common issues and challenges. Historical
analysis reveals the roots of many current issues in policing—such as professionalism, discretion,
inefficiency, and corruption—and helps to clarify the complexities and variations of police operations
in the United States today.
Professionalism: An end state that is largely based on ethical practice and other related characteristics such as good
personal character, personal and organizational accountability, a commitment to higher education and continuous
training, and intolerance for misconduct

English Roots of Policing
The origins of policing date back to ancient empires around the world such as the Greeks,
Romans, Egyptians, Spartans, Israelis, and Chinese. Throughout medieval times to the present,
Europeans had forms of policing to enforce laws and maintain order. Although policing has an
international history, the roots of policing in the United States can be traced back to England.
Our English police system . . . rests on foundations designed with the full approval of
the people . . . and has been slowly molded by the careful hand of experience, developing as
a rule along the line of least resistance, now in advance of the general intelligence of the
country, now lagging far behind, but always in the long run adjusting itself to the popular
temper, always consistent with local self government. . . .1
Although the quote above is about the development of the police in England, it is applicable to
policing in the United States as well.
Early settlers to America from England brought with them a night watch system that required
able-bodied males to donate their time to help protect the cities. As was the case in England, those
who could afford to do so often hired others to serve their shifts, and those who served were not
particularly effective. During the 1700s, citizens often resolved disputes among themselves. Such
resolutions involved intergenerational blood feuds, eye-gouging, gunfights, and duels.2 As the nation’s
cities grew larger and more diverse, voluntary citizen participation in law enforcement and order
maintenance became increasingly less effective, and some other system was needed to replace it. In
1749, residents of Philadelphia convinced legislators to pass a law creating the position of warden. The
warden was authorized to hire as many watchmen as needed, the powers of the watchmen expanded,
and the city paid selected individuals from taxes. Other cities soon adopted similar plans.3 The
wardens and their watchmen served warrants, acted as detectives, and patrolled the streets.4 But these
wardens were not widely respected and were considered inefficient, corrupt, and susceptible to
political interference.5

The origins of U.S. policing can be traced back to England where a night watch system
was employed to help protect cities.
© Heritage Images/Corbis

In 1922, a police officer holds two small children. Peel’s principles of policing include
the historical tradition of the police as part of the public, not separate from it.
© Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Harris & Ewing, LC-
By the 1800s, with the rapid growth of cities, crime and mob violence had become problems in
British and U.S. cities alike. In response, Sir Robert Peel, who was then home secretary in London,
developed municipal policing. Peel believed that the police should be organized along military lines
and under government control. He also thought police officers should be men of quiet demeanor and
good appearance and should be familiar with the neighborhoods where they were to police. In
addition, he supported a territorial strategy of policing in which officers would walk prescribed beats
to prevent and deal with crime. Peel and Patrick Colquhoun (superintending magistrate of the
Thames River Police, a forerunner of the Metropolitan Police, and author of works on metropolitan
policing) put many of these principles into practice in establishing the London Metropolitan Police.
By 1870, Peel’s territorial strategy, at least, had spread to every major city in the United States.6
SAGE Journal Article: The Study of Policing
Night Watch System: Early policing system that required able-bodied males to donate their time to help protect
The Evolution of Early U.S. Policing

In the United States in the early to middle 1800s, day watch systems were established in U.S.
cities (Philadelphia, 1833; Boston, 1838; New York, 1844; San Francisco, 1850; Los Angeles, 1851).
By the 1850s, day and night watch systems were consolidated to provide 24-hour protection to city
Also by this time, the main structural elements of U.S. municipal policing had emerged. Watch
and ward systems had been replaced—in the cities at least—by centralized, government-supported
police agencies whose tasks included crime prevention, provision of a wide variety of services to the
public, enforcement of “morality,” and the apprehension of criminals. A large force of uniformed
police walked regular beats, had the power to arrest without a warrant, and began to carry revolvers in
the late 1850s.8 The concept of preventive policing included maintenance of order functions such as
searching for missing children, mediating quarrels, and helping at fire scenes. Both municipal police
and county sheriffs performed these tasks. State and federal agencies arose to supplement the work of
the police.9 One such agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was established in 1908,
when a number of Department of Justice (DOJ) investigators were taken on as special agents. The
new agency was formally named in 1909. The FBI has since developed into a worldwide investigative
agency with international offices located in 60 U.S. embassies.10
Meanwhile, police in the United States began to take advantage of technology; the use of call
boxes, telegraphs, teletypes, two-way radios, and patrol cars grew rapidly. For example, in 1871, the
central headquarters of the Boston Police Department was connected to all other station houses by
telegraph. Prior to this, the only communication among these locations was by messenger. In 1878,
the first telephones were installed in the department. And, in 1903, the nation’s first motor patrol was
established in Boston, with a Stanley Steamer automobile. A civilian chauffeur drove the vehicle,
allowing police officers to sit on a high seat in the rear so they could look over high backyard fences.
By 1906, the Boston Police Department owned five automobiles.11 Another example of technological
progress occurred in the 1920s in St. Louis, Missouri, when the department deployed a system to
enable the police chief to alert a local public radio station about a major crime, and news of the crime
was broadcast over the airwaves both to the public and to the police in squad cars. In 1929, Chicago
announced that all squad cars of the Chicago Police Department Detective Division were equipped
with radio receiving sets. Chicago’s early one-way radio system was supported by the Chicago Tribune,
which operated station WGN. The following year, St. Louis had installed its own transmitting station,
which could send messages to squad cars and police stations equipped with receivers using a dedicated
Sir Robert Peel: The founder of modern territorial policing (London Metropolitan Police) in 1829 in London
Patrick Colquhoun: Superintending magistrate of the Thames River Police, a forerunner of the Metropolitan
Police and author of works on metropolitan policing
Exhibit 2.1
Peel’s Principles of Policing
1: The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
2: The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.
3: Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure
and maintain the respect of the public.
4: The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the
use of physical force.
5: Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating
absolute impartial service to the law.

6: Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the
exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.
7: Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that
the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give
full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
8: Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of
the judiciary.
9: The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in
dealing with it.
The Political Era
While technological progress in policing was occurring around the country, political
considerations continued to play an important role in policing. Although they adopted a good many
practices from their British counterparts, U.S. police lacked the central authority of the Crown to
establish a legitimate mandate for their actions. Small departments acted independently within their
jurisdictions. Large departments were divided into precincts that often operated more as small,
individual departments than as branches of the same organization.13 Police officers more often
represented the local political party in power than the legal system.14
This photo depicts an early police radio used by the Chicago Police Department, which
enabled the police to send messages from the field to headquarters.
© Bettmann/Corbis

Web Link: How Katrina Sparked Reform in a Troubled Police Department
Patrol officers were often required to enforce unpopular laws in immigrant neighborhoods whose
norms they did not understand. In their own neighborhoods, their personal relationships made them
vulnerable to bribes for lax enforcement or nonenforcement.15 In addition, the police found
themselves in frequent conflict with rioters, union workers and their management counterparts, and
looters. As a result of such conflicts, the public questioned whether the police could remain impartial
in administering the law.
Expectations that the police would be disinterested public servants ran afoul of the
realities of urban social and political life. Heterogeneity made it more difficult to determine
what behavior was acceptable and what was unacceptable. Moreover, urban diversity
encouraged a political life based upon racial and ethnic cleavages as well as clashes of
economic interests. Democratic control of police assured that heterogeneous cities would
have constant conflicts over police organization and shifts of emphasis depending upon
which groups controlled the political machinery at any one time.16
Consequently, in some cities such as New York, political corruption and manipulation were built

into policing. New York police officers in the 1830s were hired and fired by elected officials who
expected those they hired to support them politically and fired those who did not. “The late
nineteenth century policeman had a difficult job. He had to maintain order, cope with vice and crime,
provide service to people in trouble, and keep his nose clean politically.”17 The police became involved
in party politics, which included granting immunity from arrest to those in power.18 Corruption and
extortion became traditions in some departments, and discipline and professional pride were largely
absent from many departments. Police spent most of their time providing services to local supporters,
maintaining a reasonable level of social order necessary for the city and local businesses to operate
smoothly, and seeking out every opportunity available to them to make money.19
The U.S. brand of local self-government gave professional politicians considerable influence in
The need to respond to the diverse, often conflicting demands of various constituencies
has given American policing a unique character which affects its efficiency as well as its
reputation. However one views the police today, it is essential to understand how the theory
and practice of politics influenced the nature, successes, and problems of law enforcement.20
Some attempts to address corruption and related issues began in the late 1800s such as the
Pendleton Act, which required that government jobs be awarded on the basis of merit rather than on
the basis of friendship or political favor. But old traditions and perceptions died hard—and, in some
cases, not at all. One such example of old traditions is the sheriff, who remains a political figure
charged with police duties.
Throughout most of the 19th century and into the 20th, the basic qualification for becoming a
police officer was a political connection rather than a demonstrated ability to perform the job.21 Police
agencies hired men with no education, with criminal records, and with health problems.22 Training
was practically nonexistent, with most new officers being handed equipment and an assignment area
and told to “hit the streets.” Officers were expected to handle whatever problems they encountered
while patrolling their beats, not simply to enforce the law. They provided a range of services, including
basic medical care, babysitting at the police station, helping people find employment, and feeding the
The police were a part of the political machinery, and politicians were seldom interested in
impartial justice. The police became a mechanism that permitted politicians to solidify their power by
controlling political adversaries and assisting friends and allies.23 Arrests were of little importance; the
primary mission of the police was to provide services to citizens and garner votes for politicians. “For
the patrolman, unless he was exceptionally stubborn or a notoriously slow learner, the moral was clear:
if you want to get along, go along.”24
The lack of a strong central administration, the influence of politicians, and the neighborhood ties
between the police and the people ensured a partisan style of policing and led to fragmented police
services, inconsistency, confusion, and eventually a call for reform.25 With no accountability for either
the politicians or the police, corruption, graft, and bribery reached a new level. Not infrequently,
police promotions and assignments were auctioned to the highest bidder, and illegal operations,
including gambling halls and brothels, made monthly contributions to police officers. While some
improvements resulted from reform efforts, political motivations continued to plague the selection of
both officers and chiefs. “Too many chiefs were simply fifty-five-year-old patrolmen.”26

Web Link: President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Recommendations
The tradition of political involvement in policing continues today, despite the attempts to remove
certain elements of political action and is, indeed, still deep-rooted in policing. In New Orleans, for
example, the police department has long been criticized as “a cesspool of corruption and violence.”27
In 2014, ex-mayor Ray Nagin was convicted on 20 criminal counts, including bribery and money
laundering during his terms as mayor, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The police
department entered into one of the most far-reaching consent decrees to date with the DOJ because of
long-standing police abuses, racist policing tactics, and widespread violations of the Constitution.28
These and other efforts have been mounted to reform the New Orleans Police Department. Yet, it
is a slow process that many fear is superficial at best.
Reform is “a core element in improving police–community relations for a department that has
become notorious for political interference, corruption, racial insensitivity and civil-service
Chicago is also plagued by continuing problems with political corruption and has been called “the
most corrupt city in the country . . . The crimes include ghost payrolls, bogus contracts, city official
thefts, bribes, and the likely most publicized of bad behaviors in recent times—police brutality.”30
Police Accountability

With accompanying changes in the political leadership, the hiring and firing of police chiefs in
different communities continues, as do attempts on behalf of politicians to influence the daily activity
of police officers, chiefs, and sheriffs.31 Such attempts to control the police raise the issues of how to
control the police in a democratic society, how to hold them accountable in ways that are not
politically motivated, and how to ensure that they are responsive to the concerns of the citizens they
are meant to serve and not beholden to the interests of politicians. (These issues are explored in more
depth in Chapters 10 and 11.)
The suggestion that police agencies be directly supervised by elected municipal
executives conjures up the image of police administrators beholden to various interests—
including criminal elements—on whose continued support the elected mayor, their boss,
may depend . . . is this not one of the costs of operating under our system of government?32
Pendleton Act: Required that government jobs be awarded on the basis of merit rather than on the basis of
friendship or political favor
Sheriff: Typically, an elected official responsible for county law enforcement and, in many instances, the county jail
Exhibit 2.2
Origin of the Term Sheriff
The term sheriff stems from 12th-century England and is a contraction of the term shire reeve, which referred to an official
appointed by the king with the responsibility for keeping the peace and collecting taxes throughout a shire or county. Today,
the sheriff is still typically an elected official and the chief law enforcement officer in the county in which he or she serves.
Case in Point 2.1
For nearly two centuries, Tammany Hall in New York City was a social organization that exerted a powerful political influence
over elections, the courts, and the police. The eventual vice president under Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, recognized and
developed Tammany Hall as a political tool. One of its most notorious leaders was William “Boss” Tweed, an infamously corrupt
figure who held the reins during the mid-1800s, who later spent time in prison for graft and corruption. The power of the political
machinery of Tammany grew in part due to its help for poor immigrants such as getting them jobs, supporting widows with
children, and helping immigrants make their way through the naturalization process. This base was then beholden to cast its votes in
support of Tammany Hall. The Hall played a major role in fostering economic growth and benefits for its constituents, even while it
exploited its influence with police administrators and judges.
In all that time, Tammany Hall’s leadership and power went through many changes and challenges from reformers, but at its
strongest, the established machinery ensured that its candidates were elected, that its members were protected in the courts, and that
its loyal members enjoyed leniency from the police.
1. Do you believe the good done by the Hall justifies the ways it exploited its members for political gains?
2. Does society have sufficient protections in place for new immigrants and other underprivileged members of society? Why or
why not?
Sources: Burrows, E. G., & Wallace, M. (1999). Gotham: A history of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University
Press; Connable, A., & Silberfarb, E. (1967). Tigers of Tammany: Nine men who ran New York. New York: Holt, Rinehart &
Winston; NPR. (2014, March 5). “The case for Tammany Hall being on the right side of history.” Retrieved from
The Reform Era
Serious attempts to reform and professionalize the police began to materialize in the late 1800s
and early 1900s, ushering in the Reform Era, or Reform Movement. The Reform Era involved

radical reorganization, including strong centralized administrative bureaucracy, highly specialized
units, and substantial increases in the number of officers. Police professionalization was recognized as
an important issue at least as early as 1909 by the father of modern police management systems,
August Vollmer, who served as chief of police in Berkeley, California, from 1905 to 1932. In part
because of the Depression, policing as a profession became more attractive to young men who in
better times might have sought other employment, thus making it possible to recruit and select
qualified police officers. Positive results began to show due to the efforts of Vollmer, Arthur
Niederhoffer, William Parker, and O. W. Wilson, among others, to promote professionalism and
higher education for police officers.
Various reform movements were under way also, the goal of which was to centralize police
administration, improve the quality of police personnel, and destroy the power of the political
bosses.33 As reformers attempted to define policing as a profession, the service role of the police
changed into more of a crime-fighting role. The passage of the 18th Amendment in 1920 and the
onset of the Great Depression in 1929 placed the police under a new public mandate for crime
control and public safety. As a result, police stopped providing a wide range of services, including
assisting the homeless, babysitting, and helping people locate employment.
August Vollmer, the father of modern police management systems.
© Diannaa
Concern about the police reached a national level with the appointment by President Hoover of
the Wickersham Commission in 1931. The commission was formed to investigate rising crime rates,
and it directed police away from the service role, challenging them to become law enforcers and to
reduce the crime rate.
Reformers adopted military customs and created specialized units, including vice, juvenile, and
traffic divisions.34 The historical development of large, bureaucratically organized police departments
can be attributed in part to a larger movement by government to obtain legitimacy for their agencies

by adopting the rational–legal formal structure that placed more emphasis on impersonal rules, laws,
and discipline.35 Reformers rapidly infused more technological advances into policing through
improved record keeping, fingerprinting, serology, and criminal investigation. Training academies to
teach these and other subjects became more common, and agencies emphasized promotion and
selection based on merit (often through the use of civil service testing).
Video Link: Can police reform happen in Philadelphia?
The onset of World War II and the Korean War made recruitment of well-qualified officers more
difficult during the 1940s and 1950s. During this period, observers of the police, and sometimes the
police themselves, seemed to equate technological advances and improved administration with
Reform Era (Reform Movement): Involved radical reorganization of police agencies, including strong centralized
administrative bureaucracy, hiring and promotion based on merit, highly specialized units, and application of science to
crime through improved record keeping, fingerprinting, serology, and criminal investigation
The Era of Social Upheaval (1960s and 1970s)
The 1960s proved to be one of the most challenging eras in U.S. policing. The crime rate per
100,000 persons doubled, the civil rights movement began, and antiwar sentiment and urban riots
brought police to the center of the maelstrom.36
At the same time, the social disorder of this period produced fear among the public, because it
appeared that family, church, and the police were losing their grip on society.37 One result of this fear
was that legislators began to pass laws that provided substantial resources to police agencies. In the
1960s and into the 1970s, there was a rapid development of two- and four-year college degree
programs in law enforcement and an increased emphasis on training. These changes were in large part
due to the 1967 report of the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of
Justice, which was partially responsible for Congress passing the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe
Streets Act of 1968. This act established the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA)
and provided a billion dollars each year to improve and strengthen criminal justice agencies. With
funding available, social scientists began to test the traditional methods of police deployment,
employee selection, and education and training and to question the appearance of racial
discrimination in arrests and the use of deadly force.38
Audio Link: Vietnam War Protests Speeches and Audios
Federal and state funding was available to police officers who sought to further their educations,
and potential police officers began to see some advantage in taking at least some college-level courses.
Although there were vast differences in the quality of college programs, they did create a pool of
relatively well-qualified applicants for both supervisory and entry-level positions. These developments
—coupled with improvements in police training, salaries and benefits, and equipment—helped to
create a more professional image of the police. At the same time, police came under increasing scrutiny
as a result of their roles in the urban disorders of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Challenges to both
authority and procedure were common, and public criticism continued into the 1980s. The police
were seen as partially responsible for continued high crime rates and civil unrest, and the number of

complaints and civil actions brought against the police skyrocketed.
It is becoming ever clearer that underlying social and economic conditions are spawning
crime and that society’s unwillingness to do anything meaningful about them has really
sealed the fate of the police effort to cope with the symptoms. Society wants to fight crime
with more cops, tougher judges, and bigger jails, not through such scorned “liberal”
schemes as social welfare programs. . . . Police executives believe that today’s unattended
problems, concentrated in our urban centers, will only get worse, eventually resulting in
riots and heightened violence.39
There is clearly a discrepancy between what the public assumes the police can accomplish and
what the police can actually accomplish. Although the expectation may be that more police will solve
the problems referred to in the quote above, the reality is that merely increasing the numbers of police
officers will not produce the desired result. The discrepancy was highly problematic and impacted not
only police administrators’ decisions concerning operations, but also the type of personnel who
applied for police positions and the type of preparations for the jobs they received. At the same time,
collective bargaining and unionization in police departments considerably changed the complexion of
relationships between police administrators and rank-and-file officers. Though police unions have
undoubtedly helped improve police salaries and working conditions, they remain controversial because
of their emphasis on seniority and their opposition to reform.
Research on Police Effectiveness
This period saw a wave of bureaucratic responses, fueled in part by research on the police, the
amount and quality of which improved drastically beginning in the 1960s. The 1967 President’s
Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, the National Advisory
Commission on Civil Disorders in the same year, and the 1973 National Advisory Commission on
Criminal Justice Standards and Goals represented major efforts to better understand styles of
policing, police–community relations, and police selection and training.40 Many other private and
government-funded research projects contributed to the field. However, police still carry the burden
of over 180 years of conflict and attempts at reform. Most chiefs continue to be selected against a
political backdrop, which may be good or bad for the agency, as we have seen. There has been some
consolidation and standardization of services, but not a great deal. In general, the U.S. police appear
to have become more concerned about social responsibility, but they still have difficulties interacting
with some segments of society. Diversity remains the key characteristic of municipal police and local
control the key to such diversity. Progress in policing has been made on many fronts. Progressive
police chiefs, concerned academics, and other involved citizens have helped push the boundaries of
traditional policing and shared their thoughts and findings at both national and international levels by
publishing, teaching or training, and promoting exchange programs. Research on and by the police
has increased dramatically in the past several years.
[P]olice leaders have been under considerable pressure to manage personnel and
operations as efficiently as possible. This pressure may help explain why police
administrators have apparently been even more willing than leadership in other criminal
justice areas to question traditional assumptions and methods, to entertain the conclusions
of research, and to test research recommendations.41

Officers should show restraint even when their personal beliefs differ from those of the
citizens they serve. Of course, as illustrated here, not all officers act in accordance with that
© Bettmann/CORBIS
“Essentially, what the [police] literature describes about the policing role in the United States is
that it is unsettled, subject to ongoing societal change, and continually evolving.”42 A panel of experts
found that “the boundaries of the police are shifting on a number of dimensions.”43 Those shifts were
perceived to be in terms of intelligence and privacy, jurisdiction, engagement with other criminal
justice agencies, cultural and normative dimensions, and reach of social control. In all of these areas,
the shift was perceived in terms of an expansion of the police function. One of the major challenges
confronting the police in the 21st century involves dealing with these changes.
Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA): During the 1960s and 1970s, provided a billion dollars
each year to improve and strengthen criminal justice agencies
President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice (1967): Represented a major effort
to better understand styles of policing, police–community relations, and police selection and training
National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1967): Another major effort to better understand styles of
policing, police–community relations, and police selection and training
National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals (1973): Another attempt to better
understand styles of policing, police–community relations, and police selection and training
Exhibit 2.3
Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies
A noteworthy development in policing occurred in 1979. In response to repeated calls for police professionalism, the
Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) was established, through the efforts of the

International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National
Sheriffs’ Association, and the Police Executive Research Forum. CALEA became operational in 1983 and accepted applications
for accreditation, conducted evaluations based on specific standards for law enforcement agencies, and granted accreditation.
By 2012, one-quarter of law enforcement officers in the United States worked for agencies that have CALEA accreditation.
Most states have their own agencies to oversee law enforcement standards. California is among the most professional and
formalized of such agencies. Many police departments have now been through a reaccreditation process, and numerous others
are awaiting either accreditation or reaccreditation.
Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA): Established in 1979 (operational in
1983), the commission conducts evaluations based on specific standards for law enforcement agencies and accredits
agencies meeting the criteria
The Community-Policing Era (1980–2000)
The 1980s ushered in numerous technological advances in policing. Increased use of computers
enabled departments to institute crime analysis programs to track crime incidents, analyze their
common factors, make predictions concerning crime trends, and develop strategies to apprehend
offenders.44 Also during this time, departments began to use newly developed record management
systems to store and retrieve information in addition to computer-aided dispatch and 911 systems.
Together, these advances enabled communications personnel to receive calls for service, determine and
dispatch the closest police officer, and inform the officer who was answering the call. As the use of
computers and wireless communications grew, mobile data terminals allowed officers to immediately
access information that the communication center had received and relayed.45
Police administrators in the second half of the 1900s attempted to maximize the use of this
technology, increase specialization, provide better training, and expand educational opportunities in
an attempt to enhance the image of the police and create a more effective police force. However, in
doing so, they created some unanticipated problems, including increasing the proverbial gap between
officers and the other citizens they served. One obvious example of this was the use of patrol officers
who policed the streets in vehicles that served as offices on wheels. Patrol cars effectively isolated the
officers from the public, and community members often did not know the officers patrolling their
neighborhoods. Although understanding the need for speed and mobility, many citizens preferred to
have recognizable officers walking the beat. Research on foot patrol suggested that it contributed to
city life, reduced fear among citizens, increased citizen satisfaction with the police, improved police
attitudes toward citizens, and increased the morale and job satisfaction of police officers.46
Community relations programs, developed in the 1960s, were initially an experiment in bridging
the gap between the police and the community. Such programs were later to become a revolution in
Speaking at community centers and in schools was one of the first attempts to improve
community relations. These programs eventually expanded to include neighborhood
storefront offices, ride-along programs, fear-reduction programs, police academies for
citizens, cultural diversity training, police–community athletic programs, and Drug Abuse
Resistance Education (DARE).47
By the early 1980s, there was a gradual movement away from the crime-fighting model and
toward a community-policing model. By the mid-1980s, it was clear that the police by themselves
were unable to deal with increasing crime and violence. Recognizing that performance in the areas of
crime control and order maintenance could only improve with public cooperation, progressive police
administrators turned to community-oriented or community-based policing as a possible solution to

their problems. Community policing was intended to counter enhanced technology, specialization,
and paramilitary organization and restore relationships that the police had lost with the citizenry they
were sworn to serve and protect.48 This move represented a return to the principles of policing
originally specified by Sir Robert Peel. However, embedded in the more modern version of Peel’s
principles was enhanced professionalism and better communication with neighborhood residents.
Audio Link: Wisconsin City Serves as Model for Community Policing
At the same time, problem-oriented policing began to attract increased attention. This approach
to policing emphasized the interrelationships among what might otherwise appear to be disparate
events. For example, police officers often report that the same families continue to account for many
crimes over the years and across generations. Rather than dealing with all of these calls as separate
incidents to be handled before clearing the calls and going on to other calls, problem-oriented policing
focuses attention on the underlying difficulties that create patterns of incidents.49 It allows officers to
take a holistic approach, working with other citizens and other agency representatives to find more
permanent solutions to a variety of police and neighborhood problems. Both community-oriented and
problem-oriented policing emphasize the importance of the police–community relationship and the
fact that police work consists in large measure of order maintenance through the use of negotiations
among the police and other citizens. Police education programs should emphasize the consideration of
value choices and ethical dilemmas in policing and should “include comprehensive treatment of the
most commonly performed police work, which falls outside of the criminal justice system.”50
Policing organized around perspectives that not only emphasize crime control and
order-maintenance, but also emphasize more diverse approaches such as crime prevention,
proactive policing, community problem-solving, improvement of police–community
relations by reducing the social distance between the police and the public through
increased police accountability and improved service to the public, empowerment of front-
line officers, and a flatter organizational power structure that promotes team work and a
collectivist spirit among all.51
In a study of some 281 municipal departments that serve populations of 25,000 or more,
researchers found that police departments that prioritize homeland security planning are associated
with fewer officers devoted solely to community policing and smaller or static departmental budgets.52
Nonetheless, homeland security planning was positively associated with community-policing programs
and activities. And, police departments that emphasize community policing are more likely to have a
website, to exhibit greater transparency in the display of data, and to provide more opportunities for
citizen input.53 Not all observers of the police see a continuing role for community policing. Some
predict a return to the professional model of policing driven by centralization, technology, and
sophisticated surveillance.54 Even though some argue that community policing has taken a backseat to
other policing strategies, it continues to play an important role. Many of the more recent strategies in
policing could not be effective without strong police–community partnerships.
Community Relations Programs: Programs sponsored by police agencies that attempt to improve police–
community relations
Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE): Educational programs presented by police officers in cooperation
with school authorities in an attempt to prevent abuse of drugs by youth

Police Stories 2.1
Commander Dan Koenig, LAPD Retired
For decades, the Hollenbeck area of Los Angeles was home to most of the city’s Mexican American community. Many of
its residents were undocumented immigrants who avoided contact with the police at any cost. Hollenbeck also had four public
housing developments where many of the community’s gang members lived. Officers had always suspected that the gang
members were victimizing the immigrants, but there was no way to know for sure the extent to which it was occurring.
In 1968, Captain Rudy DeLeon was assigned as the Hollenbeck commanding officer. Rudy had grown up there and was
well aware of the problems facing the law-abiding, albeit undocumented, community. Rudy soon opened up a storefront on
Brooklyn Avenue, which was the community’s main thoroughfare. He named the storefront Estofadores and staffed it with
officers fluent in Spanish. Soon, members of the immigrant community began stopping in to report crimes, which allowed us
to address their crime problems. But Rudy wasn’t willing to settle for that success. Soon he decided to assign foot beats to each
of the housing developments. The foot beats were not well received by the gangs, who believed they “owned” the
developments, and there were several violent confrontations. But after a while, the officers could walk the beats safely and
eventually became welcome members of the communities they served.
This was the first time a “walk in” satellite police station had been tried in a major U.S. city, with the goal of encouraging
undocumented immigrants to report crime. From this flowed a policy at the Los Angeles Police Department not to inquire
into a person’s immigration status when he or she is reporting a crime. That was a big deal when it was adopted in Los
Angeles. Because it was effective, most major cities soon followed suit.
Community Policing: A model of policing based on establishing partnerships among police and other citizens in
an attempt to improve quality of life through crime prevention, information sharing, and mutual understanding
Problem-Oriented Policing: Encourages officers to take a holistic approach, working with other citizens and other
agency representatives to find long-term solutions to a variety of recurrent problems
The Homeland Security Era (2001–Present)
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, set in motion a new era of policing in the United
States called “the era of homeland security.”55 The nation responded to 9/11 by launching a “war on
terrorism” and enacting the USA PATRIOT Act (discussed in Chapters 9 and 14). Many other
countries also strengthened their antiterrorism legislation and expanded law enforcement powers.
Police in the era of homeland security have to be more familiar with information technology and
the gathering, processing, and disseminating of information. The police also need enhanced skills that
pertain to weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons), events involving
mass casualties, and methods of preventing terrorism.56
Although all law enforcement agencies have a more heightened awareness of homeland security in
this new era, it is mostly federal law enforcement agencies and police in larger metropolitan areas that
have concentrated their investigative efforts and resources on homeland security. It is debatable
whether such investigations—and the interrogations and detention that sometimes result—are the
most effective means of protecting the country from further terrorist attacks. It is certain, however,
that infringing inappropriately on the civil rights of certain target groups can lead to hostility among
those groups, whose assistance with developing intelligence concerning possible terrorists is essential.
Collecting intelligence was a standard aspect of local policing that disappeared in most respects during
the 1960s and 1970s, largely as a result of the fear of abuse of powers by the police. Bringing back this
intelligence-gathering component means that safeguards need to be put in place to protect against the
abuse of authority. It was for this very reason that intelligence gathering was eliminated. Undoubtedly,
the risk to civil liberties still exists, and safeguards are necessary to protect against such abuse.
Video Link: Are We Safer?

It is therefore critical that police officers treat targeted groups with respect, help ensure that their
liberties are not unduly trampled on, and help them to maintain their sense of dignity.57 Community-
oriented policing efforts that develop partnerships with diverse groups in the community represent
perhaps the best way of accomplishing these goals. Communication between police administrators and
line officers, lateral communication between the police and other governmental agencies, and
communication among local, state, and federal agencies is critical in this new era of policing.
A summary of these four eras is included in Table 2.1.
Some Contemporary Policing Strategies
As the review of the history of policing indicates, policing is dynamic and constantly changing.
Based on analysis of the effectiveness of past police practices, numerous contemporary strategies have
emerged. Time and evaluation will help determine the relative effectiveness of each of these strategies,
which are briefly mentioned here and discussed in more detail in Chapter 7.
Intelligence-Led or Intelligence-Based Policing
Intelligence-led or intelligence-based policing is a policing model that originated in Britain and
focuses on risk assessment and risk management. The approach involves identifying risks or patterns
associated with groups, individuals, and locations to predict when and where crime is likely to occur.
Many agencies now conduct crime analyses on a regular basis, thus identifying reported crime
patterns. An effective records management system allows frontline officers to easily obtain this
information on a timely basis prior to or while responding to a call. This may assist officers in
proactively identifying and anticipating problems they may encounter rather than reacting to them at
the scene. The approach has gained momentum globally following the September 11 terrorist attacks
on the United States.58
Intelligence-Led or Intelligence-Based Policing: A policing model that originated in Britain and focuses on risk
assessment and risk management. Involves identifying risks or patterns associated with groups, individuals, and
locations to predict when and where crime is likely to occur; builds on community policing and problem-oriented
policing and includes an information gathering process that allows police agencies to better understand their crime
problems and take a measure of resources available to be able to decide on enforcement and prevention strategies
Terrorism-Oriented Policing
As previously mentioned, the events of 9/11 led to new duties and strategies for police at all levels

in the United States. Now, in contrast to much of the history of policing, some of the public wants to
trust the government and the police as agents of government to protect them from criminals both
domestic and foreign. Terrorism and homeland security are among many important issues that
currently face police agencies, but homeland security issues are of such extreme concern that agencies
must question whether their existing strategies are adequate to the task.59 What might be termed
terrorism-oriented policing requires changes at all levels of policing, most of which add new duties
and strategies to existing ones.
For example, “the workload of already busy departments has significantly expanded to include
identifying potential terrorists, protecting vulnerable targets, and coordinating first response.”60 In
addition, whether the police are operating in a small town or a large city, it is now their “responsibility
to ensure that plans are in place to prevent attack and to respond quickly should an attack occur.”61
Today, police have found that crime mapping and other technology-based methods have a
significant impact on the prevention and investigation of crime.
© AP Photo / Matt Gentry
Some observers insist that partnerships with citizens and problem-solving principles are essential to
successful and sustainable crime-reduction and terrorism-prevention strategies that are consistent with
U.S. democratic values. Community partnership and problem solving in policing are as relevant and
modern as the war on terror.62 In addition, terrorists often commit ordinary crimes such as robbery,
drug dealing, and fraud to sustain themselves. Thus, “from a policing point of view, there is much to
be said for regarding terrorists as criminals with political motives.”63
“Local police can identify potential terrorists living or operating in their jurisdictions, they can
help protect vulnerable targets, and they can coordinate the first response to terror attacks. These are
heavy new responsibilities that significantly expand the workload of already busy departments.”64
However, “counterterrorism has to be woven into the everyday workings of every department. It
should be included on the agenda of every meeting, and this new role must be imparted to officers on
the street so that terrorism prevention becomes part of their everyday thinking.”65
The potential for loss of life from a terrorist attack makes prevention a critical goal. Consequently,
the police have had to increase security at major events and increase patrols at ports, bridges, and other
potential targets. They might also need to conduct security surveys or to give advice for protecting
vulnerable sites.66 Undoubtedly, this requires additional and appropriate training.
Terrorism-Oriented Policing: Adds new duties to those already assumed by the police in an attempt to detect and
prevent terrorist acts
Case in Point 2.2
In March 2009, the Peoria Police Department launched a crime-mapping program known as “CrimeView Community.” The

service, developed by The Omega Group, is billed as “intelligence-led policing.” CrimeView enables law enforcement agencies to
map and analyze their own data for a more informed approach to police functions such as investigations, deployment of officers, and
emergency management. It allows public web users to check crime trends for 90-day periods in user-designated areas of the city.
Such programs are already in hundreds of departments and in most states.
It is believed that the program will help the public make educated decisions about crime in the areas in which they live, work, go
to school, and shop. When users log on to CrimeView in Peoria, they will be able to search 16 different types of crime by location
within the city. The website is scheduled to be updated daily.
1. What are the advantages and disadvantages to “CrimeView Community” and other programs that map and analyze
neighborhood crime data?
2. Do you think that access to crime data may cause citizens to be unnecessarily fearful of becoming crime victims?
3. Is it possible for criminals to use programs like “CrimeView Community” to their benefit? How?
Source: From “Tool tracks city crime,” by G. Childs, 2009, Journal Star, pp. A1, A8.
Exhibit 2.4
How the Long Beach Police Department Has Adapted to the
Terrorism Threat
Created a counterterrorism unit and appointed terrorist liaison officers.
Reassigned officers to assess and protect critical infrastructure, such as the port, airport, and water treatment
Sent officers to train in new skills, such as WMD [weapons of mass destruction] response and recognizing signs of
Established a port police unit equipped with small boats.
Reassigned officers to respond to areas with high population growth.
Increased visibility and response times by switching officers from two- to one-person cars.
Reduced staffing on lower priority programs, such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE).
Reduced foot patrols and staffing in the narcotics division.
Requested additional resources to cover demand, both from the city for local needs and from the federal
government for national needs.
Source: Raymond, B., Hickman, L., Miller, L., and Wong, J. (2005). Police personnel challenges after September 11:
Anticipating expanded duties and a changing labor pool. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
Policing in the Past, Present, and Future
History has shown us that policing has evolved and adapted over time as the police attempt to
meet the needs of society. In earlier times, police personnel could be recruited from almost any walk of
life, because the nature of crime did not generally require great technical police expertise. In the new
millennium, communication is instantaneous, crime can be global in scope, and technology continues
to increase in sophistication. Effective policing demands that police expertise be sufficiently
sophisticated as well to deter and apprehend (for example) individuals who are involved in
transnational crime, who use the most advanced technologies to prey on their victims, who traffic in
human beings across borders, and who threaten to spread terror and chaos.
All of these and other activities often require direct intervention into the lives of citizens. The
debate rages over the balance between the needs of law enforcement for information and the public’s
democratic right to privacy. Democracy represents consensus, freedom, participation, and equality;
the police represent restriction and the imposition of authority of government on the individual.67
The police and the community must share in controlling crime. In exchange for greater legal leeway to
do so, the police may need to be more transparent and raise their standard for accountability.
Community service may require better training in the theory and practice of total crime prevention.68
Policing has changed immensely over the past 50 years in response to the demands imposed on it

by an increasingly diverse, technological, urbanized, globalized, mobile, sophisticated, rights-
conscious, and knowledge-based society.”69 Agencies must decide how best to use their limited
budgets. They must determine how much specialized training they should require of officers to be
effective in the complex world of international terrorist conspiracies and rapidly changing
technologically sophisticated crimes, all on a finite budget. They must balance a centralized and
sophisticated organization with the need to have close ties with the community, while maintaining
accountability, transparency, and respect for individual rights.
Around the World 2.1
Police Bolster Attack on Cybercrime
British police, in a response to the growing threat of online attacks, are bolstering their campaign against cyber criminals
with the formation of three new regional e-crime control centers.
These centers are designed to “provide an enhanced ability to investigate this fast growing area of crime and provide an
improved internet investigation capability.”
“Cyber crime has been identified by law enforcement agencies as a ‘tier-one’ national security threat, putting it on a par
with international terrorism, an international military crisis, or a natural disaster.”
1. How much freedom should the government be given to “spy” on private emails, text messages, and phone records
to detect and to prevent threats to national security?
2. Would you be willing to subject your personal emails, text messages, and phone records to government scrutiny in
the name of “safety”?
Source: Warrell, H. (2012, Feb. 7). Police bolster attack on cyber crime. Financial Times (London, England). Retrieved
from Record Number: 13CCD7F5AD08C730.
Exhibit 2.5
Contemporary Police Issues
New strategies in policing
Concerns with continuing education and training
Recruitment and selection of officers
Police accountability
Exercise of discretion
Ethical issues
Police misconduct
Policing in a multicultural society
Police officer stress
Changing technology and cybercrime
Globalization, terrorism, immigration, and homeland security
2 Under Review
Chapter Summary
The manner in which organized and professional police agencies operate today has been influenced greatly by their
historical development from English origins over the last 200 years. Police officers of the early days had little to no training,
and there were no formal educational requirements. The system of night watchmen over time evolved into a more militarily
organized system of police under government control. The close ties of officers to the communities they served gave them great
problem-solving abilities, but also left the door open to bribery and corruption. There was considerable political influence on
police officers, some of which was unprofessional at best, including unethical and unlawful acts at the behest of the politicians
who controlled them. Although politics still play an important role in policing, there are many other and perhaps more
pressing and complicated influences.

Important technological advances gave the police more options in fighting crime, but changes in standards, development
of ethical codes, education and training provided by those outside policing, and other indicators of professionalism were
largely lacking. To be sure, some important changes had occurred. Reformers had identified inappropriate political
involvement as a major problem in U.S. policing. Civil service successfully removed some of the patronage and ward influences
from police officers. Law and professionalism were established as the bases of police legitimacy. Under these circumstances,
policing became a legal and technical matter left to the discretion of professional police executives. Eliminating all political
influence from policing is unlikely and, if we wish to maintain civilian control of the police, perhaps undesirable.
The political and social environment of each decade has had its influence on how the police operate, the degree of the
connection they have with their communities, and how the public perceives them. Numerous policing strategies have been
implemented and tested over the years in an attempt to satisfy the goals of various segments of the U.S. public. Inattention to
the will of diverse minorities has often been the basis of strained police–community relations.
During the last three decades, the police began to reconsider their fundamental mission, as well as the nature of the core
strategies of policing, and the nature of their relationships with the communities they serve.70 In spite of numerous innovative
programs initiated in recent years and the research needed to evaluate them, the evidence related to police performance and
implementation associated with these innovations on crime reduction and community satisfaction is limited.71
Some of the newest policing strategies are based on the tenets of community- and problem-oriented policing and operate
in response to various global issues that now affect local police operations. The increasing complexities of policing, coupled
with the technology-based nature of the world in which we live and work, demand vigilant, cooperative, and proactive forms
of policing to effectively address a wide variety of issues.
Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.
Professionalism 17
Night watch system 17
Sir Robert Peel 18
Patrick Colquhoun 18
Pendleton Act 21
Sheriff 21
Reform Era (Reform Movement) 23
Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) 24
Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) 26
President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice (1967) 25
National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1967) 25
National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals (1973) 25
Community relations programs 27
Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) 27
Community policing 28
Problem-oriented policing 28
Intelligence-led or intelligence-based policing 30
Terrorism-oriented policing 30
Discussion Questions
Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.
1. Briefly discuss the evolution of the U.S. police and the problems they currently confront.
2. How did the need for police arise?
3. What problems confronting the police are inherent in democratic societies?
4. What are the positive and negative effects of the interaction between politics and the police in our society?

5. Discuss some of the most recent policing strategies and their potential effectiveness.
Internet Exercises
1. Using your favorite search engine, go online and see what you can find out about the history of policing. What two or three
websites did you find most interesting? What kinds of information did these websites contain?
2. Go to the Internet and search for articles dealing with current police corruption. In light of the articles you found, do you
believe there is still a need for reform in policing? If so, what types of reform would you like to see?
You Decide 2.1
Accreditation is briefly introduced here in chapter 2 and is discussed again in chapter 3. An accredited law enforcement
agency is officially recognized as meeting essential requirements set forth by the Commission on Accreditation for Law
Enforcement (CALEA). Without knowing what these essential requirements are, one might not be impressed by the
According to the CALEA Standards Manual (1999), the goals of law enforcement accreditation are to: “(a) improve crime
prevention and control capabilities, (b) formalize management procedures, (c) establish fair and non-discriminatory personnel
practices, (d) improve service delivery, (e) improve inter-agency cooperation and coordination, and (f) increase confidence in
the law enforcement agency” (CALEA, 1999, xiii).
1. If you could implement one standard or rule that police agencies had to follow, what would that be?
2. In general, do you trust officers from an accredited agency more than those working for one that is not accredited?
Why or why not?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
Student Study Site
Sharpen your skills with SAGE edge!
SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and
links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.

Chapter 3 Police Organization and Administration
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the importance of organizational structures in police departments
2. List the duties typically associated with the operations division
3. Describe the influence of organizational substructures, such as geography and scheduling, on the operations of police
4. Explain a few strategies police organizations can use to handle change favorably
5. Evaluate the extent to which police departments have become “militarized” and the implications of this
6. Identify the pros and cons of collective bargaining in police organizations
7. Describe the purported advantages of accreditation in the field of policing
Police agencies must perform a variety of functions. This includes responding to routine and
emergency calls for service, enforcing traffic laws, conducting investigations, processing evidence,
working with community groups, and accomplishing other specialized functions. Police departments
have developed a variety of organizational structures to effectively and efficiently perform these
functions. Effective organizations accomplish their goals, and efficient organizations make optimum
use of resources. The best police agencies are both effective and efficient.
Police organizations are dynamic in nature. People are coming and going and often under stress,
and priorities may shift at any moment due to both internal (e.g., number, quality, dedication of
personnel) and external (e.g., legal, political, financial) factors. All of the normal operations require
planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling, and these activities are performed by
personnel who occupy positions at different levels within the agency.
Administrators of both small and large organizations must perform a wide range of tasks:

Planning what the organization needs to accomplish
Organizing a formal structure to accomplish the organization’s mission
Staffing the organization through recruitment, selection, and training
Directing the decision-making process and developing rules, policies, and procedures
Coordinating groups to work together toward a common mission
Reporting, keeping records, and communicating
Budgeting and fiscal management of organization resources
Depending on the structure of an organization, these tasks can be divided up in several ways
among all of the administrators. Planning and organizing functions are typically considerations for
upper-level managers, while managers at lower levels likely spend more time directing and
coordinating everyday activities. In police organizations, the chief of police and his or her immediate
staff are likely to be involved in budgeting and policy making, while shift and field supervisors are
more concerned with the day-to-day operations of directing other staff members. Nonetheless,
personnel at all ranks in an organization might perform any of these functions from time to time. A
police sergeant and police captain both engage in some level of planning, though at different scales.
The chief of a small police agency may perform all the tasks associated with planning, coordinating,
reporting, and directly supervising employees.
Organizational Structures
The organizational structures of police departments differ considerably depending on the style of
policing and other interdependent variables, such as the size of the community, the size of the police
force, and the available resources. The functions police officers perform depend to a considerable
extent on the type of organization and the position officers occupy within the organization.
Organizational structures range from the small, single-person department—where the chief of police
performs all functions related to policing—to those involving thousands of police personnel and
dozens of specializations. The largest police departments exhibit a wide variety in their organizational
structures; some have 4 or 5 rank levels, whereas others have 10 to 12 different ranks.1 In addition,
certain police departments operate from a single headquarters, whereas others have many different
substations. The structure of police organizations helps to determine productivity, the manner in
which goals are achieved, and the influence of individual variations on the organization. Police
organizations exist in certain contexts—they possess different histories and traditions, and approach
policing in many different ways.2 Current and future organizational structures for the police must
strike a balance between inclusiveness and the need for rapid response and efficiency, especially in
emergency situations. And, they need to do this with consideration to the factors of a changing world,
such as terrorism, homeland security, and performance-based standards.
Policing in Practice Video: How do you and your department communicate efficiently in
this structured environment?
Police Hierarchy
Through the years, police leaders have explored a variety of organizational structures, but most
police organizations are hierarchies. Most hierarchical organizational charts resemble pyramids, as
illustrated in Figure 3.1, with numerous employees at the bottom of the pyramid and a few
management personnel at the top.

The base of the police hierarchy consists of those who do the actual police work in the
organization—line personnel, such as patrol officers and investigators. In most organizations, the
position in the hierarchy dictates the type of responsibility for the rank. Thus, chief executives have a
different set of responsibilities than middle managers, who have different responsibilities than lower-
level employees. However, in policing, the amount of actual “police work” a person performs is
usually inversely related to his or her position in the organization. In other words, lower-ranking
police officers on the street have more policing responsibilities than administrators.
Policing in Practice Video: Policing in Practice Video: Police Captain
There are three important characteristics of a hierarchical structure: unity of command, rank
structure, and span of control. The principle of unity of command means that every member of the
police organization reports to an immediate superior. Thus, patrol officers in a police agency are
typically responsible to a field supervisor (e.g., a sergeant); the field supervisor is typically responsible
to a shift administrator (e.g., lieutenant), who is responsible to a division commander; and so on.
Rank structure, or chain of command, identifies who communicates with and gives orders to
whom and clearly and precisely identifies lines of authority. The complexity of the chain of command
and the number of ranks depends in part on the size of the police department. Small departments tend
to have fewer ranks and often operate informally yet still have a chain of command. In almost all cases,
the chain of command and rank structure in a police department is indicated by different colors of
uniforms or caps, different brass accessories, or different types of striping on the uniforms.
The chain of command of a police organization may be confusing, because it often involves
multiple hierarchies, such as an authority hierarchy and a status hierarchy. For example, a police
commander with 15 years of experience holds a higher rank in the department than a shift sergeant
with 25 years of experience. However, in the seniority hierarchy, the sergeant occupies a higher
position than the police commander.
The final important characteristic of a hierarchy is the span of control, or the ratio of supervisors
to subordinates. The span of control differs from one rank layer in the hierarchy to the next, and the
ratio of supervisors to police officers is usually smaller near the top of the departmental hierarchy
compared to the bottom.
Hierarchy and Communication
Hierarchical organizational structures have certain advantages. For example, the division of
authority is clear-cut and well understood, ensures clear responsibility and accountability for tasks, and
clarifies a supervisor’s span of control. However, hierarchies tend to suffer from a variety of
communication problems, including the top-down, one-way flow of information and a lack of
feedback. Top administrators communicate explicit orders and directives downward, but there are few
provisions for upward communication from lower ranks—the ones who must carry out orders,
whether they agree with them or not. Because of this, there are few opportunities for low-ranking staff
to provide valuable feedback on the effectiveness of organizational policies or procedures. Feedback
from line officers is increasingly important as today’s police organizations reexamine their existing
policies and procedures to meet a myriad of challenges, including court-ordered training mandates,
budget and staffing shortages, changing laws, and new technologies.
Figure 3.1 Pyramid Structure

Video Link: Law Enforcement Supervisors Job Overview
The paramilitary model is frequently employed in police paramilitary units including SWAT
© Mikael Karlsson / Alamy Stock Photo
Organization: A rational, efficient form of grouping people
Current and future organizational structures for the police must strike a balance between inclusiveness
and the need for rapid response and efficiency, especially in emergency situations.
Hierarchies: Organizational structures that take the shape of a pyramid, with many employees at the bottom and a
few management personnel at the top
Line Personnel: Perform actual police work and include patrol officers and investigators
Unity of Command: Each member of the organization has an immediate supervisor
Rank Structure: Chain of command that identifies who communicates with whom and identifies lines of authority
Span of Control: Ratio of supervisors to subordinates
Exhibit 3.1

Incident Command System (ICS)
Emergency situations, such as natural disasters or civil disturbances, require rapid and accurate communication. To
overcome some of the communication problems common to hierarchies, many agencies have adopted an Incident Command
System (ICS) for use in emergency situations.
Depending on the nature of the incident, the operation and staffing of an ICS may require a different location, dedicated
phone lines, or other infrastructure that is separate from those required for normal, day-to-day operations. It may also involve
multiple agencies working together and pooling their resources, especially during large-scale incidents, such as riots, fires,
earthquakes, floods, or other natural disasters.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an ICS addresses the following problems:
Too many people reporting to one supervisor
Different emergency response organizational structures
Lack of reliable incident information
Inadequate and incompatible communications
Lack of structure for coordinated planning among agencies
Unclear lines of authority
Terminology differences among agencies
Unclear or unspecified incident objectives3
Incident Command System (ICS): Coordinates police personnel, allocates resources, and allows emergency
responders to adopt and integrate organization structure; attempts to achieve effective coordination of police personnel
while ensuring appropriate allocation of resources and providing emergency responders an integrated organizational
structure unhindered by jurisdictional boundaries
The Paramilitary Structure
Early police organizations developed a close relationship with the public and were focused on
resolving problems. The typical police organizational structure prior to 1900 was very informal. The
police and the public developed a close relationship, and the police were involved in assisting people
with all types of social problems. However, this informality also bred a lack of accountability, training,
and supervision. With their power and authority, accusations of graft, corruption, abuse of authority,
and other violations were perhaps inevitable—especially since local politicians controlled, promoted,
and hired the police. During the professional era (1950–1980), police administrators wanted to
distance officers from the public in an effort to minimize corruption and wanted to achieve increasing
levels of efficiency in their operations.4 Therefore, they placed more emphasis on centralization and
control of the police. The resulting organizational structure resembled that of the military, with its
focus on accountability and its rigid structure.5
SAGE Journal Article: Police Academy Socialization: Understanding Lessons Learned in a
Paramilitary-Bureaucratic Organization
The result was “top-down management,” which involves decision making by “top” central
managers who impose policies down through the department ranks. Under the paramilitary model,
police agencies focused on enforcing the law and fighting crime rather than attempting to solve
community and citizen problems. The intent of the structure was to improve the efficiency of
operations, provide fast responses to emergency situations, use criminal investigations, and attempt to
ensure the fair and impartial enforcement of the law.6
As a result of the focus on centralized control, accountability, and rigidity, the classical principles
of management through a paramilitary structure took a stronghold in police agencies. The typical
characteristics associated with this paramilitary model include the following:

Central command structure
Rigid differences among ranks
Terminology similar to that of the military
Frequent use of commands and orders
Strong enforcement of rules, regulations, and discipline
Discouragement of individual creativity
Resistance of system to change7
There are times in policing (and in the military) when a highly centralized, authoritarian
command structure has these and other advantages. For example, there is little time to call a
committee meeting to decide what to do when riotous protesters are threatening the police station or
when there is an armed robbery in progress.
The paramilitary structure also has some distinct disadvantages. As noted previously, these
organizational structures often fail to promote communication horizontally and from the bottom up.
They frequently fail to encourage employee commitment through participation. Because of its
emphasis on strict obedience, the top-down structure tends to hinder discretion and critical thinking.
Partially due to the inflexibility of the paramilitary structure, change in police organizations can be
slow. Administrators and managers interested in creating change often pursue it in informal ways. For
example, a lieutenant interested in formally changing long-standing procedures would normally be
required to go to the patrol commander, who would then have to approach the assistant chief, who
would finally seek the chief’s approval. Instead, the lieutenant might see the chief after duty to gain
support. Similarly, individual patrol officers and detectives may meet informally to discuss a case and
share intelligence that their immediate supervisor may not wish to share as a result of internal rivalries.
The changes that take place in most police organizations are often the result of both traditional and
nontraditional methods.
Despite the long-standing practices of employing a quasi-military structure, police agencies are
increasingly recognizing its inherent limitations, including the restrictions on personal freedoms, poor
communication, and a lack of flexibility and a narrowness of job descriptions. The authoritarian
paramilitary command structure is even more problematic when applied to the 21st-century demands
and expectations of a community.8
Most police departments borrow rank names from the military. Officers are promoted to the level
of the field supervisor (typically at the rank of sergeant), shift or watch commander (typically at the
rank of lieutenant or commander), and division commander (typically with the rank of captain or
However, despite a number of superficial similarities (e.g., rank structure and uniforms), the police
role in society is actually quite different from the military’s role. Strict rules and orders are rarely
required, due to the nature of the work and the fact that police are often on the street out of view of
supervisors.9 In addition, many believe that the best job performance requires a great amount of
initiative and discretion.
Police Paramilitary Unit: A highly specialized police unit such as a special response team
Exhibit 3.2
Specialized Paramilitary Units
Many police organizations have adopted the paramilitary model in highly specialized police units, called police
paramilitary units (PPUs). PPUs include such units as SWAT (special weapons and tactics), SRTs (special response teams),

and ERUs (emergency response units). Well before September 11, 2001, police departments were adopting military tactics in
patrol operations and in their response to and management of crime. In the aftermath of al-Qaeda’s attacks, paramilitary
policing increased faster than at any other time in history.10 However, most police work is not of this nature. In fact, many are
concerned that a terrorist-oriented mission will accelerate the militarization of police rather than bring the police closer to the
These concerns raise questions about how much militarization is necessary or desirable and what value it has to the police
and to society. Agency budgets are finite, so choosing military-style equipment, for instance, means that resources are not
devoted to other aspects of policing.
Decentralized and Proactive Organizations
Based on the limitations of existing designs and the need to adapt to a changing environment,
many police agencies are experimenting with more decentralized organizational structures.
Community policing has been one catalyst for organizational change toward decentralized structures
and decreased formalization in police organizations; some police departments have modified the
traditional paramilitary style of policing, sharing decision making with patrol officers.12 Much of the
literature related to community policing also called for “flatter” organizations, or police departments
with few ranks, but this change may be problematic for unionized departments. In addition,
community policing encourages the development of police officers as generalists to serve the diverse
needs and different problems in a community instead of focusing only on crime control.
If the traits of the paramilitary model were ever conducive to effective policing, they are
considerably less so with the transition to better-educated, better-trained officers. Although some
police chiefs reflect on the “good old days” when officers simply did what they were told by an officer
of superior rank and seldom questioned orders and directives, most chiefs realize that current
conditions require officers who can think critically, question, understand, and explain the rationale for
the directives they follow and exercise discretion wisely.
This more proactive police work in contemporary society calls for organizations that achieve the
1. Support of the exercise of initiative and discretion at all levels
2. Control through the use of guidance techniques, coaching, and counseling
3. Communication that flows both horizontally and vertically in both directions
4. Positive reinforcement (as opposed to punishment) to motivate personnel
5. Flexibility in operations
6. More decentralization
7. Decision making encouraged at the lowest possible level
8. Participatory management
9. Change regarded as an indicator of organizational health
10. Guidelines that delineate organizational expectations and evaluation of personnel in terms of
these guidelines13
Another example of an option to the traditional organizational designs is the matrix structure. A
matrix structure is based on multiple support systems and authority relationships, whereby some
employees report to two superiors rather than one—a clear departure from the typical chain of
command. The formation of a drug task force is an example of a matrix structure. Task forces are
intended to reduce the reliance on the resources of a single unit or department and share that
responsibility. Each agency brings a different perspective and different tools, expertise, strategies, and
intelligence. Different agencies may even be governed by different laws. The Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI), for instance, is a federal agency that adheres to federal law. The drug task force
supervisor directs task force operations. Officers assigned to the task force are selected based on their

expertise and their ability to contribute to the group. They may come from different units and may
still be required to report to the supervisors of those units or departments. Reporting to multiple
supervisors can cause confusion for the officers involved or proprietary feelings among the various
supervisors. Nonetheless, because a task force assignment is often temporary, the personnel involved
eventually return to their regular duties and regular supervisors after a specific period or after the task
force has completed its goal.
Matrix Structure: Involves multiple support systems and authority relationships often found in a drug task force
Exhibit 3.3
Today’s need for innovative organizational designs has produced a number of tools. One such innovation is CompStat—a
management philosophy and organizational management tool that alters some aspects of the organizational department
structure by delegating decision making and authority to police commanders or middle managers.
CompStat (computerized statistics) originated in New York City; today most medium and large police agencies employ
some form of management tool similar to CompStat. CompStat relies on capturing, mapping, compiling, and analyzing
complaint and arrest data that police administrators can use to discern trends, distinguish anomalies, and develop crime
control strategies. The data can also be used to hold staff accountable for their performance. CompStat has been credited with
helping agencies reduce crime by significant margins.
Police Organizations in Context
It is important to note that police organizations do not exist in a vacuum, nor are police functions
determined totally or even largely by the police themselves. The police always operate in a political
arena under public scrutiny (though a good many try to minimize such scrutiny). The municipal
police chief heads the police department, but he or she is also responsible to a city manager, mayor,
police commissioner, and city council.
Police departments draw resources from and provide services to their communities. How much a
department has to work with and what level of service the police can provide is largely controlled by
external factors. Further, police departments are only one component of the criminal justice network
that sets the operating parameters for the police. The courts, for example, frequently intervene in
police practices ranging from search and seizure, to interrogation, to hiring and promotion.
When city government regards the separate public service agencies as consumer oriented, chief
executive officers are viewed as part of a cooperative team, with responsibilities to one another as well.
Thus, the chief of police may request new equipment monies one year but defer to the fire chief the
next. Further, in the vast majority of police agencies, hiring, disciplining (beyond a limited amount),
termination, award of benefits, and so on are governed not by the police chief but by fire and police
commissions or civil service merit boards.
Operations Division
The operations division is usually the largest division, in terms of number of personnel and other
resources, and it typically consists of two main subdivisions—patrol and investigations.
The patrol division is responsible for providing continuous police service and some degree of
visibility. Patrol officers are responsible for responding to calls, making initial contact with crime
victims, making arrests, gathering evidence, completing incident reports, and at times processing a

crime scene.
Patrol operations have long been regarded as the backbone of the police organization. Patrol is
typically the largest division in a police department, with as many as 6 of every 10 officers assigned to
patrol duties.14 However, the proportion of police officers responding to 911 calls ranges from 6 in 10
among departments serving 100,000 or more residents to about 9 in 10 among police departments
serving fewer than 100,000 residents.

It was long assumed that patrol operations were a crime deterrent and increased citizen
satisfaction. However, some research indicates otherwise causing police administrators to
reconsider whether traditional patrol is the best use of resources.
In the past, patrol operations were assumed to deter crime, and many police administrators still

believe that patrol serves a deterrent function and enhances citizen satisfaction. A number of patrol
studies suggest that routine patrol does not perform either of these functions.15 Still, many police
administrators continue to operate as if patrol were the most effective approach to public safety.
An increasing number of police administrators, recognizing that routine patrol may not pay good
dividends, are experimenting with other types of patrol. This is not to say that patrol officers have no
impact on other citizens. Patrol officers respond to calls for service in their zones, beats, or districts,
and they patrol the streets in their assigned areas when they are not responding to calls or completing
their reports. The majority of patrol work is reactive, although patrol officers do at times arrive at a
crime in progress. They also often use patrol to initiate contact based on traffic violations, and patrol
officers are generally responsible for securing crime scenes and conducting preliminary investigations
as first responders.
Once a crime scene has been secured, patrol officers often turn further responsibilities over to the
investigative or detective division, although in some departments, patrol officers maintain
responsibility for such investigations. In addition to their involvement in crime control, in smaller
departments, patrol officers are also responsible for traffic control and investigating traffic accidents.
Larger departments often have separate traffic and accident investigation units within the operations
division. Some departments use watercraft, aircraft, bicycle, and canine-assisted patrols; others use
civilian volunteers to patrol specific areas, under the supervision of police officers.
Video Link: Cleveland Patrol Officers Recount Finding Missing Women
The investigations bureau is a subdivision of the operations division and is basically responsible for
obtaining and processing evidence and making arrests based on that evidence. The evidence involved
may be tangible (physical evidence collected at a crime scene or at the residence of a suspect) or
intangible (accounts from witnesses or informants). This division is often regarded as the “glamour
division”; it tends to be glorified on television and in the media, because it is thought to involve “real”
police work and solving crime. However, contrary to popular belief, investigators are not particularly
likely to solve crimes unless a witness steps forward to identify the offender.16
Investigators spend a good deal of time documenting crime scenes; locating, reinterviewing, and
interrogating suspects and witnesses; analyzing records and reports; authoring search warrants; making
arrests; and preparing cases and testifying in court. Crime scene investigators are involved in
photographing, collecting, and analyzing DNA and fingerprints and processing other materials that
may contain relevant leads to specific crimes. Once evidence has been obtained, investigators are
responsible for establishing a chain of custody, which governs the storage, transmission, and
protection of the evidence. Investigators are also responsible for conducting undercover operations and
developing informants (though many patrol officers also have informants), often in connection with
investigations related to vice or drugs.
Policing in Practice Video: Policing in Practice Video: Federal Agent
Investigations bureaus often also include a juvenile unit. Among these juvenile unit officers are
specialists in gang intelligence, physical and sexual abuse of children, and crime prevention among
youth. Other officers specialize as school liaisons or resource officers; serve as counselors, facilitators,

and coordinators for youth; and represent other service agencies and schools. In an increasing number
of states, youth officers must be specially trained or certified, because they deal with laws relating to
juvenile or family court acts, which are often considerably different from criminal statutes in terms of
their procedural requirements.
Criminal investigators spend time collecting and processing evidence from crime scenes, but
are also frequently called on to testify in court about evidence.
© REUTERS/Robert Sorbo
Case in Point 3.1
In 2012, the Huntington Beach Police Department announced its plans to reduce its patrol officers, respond to fewer accident
calls, and refer residents to file minor crime reports online as part of a department reorganization to make up for budget cuts and a
lack of overtime funding.
Previously, Huntington Beach made several changes to police patrol, including moving investigators to patrol and no longer
investigating certain minor financial and property types of crimes. One supervisor in the department does not believe crime will
increase, but does admit it will take longer to apprehend certain criminals. “The reduction of the number of officers on patrol means
that not every accident or crime will be investigated,” since the department will no longer respond to accidents in which there are no
The department lists the following criteria for filing reports online:
There are no known suspects, or suspect description.
There is no evidence to be collected.
This is not an ongoing problem.
The crime occurred within the Huntington Beach city limits.
The department will also implement an Internet crime reporting site, which will allow residents “who are not able to get an
officer to take a crime report for vandalism or other petty crime” to make their own online report. These online reports will not be
addressed by a police officer but do allow residents of Huntington Beach to “track” minor crimes.
1. Do police departments have a responsibility to respond to all calls for service, regardless of their nature?
2. Should cities fund their police departments, including overtime, at the expense of other services, such as maintaining parks
and roadways?
3. Should private citizens be allowed to make their own online crime reports?
4. How can police departments ensure that online citizen reports are complete and accurate?
Source: “Police to reduce patrol officers’ responses,” by Mona Shadia, 2012, Huntington Beach Independent
Chain of Custody: The chronological documentation that shows the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis,
and disposition of physical or electronic evidence
Police Stories 3.1

Commander Dan Koenig, LAPD Retired
My first assignment upon being promoted to lieutenant was to serve as the night shift watch commander in the Rampart
area of Los Angeles. Eight sergeants were assigned to that shift along with 125 officers. At that time, gang crime was rampant,
and shootings were common—often two or three per night. To compound matters, the average tenure of the officers was
about 2.4 years. The only way to deal with the violence and be a leader for a very young and inexperienced patrol force was for
the lieutenant to be “larger than life.” I had to be strict, but encourage people to take risks; give them room to make decisions,
but make sure they learned from their mistakes; and encourage teamwork, but hold supervisors accountable for the outcomes.
My next assignment was as the officer in charge of Hollywood vice. There, the work was much less violent, and the
workforce was much more mature, with an average tenure of about 10 years. This environment required a complete shift in
management styles. Participative decision making became much more common, and the leadership style that worked was one
of facilitator. There is nothing particularly “scientific” about police work especially when conducting vice investigations; it’s
more of an art. There are usually several ways to do the same thing, and the challenge is to find the one that works best for the
particular situation and people involved. As a facilitator, you set out the parameters for the mission—we have only so many
people and only so much money—and let the officers and their supervisors come up with a plan. Then you review it, make
any adjustments that are needed, and send them off to execute the plan. That type of participative management style would
not work in the day-to-day environment at Rampart, because patrol’s job was to handle radio calls, which requires little if any
follow-up. In that department, detectives do follow up, not patrol.
No single management style or organizational structure works in every department or even in the same department at
different times. Good leaders and managers need to be adept at using all the variations and, most importantly, making sure the
style they select fits the needs of the organization and the community it serves.
Administrative or Staff Services Division
The other division found commonly in a police department is the administrative or staff services
division. The primary functions of this division include record keeping, communication, research and
planning, training and education, and logistics. Although many of these functions are performed by
sworn officers, there is a trend toward employing civilian personnel to perform a majority of the staff
services tasks. The administrative services division may include several subdivisions:
Research and planning
Data collection/crime analysis/computers
Counseling services
Civilian employees
Legal advisors
Internal affairs
Staff in the administrative division are often specialists. They typically work outside the normal
law enforcement chain of command, although the rank structure may be the same as in other
divisions. Administrative staff provide information and advice to the chief and other supervisors
concerning a wide variety of topics and process the massive amounts of information that police
organizations have to deal with.
No single management style or organizational structure works in every department or even in the same
department at different times. Good leaders and managers need to be adept at using all the variations and,
most importantly, making sure the style they select fits the needs of the organization and the community it
–Dan Koenig

Exhibit 3.4
Civilian Staff
Police departments employ both sworn and nonsworn (civilian) personnel. One of the major trends accompanying
community policing in the past decade has been to employ more civilians. The vast majority of the nation’s 25 largest cities
employ civilians, and the trend appears to be toward civilianization.17 Civilianization has allowed police agencies to offload
routine tasks from sworn police officers (crossing guards, dispatchers, data entry clerks), fill new specialist positions (computer
technicians, forensics), and staff community policing programs (community coordinators, domestic violence specialists, and
crime prevention planners).18 Many police departments are using civilians in administration, research, technologies, human
resources, finance, grant writing, and crime analysis.19
Adding civilian employees has a financial advantage as well. Civilians are generally paid less, have less generous retirement
plans, need less equipment, and are subject to less mandatory training than sworn police personnel.20 However, police unions
may raise objections if they perceive a loss of police jobs, and less educated officers may resist accepting their more highly
educated fellow officers.
Another advantage is an increase in the diversity of police agencies. Employing women, minorities, older citizens, and
persons with disabilities is often easier to accomplish in civilian positions than in sworn positions.21 In addition, many feel
that the professional reputation of the police can only be strengthened if more police staff have higher education and better
critical thinking skills.
Unfortunately, in recent years, many police departments have been forced to significantly reduce their budgets and (in
some cases) eliminate civilian employees. Some caution that cutbacks can result in removing police officers from the street to
cover the work previously done by civilians.
Another strategy for stretching resources is to outsource certain tasks to private organizations that may be better suited to
perform the work, such as financial investigations, forensic accounting investigations, computer forensic services, and chain of
custody documentation.
Organizational Substructures
Functional Design
A functional organizational design involves the creation of positions and departments on the
basis of specialized activities. The functional design is one of the most widely used methods of
organizing police agencies and involves identifying and consolidating common tasks (functions) and
areas of work. The functional design is based on the tasks performed by all police departments, but
varies according to department size. In large departments, it can be efficient and cost effective to
establish a specific unit for a specific task. For example, the operations function could be divided into
patrol, traffic, burglary, narcotics, juvenile, vice, and many other specialized areas.
Author Video: What do you believe are important topics in police organizations and
A typical functional design organizational chart for a small police department is shown in Figure
3.2. In larger police organizations, the number of specializations within each division increases,
leading to an organizational structure such as Figure 3.3.
One advantage to this type of organization is that responsibility and accountability for the
completion of work is clearly understood by employees assigned to each unit. A disadvantage is that
the functional method fosters a limited point of view in which employees often lose sight of the
functions of the organization as a whole.22 In addition, the functional organization design has
minimal application to small police departments, which lack the staffing and funding to establish
specialized units. In the case of smaller departments, officers are expected to possess multiple skills and

broad knowledge concerning the police role. For example, in a small department, a single officer may
handle in one day a traffic problem, then a juvenile issue, and then a major burglary, which requires
crime scene search skills.
Because no one officer can readily accumulate all the sophisticated skills associated with all of the
functions performed by police officers, numerous small departments have developed alternatives.
Many agencies have begun to contract for specialized services with other law enforcement agencies,
created mutual aid agreements, or consolidated services in regional crime laboratories.23
Departments with a sufficient number of personnel tend to organize by function by creating at
least two divisions with distinct, if somewhat overlapping, responsibilities. These divisions are
operations and administrative or staff services. Each of these typically includes several subdivisions. As
the number of subdivisions grows, coordinating the various functions becomes a more complex task.
In larger, more complex departments, officers may not know all the other officers who work on
their shifts or in their divisions. Further, only designated officers may be permitted to handle cases in
their specialization. That is, an officer working in burglary may not handle a robbery or some other
type of theft. Officers may become so specialized that they handle only one particular type of crime
(e.g., computer theft). Patrol officers may be limited by departmental policy as to their involvement in
investigations, in part because they lack the specialized training required to handle certain types of
Functional Organization Design: Creation of positions and departments in an organization based on specialized
Place design involves establishing an organization’s primary units geographically while retaining
significant aspects of functional design. For example, patrol divisions are responsible for all geographic
areas within city limits. The city is typically divided into beats, zones, districts, or areas. Patrol officers
perform their basic functions mostly within the assigned geographic areas. In large cities, beats may be
combined to form sectors, which are administered by a sergeant or a lieutenant, or both. In the largest
cities, sectors may be combined to form precincts. Precinct houses are distributed geographically, and
each may be viewed, to some extent, as a separate department with ties to central headquarters. For
example, the New York Police Department has approximately 34,500 police officers, distributed
among 76 police precincts, plus additional officers assigned to transit districts and housing service
areas.24 As with the functional design, the place design can increase coordination problems, depending
on the number and location of beats, zones, districts, areas, sectors, or precincts.
Figure 3.2 Oswego Police Department

Source: Courtesy of Village of Oswego, Illinois, Police Department
Source: Courtesy of Village of Oswego, Illinois, Police Department
Figure 3.3 San Diego Police Department

Source: Courtesy of the San Diego Police Department.
Source: Courtesy of the San Diego Police Department.
Place Design: Geographical establishment of primary units in an organization, including assignment of personnel
to beats, zones, districts, and areas
Another organizational consideration involves time design. The patrol division may be divided
into three watches, tours, or shifts to provide 24-hour coverage. Typically, the day shift often operates
from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the afternoon or evening shift from 4 p.m. to midnight, and the night shift
from midnight until 8 a.m. Some departments employ power or overlap shifts, which typically involve
assigning additional personnel to cover part of the evening and part of the night shift (e.g., adding
additional personnel who work from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m.).
Although officers have traditionally been assigned to 8-hour shifts five days per week, with two
days off, some departments schedule officers for 10-hour shifts. However, a 24-hour period requires
three 10-hour shifts, creating significant overlap between the shifts. Depending on conditions, some
overlap can be useful, but much of the overlap is wasted. Other agencies divide the 24-hour required
coverage into 12-hour shifts and thus require only two shifts rather than the typical three shifts. The
12-hour shift schedule results in an 84-hour schedule over a two-week period, increasing the number
of hours worked by police officers by 104 per year, while at the same time providing an extra 26 days
off.25 These additional hours mean additional police officers on the street. Departments must balance
their shift coverage, hiring of new staff, and use of overtime, with an eye toward the relative strain on
agency budgets.
Handling Change in Police Organizations
The way an organization deals with change tells us a great deal about its effectiveness
and efficiency. Change is a given in all organizations; personnel retire, resign, and are
injured, recruited, and promoted. Resources fluctuate with the state of the economy and the
political power of the organization. Laws change, department policies and procedures
change, and new leadership can usher in changes in department mission or culture.
Realistically, police personnel must be willing to accept change as a normal part of their
occupational world, and police supervisors must be prepared to administer change.
Author Video: The supervisor’s role in law enforcement administration
But change is very challenging for most organizations, and even more so for those with long-
standing institutional traditions. The reactive, paramilitary structure of many departments reinforces
the tendency among police personnel to resist change.
Innovation is stifled in the traditional organization; members of traditional

organizations tend to resist changes which challenge the old ways of operating. . . .
Members of traditional organizations are also exposed to a conflicting set of expectations—
one moment they must make on-the-spot life-and-death decisions, and the next they are
treated like children who are not permitted to decide which uniform to wear when the
weather changes.26
In any case, if changes are sudden or drastic, they often elicit negative reactions from the people
they affect.
When change occurs in organizations that are flexible, encourage initiative, and allow for the
exercise of discretion in implementing change, the results can be favorable. Change can be
accomplished smoothly if employees are involved in the decision-making process, are knowledgeable
about the consequences of the change, and feel as though a need has been fulfilled by the change.27
As police administrators adopt less rigid, less hierarchical structures and encourage more
participation on the part of personnel at all levels, the police might be able to handle change as a
healthy organizational function rather than a crisis. That said, most police chiefs serve at the pleasure
of the city council, mayor, or city manager (at state and federal levels, they also serve at the pleasure of
political bodies).
Although they are key figures in implementing successful change, chiefs must also respond to
external pressure, have minimal job security, and may be indebted to politicians for their tenure in
office. Without job security, and lacking the necessary political cover, the ability of a chief to
implement broad changes in the department may be extremely limited. The average tenure of
municipal police chiefs is slightly more than five years.28 Health concerns, stress, politics, and personal
issues are related to the short tenures of chiefs; therefore, the position of chief of police in major cities
and small towns is a virtual revolving door. This can be another destabilizing change as well as a
significant expense for departments.
Time Design: An organizational design that involves assignment of personnel based on watches, tours, or shifts
As police administrators adopt less rigid, less hierarchical structures and encourage more participation on
the part of personnel at all levels, the police might be able to handle change as a healthy organizational
function rather than a crisis.
Police Militarization
The separation between the police and the military is a fundamental underpinning of democracy.
That separation was established in this nation during the Civil War, but has become less distinct in
recent years. During Reconstruction after the Civil War, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (updated in
1956 and in 1981) was intended to limit federal government powers in using military personnel for
domestic law enforcement.
Modern police militarization began with the advent of the SWAT team. The development of the
SWAT team is credited to former Los Angeles police chief Daryl F. Gates in 1966. SWAT originally
stood for special weapons attack team but was later changed to special weapons and tactics, because
the word attack seemed inappropriate to some city officials for a civilian police force.29 Chief Gates
needed a strategy to effectively respond to guerrilla tactics that were being used against the police in
Watts. Thus, the original intent of the SWAT team was to handle extraordinary and dangerous
situations with a specially trained force. SWAT raids are violent events, with typically 20 officers,

armed with assault rifles and grenades, breaking down doors and using weapons such as stun or
flashbang grenades, designed to disorient the target with loud noise and blinding light.
Web Link: Ferguson and the militarization of America’s police
In part, due to high-profile SWAT team deployments against the Black Panther Party and the
Symbionese Liberation Army, the idea of the SWAT team caught on, and less than 10 years later,
approximately 500 police agencies across the nation had established such forces.30 The SWAT team
made an impression on the public imagination as well, becoming a subject for television and children’s
During that same period, then-president Richard Nixon was escalating the so-called war on drugs.
Although the issue was strenuously debated, Congress authorized a “no-knock” raid policy for federal
narcotics agencies, eliminating the traditional knock and announce procedural requirement for the
police.31 Rhetoric from the White House that dehumanized drug offenders helped to create an
atmosphere of support for these federal raids, many of which agents conducted without warrants.
Since 1980, the SWAT team and the drug war have converged. President Ronald Reagan declared
drugs to be a threat to national security. President George H. W. Bush created Department of
Defense task forces that linked soldiers and police officers for drug interdiction. Police agencies
increasingly used special tactics as a strategy to search the homes of drug offenders. This practice has
persisted, despite an ongoing controversy over militarization. Proponents defend the need for its use,

citing officer safety and the presumed dangerousness of the typical drug trafficker and drug user. Since
9/11, military operations are not confined to theaters of war but are carried out among civilians in
densely populated areas. This has contributed to the blurring of the lines between war and law
The critics of militarization argue that neighborhoods should not be war zones, and local police
departments should not be convenient markets for surplus military equipment. Further, it is
dangerous for the police to view fellow citizens as enemies. They maintain that the force of military
operations is unnecessarily violent for carrying out domestic drug investigations, that there is very little
policy or standards to guide the use of military equipment, that there is virtually no entity responsible
for overseeing the use of such equipment, and that there are no requirements to collect reliable and
consistent data for properly evaluating military-style operations.
Militarization has gone beyond the SWAT team. In 1991, Congress created a program to
“reutilize” military equipment by making it available to police departments. Estimates are that 500
police departments have Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles built to “withstand
armor piercing roadside bombs.”32 Many of these have used federal grants to purchase these and other
military weapons include assault rifles, grenade launchers, and even aircraft.33 Even small towns with
lower-than-average crime rates have received tanks and M16s.
The drug war is largely considered a failure; the public mandate for continuing military policing is
waning. Some states are beginning to pass legislation to prevent excessive police militarization, and in
2013 the attorney general stated the intention of the White House to support criminal justice reforms
and widespread basis.
Police Unions and Collective Bargaining
The history of police labor disputes in the United States dates back to the 1800s. Generally,
public-sector unionization in the past lagged behind that of the private sector by at least 25 to 30
years, partly because the government had legal mechanisms not available to the private sector that
effectively squelched labor movements.35 Also, public opinion opposed strikes by police and
firefighters whose duties were to protect people and property. Historically, the public has been
strongly opposed to the use of work stoppages by the police, and the courts are generally willing to
issue injunctions to bring them to a halt in a relatively short time. Many police officers share this
public rejection of any police work stoppage and view collective action as self-defeating, because it
may result in hostility on the part of the public, the police chief, or others in positions of power.
An armored police vehicle takes position on the street in Benton Harbor, Michigan, June 18,
2003. Police ordered a 10 p.m. curfew on the town following two nights of rioting that left five
houses and five vehicles burned. Tension erupted after a motorcycle rider was killed following a

police chase.
© Reuters Photographer
Unionization of police personnel gained importance in the 1960s and 1970s, when many began to
recognize the increasing complexity of policing. Police officers began to demand compensation
commensurate with the task and the private sector.36 Union representatives began to recognize the
tremendous potential for growth in the expanding public sector and began to explore this new market.
Coupled with police dissatisfaction with wages, working conditions, and level of public support, these
changes resulted in a wave of union activities in police agencies. Furthermore, police administrators
had seen the results of well-organized, concerted action among other groups and reasoned that such
actions could succeed among police officers.
Audio Link: Collective Bargaining Curbs Spread Across the U.S.
Unlike many other governmental occupations, there currently is no national police officers’ union.
However, there is national recognition of the Fraternal Order of Police, police benevolent associations,
and police officers’ associations. In 2011, public-sector workers had a significantly higher union
membership rate (37%) than private-sector workers (7%).37
Most states and local governments engage in collective bargaining with police officers. Although
such negotiations affect a substantial portion of state and local budgets, they often occur away from
the public view.
Collective bargaining often involves an adversarial relationship between the union and
management, and negotiations are required to bridge the gap between the interests of the union and
those of management (see Figure 3.4). Police unions negotiate with management for salary, insurance,
vacation and sick days, pensions, longevity pay, compensatory time or pay, hiring standards,
assignment policies, discipline and grievance procedures, promotions, layoffs, productivity, and the
procedural rights of officers; negotiations cover the entire range of working conditions of officers and
management rights to determine the level of and the manner in which activities are conducted,
managed, and administered.
When good-faith bargaining and arbitration fail, unions may choose to strike to try to reach a
contract agreement. This happened in 2004 when members of the police union in Boston
picketed outside the convention center to delay preparations for the upcoming Democratic
National Convention. However, most police unions are denied strike privileges.
© Rick Friedman/Corbis
The use of force, including the use of deadly force, is an important concern for police officers and
agencies. Some states (e.g., Illinois) prohibit collective bargaining related to the circumstances in

which a police officer is permitted to use force.38
If union negotiations fail to lead to an agreement, the possibility of a work stoppage exists in
unionized police departments. As indicated previously, for the most part, police strikes are prohibited
by law, but police officers occasionally use job actions involving “blue flu,” work slowdowns, or work
speedups. The final product of collective bargaining negotiations is a contract that covers specific areas
of employer–employee relations and that binds both parties legally and morally to abide by its
provisions during a specified time period.
Figure 3.4 Status of Collective Bargaining Agreements for Sworn Personnel in Local Police
Departments, 2013
Source: Local police departments, 2013: Personnel, policies, and practices, by Brian A.
Reaves, May 2015. Bureau of Justice Statistics
Source: Local police departments, 2013: Personnel, policies, and practices, by Brian A.
Reaves, May 2015. Bureau of Justice Statistics
Police Unions and Professionalism
Collective bargaining typically results in highly formalized rules that delineate the rights and
obligations of both parties. The formal nature of such rules makes it difficult to bend them, even
though both parties may be willing to cooperate.
In clarifying the relationships between police administrators and line officers, union contracts may
have the effect of limiting discretion on both sides. For example, a contract that limits the amount of
overtime an officer is allowed to work may be an obstacle to an officer who is willing to work and is
needed on a particular shift.
The principle of rewards based on merit is often compromised in the process of unionization, so
that those who perform best can be rewarded no more than those who perform at minimum levels.
Some argue that unions promote mediocrity by requiring only minimal performance levels and by
failing to allow rewards for those who exceed these levels. Those who are self-motivated, dedicated,
and interested in advancing their careers and aiding the organization are not encouraged to do so, and
those who contribute little to the organization are protected.
In addition, unions tend to take on lives of their own, resulting in union leaders sometimes
representing their own or the union’s interests rather than those of the involved officers. Union
representatives may view these union positions as more important than their positions as police
officers, and police administrators may view union representatives as adversaries rather than
employees. Unions and management need not be adversaries. Both can work toward the betterment of
the organization and its police employees, and this sometimes happens.

You Decide 3.1
The Incident Command System (also called Incident Management System) was developed in the 1970s following a series
of catastrophic fires in California. The property damage ran into the millions of dollars, and many people died or were injured.
Several years later, the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 catapulted the ICS into national urgency.
Although the FBI is responsible for terrorism incidents, ICS training began taking place throughout the nation in 2004,
involving law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and schools. Although catastrophic incidents generally involve a local
agency, when faced with the worst-case scenario, such as September 11, 2001, all responding agencies must be able to interface
and work together.
Agencies train together prior to an incident and stock equipment and supplies at various agencies that can be quickly
accessed in emergencies. The plans require personnel from surrounding agencies to report to an incident and follow the chain
of command at the scene. A unified command system can be used (possibly involving more than one incident commander),
but a single agency incident commander is generally preferable. Radio communications are in normal language instead of radio
You can read more about ICS in chapter 7.
1. What are some pros and cons of organizing a national system that all local agencies must follow?
2. Terrorism falls under the umbrella of the FBI. Should the FBI fill the role of incident commander at all terrorist
incidents? Why or why not?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
Collective Bargaining: Negotiations between an employer and groups of employees to determine conditions of
Job Action: Occurs when negotiations fail to lead to an agreement and can include “blue flu”, work slowdowns,
and work speedups
Around the World 3.1
Compared to the United States, other nations around the world are much more accustomed to work stoppages and strikes
by those who provide vital services. Votes to strike by police in Rio de Janeiro and the threat of work stoppages by police “have
kept regions of the country on edge.” The issue involves police salaries, and federal authorities have decided to ready soldiers
and national police officers to maintain order if a strike occurs. Salaries for police officers in Bahia are “about $1,250 a month”
and approximately “$1,170 per month in Rio de Janeiro.”
“Authorities registered at least 142 homicides during the strike in Salvador, more than double the number in the same
period last year.” Intercepted cell phone conversations involving certain leaders of the police strike “suggested that rebellious
police officers were plotting acts of vandalism and were trying to extend the strike to other states.” The judiciary is divided
concerning the strike by police. Some judges believe it is lawful for police officers to strike. However, other judges described
the strike by police as an “aggression against the democratic rule of law.”
1. Do you believe that police officers and other safety employees (i.e., ambulance drivers and firefighters) should have
the same rights to strike as private citizens?
2. How do you feel about tying police salaries to a national financial index as a way of ensuring that law enforcement
officers across the nation receive a fair wage?
3. If police officers are not allowed to strike, do you believe it is reasonable for officers to take other measures, such as
work slowdowns or the “blue flu” (large number of officers calling in sick) to secure pay raises?
“Police strike by Brazilians makes holiday seem a threat,” by Simon Romero, February 2012. The New York Times.
Available online at
You Decide 3.2
During the bitter winter of 1971, police officers of the New York City Police Department walked out in a “wildcat” strike.
The strike caught many by surprise. The cause was the issue of pay “parity” between different ranks. Parity meant that, for
every dollar that a patrolman received in salary, the succeeding ranks received a differential pay increase. However, there was a
problem. The police department’s pay scale had become tied to the fire department’s pay scale, but the police department’s
rank structure was different from that of the fire department.
The first-line supervisor on the police department (first rank up from patrolman) was the rank of sergeant. The next rank
was lieutenant. The fire department first-line supervisor was the rank of lieutenant. The fire lieutenants had negotiated and
received greater pay for their rank than the police sergeants had received. This caused the Sergeants Benevolent Association to

go to court to fight for parity with the fire lieutenants. This news was welcomed by the police department’s rank-and-file
officers, because a victory in court on the parity issue would award the police sergeants a large, retroactive pay increase.
On the day of the strike, officers reported to their commands, changed into their uniforms, and stood ready to respond to
emergencies. They informed their supervisors that they would respond only to serious crimes and incidents during the job
action, but would not perform any routine patrol duties.
The department was quick to respond to the job action. They cancelled all days off for supervisors and other members of
the department. The sergeants and detectives of the precincts manned a few patrol cars to maintain coverage. The wildcat
strike lasted for five days. In the end, the parity issue was settled in the officers’ favor. Officers were fined two days’ pay for
each of the five days of the strike. Fortunately, the weather was extremely cold, and the incidence of crime during the strike
was very low.
1. Should police officers be allowed to strike?
2. If so, under what conditions?
3. If police officers are not allowed to strike, what methods can they use to negotiate for fair wages and benefits?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
Adapted from
Police Professionalism
Professionalism involves belonging to a profession, achieving a level of mastery and specialized
knowledge, and behaving in a way that is consistent with professional standards. Furthermore, a
profession usually requires some form of accreditation, certification, or licensing and has a code of
ethics that guides members and helps hold them accountable.
An overriding value that affects all police operations is professionalism, which became a goal of
policing during the Reform Era (see Chapter 2) and continues to be so.
However, early on, society had yet to clearly decide the proper role of the police, and the resulting
ambiguity concerning the police role seriously hampered these efforts to increase police
professionalism. In addition, the term means different things to different people, making consensus
about the requirements for a professional police force difficult to achieve. Some police administrators
refer to tangible improvements such as computers, the latest weaponry or communications, or
advances in crime lab equipment as signs of professionalism. In fact, a department may have all of
these tangible indicators but still be unprofessional if officers fail to meet certain requirements.
As police agencies became more bureaucratic, relied more on civil services rules and regulations,
and became more unionized, officer discretion tended to be more restricted. That is, officer autonomy
was increasingly curtailed—yet autonomy is highly valued by most professionals. The distinguishing
feature of professional work is the freedom to make decisions according to professional norms of
conduct without having to temper every decision by bureaucratic constraint.39
Characteristics of a profession include the following:
1. A body of professional literature
2. Research
3. A code of ethics
4. Membership in professional associations
5. Dedication to self-improvement
6. The existence of a unique, identifiable academic field of knowledge attainable through higher
Professional Literature and Research
There is a growing body of professional literature on the police. Journals such as Police Quarterly
and Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management contain reports of police
research (the second criterion). Periodicals such as Police Chief, the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, and
a rapidly expanding number of government reports and texts on the police contribute additional

information on police operations, organizations, and programs. In addition, there are literally
hundreds of master’s theses and doctoral dissertations concerning the police. Much of the information
contained in these publications was collected using legitimate research techniques, and as grant monies
from a variety of sources have become available, the body of literature based on police research has
expanded dramatically in recent years.
Profession: Occupation often requiring some form of accreditation, certification, or licensing and usually includes a
code of ethics
Code of Ethics
The International Association of Chiefs of Police developed and later modified a code of ethics
(conduct) for police. It is difficult to determine the extent to which police officers are familiar with
these documents.
Professional Associations
There are a number of professional police associations, mostly for chief executive officers.
Organizations such as the Fraternal Order of Police are oriented toward rank-and-file officers as well,
but they may serve mainly as social organizations as collective-bargaining agents. Associations for staff
personnel and field supervisors have traditionally been far less common. In recent years, there has been
some expansion of professional organizations among police planners, investigators, and those assigned
to the accreditation process.
The evidence is mixed when it comes to dedication to self-improvement. There are as yet no
national minimum standards for either departments or police personnel. Many states do not even
mandate ongoing training after an officer completes the basic-training program. Among more
progressive police personnel, there is an increasing interest in accreditation in establishing police
officer standards. To the extent that both rank-and-file and middle-management personnel view their
jobs as blue-collar shift work involving little need for advanced education, dedication to self-
improvement may be minimal. To some extent, this view is encouraged by both the paramilitary
nature of police organizations and the police subculture, which often regards police work as piecework
—a certain number of traffic citations, responses to service requests, and arrests equals a good day’s
work. To be fair, some police administrations encourage this view as well.
Code of Ethics: A set of principles that guide decision making and behavior for police officers, both on and off
duty; the code defines the standards for professionalism, which is key to the integrity of police officers and their
credibility with the public
Academic Field
A unique, identifiable field of study in police science has emerged. As we have seen, there are
hundreds of college-level academic programs in policing and criminal justice. The quality of these
programs varies tremendously. In addition, there is no consensus on precisely what topics should be
included in these programs. Still, some officers are earning both undergraduate and graduate degrees
in police science, law enforcement, and criminal justice programs. These achievements
notwithstanding, police professionalism remains an elusive goal for a variety of reasons. Some police
executives are dedicated to the attainment of professional standards, while others pay only lip service
to it. Still others have no dedication to professionalism. Even though presidential commissions have

recommended a higher education requirement, police have failed to keep pace with many other service
professions. By far, the most common educational requirement in policing is still a high school
education. In fact, some departments that required a four-year college degree subsequently eased their
hiring requirements and began accepting applicants with two years of college or three years of service
in the military.40 These professional requirements will help determine the nature of the police for
many years to come.
Through the combined efforts of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and
the Police Executive Research Forum, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement
Agencies (CALEA) was established in 1979. The foundation of accreditation, a significant
professional achievement, lies in the development of standards that articulate a clear statement of
professional objectives.41 Participating law enforcement agencies conduct a self-analysis to determine
how existing operations can be adapted to meet the objectives developed by CALEA. When the
procedures are in place, a team of trained assessors verifies that the application standards have been
successfully implemented, which then results in accreditation for the agency.42
SAGE Journal Article: Assessing Professionalism: Street-Level Attitudes and Agency
The commission developed a voluntary accreditation process wherein law enforcement agencies at
the state, county, and municipal levels are evaluated in terms of the defined standards. The current
edition of the process includes over 400 standards that cover nine law enforcement areas. Ultimately,
the CALEA standards are designed to assist law enforcement agencies concerning six goals:
1. Strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities
2. Formalize essential management procedures
3. Establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices
4. Improve service delivery
5. Solidify interagency cooperation and coordination
6. Increase community and staff confidence in the agency43
To remain accredited, agencies must maintain compliance with applicable standards. Many states
have police accrediting organizations, and many police departments have attained accreditation at the
state level.
Although professionalism has proven an elusive goal for the police, and while there are still pockets
of resistance to meeting the requirements of a profession, a growing number of police personnel
appear to be committed to that goal. Enlightened police administrators and unions should participate
as partners in the search for professionalism.
Accreditation: Development of standards containing a clear statement of professional objectives
3 Under Review

Chapter Summary
In general, organizational structure is often influenced by the size of the organization, tradition, function, degree of
professionalism, receptiveness to change, and style of leadership. Today’s police agencies implement organizational structures
that vary depending on the style of policing, the size of the community, and the resources available to the agency. In addition,
the size of the organization depends on the surrounding environment; on whether the police agency is a municipal, county,
state, or federal organization; and on political and economic considerations.
Most police organizations have a form of hierarchical structure that involves the principles of unity of command, rank,
structure, and span of control. Agencies consider function, geography, and scheduling in designing their organizations. Many
departments have implemented and experimented with more decentralized organizational structures. This has been in part
based on community-oriented policing, which calls for flatter organizations, fewer ranks, and the development of police
officers as generalists.
During the earliest politics-controlled era, police were generalists who maintained close contact with the citizens they
served as well as with politicians.44 During the professional era, in an attempt to eradicate the corruption and patronage
abuses endemic to the previous era, police operated as specialists in crime control and distanced themselves from citizens and
heavy-handed political influence.45 To address contemporary problems, community-oriented policing research called for
police to once again become more involved in solving problems and providing service to the community.
Major concerns of police unions in negotiations with management include issues of salary, insurance, vacation and sick
days, pension, longevity, compensation time, discipline, and grievance procedures. However, departments retain certain
management rights including the right to determine the mission of the police department, standard of service, and procedures
for selection and promotion. In most cases, if negotiations fail between the police union and management, strikes are
prohibited by law. Resolution of stalled negotiations between the union and police management usually involves a form of
mediation, fact finding, or arbitration. Professionalism and professional standards for the police are enhanced through a code
of ethics, higher education, and agency accreditation, among other things.
Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.
Organizations 37
Hierarchies 38
Unity of Command 38
Rank Structure 38
Span of Control 38
Incident Command System (ICS) 39
Line Personnel 38
Police Paramilitary Unit 41
Chain of Custody 45
Functional Organizational Design 48
Matrix Structure 42
Place Design 48
Time Design 51
Collective Bargaining 54
Job Action 55
Profession 57
Code of Ethics 58
Accreditation 59
Discussion Questions

Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.
1. What are the interconnections among police discretionary practices, police organizational structures, and police functions?
2. Describe the traditional police organizational structure. Discuss its strengths and weaknesses.
3. Compare and contrast the advantages of small (fewer than 10 personnel) and large police agencies from the perspective of the
public, the officers involved, and the chief executive officer.
4. Compare and contrast the function, place, and time organizational designs.
5. Discuss the context in which police organizations operate and the importance of the environment to the police.
6. Assess the current state of police leadership in your community, using whatever sources are available (interviews with police
supervisors, the media, etc.).
7. What are the characteristics of a profession? To what extent are these characteristics currently found among police personnel?
8. Are police unions and police professionalism compatible? Why or why not?
9. What are the relationships between police professionalism and accreditation? What is the rationale behind police
Internet Exercises
Look up your local or campus police department online.
1. Does the department provide information or a chart describing the agency’s organizational structure?
2. What forms of organizational design does the department use? Explain how it is organized by function, place, and time.
Student Study Site
Sharpen your skills with SAGE edge!
SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and
links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.


Part II Police Operations
© AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Chapter 4: Recruitment and Selection of Police Officers
Chapter 5: Police Training and Education
Chapter 6: Police Work: Operations and Functions
Chapter 7: Contemporary Strategies in Policing

Chapter 4 Recruitment and Selection of Police Officers
© AP Photo/John Minchillo
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the importance of recruiting and selecting officers in a dynamic cultural context
2. Discuss some of the laws and regulations that affect the recruitment and hiring processes of police organizations
3. Evaluate strategies police organizations use to recruit qualified and diverse entry-level applicants
4. Describe the five areas police organizations test to screen applicants
5. Summarize the processes police organizations use to fill supervisory positions
6. Identify the skills and requirements for police chiefs
Every police department must recruit and select personnel to fill its positions and the complex
roles involved in policing. There are three basic personnel levels: the entry level, the supervisory level,
and the chief level. The prolonged economic downturn of the 2000s has resulted in a greater number
of high-caliber candidates looking for jobs.1 This is a reversal from other periods when police agencies
struggled to locate qualified recruits. Observers agree that this increase is largely based on the
reduction in corporate organizations; police chiefs expect that those victims of corporate reductions
should be well suited for public safety positions, because many have experience in the workforce,
worked as a part of a team, and are more mature about the world of work in general.2 Recruitment
and selection are critical to the success of any agency.
A large percentage of promotions in police agencies are internal, but some agencies hire from
outside at all levels. Either way, it is imperative that police administrators attract qualified applicants,
especially with respect to women and minorities, an issue that is addressed in detail in Chapter 12.
Police agencies must all grapple with how they define the traits that characterize the ideal police
officer, police supervisor, and police chief. They must decide which of the desired traits a candidate
must have at the outset and which can be developed through training. Then, agencies must develop
the most effective strategies for locating, attracting, and hiring those desirable candidates.

The Importance of Recruitment and Selection
Recruiting and selecting personnel is enormously important for police departments, which rely on
every officer to maintain high performance and a good reputation. Personnel is also a department’s
main expense, roughly 85%.
Video Link: Officers wanted: Police departments struggle with recruiting
Productive recruitment and selection procedures are critical at every level of a police organization.
Poor recruitment and selection procedures result in hiring or promoting personnel who cannot or will
not perform well and according to agency standards, for example, communicating effectively with
diverse populations or exercising appropriate discretion. Even in the 21st century, questions still exist
about whether current preemployment screening techniques accurately identify the candidates who
can successfully complete the training academy and perform well on the job.3
Members of the June 2014 graduating class of the New York City Police Academy embrace
during their graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York.
© REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Policing in Practice Video: What do you find as the most enjoyable aspect of being a police
Generational Issues
There are generational differences among these groups based on their experiences and the social
context in which they matured.4 Although generation gaps are not new, they are much more complex
today than those previously experienced.5 Generational differences can create conflicts in values
between the veteran officers and their younger counterparts. Many sociologists who study the
workforce predict that there will be stiff competition for dedicated and skilled workers in the future.
They also project that by 2020, the majority of police officers will be Millennials.6 In many
departments, Generation X police officers are now supervising baby-boomer officers. To the extent
that the younger generation of police professionals is characterized by a feeling of entitlement to
personal time or upward mobility, this may pose a conflict for police organizations.7 Policing is 24/7
and often requires personnel to continue to work overtime, to replace missing personnel, or to be
recalled to duty because of an emergency. Police work is rigorous and constant and often calls for
service outside of a 9–5 schedule.

Many baby-boomer police officers served in the military and became used to discipline and a
hierarchy of authority. They had the ability to cope with stress in the crucible of military training and
service and fit readily into the hierarchical structures that typically define police organizations.8
However, younger recruits have been exposed to modern liberalism, the passage of affirmative-action
laws, increased civil disobedience, and changes in both family and authority structures.
Generation X came of age when the world was less welcoming and concerned about children than
the atmosphere for raising the subsequent generation. A context characterized by zero population
growth and institutional day care helped foster a generation marked by self-centeredness and a fierce
sense of independence.
The Millennials have a different work ethic, are influenced by the digital media, regard the threat
of terrorism as a fact of life, and live in a global community that is constantly connected.9 As
employees, this generation is confident, idealistic, eager, and passionate about their quality of life.10
Sociologists are paying considerable attention to the effect on a new generation of workers of
coming of age with video games. Some argue that the result is a generation with a systematically
different way of working.11 Some believe that the traits associated with video games, for example, will
have a positive effect on policing and will allow those agencies that recruit and retain these new-
generation officers to thrive. Specifically, the following characteristics may be associated with
Millennial police applicants:
Work in teams
Perform work of significance
Have flexibility in their daily environment
Engage in activities consistent with heroism12
Policing in Practice Video: Policing in Practice Video: In consideration of your new status
as a young police officer, do you find there are any generation gaps in your department?
Both Gen X and the Millennials are technoliterate and skilled at multitasking. Technoliteracy is
the highly refined level of understanding and skill in manipulating the various technologies present in
today’s workplace.
Forward-thinking leaders in police departments recognize that they must begin planning,
especially for recruiting high-quality leaders. Weak leadership leads to more of the same; thus, today’s
efforts to understand and address generational differences will set the stage for leadership succession
far into the future. Unfortunately, many departments have neglected planning at the agency level, and
have certainly failed to consider how the transition from one generation to the next affects the change
of leadership. Understanding the generational differences in characteristics and attitudes will be crucial
for the Generation X peers, supervisors, and managers who will be training and mentoring members
of the millennial generation in the future.13
The strong tradition of service by the police to the community could be a powerful motivator for
the new generation of police officers. Many police agencies have been slow to recognize the
generational distinctions that accompany today’s police applicant. However, as police agency culture
and values evolve with the times, many agencies are recruiting a new type of candidate to fit with their
mission and expanding community partnerships.14 Members of the new generation of police officers
need to feel they will be included in decision making, will be recognized for their achievements, and
will work for an organization with high moral values. In addition, they may crave a dynamic
environment and not have the patience for bureaucracy.15 Police agencies are applying marketing

strategies in recruiting to law enforcement by characterizing it as an exciting profession that offers
adventure and an opportunity to be of service.16 They realize more and more that the competition for
qualified workers means convincing them that law enforcement offers an important and fulfilling
Exhibit 4.1
Traits and Principles of an Effective Police Officer
The following is a list some of the traits necessary to be an effective police officer.
Acceptance of responsibility for self and others
Acceptance of criticism
Acceptance of extra responsibility without compensation
Analytical, without tendency to jump to conclusions
Readiness to lend assistance
Ability to compromise for greater good
Ability to challenge unlawful orders or authority
Obedience to lawful and reasonable orders
Intolerance of corruption
Rejection of unearned personal praise
Source: From “Sixteen traits recruiters are looking for,” by P. Patti, 2009, Police Link: The Nation’s Law Enforcement
Exhibit 4.2
Boomers to Generation Z
In most police departments, several generations work side by side. According to one demographic model, the current
generations are popularly referred to as follows:
“Baby boomers” (born between 1946 and 1964)
“Generation X” (born between 1961 and 1984)
“Millennials” or “Generation Y” (born between 1982 and 2002)
“Generation Z” (born between 2003 and present day)
Members of the new generation of police officers need to feel they will be included in decision making,
will be recognized for their achievements, and will work for an organization with high moral values.
The Process
In many cases, much of the recruitment and selection of police personnel is conducted by civilians
with varying degrees of input from police administrators. That is, police and fire commissioners,
personnel departments, or civil service board members often determine who is eligible for hiring, and
police officials may select officers from among those on the eligibility list. The former also have a good
deal of input in the case of promotions. Assessment teams, city managers, mayors, and council

members typically determine the selection of chief.
Policing in Practice Video: Police Chief’s recruitment and interview tips for students
interested in policing careers
Depending on the trajectory of an officer’s career, he or she is subject to parts of the recruitment
and selection process on a recurring basis. Once selected for an entry-level position by a specific
department, the officer is likely to be screened for promotions or training programs for different
assignments (detective, juvenile officer, crime technician, patrol officer) or a different rank. Some may
ultimately be selected as chief.
Some officers make a conscious choice to remain patrol officers and to not seek opportunities for
promotion. These officers choose to serve their careers “working the line,” specializing, or doing
traditional police work (e.g., handling calls for service and conducting investigations). In contrast,
other officers are more focused on administration and opportunities for promotion. They spend the
majority of their careers working a variety of supervisory and managerial positions. Because of
differences in career goals and experiences, the groups may have conflicting views about the
organization’s mission and goals. Career patrol officers must learn to work with career administrators
and vice versa.
Policing in Practice Video: Police Officer’s advice for students interested in policing careers
Antidiscrimination Legislation
The various requirements of recruitment reveal some of the difficulties involved in selecting
personnel who will meet situation-specific needs. It is important to understand the legal context in
which such processes occur. Federal antidiscrimination laws are of particular interest to police
Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action
For most of our history, U.S. employers, both public and private, have been relatively free to
establish their own criteria for hiring, promoting, denying employment to, or firing staff, even though
the U.S. Constitution—in the 1st, 5th, and 14th Amendments—prohibits deprivation of
employment rights without due process of law. Further, the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1870, and
1871 prohibited racial discrimination in hiring and placement as well as deprivation of equal
employment rights under the cover of state law.17
Still, it wasn’t until 1964 and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of that year—specifically Title
VII—that many employers began to take equal employment rights seriously. Discrimination on the
basis of an immutable characteristic associated with race—such as skin color, hair texture, or certain
facial features—violated Title VII. The protection was conceived in this way even though not all
members of a race share the same characteristics.18 In addition, the Office of Personnel Management
has included a prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In fact, certain
personnel actions cannot be based on attributes or conduct—such as marital status or political
affiliation—that does not adversely affect employee performance.19 The Equal Employment
Opportunity Act (EEOA) established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to
investigate complaints of discrimination. Following these changes in federal law, states also began

passing such laws in the form of fair employment statutes.20
In general terms, these laws hold that discrimination occurs when requirements for hiring and
promotion are not bona fide (they are not actually related to the job) and when a disparate impact
occurs to members of a minority group.21 Federal legislation requires that all employers with more
than 15 employees refrain from policies and procedures that discriminate against specified categories
of individuals.22 The burden of demonstrating that requirements for hire are job-related falls on the
employer, while the burden of showing a disparate impact of those requirements falls on the
complainant. For a complainant to successfully sue an employer for discrimination, the court must
find both conditions in favor of the complainant. That is, it is possible to have job requirements that
have a disparate impact but are nonetheless valid. For example, if it could be demonstrated that police
officers routinely had to remove accident victims from vehicles to avoid the possibility of further
injury due to fire or explosion, and if this job requirement also eliminated from policing women or
other categories of applicants, the requirement would not be discriminatory under the law. If, however,
these actions were seldom if ever required of police officers, the requirement would be discriminatory.
Web Link: Nottinghamshire Police, Policy for Equal Opportunities for Employment
It is important to understand the context within which charges of discrimination are filed and
decided. Government agencies, including police departments, have gradually realized the combined
impact of equal employment opportunity laws and executive orders. Prior to the early 1970s, most

police departments employed predominantly White men, a practice that became the focus of
numerous legal challenges. These challenges came in the form of court actions and as complaints to
the EEOC alleging discrimination on the part of employers.
During this same period, the concept of affirmative action gained prominence. Affirmative-action
programs are intended to prevent discrimination in current hiring and promotional practices. They
are also meant to actively correct imbalances in the racial proportions of employee populations so that
those more accurately reflect their respective communities and more equitably distribute opportunity.
Some employers voluntarily establish affirmative-action programs, because they recognize the
importance of hiring without regard to race, creed, or ethnicity. Other employers implement such
programs only when threatened with legal action based on alleged discrimination. Some employers
fight charges of discrimination in the courts. If employers are found to be in violation, they stand to
lose federal financial support; they often agree to develop and implement affirmative-action programs
to prevent this loss. Such cases often involve a consent decree that is designed to achieve some sort of
balance in terms of race, ethnicity, or gender in the workforce. In other cases, the courts impose plans
and timetables on employers and can impose severe sanctions, such as fines, if the agency fails to meet
the goals of the plans within the specified time period.
A billboard recruiting employment for the Seattle Police Dept. appears on the West Side of
Manhattan. Pay in Seattle starts at $47,334 a year and rises to its maximum base pay of $67,045
after six years. NYPD recruits start at $25,100 jumping to $32,800 after graduation and reaching
$59,588 after seven years.
© Richard B. Levine/Newscom
The use of consent decrees has led to a good deal of confusion and widespread ill feelings among
employers and White male employees. On the one hand, the EEOA prohibits discrimination based on
race, creed, religion, sex, or national origin and states that employers will not be forced to hire less
qualified candidates over more qualified candidates. On the other hand, as part of a consent decree or
out-of-court settlement, quotas have been used as a remedy in discrimination lawsuits.23 In most cases,
there must be a compelling state interest to justify a quota, which is often only applied when no other
policy is likely to work.24
The shift away from discriminatory employment practices in policing, as well as in many other
areas, has been slow and sometimes painful, yet it is necessary to maximize the number of qualified
applicants and to make police agencies representative of the communities they serve. The police will
not be viewed as understanding community problems unless they have employees who reflect the
community’s population and perspective.28 Many agencies have tried and are still trying to hire and
promote minority group members for the obvious advantages that result.
The following list illustrates that certain requirements must be met to avoid charges of
discrimination in employment.

Job requirements must be valid.
Job requirements must be reliable.
Testing must be consistent.
Testing must accurately reflect the job.
Rating errors and bias must be monitored.29
Immutable Characteristics: Characteristics determined at birth or characteristics individuals should not be asked to
Discrimination: Treating people differently because of their race, gender, religion, or national origin; involves
behavior that, in its negative form, excludes all members of a certain group from some rights, opportunities, or
Disparate Impact: Involves an employment policy or practice that, although seemingly neutral, adversely impacts a
person or group
Affirmative Action: Programs that are ntended to prevent discrimination in present hiring and promotion practices
and to actively promote proportional representation and equitable opportunity
Consent Decree: Agreement related to an employer achieving a balance in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender in
the workforce
The police will not be viewed as understanding community problems unless they have employees who
reflect the community’s population and perspective.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VII prohibits job discrimination based on specific characteristics of a person that are
determined at birth and other characteristics that applicants should not be expected to alter (race,
gender, age, national origin, disability, religion). Besides these characteristics, a number of employer
practices can also become violations of Title VII. For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an
individual because of birthplace, ancestry, culture, or linguistic characteristics common to a specific
ethnic group.30 In addition, requiring that employees speak only English on the job may violate Title
VII unless the organization shows that the requirement is necessary to conduct business. Most police
departments require English; many have also established minimum competency levels for Spanish.
With respect to religion under Title VII, employers are required to reasonably accommodate the
religious beliefs of an employee or prospective employee, unless doing so would impose an undue
hardship on the organization.31
Title VII also involves a number of broad prohibitions concerning sex discrimination. Agencies
must ensure that pregnant applicants and employees are afforded the full protection of the law,
policies, and practices with respect to evaluating applicants for positions within the department.32
Exhibit 4.3
Ricci v. DeStefano
In the case of Ricci v. DeStefano, the U.S. Supreme Court found that employment law only rarely permits quotas to
remedy racial imbalance.25 The case involved 58 White, 23 African American, and 19 Hispanic firefighters who tested to
determine eligibility for promotion to captain and lieutenant in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. The civil service board
refused to certify the results, denying promotions to those who had earned them. The tests generated a disparate impact, since
the results of the African American and Hispanic applicants were below those of the White candidates for the open
positions.26 The Court ruled that the New Haven civil service board violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The case

of Ricci v. DeStefano indicates that employers should carefully evaluate whether a test (or any method of selection) may have
disproportionate or adverse effects on certain groups, whether a less discriminatory method of testing or selection is available,
and how accurately the test or method of selection is in correctly selecting those employees who are “best able to perform the
required duties and responsibilities of the relevant job.”27 This is particularly important for police agencies that require
applicants to perform a variety of testing procedures prior to appointment as a police officer.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) provides for a broad ban concerning age
discrimination. An age limit may only be specified in the rare circumstance where age has been proven
to be a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ)—a necessity for the normal operation of an
organization.33 As an example, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, only hired police officers who at the time of
application were between ages 21 and 35, or up to age 40 if the applicant was already certified as a
full-time police officer. In most cases, police agencies are allowed to restrict the age of applicants if
they pass the two-step test for analyzing BFOQs that pertain to certain age groups. In other words,
“an employer must show that there is either (1) a substantial basis for believing that all or nearly all the
employees above a certain age lack the qualifications for the position in question; or (2) that reliance
on an age classification is necessary because it is highly impractical for the employer to insure by
individual testing that its employees will have the necessary qualifications for the job.”34 In most cases,
the approach involved in restricting the age for police applicants or setting a mandatory retirement age
requires the employer to “show a relationship, usually empirical, between age and increased risk to
public safety; age and physical ability, agility, or decline; or age and risk of personal injury or
Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ): An exception to the prohibition against basing hiring decisions
on religion, race, sex, age, or national origin, if such basis is shown to be a requirement necessary to the specific
functions of the job
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990. There is little doubt that many
police agencies could be vulnerable to litigation as a result of the act. The ADA makes it illegal to
discriminate against persons with certain categories of disabilities, limits blanket exclusions, and
requires that the selection process deal with individuals on a case-by-case basis. To be protected under
the ADA, the individual must have a disability or physical or mental impairment, must have a record
of such disability, or must be regarded as having such a disability, and must be otherwise qualified for
the position in question. In cases of a qualified individual with a disability, the employer may be
required to provide a reasonable accommodation for the employee with a disability.
In most cases, the ADA applies to persons who have impairments that substantially limit major life
activities defined as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning,
caring for oneself, and working.36 For example, the Illinois State Police agreed to eliminate a policy
that automatically excluded police cadet applicants who used assistive devices such as hearing aids to
attenuate hearing loss or insulin pumps to control diabetes.37 The state agreed to individually assess
such applicants to determine their eligibility for hiring. Additionally, a person with epilepsy, paralysis,
HIV infection, AIDS, or a substantial learning disability is covered, but an individual with a minor,
nonchronic condition of short duration such as a sprain, a broken arm, or the flu is not covered.
Examples of accommodation include building ramps to provide access to buildings or work sites,
designating parking spaces for those with disabilities, installing elevators, or redesigning work stations
or restrooms.
The ADA divides the employment process into three phases: (1) the application/interview phase,

(2) the postconditional offer stage, and (3) the working stage.38 During the first phase, the ADA limits
inquiries to nondisability qualifications of applicants. Employers may not ask about prior drug
addiction, for example, because that is covered under the ADA. They may ask about current illegal
drug use, because that is not covered under the ADA.
The ADA protects those with mental impairments who are otherwise qualified for the job. A
psychological examination could violate the ADA if it is used to uncover recognized mental disorders
and is viewed as part of the medical examination. In such cases, the psychological test, like the medical
examination, should be delayed until the second stage—after an employment offer is made. However,
if a psychological test deals with characteristics such as honesty, taste, or habits, it is not considered a
medical examination and may be used at the application or interview stage.39
Author Video: Hiring process
Once a conditional offer of employment has been made, employers may ask about disabilities or
may require a medical examination to determine whether accommodation is necessary and reasonable.
If it is, the employer must generally provide such accommodation. In most cases, police departments
can administer tests that measure an applicant’s ability to perform job-related tasks or physical fitness
before any job offer is made.40 These tests are not considered to be medical exams. Additionally, any
test that screens out a police applicant with disabilities must be job related and consistent with
business necessity. Also, it is not a violation of the ADA to ask a police applicant to provide a
certification from a medical doctor that he or she can safely perform the physical agility test.
Following employment—during the third stage—the ADA requires that disability-related inquiries be
made only if they are job related, and reasonable accommodation is again required.
Qualified Individual With a Disability: Interpreted to mean the job applicant must be able to perform the
essential elements of the job with or without reasonable accommodation
Reasonable Accommodation: Refers to new construction or modification of existing facilities and work schedules,
as long as the modification does not cause the agency undue hardship, such as significant expense or difficulty
Entry-Level Recruitment and Selection
One important personnel expense for any organization, including police departments, is the cost
associated with attracting qualified applicants, such as advertising. The objective of the recruitment
process is to select candidates who can meet entry-level requirements and who can successfully
complete the training academy and the probationary period and become high-performing officers who
stay with the job.
Costs of Outreach
The objective of outreach is to attract from the total pool of potential applicants for police work
those—and only those—who are both qualified and seriously interested in policing. The more
applicants who do not meet both of these requirements, the more expensive the recruiting process. Let
us assume, hypothetically, that the cost of processing one police recruit from application to placement
on the eligibility list is $1,000. Suppose the agency attracts 50 applicants for one available vacancy.
And suppose that 40 of the 50 applicants pass all the tests given in the early stages of the selection
process. When the agency conducts background investigations on the 40, however, it discovers that 10
of them have prior felony convictions. The municipality has wasted the money spent on processing
these individuals, because in most jurisdictions, they cannot be hired as police officers, regardless of

their performance on the tests. Suppose that 10 more applicants have no interest in police work once
they discover something about its nature and would not accept a police position if it were offered.
Now there are 20 applicants remaining, but the agency has only one vacancy. As you can see, the cost
of recruiting the one individual can run into tens of thousands of dollars. To some extent, these
difficulties are inherent in the recruitment and selection processes. But the expense involved compels
agencies to be as smart as possible with their recruiting strategies.
Policing in Practice Video: Challenging aspects of the recruitment and selection processes
There are several ways for agencies to reduce some of their recruitment costs, for instance
recruiting and selecting for multiple positions at once. Some departments have found that charging a
nominal fee for the application eliminates some applicants who might simply be testing the waters.
However, in today’s tight market, charging an application fee—especially when not all agencies do so
—may not be in a department’s best interests. Detailed application forms that request specific
information probably also eliminate some who are using narcotics, some who have prior felony
convictions, and so on. The more of these applicants eliminated at this stage, the less costly the
recruiting process.
Costs also may be reduced, however, by developing an advertising campaign that clearly states the
requirements of the position and describes the duties to be performed as accurately as possible. Thus, a
statement that those with prior felony convictions need not apply might be part of the advertisement.
This may not guarantee that such persons will not apply, but it may discourage those who have no
chance of being hired. The point is that the more accurately the qualities sought are described, the less
likely it is that large numbers of unqualified people will apply, thus helping to keep recruiting costs as
low as possible. At the same time, however, advertisements must be designed to attract as many
qualified applicants as possible. Basic logic in human resources would recommend improving pay and
benefits, recruiting officers with the right skills for community policing, allowing or encouraging
changes in job roles to enhance officers’ satisfaction, improving career development, changing
residency requirements, and creating incentives for retirement-eligible officers to remain with the
Targeted Recruiting
Targeted recruiting strategies are intended to attract the most qualified, eligible, and interested
candidates, which, in turn, can reduce department personnel costs. Departments need to understand
the ways their applicants learn about opportunities. For example, younger applicants increasingly use
the Internet to assist them in their job searches. Therefore, police agencies must be attuned to the
goals and communication methods of potential recruits to recruit effectively. Recruits are most likely
to be interested in a good salary and a good benefits package. They also may assess the state of
departmental technology, opportunities for advancement, and available equipment before they make a
career choice. Recruiting efforts may be directed at college campuses, high schools, and minority
neighborhoods. Conducting orientation sessions for applicants that provide a realistic picture of police
work in the different departments is another valuable tool in “selecting out” unsuitable applicants.
Policing in Practice Video: Experience as a dispatcher
Many police departments use the Internet to advertise vacancies, and some allow applications over

the Internet. Those seeking jobs as police officers can also use the web to learn how to take entry-level
Outreach efforts should also indicate that the police department is an equal opportunity employer
and women and minorities are invited to apply. Including these statements is especially necessary in
police recruitment, because police departments have traditionally been viewed by both minorities and
women as White male domains. Advertising campaigns must take this fact into account, and
advertisements should be placed beyond the more traditional professional journals and newspapers
and should appear in magazines and on Internet sites that are most likely to reach women and
minorities. If departments want to accurately represent their communities and provide the best-
possible services, they must find ways to attract the best-qualified candidates.
Policing in Practice Video: What are some challenges of achieving diversity in the police
One strategy for increasing diversity is to ensure that women and members of minority groups are
part of the hiring process. In addition, women and minorities need to be part of the group that
evaluates the hiring process. (See Chapter 12 for more information on diversity in policing.)
Monitoring and Evaluating
For departments to clearly understand the effects of their recruiting efforts, they must continually
monitor, evaluate, and adjust their strategies. For example, if a department collects data from
candidates about how they heard about the job opportunity and what made them decide to apply, the
collected data can be used to analyze whether strategies are having their intended effect and where they
can be adjusted to improve. This is especially true in regards to recruiting women and minorities—
groups that may be overlooked or excluded in police recruiting. In the case of women, administrators
can analyze where along the selection process women are being disqualified or rated lower than men.
They can make deliberate attempts to remove the obstacles that prevent women from succeeding,
when possible. In addition, they can examine their entire recruitment and selection process and
analyze it for gender bias.43 One part of the process that has come under specific scrutiny is testing for
physical agility and strength. As mentioned elsewhere, such tests need to be specifically related to the
requirements of the job.
Recruiting and Retaining Women Officers
The successful recruitment and retention of women entails challenges worthy of special attention.
In today’s economy, law enforcement agencies face enormous obstacles in recruiting qualified
candidates, yet traditional strategies for recruitment frequently overlook women as a pool of qualified
applicants. Departments that make the decision to hire women need to adequately express their
commitment to doing so in their outreach efforts.
As time passes, fewer people question the need for women in all professions. In policing, the
qualities that women can bring to the field are more widely recognized and accepted than ever. The
National Center for Women and Policing (NCWP) cited a number of advantages for police agencies
that hire and retain women:

Enlarging the pool of competent candidates
Reducing the likelihood of the use of excessive force by officers
Assistance in implementing community-oriented policing
Improving law enforcement’s response to violence against women
Reducing the incidence of sex discrimination and sexual harassment claims
Bringing about beneficial changes in policy for all officers44
The question is more how to break down entrenched obstacles and achieve gender equity.
Recruitment strategies need to maximize media attention through websites, publications that have a
large female readership, career fairs, strategic marketing, and communications that address the job
considerations of likely candidates. Some are borrowing from the recruiting strategies of the corporate
world, which have always invested in understanding the preferences and attitudes of their potential
clients.46 Recruitment efforts to attract women candidates need to focus on positive images of female
officers and should be conducted in places women frequent, such as job centers that focus on women.
Having female officers serve as recruiters is another strategy. Reaching out to girls in high school may
help to encourage women to consider policing as a possible career. Designing and employing more
female-friendly equipment and uniforms may boost job satisfaction among women officers. Emphasis
on programs designed to accommodate work and family issues, such as pregnancy leave and assistance
allowances for child care, can have an enormous impact on recruiting efforts, as does the value of
insurance and retirement programs. In addition, departments can look to their civilian employees, as
many of these are women. They can make specific efforts to groom such women to take on sworn
Attracting female applicants may be less difficult than retaining them once hired. One way of
helping retain women officers is to establish a formal mentoring program. Often, this program may
begin even before the new recruit begins her job, when a veteran officer contacts her and lets her know
what to expect at the workplace. The mentor then continues to serve as an information resource and
Groups such as the NCWP, the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives,
and the International Association of Women Police are available to provide guidance on recruitment
and retention efforts. Still, even if a police administrator uses all of these strategies and greatly
increases the number of female applicants, the applicants may not follow through with the hiring
process or might leave the job after a short time if they find that there is sexism or sexual harassment
in the work environment. As Figure 4.1 shows, while there has been an increase in the number of
female law enforcement employees, the majority of sworn law enforcement officers are still male.
Figure 4.1 Percentage of Male Versus Female Law Enforcement Employees, 1995 and 2013
To increase equity for women already on the police force, performance evaluations must clearly
evaluate the desired and actual behaviors and skills of the job. Performance evaluations are often used

as the basis for special assignments, transfers, and promotions—the main avenues toward new
challenges, broader experience, and better compensation.
Women and Promotions
A 2008 study concluded that, despite early occupational experiences of sexual harassment,
discrimination, and disrespect, after long tenures, female officers do achieve acceptance in police work
and that female officers are increasingly occupying higher ranks in police agencies.47 Still, barriers
remain when it comes to women advancing through the ranks.48 With very few exceptions, women
are virtually absent from decision-making ranks and positions of authority. In 2008, less than 1% of
police chiefs in the United States were women.49 Women have been chiefs in Detroit, San Francisco,
and Washington, but most small and rural agencies do not have any women in top command
positions. Discriminating on the basis of gender when hiring or promoting police officers is illegal.
Exhibit 4.4
Recruiting Female Officers
Police departments can counteract the negative messages women receive about policing careers with strong positive
messages (when they are true), such as the following:
We have women officers who are role models in the department.
We want women to apply.
We welcome women.
Women are leaders in the department, and upward career paths are available.
Women have career opportunities in all areas of the agency, including special operations.
Law enforcement offers a good salary and benefits.45
Recruiting and Retaining Officers of Color
Blacks first served as police officers prior to the Civil War.50 Their numbers remained low until
World War II, when they began to increase gradually. These early Black officers were largely confined
to Black neighborhoods, and their powers of arrest did not extend to Whites. In some cities,
restrictions on the powers of Black officers remained in place until the 1960s.51 In the mid-1960s,
only 22 law enforcement agencies employed Blacks in positions above the level of patrol officers.52 A
1971 report of the Commission on Civil Rights affirmed the need to bring minority officers into law
enforcement.53 Litigation involving discrimination in hiring and promotion followed in the 1970s
and 1980s; consent decrees frequently resulted, leading to the hiring of more minorities, particularly
Black officers.
Promotions of Black officers appear to be problematic in many departments. There is a general
consensus that officers of all minority groups are greatly underrepresented above the patrol level.54
This may be due, in part, to institutional discrimination (e.g., biased testing procedures, job
assignments, and educational requirements) and to the fact that federal agencies that wish to satisfy
affirmative-action requirements often recruit minorities from the ranks of municipal departments. The
increasing number of Black politicians occupying positions as mayors and chiefs of police may, over
time, help alleviate the promotional dilemma.
The rationale for recruiting Hispanic officers is much the same as for recruiting women and
Blacks, with the additional consideration of being bilingual and, ideally perhaps, bicultural. Police
officers who serve in heavily Hispanic areas need to speak at least basic Spanish to render assistance as
well as to engage in order maintenance and law enforcement functions. Further, a basic understanding

of Hispanic culture is likely to make the officer who polices in Hispanic neighborhoods more
comfortable with his or her surroundings and more understanding of the cultural norms.
With changing physical requirements; greater emphasis on unbiased, job-related tests; and
affirmative-action programs, opportunities for Hispanics in policing have increased. What we know
suggests that Hispanics seek police positions for the same reasons as officers from all other racial and
ethnic groups and share basically the same problems, including the double marginality and
discrimination in promotions and assignments discussed previously with respect to Black police
officers. In 1988, for example, a U.S. district court judge found that hundreds of Latino agents had
been victims of discrimination by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The judge found that
Hispanics were often given unpleasant assignments that were rarely meted out to their White
counterparts. “A frequent complaint supported by the preponderance of the evidence is that an
Hispanic agent with five years of Bureau tenure who has ridden the ‘Taco Circuit’ may not have the
experience of an Anglo on duty for two years.”55 The obvious result of such discrimination can be
seen in terms of promotions, which often depend on a variety of different police experiences as well as
other factors.
Video Link: Why it’s so difficult to retain a diverse police force
Reasons for failure to recruit more Hispanics continue to include a history of negative stereotypes
of the police in Hispanic communities, lack of interest in law enforcement careers among young
Hispanics, misdirected recruitment efforts, and a lack of role models.56
As is the case with recruitment efforts aimed at women, minority recruitment efforts must
overcome a number of obstacles. First, of course, members of minorities must be reached, and many
conventional efforts fail to do so. Use of minority publications, recruitment efforts directed at colleges
and universities, and recruitment efforts aimed at recognizing and supporting high school students
who have an interest in law enforcement have all shown positive results. Enlisting the aid of national
organizations such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People),
NOBLE (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives), NAPOA (National Asian
Peace Officers’ Association), HAPCOA (Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association),
IAWP (International Association of Women Police), local church leaders, and civic and local leaders
who are members of minority groups also may prove beneficial. It is crucial to address the issues
confronting minorities entering policing and moving to new communities with the help of the
resources mentioned above. Questions concerning establishment of a comfort level at work and in the
community should be addressed. If the new officer is the first Black, Asian, or Hispanic officer hired
by the agency, he or she is bound to have concerns about acceptance, both in the agency and in the
larger community. These questions may extend to family members and their acceptance within the
new community. Civic and religious leaders may help to answer some of these questions.
Recruitment teams that include women or minorities may also help in minority recruitment.
Some departments have instituted incentive pay for successful recruitment.57 Other departments have
found that developing citizen police academies to familiarize the public with police activities is a
beneficial strategy. Community speaking engagements by officers reflecting diversity and interest in
minority recruitment, development of linkages with the military, and formation of partnerships with
the media are also worthwhile minority recruitment activities.58
Exhibit 4.5

Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
In 1959, the California legislature established the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to set
minimum selection and training standards for California law enforcement.
POST is funded largely through criminal penalty fees. Agencies volunteer to adhere to your standards, and the motivation
is to enhance their reputation and professionalism.
The program has other benefits for participating agencies, such as the following:
Job-related assessment tools
Research into improved officer selection standards
Management counseling services
The development of new training courses
Reimbursement for training
Quality leadership training programs
The Commission on POST views itself as a partner with law enforcement and an advocate for law enforcement with the
public. Its values include service, respect, cooperation, accountability, and diversity.
Source: Commission on POST: Peace Officer Standards and Training, “About POST”
Institutional Discrimination: Unfair testing procedures, hiring practices, job assignments, and educational
Testing of Candidates
When the application deadline indicated in the advertisements has been reached, the applications
that have been submitted must be analyzed. The better the application form, the easier the analysis.
The form might request information on prior experience in policing, prior criminal convictions,
educational background, reasons for the interest in police work, prior drug and alcohol use, and other
information considered pertinent by specific departments. It should also provide some indication of
the applicant’s writing ability.
In recent years, the multiple-hurdle procedure has become more common.59 The term refers to a
battery of tests or hurdles that must be completed in succession before a recruit can become a police
officer. Each assessment hurdle is scored as pass-fail, and only applicants who pass may proceed to the
next hurdle. Failure to pass a hurdle results in the applicant being dropped from further consideration.
Policing in Practice Video: Experience of the recruitment and selection processes
The multiple-hurdle approach is distinct from a compensatory approach, in which all candidates
complete all selection tests, and the agency compiles and ranks the final scores of all the tests for all the
Multiple hurdles are generally favored when the following are true about the job:
Training is long, complex, and expensive.
An essential skill cannot be compensated for by high skill levels in other areas.
The consequences of error in hiring are high (e.g., airline pilots, air traffic controllers, nuclear
Multiple-hurdle tests are generally divided into the following categories:
1. Status tests
2. Physical tests
3. Mental tests
4. Tests of morality

5. Tests of ability to communicate
Status Tests
Status tests have to do with changeable factors such as U.S. citizenship, possession of or ability to
obtain a driver’s license, residency, service in the military, educational level, and age. Whether the
applicant meets the status requirements can be determined largely from the application form.
U.S. Citizenship
Police officers are required to be U.S. citizens in most cases, although there have been court
challenges to this requirement. Is citizenship a bona fide job requirement? For instance, can a citizen
perform police functions better than a permanent resident who has passed a test covering the U.S. and
state constitutions? As an example, to become an FBI officer, you must be a citizen of the United
States or the Northern Mariana Islands.61 And to serve as a Los Angeles police officer, a candidate is
required to be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident alien who is eligible for and has applied for
citizenship.62 These requirements are consistent with the Immigration Reform and Control Act,
which requires employers to ensure that employees are legally authorized to work in the United
States.63 The requirement that the applicant has or is able to obtain a driver’s license seems likely to be
upheld for obvious reasons. Some municipalities and states require that newly hired personnel be
residents (or be willing to become residents) of the jurisdiction involved. This requirement has also
been tested in court, resulting in a majority of jurisdictions changing the requirement.64
Multiple-Hurdle Procedure: A battery of tests or hurdles that must be completed before a recruit can become a
police officer; the failure to pass any of the sequential hurdles disqualifies the candidate
Status Test: Related to an applicant’s citizenship, possession of or ability to obtain a driver’s license, residency
requirement, and age and education level
Preference Points
Questions concerning prior military service arise, because bonus points (veterans’ preference
points) may be added to the test scores of applicants if they have such prior service. For instance, the
Philadelphia Police Department will add 10 points to the raw score of a veteran’s entrance
examination.65 Most departments have minimum educational standards that applicants must meet—
typically possession of a high school diploma or its equivalent—and these standards have been upheld
by the courts. Many departments use preference points to recognize education level. For example, the
Philadelphia Police Department will add one point to the final test score if the applicant attained an
associate’s degree, two points for a bachelor’s degree, and three points for a master’s degree.66 As
departments change, they may not see military service as a reason for an advantage in hiring.
Finally, the vast majority of departments require that applicants be adults (the age of majority) at
the time of employment and not be more than age 36–40 at the time of initial employment in
policing. The minimum age requirement makes sense in terms of maturity and meeting statutory
requirements for entering certain types of establishments. The upper age limit has been called into
question as a result of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1990, which prohibits age
discrimination with respect to those over age 40. Consequently, the Memphis Police Department’s
minimum age for applicants is 21; however, there is no maximum age limit.67

Physical Tests
Physical tests include physical agility tests, height-weight proportionate tests, vision tests, and
medical examinations.
Physical Agility Tests
Physical agility tests are used by about 80% of police agencies to determine whether applicants
demonstrate appropriate agility, conditioning, strength, and endurance to perform police work.68
These tests must be job related, and many have been eliminated as a result of court challenges. Tests of
coordination and actual agility can typically be shown to be job related, whereas tests based on sheer
strength are more difficult to validate. Departments may need to revisit physical standards to ensure
that they are still appropriate in the context of new technologies and changes in job expectations.69
Formerly, many departments require that applicants complete a precise number of pull-ups or push-
ups in a specified time period. It is difficult to justify such tests on the basis of job relatedness,
however. How often does a police officer have to do pull-ups in the performance of his duty? It could
be that “candidates (male or female) who lack sufficient upper body strength to pass the tests on the
basis of strength alone may be taught techniques by which the same objectives can be accomplished by
relying on lower body strength and/or better techniques.”70
All testing of police applicants should be valid, reliable, and consistent, and should accurately
reflect the required duties of the police officer. However, when police agencies conduct research to
validate a protocol for physical agility testing, they usually employ job analysis techniques that suffer
from validity problems.71 “Research that documents what an officer does on the job does not tell us
anything about whether the officer should have done it, what happens when the officer decides not to
do it, and whether it could have been done with the assistance of another officer.”72
The physical test is just one of many that recruits must pass at the academy.
Many police departments require applicants to complete a simulation or work sample test. These
tests measure job skills by examining behavior under realistic job-like conditions.”73 Police officer
applicants often complete these tests, which involve pushing a police vehicle a required distance, firing
an unloaded firearm a certain number of times, or searching a mock crime scene. However, in some
cases, these types of tests have been found deficient due to lack of adequate job analysis, lack of
relationship between the job and test performance, and the arbitrary nature of the cutoff score.74
Currently in police applicant testing, those standards that prove to be job related, to be consistent
with a business necessity, and to represent the least discriminatory alternative for selection are likely to
be upheld by courts.75

Height-Weight Proportion Tests
Height–weight proportion tests have replaced traditional height requirements, which eliminated
most women and many minority group members from policing. Such tests make sense in the context
of police work and the previously discussed agility requirements. As originally employed, these tests
seemed largely superfluous, because few departments required that proportionate height and weight be
maintained after initial employment, but many, if not most, departments now test for proportionate
height and weight on a regular basis. As an example, the New York State Police Recruitment Center
provides a chart of height and weight requirements by gender, and those who do not fall within the
acceptable limits must submit to a fat content test using a skin caliper.76
Simulation or Work Sample Test: Measures job skills of an applicant using samples of behavior under realistic job-
like conditions
Vision Requirements
Vision requirements vary greatly among departments and are also controversial, especially for
uncorrected vision. Most departments have established corrected vision requirements that may be
justified on the basis of driving ability, ability to identify license plates or persons, or qualifications to
carry weapons.77 In a related study, researchers concluded that police must be able to perform two
essential tasks when visually incapacitated: identifying a weapon in a typical room and finding
spectacles that have been dislodged.78 In reality, few police departments have performed a systematic
study of the critical vision task required for police officer job performance, and even fewer have
validated their vision requirements to ensure they comply with the ADA.79 The point is that agencies
are not certain about what level of visual acuity is required to adequately perform specific job duties.
Because technology has provided a variety of alternatives for vision correction not mentioned in
earlier studies, many police departments have adapted their vision requirements. Many are concerned
that the visual acuity requirements are implemented at the time of hire but only enforced in the most
extreme cases. However, visual acuity changes with age, and some police officers with more than 20
years of service may experience a reduction in uncorrected vision. Currently, few departments address
these issues and enforce vision requirements for police applicants, even though new recruits and
officers with over 20 years of service perform the same duties involving weapons, driving, and
identifying license plates.
Medical Examinations
From the point of view of a police department, the medical examination is a critical part of the
testing process. Physical well-being must be established to the extent that physical condition is related
specifically to job performance. Certainly, a physically fit staff is advantageous to efficient police
operations. Another practical consideration for agencies is that officers who become disabled as a result
of injury or illness are often eligible for lifelong disability payments.
To detect conditions that may lead to illnesses or injuries, virtually all police agencies require a
medical examination that is intended to detect problems of the heart, back, legs, and feet, among
others. These conditions may be aggravated by police work, and the department prefers to eliminate
from consideration any applicants with such medical problems. As an example, the Pittsburgh
Department of Personnel and Civil Service Commission uses a “combined cardiovascular-pulmonary
test (treadmill test), hearing test, vision test and blood test.”80 Due consideration must be given to the
requirements of the ADA, which states that an employer may only ask about an applicant’s disability
or administer a medical examination after the employer has made a job offer. In most cases, police

departments make passing the medical exam a condition to the job offer.
Due consideration must be given to the requirements of the ADA, which states that an employer may
only ask about an applicant’s disability or administer a medical examination after the employer has made a
job offer.
Mental Tests
Mental tests fall into two categories: (1) those designed to measure intelligence, knowledge, or
aptitude and (2) those designed to evaluate psychological fitness.
Tests of Intelligence, Knowledge, or Aptitude
A majority of police agencies use written tests, in both paper and computerized forms. These tests
are intended to measure a variety of things. To be of merit, they must deal with job-related issues and
must have predictive value; as with other evaluation tools, these tests should be able to predict whether
an applicant has the ability to perform police work well. The International Public Management
Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) is a common resource for entry-level police tests.
IPMA-HR assesses critical abilities of entry-level police applicants in the following areas:
Ability to learn and apply police information
Ability to observe and remember details
Ability to follow directions
Ability to use judgment and logic81
These written tests have historically eliminated most minority group members. Millions of dollars
have been spent in attempts to develop “culture fair” tests to avoid this bias, but with only moderate
success.82 And perhaps for lack of a better screening device and in spite of their obvious inadequacies,
the vast majority of departments continue to use written tests. In most cases, they are scored on a
point system, and the score obtained becomes a part of the overall point total used to determine who
makes it to the eligibility list. Therefore, differences of one or two points might make the difference
between hiring one applicant and hiring another, even though differences of five to ten points
probably indicate minor differences between candidates. There are many different tests and forms of
tests available but no consensus about which is best.
Video Link: Investigating police psychological exams as 30 cadets graduate from the
Although it is difficult to evaluate written entry-level tests, such research is essential to developing
a test with truly predictive capability. This research method would presumably require a department
to hire applicants regardless of their scores on the test (including those who failed), keep the test
results secret from those who evaluate the officers’ performance over a period of time (preferably at
least 18 months to two years), and then compare performance evaluations with initial test scores. If
those who scored high on the written test were also the best performers on the job, the validity of the
test would be demonstrated, all other factors being equal (which they seldom are). Questions of
liability exist for a department choosing to participate in such research. What happens, for instance, if

an applicant who failed the test is hired and performs so badly that someone is injured or killed as a
result? In addition, the time period involved is quite long, and many agencies and test constructors are
unwilling to wait the required time to obtain meaningful results.
Research has shown that screening of applicants for police positions should go beyond simply
using standardized intelligence tests and should include other measures and screening procedures.83
Some agencies use integrity tests, which are used to assess a candidate’s honesty and propensity
for counterproductive behavior on the job, such as drug use or theft. Psychological evaluation and
polygraph tests screen for similar characteristics, unlike cognitive ability tests.84 If administered early
in the selection process, an integrity test could disqualify applicants likely to fail a polygraph or
psychological test, thus saving the agency the costs of administering these two tests.
Policing in Practice Video: What competencies of new police force candidates do you feel
need improvement?
Psychological Tests
The challenges of policing make it especially important to select candidates who are emotionally
fit for duty. Officers are in constant contact with all different kinds of people and are often involved in
volatile or stressful situations. The stress of the job can often contribute to complex problems such as
police corruption and abuse of power, and psychological testing is meant to assist in predicting,
controlling, and preventing corruption and abuse.85 The task of determining whether a candidate has
the requisite psychological stability—for hire as well as the duration of a police officer’s career—is a
formidable one. The use of psychological tests has steadily increased over the years in selecting police
officers; in 1967, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice
recommended that such tests be used by all police departments to determine the emotional stability of
police recruits.86 Since then, other commissions have supported the idea as well.87
However, psychological tests present even more difficulties than written tests of intelligence,
aptitude, or knowledge. The psychological characteristics of the ideal police officer have not been
identified—and perhaps cannot be. Attempts to discover a particular type of personality best suited for
policing are inconclusive. In reality, policing attracts a wide spectrum of personalities, most of which
do a commendable job across a wide range of tasks and responsibilities.88 Furthermore, psychological
tests must be administered in compliance with the ADA.
Nevertheless, in spite of their weaknesses, psychological tests are still part of screening. For one
thing, departments can be held liable by the courts if they hire police officers without the use of such
tests. In addition, many police administrators believe that the tests at least screen out applicants who
are clearly emotionally unfit for police work.
Some experts have observed that 90% of police departments require some form of psychological
evaluation of applicants.89 The most frequently used personality measures are the revised Minnesota
Multiphasic Personality Inventory (71.6%), the California Psychological Inventory (24.5%), the
Sixteen Personality Factor (16PF) Questionnaire (18.7%), and the Inwald Personality Inventory
(11.6%).90 In most cases, preemployment psychological evaluations include medical (e.g., substance
abuse and disabling mental conditions) and nonmedical matters (e.g., judgment, resilience, and
One researcher discussed the extent to which psychological tests can select out police applicants
who are either unstable or unsuitable (or both) and concluded,

It matters little that the field of psychology is only marginally capable of predicting
“bad” officer candidates. Psychologists and psychiatrists are expected, not only, to screen
out the “bad” but be able to screen in the “good.” Unfortunately, consensus definitions of
“good” or “suitable” have not been developed either among the professionals or members of
the lay public.92
Other research indicated that psychological tests can make a contribution to the selection process
but should not replace other methods or be used as a sole method. Many recommend that the
psychological evaluation of police candidates include a face-to-face interview. Topics typically covered
in the interview include the following areas:
Educational history
Employment history
Compliance with laws and regulations
Recent illegal substance use
Interpersonal and familial interactions
Financial difficulties
Self-perceived strengths and weaknesses
Reasons for wanting to work in a public safety position
Professional goals
Psychologically relevant medical history (any psychological or psychiatric treatment and
medication history, alcohol use and abuse, legal and illegal drug use, trauma history, sexual
misconduct, domestic violence, and suicidal ideation or attempts)93
The literature on psychological testing of police recruits is inconclusive. Despite the variety of
assessment techniques and personality inventories, it remains unknown whether they predict on-the-
job law enforcement performance in any reliable way.94 Predictive tests must undergo continual
evaluation and monitoring to improve their usefulness and accuracy. Evaluation should answer some
of the following questions:
Does the test accurately evaluate and relate to job performance?
Does the test underrepresent or have a bias against women or minorities?
Does the test elicit responses related to protected topics such as sexual orientation or religion?
It remains to researchers to help determine whether psychological testing done only prior to
employment can ever be an accurate predictor, especially of longer-term police officer behavior. One
result of serving as a police officer can be the onset of new psychological problems.95
Integrity Test: Test used to assess a candidate’s honesty and propensity for counterproductive behavior on the job,
such as drug use or theft
Polygraph: Psychological evaluation and polygraph tests screen for similar characteristics, unlike cognitive ability
Tests of Morality
Tests of morality include background investigations, drug tests, and polygraph examinations. We
refer to these requirements as tests of morality, because they are used to evaluate the moral character of
police applicants.

Background Investigations
The background investigation represents an attempt to select only those candidates with good
moral character. Background investigations are used by almost all police agencies, but the extent and
intensiveness of these investigations vary considerably (see Table 4.1). In some cases, department
hiring managers simply check listed references by phone, while in other cases, they expend a good deal
of time and money to verify the character of the applicant. In the latter cases, the investigation
normally includes the types of information listed below, which are often public records created by
government agencies. However, it is important to note that school records, bankruptcy reports,
medical records, and workers’ compensation records are often confidential and require written consent
of the applicant or require that the information is relevant to the duties of the position.96
A major purpose of the background investigation is to determine the applicant’s honesty as
reflected by the information on the application form and in subsequent communications.
Departments tend to emphasize the background investigation, because an intensive background check
helps to ensure that departments hire only the most qualified applicants. The check can also indicate
an individual’s competency, motivation, and personal ethics.97 Background investigations may exclude
or highlight for further inquiry those applicants with prior felony convictions or currently wanted by
the police; those with a history of serious employment, family, or financial problems; those
dishonorably discharged from the military; and those determined to have lied during the application
process. In addition, the reference check provides an opportunity to discover prior and current use of
alcohol or other drugs. Several types of incidents are alarms for employment screening: child abuse
and abduction, terrorist acts, and false and inflated information supplied by applicants. Furthermore,
there are computer databases that contain volumes of personal information.98 The rationale for
excluding or further investigating applicants with problems in these areas is relatively clear. It makes
little sense to hire an individual who has serious drug-related problems; in virtually all jurisdictions,
those with prior felony convictions are excluded from policing by statute. Applicants with histories of
domestic violence or bankruptcy also present problems, because they may be corruptible or prone to
the use of force in their positions as police officers.
Drug Tests
The possession, manufacture, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs are all serious problems in our
society, and applicants for police work are not immune to these problematic behaviors. However,
many police departments have modified their zero-tolerance policy that disqualified all applicants who
had previously used any type of drug. It is now more often the use of drugs rather than the impact of
the drugs on the physical well-being of the applicant that is of primary concern. Due to increasing
difficulties in recruiting, there is
a growing tendency to tolerate some history of drug use or criminal activity by recruit
candidates. . . . Many agencies now take into consideration the type and amount of drugs
used, the length of time since the last use, and the nature of the offense. Those who have
merely “experimented during high school or college” are often allowed to join the force.99

Policing in Practice Video: How do applicants’ possible use of drugs and social media play
roles in recruitment?
As an example, the Santa Rosa Police Department in California considers the following factors
when there is evidence of past abuse of controlled substances: patterns of use, how the drug was
obtained, type of drug used, circumstances of the start of the drug use, and discontinuance and nature
of treatment and prognosis.100 (See Table 4.2.)
Although the issue of drug testing, usually accomplished through urinalysis, has led to a great deal
of litigation, it appears that when such testing is done according to a schedule (as opposed to random
testing), and when it is done in a reasonable fashion and on reasonable grounds, the courts allow the
testing as it relates to policing and public safety. Departments must guard against the possibility of a
drug-impaired police officer injuring a colleague or another person, whether due to a vehicle accident,
firearm discharge, or use of excessive force. Thus, drug testing is likely to become even more prevalent
among police agencies than it is now, because courts and legislatures are clarifying the legal
requirements for such testing.
Author Video: How do law enforcement look at recruits’ drug use and past drug use?
Another drug use issue addressed by many police departments involves the restriction of the use of
anabolic steroids by police applicants. Anabolic steroids may appeal to police officers who desire a
tactical edge or an intimidating appearance to improve their performance.101 Testing for performance-
enhancing substances presents a myriad of challenges and is not as straightforward as discovering

heroin in an applicant’s drug screen.102
Polygraph Examinations
Polygraph examinations are employed by many police agencies in the United States, although
changes in federal legislation have already greatly restricted their use in the private sector and may
eventually have the same impact on the public sector. Currently, a police agency can conduct a
polygraph before a conditional offer of employment but must avoid asking any prohibited disability-
related inquires in administering the pre-offer exam.103
The rationale behind the use of the polygraph for recruitment and selection appears to be twofold.
First, the results of the examination are used as one indicator of the honesty of the job applicant.
Second, the results are used to eliminate applicants whose responses are not acceptable to the police
agency in question, regardless of the honesty of the applicant. As an example, during the polygraph
exam, police applicants are often questioned about a variety of prior experiences.
Either or both of these reasons for the exam may be justified, but there is, and always has been,
considerable controversy over the accuracy of polygraph tests, which raises the problem of rejecting
some qualified applicants while accepting others who are deceitful.104 Numerous websites offer advice
on how to beat the polygraph using deliberate attempts to alter the data through the use of
physiological changes with body movements.105 In response to this type of information, the polygraph
profession has added a fourth parameter, which involves monitoring body movements associated with
countermeasures. This change is in addition to the three basic physiological functions monitored
today: blood volume and pressure, respiration, and sweating.106 Research has explored a new
generation of lie detection technology using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI),
electroencephalography (EEG), near-infrared light, and other devices that permit access to brain
function.107 The problem with polygraph tests is not with the machine, which simply measures heart
rate, rate of breathing, and galvanic skin response (changes in electrical resistance in the skin) over
time. The interpretation of the results and the way in which the test is administered depend on the
polygraph examiner. The training, skills, and competence of polygraph examiners vary widely, and the
conditions (anxiety and nervousness on behalf of applicants) under which employment and
promotional polygraph interviews are conducted are less than ideal for ensuring accurate results.

Police officers may undergo polygraph examinations as part of the selection process for
being hired as a police officer.

Case in Point 4.1
After completion of contract negotiations, the city of Portland, Oregon, began random drug testing on its police officers. The
testing involved five different types of drugs: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), and amphetamines. If a police officer
tested positive for less than .08 blood-alcohol content; marijuana; or illegally used drugs, for a first offense, the officer could seek
treatment, face a suspension, or assume a desk job with restricted police authority.
The city decided not to test for steroids, because the department decided that testing was too expensive. However, a police
commander from Phoenix believes “it’s steroids that police are more likely to abuse,” and “other police agencies have been able to
establish standards for steroid testing with local labs.” One physician at Oregon Health and Science University reported, “steroid
testing to me is more important than PCP. It is expensive. However, with steroids you can have uncontrolled aggression, and these
guys have Tasers and guns. A lawsuit is expensive too.” Many police departments test police officers for steroids or other drugs based
on a reasonable suspicion the officer is using a prohibited drug.
As marijuana laws are relaxed in some states, especially for medical use, police recruiters feel that their job will be that much
harder. It is already difficult to find qualified candidates who make it all the way through the recruiting and hiring process and the
academy, and go on to become excellent officers. With marijuana use being more widely accepted, some agencies may feel they need
to have more lenient standards for screening for past marijuana use among recruits.
1. Should police departments prioritize testing for steroids, despite the cost?
2. What criteria would you use to determine whether an officer’s drug use—as it was determined by testing—is severe enough
to warrant treatment, discipline, or termination?
3. Should police departments change their drug use standards to attract more recruits?
Source: From “Police face random drug tests,” by Maxine Bernstein, 2011, The Oregonian
Exhibit 4.6
Polygraph Examination Areas
Accuracy of information provided on the written applications and documents
Honesty, integrity, and reliability of the applicant
Criminal history, either previously detected or undetected
Traffic history, either previously detected or undetected
Involvement with illicit drugs
Source: From “Police officer exam process,” by the Arlington, Virginia, Police Department, 2009
Galvanic Skin Response: Changes in electrical resistance in the skin over time
Tests of Ability to Communicate
As indicated earlier, many of the recruitment and selection procedures used by the police overlap.
This interdependence of procedures is perhaps best illustrated by the tests of an applicant’s ability to
communicate. The oral interview or oral board, as it is often called, is both possible and desirable for
evaluating the written communications skills of applicants by requiring them to write a job history or
autobiographical statement; a large measure of police work involves writing reports that demand
accuracy and comprehensiveness. While a misspelled word or two is probably no cause for concern,
serious defects in the ability to communicate in writing indicate, at the very minimum, the need for
some remedial work in this area.
Author Video: How do law enforcement look at recruits’ use of social media?
The Oral Board

Most agencies use oral interviews of police applicants. These interviews, or boards, are typically
conducted by members of the fire and police or civil service commission or by the personnel
department in larger police agencies, often in conjunction with representatives of the police agency. In
some cases, the latter actually participate in the interview, while in others, they simply observe. The
number of interviewers varies, but three to five is typical.
The expressed purpose of the oral board is to select a suitable applicant to fill the existing police
vacancy. Suitability includes the “type of person.” In addition to the skills necessary to fill the formal
organizational position, interviewers might consider the applicant’s loyalty to the department,
trustworthiness with respect to other police officers, and (although legally and formally forbidden) his
or her race, gender, and general presentation of self.108 Although interviewers make efforts to reduce
the amount of subjectivity in oral interviews by using such things as standardized questions and
independent evaluation, it is equally true that the way a candidate looks (dress, skin color, gender,
etc.) and acts (eye contact, handshake, degree of self-confidence expressed) affects the impression he or
she makes.109 It is possible that factors that are expressly forbidden from consideration, in terms of
equal employment opportunity guidelines, can affect the judgment of interviewers in subtle, if not
obvious, ways.
Audio Link: Have American Police Become More Cautious?
The interview format varies a good deal. In most cases, it will include general questions about the
applicant’s background, experiences, education, prior training, and interest in police work in general
and in the specific department. These questions may be followed by a series of questions to test the
applicant’s knowledge of some legal, moral, and ethical issues related to police work. For example, the
applicant may be asked how he or she would respond to the apparent corruption of another officer,
what response would be appropriate if a traffic violator turned out to be the mayor, or how much
force is justified in a certain type of incident.
Candidates are often nervous about the oral interview. Interviewers may ask questions slowly, with
follow-up questions, or in other ways that create stress for the interviewee.110 The raters independently
evaluate the respondent’s answers and attempt to reach consensus in the event of a wide difference of
The final scores for the oral board are added to the other test scores to establish an eligibility list
from which the chief of police or personnel department may select candidates to fill existing and
future vacancies.
Although the selection process today is conducted to maximize objectivity—including sending
written tests elsewhere for scoring, scoring by identification numbers as opposed to names, rating
interviewees independently, and calculating scores to the nearest point or fraction of a point—the
chief of police will choose those candidates from the eligibility list that best meet the needs of the
What is most important is to identify as specifically as possible what the job requirements are for
each specific position. The processes for hiring and promotion have been legally scrutinized and have
been affected by the resulting litigation over the disparate impact on different groups of people, the
validity of measures, and job relevant functions.
The recruitment and selection process does not end with the eligibility list. Rather, it continues as
those selected for hiring go to the training academy, as they return to the department to serve their
probationary period, and as they proceed through their careers in policing.

Police Stories 4.1
Gene L. Scaramella, Former Police Officer, Author, and
Most police hiring processes involve numerous activities. For example, the specific elements of the physical agility test are
no secret and allow a police applicant to prepare for the test through running, lifting weights, or engaging in other forms of
exercise. In addition, in most cases, applicants have taken multiple-choice tests in school and are prepared for the challenge of a
department’s written exam. However, as a merit commissioner for a sheriff’s department, I have observed many applicants
encounter problems at the oral board interview. The oral interview is stressful, and many applicants are eliminated from the
hiring process based on their performance.
To be successful at the oral board, I tell students to dress professionally, leave cell phones in the car, and arrive early
to locate the building, designated parking, and the specific room. I encourage them, upon entering the interview room,
to introduce themselves to members of the board by shaking hands.
I indicate to students that there may well be questions concerning ethics, such as those related to arresting off-duty
police officers or city officials who have openly committed criminal acts. I tell them I hope they will respond by
indicating they would do the right thing and that I’m sure they know what the “right thing” involves.
I believe applicants should know as much as possible about the department to which they are applying. At the
conclusion of the interview, board members will often ask if the interviewee has any questions. Questions concerning
the department and the community might be appropriate, but questions such as “What is the starting salary?” are
generally unnecessary, since this information is readily available on most police departments’ websites.
Police applicants can expect questions from the board about background, future goals, and current police issues in
the form of hypothetical scenarios. Finally, the board might conclude the interview by asking, “Why should we hire
you over all the other applicants?” This is the applicant’s chance to hit a home run and convince the members of the
board that he or she is one of the top applicants immediately before they begin the process of calculating final scores. I
also tell students to remember that the more oral board interviews they participate in by applying to different
departments, the more comfortable they will become with the process.
Exhibit 4.7
Typical Performance Dimensions
Problem solving
Judgment and reasoning
Decision making
Teamwork orientation
Interpersonal skills
Oral communications and presentation skills
Honesty and integrity
Self-motivation and initiative
Stress tolerance and composure
Source: From Master the police officer examination, by F. M. Rafilson and T. DeAngelis, 2008, Georgetown, CT: ARCO
Around the World 4.1
In 2014, Indonesia launched a massive effort to hire women police officers, resulting in 7,000 new recruits, despite the
stringent requirements. Female candidates for the Indonesian police force must be between ages 17.5 and 22, must have
completed high school, must not be or ever have been married, must not need glasses, and must be at least 65 inches tall. The
most controversial requirement by far, however, is that all recruits must be virgins. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has
condemned this requirement as discriminatory and degrading, and many women object to it, but despite the efforts of even
high-level women to ban its use, the decades-old tradition remains in place.
HRW conducted interviews with women who described learning about the test just minutes before it was to take place.
They understood that they would disqualify themselves from employment if they refused the test, which required them to
undress in front of other candidates and allow testers to insert their fingers into the women’s vaginas. Some of the women
feared that the test would deprive them of their virginity.

Among officials in Indonesia, virginity is still seen as a sign of purity and moral and physical fitness. The test is not limited
to the police. Women recruits for the army or those who want to marry a police officer or member of the army must also
undergo this misogynistic screening.
1. In the United States, only about 15% of law enforcement officers are female, while females make up approximately
51% of the general population. Why do you believe this disparity exists?
2. Do you believe that females are suited for every type of law enforcement function? Are there certain jobs that
should be reserved exclusively for men?
3. Should women be held to a different hiring standard than men?
4. Can you identify any law enforcement functions where you would expect women to outperform men?
Source: “Indonesia subjects female police applicants to virginity tests,” by M. Dhumieres, Global Post, November 17, 2014
Supervisory Recruitment and Selection
As indicated earlier, the recruitment and selection process is ongoing, as some individuals are
promoted to supervisory positions and special assignments. It is important to promote carefully to
ensure that those who supervise new recruits are well prepared to do so. Most departments can
improve in this area.
Individual police agencies must do a better job of providing structured career
development programs for future leaders. Historically, law enforcement organizations focus
well on the task of serving their respective communities but tend to neglect internal
personnel development needs due to logistical or budgetary reasons. As a result, police
organizations risk promoting weak or inexperienced leaders.111
Most supervisors are promoted from within the ranks. In larger departments, field supervisors,
typically holding the rank of sergeant, are selected based on years of experience (a minimum of two to
three years may be required to even test for the position), performance evaluations in patrol or
investigative work, written examinations, and oral interviews. Unfortunately, neither years of service
nor performance in investigative or patrol functions necessarily indicates an ability to succeed as a
supervisor. Mistakes made in promotions at this level are likely perpetuated, because those promoted
to the rank of shift supervisor (typically lieutenants) are generally selected from a pool of sergeants
with a specified minimum level of experience. Similarly, division commanders (captains) are selected
from the ranks of shift commanders based on the criteria mentioned previously. Lateral entry at any of
these levels is rare, although exempt rank positions (particularly at the upper ranks) are becoming
more popular.
SAGE Journal Article: Supervisory Recruitment and Selection
Efforts to recruit supervisor candidates typically consist of position vacancy announcements posted
within the police agency. Smaller agencies more often open up their searches to other agencies for
lieutenants and sergeants. Outside advertisement sometimes extends to other agencies that employ city
workers. This practice has both advantages and disadvantages. Wherever they appear, the vacancy
announcements should clearly state the qualifications for the positions and indicate how interested
parties can apply.
Simple longevity in the department is not necessarily the best qualification for supervisory
positions. A long-term employee does not always make a good supervisor. But when a supervisor is

well trained and makes good decisions, he or she earns the respect of fellow officers. Mutual respect
helps create a good working environment, which is one of the best recruiting tools a department can
The same equal employment and affirmative-action rules discussed previously apply to the
selection and recruitment of police supervisors, including chiefs. The vast majority of police
supervisors are promoted from within the ranks of the department (with the exception of police
chiefs); lateral entry is the exception rather than the rule in U.S. policing.
In larger departments, officers may also be promoted to a host of specialized assignments, such as
juvenile, burglary, fraud, and vice.
Individuals who apply for these positions are required to pass status tests similar to those discussed
for entry-level employees, with the additional stipulation that they have served a specified number of
years in policing or are at the level immediately below the one for which they are applying. In other
words, to become a lieutenant, an officer has to meet the basic status requirements of the department
and, in addition, might be required to have served three years at the rank of sergeant.
Grooming Supervisors
There are two ways of shaping supervisory talent: formal education—such as postgraduate degrees
—and on-the-job training. Either way, a skilled supervisor needs a wide variety of experiences and
assignments. Police culture largely downplays the importance of theories of management and a liberal
arts education. An officer builds credibility through his or her real experience, lending special
importance to on-the-job training. However, an officer on track for promotion may have valuable
skills and may have “specialized” within the department. A narrow focus can make it difficult to
understand the broader police picture. A lack of expertise in important areas may lead to scorn on
behalf of line officers. Further, the testing procedure itself is almost always suspect from the
perspective of both those applying for advancement and those who have a new supervisor. If the
promotion process is handled poorly, staff tend to believe that it is who you know rather than what
you know that leads to promotion.
Testing Candidates
Typically, agencies do not use physical tests in the selection of supervisors. The assumption may
be that they already passed the tests that the department requires or that the position to which they
aspire does not require the same degree of physical agility required of line officers. Neither of these
assumptions is entirely justified, however, and some measures of physical fitness appear to be
appropriate. At a minimum, a thorough medical examination should be required.
Assessment Centers
Assessment centers are usually an important part of the process for police promotion. Although
the assessment center is costly to develop and implement, its record of validity and legal defensibility
has justified the costs, and its use has spread.112
The assessment center had its origins in the 1920s and was used by the military in World War II.
The concept was furthered in the 1950s in private industry.113 An assessment center is not a specific
location, but a formal process that involves a series of exercises designed to test how well a candidate
would perform in a job using task simulations and role players to replicate real, on-the-job
situations.114 Prior to the 1970s, many police departments promoted people because they had
influential contacts, or did well in objective written tests, or impressed a civil service board.115
Such promotions often resulted in ineffective supervisors, because they were based on an

inaccurate picture of the duties and responsibilities of the position or otherwise were ill aligned with
the mission of the department. The results of traditional promotional tools such as interviews and
written tests highlight the problems in identifying suitable candidates for promotion. As a result,
police agencies are exploring more nontraditional methods including the use of assessment centers and
job analysis.
Today, many police agencies use sophisticated processes to select personnel, particularly with
those seeking promotion to the supervisory ranks.
To use the assessment center, first there must be a comprehensive and accurate job description for
the position. Second, a group of trained observers from outside the department, usually three to five in
number, must observe the candidates for the position as they go through a number of job-related
activities. A multiple-exercise process allows candidates who may not perform well in one exercise
(e.g., an interview) to excel in another exercise (e.g., an analysis and presentation exercise).116 This is a
more objective process in which the assessors rate the applicants individually on each of the tasks
assigned over a one- or two-day period. Examples of multiple exercises used in a typical assessment
center include the following:
In-basket exercises measure the person’s administrative and decision-making abilities through
day-to-day administrative activities.
Written problem solving tests the candidate’s ability to perceive a problem and gather sufficient
data to document a solution.
Group discussion involves candidates in a timed group discussion in which they attempt to
reach a joint solution to one or more problems.
Oral presentation requires candidates to present ideas or tasks to the group with or without
prior preparation.
Counseling session is an interview simulation that involves assessment of an applicant’s ability
to “motivate work performance, correct misbehavior, provide key information, direct actions
towards an appropriate solution, develop an effective working relation, demonstrate flexibility,
analyze problems and demonstrate effective oral communication.”117
In some cases, applicant performances are videotaped so the assessors can review them at their
Assessors interview candidates using a standardized format that provides latitude for assessors to
raise questions concerning issues brought to light by the various exercises in which the candidates have
engaged. Most assessors evaluate candidates based on oral communications, command presence,
technical and professional knowledge, decision making, judgment, planning and organization, work
perspective, and problem analysis.118 Tests of ability to communicate are incorporated into the

assessment center or evaluated by an oral board in a manner similar to that discussed for entry-level
Polygraph, drug, and psychological tests, as well as an updated background investigation, may also
be required for promotion. Evaluations based on past performance are also frequently used when
considering applicants for promotion. The usefulness of these measures remains to be established,
because they are typically based on behaviors relevant to the current position of the applicant that may
or may not be related to the position for which she or he is applying. That is, excellent performance as
a street officer may be largely unrelated to performance as a supervisor. Nonetheless, in many
departments, these evaluations account for 20% to 30% of the total score considered for promotion.
Usually under the direction of a team leader, the assessors meet to discuss their impressions of the
applicants and their scores. Each assessor must be prepared to defend his or her scores, and discrepant
scores often become topics of heated debate. In the ideal case, differences can be resolved through
discussion, and the applicants are then listed in order of the assessors’ preferences. The final selection
is accomplished by the personnel department, police chief, city manager, mayor, or council, or some
combination of those individuals.
Strengths of the Assessment Center
Assessment center success in predicting good performance has been high, and when measured
against the costs of making a bad appointment, the costs are less imposing than they might seem.
Many police departments use assessment centers not only to determine who should be hired for top-
ranking positions, but also as a promotional process and a way to identify strengths and weaknesses of
an agency and its employees.119 In most cases, assessment center participants can identify their
shortcomings and learn how to improve their own job performance. The agency can learn about the
training deficiencies of the individual as well as the organization.120 An assessment center can also
have a positive effect on morale if it is viewed as an objective, reliable, and fair process wherein the
most qualified person is promoted.
Assessment Center: A formal process that involves a series of exercises (simulation and role playing) designed to test
how well a candidate would perform in a job
Recruitment and Selection of Police Chiefs
The skills required of a police chief are, in many instances, significantly different from those
required of new recruits or lower-ranking supervisors. The chief not only maintains general control
over the department, but also serves as a representative in dealing with other municipal agencies, other
police agencies, and elected officials. In some very small departments, the police chief must perform
patrol and investigative functions and has few supervisory responsibilities. However, in police agencies
with more than four or five employees, administrative and supervisory responsibilities become more
important than street work.
Those occupying the position of police chief run the gamut from “good old boys” who have
worked their way through the ranks of the department to those who are highly skilled, trained, or
educated professional managers. Although the most prevalent path to chief is the insider path,
outsiders with police experience and advanced education are increasingly in demand in progressive
Policing in Practice Video: What do you find as the most enjoyable aspects of policing?

Outreach for police chiefs is generally accomplished through professional police organizations and
news outlets. Recruitment for the position of chief may involve reaching outside the department,
staying within the department, or a combination of the two.121
Thus, lateral entry from outside the agency, while seldom a possibility at other police ranks, is
possible at the level of chief.
The status requirements discussed for other supervisory personnel typically apply when selecting a
chief; however, the level and extent of police experience required varies across communities. The
mayor, city manager, or city council are the parties primarily responsible for hiring the chief of
police.122 As is the case with other supervisory personnel, written tests related to administrative and
supervisory tasks are often used. In addition, attempts may be made to assess the extent to which the
candidates view themselves as part of a management team. Education and training requirements also
vary considerably, ranging from high school graduation and basic police training to possession of a
master’s degree and attendance at one of the more prestigious police management schools (such as the
FBI Academy or the Southern Police Institute).
Although many chiefs are hired based on interviews with officials of city government, performance
on written tests, and background investigations, more and more are being processed through
assessment centers designed to test their administrative skills. The vast majority of police chiefs come
from the police ranks, and hiring those without prior police experience, though it does occasionally
occur, is the exception. Unlike other police personnel, chiefs are seldom required to attend training
academies after being hired, although the political and public relations skills required to be successful
suggest the need for further training in many, if not most, cases.
Although this area has improved somewhat, promotion to the rank of chief from within
undoubtedly contributes to continuing resistance to change in many police agencies. Some chiefs are
basically contractors who serve for a specified period of time with periodic reviews. Others are
essentially given tenure when hired, though almost all serve at the pleasure of the head of city
government and the city council, and job security is often a major concern.123 When the chief reports
directly to the mayor or city council, political considerations often play an extremely important role.
The city manager form of government provides some insulation from direct political ties; from the
perspective of promoting a professional, a somewhat apolitical department is probably superior.
You Decide 4.1
You have just been appointed as the chief of police of the Middletown Police Department (MPD). Middletown is a city of
about 200,000 and has 260 sworn officers on its police force.
During the past several years, the MPD has been plagued with a significant increase in reported crime, citizen complaints
against police, and poor officer morale. Members of the community and the local media are beginning to voice grave concerns
about the ability of the MPD to effectively respond to the needs of the community.
The Middletown city manager told you that the primary reason she hired you was because of your reputation as a
progressive police administrator. She has given you the green light, along with the needed resources, to improve the
department on as many fronts as needed.
One of the first issues you must attend to is to prepare for the next police exam. Your new department has eight immediate
openings for entry-level police officers, and it is anticipated that it will have 20 to 30 additional vacancies in the next two years.
Your administrative assistant asks you to prepare an announcement for the exam, along with all of the qualifications, so
that these ads can be published in a timely fashion. The last ad, and all of the prior ads, posted the following requirements:
21 to 35 years of age
High school or GED equivalent
U.S. citizen
Pass written exam
Pass background investigation
Pass medical exam
If you were in charge of the department, what would you do to attract the most qualified and representative candidates
while still controlling the costs of recruitment?

Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
4 Under Review
Chapter Summary
The recruitment and selection of entry-level police officers, supervisors, and chiefs of police is critical to the success of
police agencies. The selection process for entry-level police officers involves many steps to ensure that the most qualified
applicants who are seriously interested in a career in policing are selected for the training academy.
It is important that recruitment and selection are performed within the legal requirements established by the Equal
Employment Opportunity Act, Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment
Recruiting and hiring decisions are not easy, and the processes used to make these judgments can be quite expensive.
Careful, thorough, and lawful hiring and promotion of qualified personnel should reduce the number of lawsuits, increase
performance by personnel, and improve the overall professionalization of the agency.
Many factors influence recruitment and promotional practices, such as the use of valid and reliable test instruments and
related materials, thorough background investigations, physical and psychological fitness tests, potential leadership capabilities
assessments, and the implementation of proper performance evaluation techniques. Even so, it is difficult to evaluate
assessment methods to determine if they accurately predict who will perform up to the professional standards of the
Police administrators must realize that, new demands are consistently being added to the list of police duties, and as such,
new policies and shifts in philosophy regarding crime control and the overall functions and priorities of law enforcement
agencies require a flexible organization. One significant issue that is germane to this organizational flexibility is the fact that
there are three different generations working in police agencies: the baby boomers, who occupy the majority of high-ranking
positions, and Generation X and Y officers. The motivations and actions of officers from each of these generations are quite
different and challenging, requiring departments to find ways to effectively supervise and accommodate the legitimate needs of
each group. Departments must also recognize that in a multicultural society, an effective outreach effort to minorities is
necessary. Specific outreach strategies are required for women as well. Ignoring them only limits the departments and prevents
them from taking advantage of entire pools of talent. Retaining new officers requires scrutiny and reevaluation of cultural
norms, in many cases. Not making these efforts can result in poor morale, high turnover, and low overall performance, all
elements that stymie the growth and development of any organization.
The hiring of police chiefs requires special considerations. Should the chief be promoted from within the existing ranks or
selected from outside the department? What minimum criteria should be used regarding the background of applicants with
respect to formal education, past administrative accomplishments, specialized training, and leadership ability?
Conducting careful and legitimate recruitment, selection, and promotional practices is a necessity in today’s society.
Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.
Immutable characteristics 68
Discrimination 68
Disparate impact 68
Affirmative action 69
Consent decree 69
Bona fide occupational qualification 71
Qualified individual with a disability 71
Reasonable accommodation 71
Institutional discrimination 77
Multiple-hurdle procedure 78
Status test 78
Simulation or work sample test 80
Integrity test 82
Polygraph 82
Galvanic skin response 87

Assessment center 92
Discussion Questions
Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.
1. Why are the costs of recruitment of police personnel so high? How can these costs reasonably be reduced?
2. Why is recruitment of qualified personnel so important to police agencies?
3. Discuss some of the changes in the selection of police officers that have occurred as a result of equal employment opportunity
laws and affirmative-action programs. What are some of the positive and negative consequences of the Equal Employment
Opportunity Act and affirmative-action programs?
4. List and discuss the five basic types of police officer selection requirements. How do such requirements apply to promotions?
5. What is an assessment center, why are such centers increasingly being used, and what, if any, disadvantages do they have?
6. What are the backgrounds of most police chiefs, and what implications do these backgrounds have for policing as a
7. How do the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act affect the police?
8. How should police departments balance periodic, ongoing psychological testing of their officers with the practical difficulties
and legal limitations of doing so?
Internet Exercises
1. Select one of the tests administered to police officer applicants discussed in the chapter (drug test, physical agility, polygraph,
etc.). Go to the Internet and locate information about this test. How is the test administered? What method is used for
scoring the test and interpreting the results? Is the test you selected a valid measure of a critical task performed by today’s
police officers? Why or why not?
2. Locate an advertisement for a police chief that discusses the selection requirements. How is the selection process for chiefs of
police different from the process for the selection of police officers? Based on the advertisement, what knowledge, skills, and
abilities should today’s police chief possess?
Student Study Site
Sharpen your skills with SAGE edge!
SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and
links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.

Chapter 5 Police Training and Education
© REUTERS/Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Evaluate the pros and cons associated with higher education requirements for police officers
2. Appraise the results of research studies that examine the relationship between higher education and job performance
3. Identify the purposes of police training
4. Describe the three basic types of police training
5. Discuss some of the challenges related to training police organizations face as well as some strategies to address those
Policing is a difficult and complex career. The police officer may be called on to play psychiatrist,
doctor, lawyer, judge, jury, priest, counselor, fighter, or dogcatcher. The training required to become a
police officer is also quite complex. The public expects the police to be experts in interpersonal
communication, be capable and versed in crisis intervention, and be able to defuse volatile domestic
disputes. Many agencies do not focus on training and evaluating officers’ interpersonal skills, even
though officers rely on them to competently perform tactical and legal tasks.1 Since 1989, however,
both the time necessary and the variety of topics covered in police training centers and universities
throughout the nation have increased, although there are significant differences among the states.
There are many questions among professionals about both training and education. How much
training should be done? Who should do it? What should the content of the training be? What form
should it take? How can training and education be used to benefit officers and the citizens they serve?
How effective is training and education? What are the optimum educational requirements for police?
Answering these questions is not easy, but departments must wrestle with them if the goal is to
develop highly trained, competent police officers.
The extent and nature of police training and education have been controversial since at least 1908,
when August Vollmer began formal training for police officers and advocated for a baccalaureate

degree as a requirement for entry-level police officers in the Berkeley (California) Police Department.
The two issues are intimately interrelated, and yet distinct.
This distinction between training and education is a frequently debated issue. Although the two
are interrelated, training has more to do with the basic and advanced skills necessary to do the job,
and education the concepts and principles underlying the training. Thus, many think of training as
more concrete and practical, and education as more abstract and theoretical. However, there is no
absolute agreement concerning the distinctions. For example, a good deal of contemporary police
training (e.g., cultural diversity, communications, and interpersonal skills) is based on scholarly theory
and research.2 However, the distinction in people’s minds between training and education is not
always clear, even though in practice, there is a wide separation between the more theoretical
university criminal justice programs and practical police training.
Training: The provision of basic skills necessary to perform essential job functions
Education: The provision of familiarity with the theoretical concepts and principles underlying the training
Police Education
Historically, the desired qualifications for police applicants were focused on physical assets.3 The
belief was that police officers should have an adequate level of physical strength to engage dangerous
criminals. There was little attention paid to the concept that the police would need to draw on such
skills as thoughtful and enlightened communication, advanced decision making, and strategic tactics
—skills that rest on intellectual capacity and develop through training and education.4
Police work clearly requires a combination of effective, relevant training and higher education
© Legg
One of the most popular proposals for improving the quality of policing in the United States
entailed higher education requirements for officers. Presidential commissions found that policing
should become more like a profession and should require education beyond high school.5 The idea
that a college-educated police officer would be a better police officer spawned a federal program called
the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA, introduced in Chapter 2), which provided
millions of dollars annually for such education and dramatically increased the number of related
college programs and the number of police officers with at least some college education.6 However,
the conclusions formed by the commissions that education improved police officer performance were
based mostly on anecdotes, and the debate over the importance of police education continues. Federal
funding for police education has diminished considerably, new federal programs have been proposed,
and there are continuing concerns over the content and quality of police education.
There is no doubt that the field of policing has advanced in professionalization over the past few
decades. However, if the law enforcement community wishes to continue to advance, the public must
perceive it more broadly as a profession, not just an occupation. Such a distinction requires the police

to stay current by participating in continuing professional education (CPE) activities. In 2013, all
local police departments serving a population of 100,000 or more, and nearly all departments in
smaller jurisdictions, had a minimum education requirement for new officers. The breakdown of these
requirements is listed in Figure 5.1. Although the majority require only a high school diploma, the
number of agencies that require a two-year degree has doubled since 1993.
Some believe that liberal arts courses provide the best background for police officers in a
multiethnic, multicultural society; others are convinced that specialized courses in criminal justice are
preferable; and still others question the value of any college education for police officers. The number
of programs in criminal justice and related areas increased dramatically in the 1970s. By 2015, there
were 2,452 colleges and universities offering over 6,800 degree and certificate programs, ranging from
the associate to the doctorate.7 In addition, the growth of online degree programs has been
Figure 5.1 Education Requirements for New Officers in Local Police Departments,

Source: Local police departments, 2013: Personnel, policies, and practices, by
Brian A. Reaves, May 2015. Bureau of Justice Statistics
( ).
Source: Local police departments, 2013: Personnel, policies, and practices, by Brian A.
Reaves, May 2015. Bureau of Justice Statistics
( ).
Still, the quality of these programs has been questioned since their inception. Data collected in
1985 indicated that many in academia still perceived criminal justice education as being basically
technical or vocational training, often taught by faculty without proper credentials. Although this may

have been true at the time, things are different now. Many believe that criminal justice education has
flourished intellectually and broadened in scope. Most contemporary programs attempt to achieve a
more structured balance between the academic and practical needs of their students.8
In response to some of these concerns, the U.S. Department of Justice created the Office of the
Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education in 1999. The Police Corps was designed to address
violent crime by helping police and sheriffs’ departments increase the number of officers with
advanced education and training assigned to community patrol. The program offered competitive
college scholarships for students who agreed to work in a state or local police force for at least four
years. Students accepted into the Police Corps received a yearly stipend to cover the expenses of a
bachelor’s or graduate degree.9
The goal of the program was to combine a college education with state-of-the-art police training
to produce highly qualified personnel able to confront the demands and intricacies of contemporary
policing. However, funding for the program was eventually eliminated, and the Police Corps is no
longer awarding scholarships or providing training.
Policing in Practice Video: How did your education prepare you for your career in
Highlights of the program were as follows:
Participants must possess the necessary mental and physical capabilities and emotional
characteristics to be an effective law enforcement officer, be of good character, and demonstrate
sincere motivation and dedication to law enforcement and public service.
Participants can receive up to $3,750 per academic year, with a maximum per student total of
The student’s service commitment must follow receipt of the baccalaureate degree or precede
commencement of graduate studies funded by the Police Corps.
A police agency whose size has declined by more than 5% since June 21, 1989, or which has
members who have been laid off but not retired, cannot participate in the Police Corps
Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education: Created by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1999,
the goal of this program was to weave a college education with state-of-the-art police training to produce highly
qualified personnel who would be able to confront the demands and intricacies of 21st-century policing; unfortunately,
funding for the program has been eliminated, and the Police Corps is no longer awarding scholarships or providing
You Decide 5.1
The education requirement for law enforcement has been the subject of debate in the U.S. since the early 1900s. Several
national commissions have recommended that state and local police departments consider higher education as a requirement
for employment. One reason for the push is to “professionalize” police forces and improve their public image. Another reason
is that numerous studies have shown that officers with a four-year degree perform better than officers with just a high school
Most federal law enforcement agencies require either a bachelor’s degree or related work experience or a combination of
the two. However, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics study from 2015, 84% of United States police agencies only
required a high school diploma, with only 4% requiring some college. Only 1% of municipal police agencies required a four-
year college degree and 10% require a 2-year degree.
1. With strong support for educated police officers, why do you think more local agencies have not mirrored the

federal protocol in requiring a college degree?
2. Would you support a new standard of requiring a college degree for hiring at all local police departments? Why or
why not?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
Source: Reaves, (2015). Local Police Departments, 2013: Personnel, Policies, and Practices. Bureau of Justice Statistics,
Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) Survey. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice
Higher Education and the Police: A Debate
The debate about how much and what kind of education should be required for police personnel
continues in spite of research results and the fact that virtually every national commission on the
police over the past half-century has recommended such education.
The issue is complex. According to a renowned observer:
Some argue that police work, especially at the local level, does not require a formal
education beyond high school, because such tasks as directing traffic, writing parking
tickets, conducting permit inspections, and performing clerical tasks do not require higher
education.11 Some have suggested that a highly intelligent and well-educated person would
soon become bored with these mundane and repetitive tasks and either resign or remain and
become either an ineffective member of the force or a malcontent. Others have argued that
the complex role of policing a multiethnic, culturally diverse society requires nothing less
than a college degree as a condition of initial employment for police officers.12
We have come a long way from the commissions of nearly thirty years ago, when the
issue was relatively simple—whether it made sense to require a college degree of police
officers. . . . requiring a college education does not begin to meet the larger educational
challenge the policing profession faces—how to prepare everyone in the department, from
line officer to highest executive, to exercise an increasing degree of discretion in an
increasingly complex world.13
Arguments in Favor of Education
In an era of community-oriented policing, many police executives expect college-educated officers
to be both more open-minded and more humanitarian than less educated officers.
Increased legal support for higher education of police officers, coupled with the changing role of
the police in recent years, would appear to support increasingly higher standards for police training
and education. In fact, an increasing body of legal evidence indicates that failure to train and educate
police officers may lead to serious financial consequences for police agencies, agents, and
municipalities alike.
According to the Police Association for College Education (PACE), a professional organization
dedicated to the professionalization of law enforcement, higher education is beneficial for a number of
It develops a broader base of information for decision making.
It provides additional years and experiences for increasing maturity.
It inculcates responsibility in the individual through course requirements and achievements.
It permits an individual to learn more about the history of the United States and the democratic
It leads to a more flexible value system.

It improves attitudes toward minority groups.
It cultivates a more aware attitude about culture and ethics.15
Although only a small proportion of police agencies now require college education for initial
employment or promotion, informal discussions with police executives indicate that such education is
of considerable importance and that increased education requirements are inevitable. A promising
report in this regard, sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), is that by 2016 it is projected
that 52% of police officers in this country will possess at least an associate degree and that 33% will
hold a baccalaureate degree or higher on entrance to the field.16
However, the benefits of continuing education for police officers are not limited to course content.
A good deal of benefit accrues from having police officers and other students share the same
classroom, coming to know each other as individuals and hearing one another’s perspectives on a
variety of issues. This is perhaps particularly true when the class is diverse with respect to age, race and
ethnicity, gender, size of hometown, and cultural background.
“The culture of a police department that successfully requires college degrees for officers differs
from that of a department that does not. The former creates a culture of responsibility, the latter, of
obedience.”17 It is obvious that the increasingly complex nature of crime and of requests for police
services and the laws regulating activities in these areas support the need for better-educated and –
trained police. To reach these goals, colleges and universities, as well as police training institutes and
academies, must continually revise and update curricula while maintaining high standards.
The transition to police officers with higher education has not, however, been smooth or easy.
First of all, the question of whether higher education is necessary at all is far from settled. In addition,
it is a practical challenge to hire more educated officers, as the requirement would severely limit the
pool of candidates. Also, if agency leaders hold no such degrees, they are unlikely to hire officers who
are more highly educated than they are themselves.
Some early studies of police education questioned the value of the requirement, suggesting that
more highly educated officers held questionable attitudes about women on the force and negative
perceptions of the public and maintained more authoritarianism, which contradicts other research
results (see below).18
Police Association for College Education (PACE): Formerly known as the American Police Foundation, PACE is
a professional organization dedicated to the professionalization of law enforcement through higher education
The culture of a police department that successfully requires college degrees for officers differs from that
of a department that does not. The former creates a culture of responsibility, the latter, of obedience.
What Do Agencies Require?
In spite of the calls for an education requirement for police officers, a large number of agencies
continue to require only a high school education or equivalent. In the Police Executive Research
Forum survey, only about 14% of the responding agencies required any college, and less than 1%
required a bachelor’s degree.19 Similarly, a 2005 study found that approximately 1% of local police
departments in the United States required a four-year college degree.20
Some departments that do require college education as a condition of initial employment have
been challenged in the courts, which are willing to uphold college education as a requirement in at
least some cases, which makes it possible to establish a “defensible college education entrance

requirement for employment” (and, for that matter, for promotion) in law enforcement.21
Police agencies that desire to implement educational requirements must develop a policy that
outlines the requirement and its rationale. There are cases in support of such a rationale, such as Davis
v. City of Dallas, in which the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Dallas Police Department’s
requirement of 45 semester-hours of college coursework for entry-level officers to stand.22 In addition,
the state of Minnesota was one of the first states to require a two-year law enforcement or criminal
justice degree through a professional peace officer educational program.23
What Do the Police Think?
The police themselves tend to ascribe advantages to higher education. A 2005 study used self-
report surveys to poll the opinions of nearly 400 patrol officers regarding the perceived benefits of
higher education in policing. The vast majority of respondents (82%) believed at least some higher
education requirement to be necessary in today’s policing environment. Ironically, although nearly
90% of the officers surveyed had some college education, 22% of them also reported that their
respective agencies were not supportive of their educational pursuits. Moreover, 65% of the officers
polled reported that their agencies had no formal policies linking higher education to promotion.24
The same study indicated a general doubt among the respondents that colleges and universities
have curricula that meet the contemporary needs of law enforcement agencies. Although the
respondents found that criminal justice graduates were very knowledgeable about the criminal justice
system and policing in general, they were often “narrow in ideology” and lacked the broader
understanding of divergent cultures and social issues that confront the police.
Another study attempted to assess the value that police officers with criminal justice degrees place
on their personal educational experiences, while comparing those perceptions with officers educated in
other academic disciplines.25 The survey of 1,114 police officers concluded that officers with criminal
justice degrees reported that the degree substantially improved their knowledge and abilities on a wide
range of areas, from the criminal justice system to conceptual and managerial skills. Interestingly,
responses did not differ significantly from officers educated in noncriminal justice academic
disciplines. Thus, the respondents found the degrees to be useful, regardless of the academic specialty
in question.
Video Link: Criminal Justice Professions
The criminal justice profession has responded to many concerns and recommendations voiced by
law enforcement executives. The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)—founded in 1963
—is the largest professional organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge in the criminal
justice profession. ACJS promotes criminal justice education, research, and policy analysis for both
educators and practitioners by providing curriculum guidelines and recommendations for colleges and
universities that offer degree programs in criminal justice.26 The recommended curricula for these
criminal justice programs were developed via numerous working groups consisting of law enforcement
executives, university professors, and many other actors within the criminal justice community. The
ACJS also offers voluntary certification to colleges and universities.27
Research on College Education and Police Performance
Researchers have explored a variety of topics related to whether education improves police
performance, testing the assumption that “a bachelor of arts degree emphasizes problem-solving from

a variety of viewpoints, develops understanding of how perceptions influence behavior, increases a
person’s comfort level with ambiguity, and assumes that the things going on in the world are fluid and
The research topics in recent years that relate to the relationship between education and police
performance are varied. Some have found a clear relationship, but others have not been able to detect
a distinct correlation.29 Research topics include the relationship between educational level and police
use of deadly force30 and the relationship between educational level and absenteeism.31
Research Results
Positive Results
One study found an inverse relationship between educational levels of patrol officers and
performance ratings, but a significant relationship between educational levels and job achievement.32
A 1983 study examined police officer educational levels and differences in delivery of services and
concluded that college graduates were more likely to explain the nature of complaints to offenders,
talk with people to establish rapport, analyze and compare incidents for similarity of modus operandi,
recruit confidential informants, and verify reliability and credibility of witnesses than were officers
with only some college or high school education. However, the researcher was unwilling to attribute
these performance differences solely to educational differences.33 A 2015 report suggests that there is a
positive correlation between higher education and officers’ job satisfaction, views of top management,
and role orientation.34
Many studies have found a positive correlation between education and desirable officer
characteristics. For example, officers with the best performance evaluations also
1. have significantly higher education;35
2. are less authoritarian;36
3. have better communication skills, have fewer civilian complaints of verbal and physical abuse,
and use less sick time;37
4. have better problem-solving and analytical abilities and require fewer disciplinary actions;38–39
5. are less tolerant of abuse of authority.40
Additional studies noted that college-educated officers are more sensitive to community relations,
and more understanding of human behavior, and hold higher ethical and service standards, than their
Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS): One of the largest professional organizations in the world
dedicated to the advancement of knowledge in the criminal justice profession
Inconclusive Results
Other research was less conclusive about higher education being a significant advantage for new
officers.42 One study concluded that college education was weakly related to some police officer
attitudes and unrelated to others and that officers’ performance in police–citizen encounters, as
measured by citizen evaluations, was largely unrelated to officer education.43 Another concluded that
officers with four-year degrees generated at least as many violations of departmental policy as those

with two-year degrees.44
SAGE Journal Article: Impact of Police Academy Training on Recruits’ Integrity
Other studies concerned the effect of police officer education on police decision-making points
such as arrest, search, and use of force. One team reported that “higher education carries no influence
over the probability of an arrest or search occurring in a police-suspect encounter.”45 However, the
same researchers found that college education significantly reduced the likelihood of force occurring,
which is important given the recent hotly debated issue of excessive use of force by the police.46
The ability to communicate with citizens of all ages, ethnicities, and educational levels is
critical for police officers.
© Peter Casolino/Alamy

The Importance of Leadership in Education: What Are Leaders to
Leaders who value both education and training know that the commitment to those should last an
officer’s entire career. Regardless of education level, continuing education courses can be challenging,
motivating, and worthwhile. Such courses also are beneficial for officers who do not wish to pursue a
college degree.
It is up to administrators to offer departmental incentives for becoming involved in continuing
education, which indicate to officers that their efforts are appreciated. Such incentives may include
tuition reimbursement, time off to attend classes (or allowing officers to attend class while on duty in
an “on-call” status), reimbursement for the cost of books, and so on. In many departments that
provide these incentives, there are also enhanced chances for promotion. As is the case with training,
commitment to education and continuing education must come from the top.47
One survey of police departments that serve cities with populations of 50,000 or more found that
about half of all police executives who responded prefer to hire officers who have majored in criminal
justice.48 The rest indicated no preference in college degrees or majors. Those who preferred criminal
justice majors did so because of the graduates’ knowledge of policing and criminal justice, while those
stating no preference indicated they preferred a broader education to prepare officers to deal with a
wide variety of situations.

These leaders do not want colleges and universities to teach police skills; they seek graduates who
can integrate the duties of a police officer with an understanding of democratic values.49 The
consensus was that a liberal arts curriculum should be part and parcel of college and university
criminal justice programs. There was general agreement that a quality education is needed, particularly
in the areas of communication skills, critical thinking, decision making, research, the ability to
integrate concepts, and an understanding of diverse cultures.
However, the majority (75%) of police executives indicated a lack of communication between
colleges and universities and police agencies; they were never consulted about issues of common
interest. The researchers concluded that “colleges and universities should be developing policies,
changing and modifying curricula, and focusing on providing the educational background needed by
students and society. Criminal justice educators must introspectively give detailed attention to
curricula to ensure that today’s curricula fit today’s needs in law enforcement and other areas of the
criminal justice system.”50
Evaluating Leaders
A study of police chief performance and leadership styles surveyed 205 city managers in
Pennsylvania and asked them to rate the performance and leadership attributes of the police chief they
supervised.51 Chiefs with college educations were rated significantly higher than their high school
graduate counterparts on 35 of 45 performance indicators. Perhaps the most significant finding in this
study was that “those police chiefs with poor ratings were identified as those without college credit.
Education was the only significant predictor of police chiefs being rated as bad or poor.”52
Police Training
Purposes of Training
Training is increasingly recognized as a major aspect of the police role. A basic purpose of training
is to keep police personnel current with respect to important changes in the profession. Police training
should identify, instill, and help develop the core competencies that enable officers to do their jobs.
Core competencies are the “non-negotiables,” the things an officer absolutely must be competent at
doing—for example, firearms, force, driving, report writing, first aid. Substantive topics may include
things like interviewing witnesses or drug identification. Training should ensure that police personnel
are knowledgeable about policy and procedure, relevant case law, and the skills and attitudes needed
for them to perform at the highest level possible. In a larger sense, however, the purposes of training
depend on the ways in which the role of the police is defined.
The 1960s and 1970s emphasized crime fighting and law enforcement, and to some extent, many
officers still view these aspects of the police role as the most important part of police work.
Notwithstanding incremental changes, police training today continues to reflect those influences.53 As
a result, training courses dealing with survival techniques, patrol techniques, criminal investigation,
use of force, and the law are among the most popular courses.
Audio Link: Simulation Technology Trains Police Officers to Face Real Life Situations
The importance of training cannot be overemphasized; “proper training boosts officer
performance, reduces agency liability for poor performance, and mitigates community aversion to the
presence of law enforcement.”54 Inadequate or inappropriate training can too often result in

inaccurate assessments of situations and poor decision making, not to mention officers feeling a lack of
self-confidence or even feeling overly confident.
One of the major purposes of police training is—or should be—to make better communicators of
the public servants responsible for maintaining order.55 Communication and negotiation is what
police officers do most often. Some police officers have excellent skills in these areas, but others have
practically none. Such officers are unlikely to get cooperation from a range of citizens, either because
they alienate them by being authoritarian to compensate for their poor communication skills or
because they cannot express clearly and convincingly what they want or need people to do. They
receive little input from the public about crime or police performance. They routinely enforce the law
and maintain order through arrests or becoming unnecessarily physical in encounters with the
public.56 In similar situations, their more skilled colleagues are able to achieve order without resorting
to arrest. Furthermore, communication skills are critical during the training itself.57
Another purpose of training is to help agencies on the way to litigation. For the most part, CPE
training is mandated as outcomes of litigation and normally pertains to areas associated with civil
liability, such as the use of firearms, physical force, the handling of hazardous materials, and high-
speed vehicle pursuits; there is very little elective training. Many agencies have no requirements for
additional continuing education.58
Police agencies can improve their training in many ways, for instance, a focus on the less
traditional aspects of policing (human relations, communication skills, community policing strategies,
ethical decision making, responsible exercise of discretionary authority); administrators leading by
example and assuming an active role in the training process; innovative training methods; and trainers
qualified both as content experts and as experienced and knowledgeable educators. See Table 5.2 for a
breakdown of how many police departments request recruits and in-service officers to receive
community policing training.
The training in most larger law enforcement agencies is very well organized. It is often taught by
officers who are well versed in adult-learning theory and experienced in their fields. Most police
officers recognize the tremendous and ever-expanding liability associated with the job. Training may
very well prevent an officer from facing litigation, an internal investigation, or criminal charges. Many
of the subjects of training reoccur annually or semiannually and, in many cases, are mandated by laws
or litigation.
What Kind of Training and How Much?
All training is, or should be, interrelated. Also, training topics are not static but constantly
changing, and what we knew to be true yesterday may turn out to be myth tomorrow.59 Skilled
communication is extremely relevant, whether an officer is investigating a crime (interviewing and
interrogation skills), whether a department is defending a police action by a questioning public (public
relations), whether orders or directives are involved (departmental policies must be understood to be
effective), or whether evaluations or promotions are involved (both require clear communication
between those being evaluated or promoted and those doing the evaluating or promoting).

The content of police training, of course, varies with time, place, personnel involved, subject
matter, and training goals. In general, however, it may be said that the content should be relevant to
the needs of trainees, timely, well organized, and clearly presented. When these requirements are met,
trainees can best appreciate the value of the training. It is imperative that the information conveyed in
training sessions be current and accurate. The range of subjects that may be covered in training
sessions is limited only by the imagination of planners and presenters. Further, a good deal of training
can now be accomplished through Internet presentations and seminars, making training opportunities
more widely available than ever before.
Video Link: Police Training Aims to Eliminate Biases
Courses dealing with both verbal and nonverbal communications should be required of all police
personnel. It is also possible, however, to improve communication skills regardless of the specific
content of the training. Topics that require feedback from the participants can be presented in an
organized fashion and can help participants express themselves more clearly and become better
listeners. Police officers trained to express themselves clearly and as good listeners are likely to be more
effective in performing order maintenance and law enforcement.
Police officers can never have enough training; thus, training is a career-long commitment.
In a professional world that is changing constantly and rapidly, only proper training and education
can help police officers stay current. We see this, for example, in the increased use of computers,
forensics, and crime analysis.
But exactly what kinds of skills and how many hours of training should be required are questions
that every agency must wrestle with. Every agency has to balance the needs of growing its capacity
with the expense and time needed to accomplish that growth.
A number of states now mandate training both at the entry level and on a continuing basis. Peace
Officer Standards and Training commissions now operate in all states—prescribing and supervising
training for police officers. All states require initial training, and many also require ongoing training
during an officer’s career.
Department Support for Training
The need for training is relevant at all levels of policing, including that of police chief.
Unfortunately, police administrators sometimes fail to take advantage of training opportunities
because of busy schedules, lack of interest, or the mistaken belief that they already know all there is to
know. Officers often attend training not required of the chief. A frequently heard comment at patrol

officer training sessions is, “I wish the chief could hear this.” In some instances, the chief may fail to
follow the lessons taught by the course that the officers have been exposed to. For example, officers
might attend a course on the importance of communication, after which they realize that the chief has
poor communication skills. A supervisor that lacks up-to-date training may hinder a subordinate
officer or investigator from using newly acquired skills. A police administrator who wants a well-
trained department must send the message that training is important in a variety of ways, including by
his or her own occasional attendance at training sessions and continued openness to learning.
Policing in Practice Video: Experience and importance of the training process
Types of Training
There are many kinds of training for police officers and supervisors. The most basic types are
recruit training, field training, and ongoing in-service training. The specific subjects covered in
training of all kinds vary significantly among all police agencies. As technology advances, agencies are
adopting more training strategies, including use of the Internet and online training.
Recruit Training
Most new police recruits attend police training institutes or academies. Such training is referred to
as basic or recruit training and encompasses the following core competencies (roughly in order of the
amount of time spent on each):
Patrol techniques and officer safety
Criminal investigation
Force and weaponry
Legal issues
Criminal justice systems
Human relations
Emergency driving
Crime scene management and evidence handling
Court testimony
Report writing
Additional skills may include the following
Conflict resolution
Policy and procedure
Organizational philosophy and ethics
Community-specific problems
Cultural diversity, special needs groups
Individual rights
Lifestyle stressors, self-awareness, and self-regulation
Training can be measured most directly in terms of the number of hours. As of the year 2000, the

lowest number of mandatory training academy hours was 320; the highest was 1,118; and the mean
number of training hours required of entry-level recruits was 516.60 Almost none of these academies
spend more than 10% of the time on human or community relations and ethical decision making—
even though the vast majority of a police officer’s time is spent in encounters and duties that require
skills in these areas. The majority of training curricula teach police officers about things that take up
only a small percentage of their time on the job.61 Training priorities are a matter of time and money.
It is tremendously expensive to put a recruit through an academy. A police agency may invest as much
as $100,000 to recruit, hire, and train a new police officer. Until that recruit graduates, the agency sees
no “return on its investment.” From a practical and monetary standpoint, the time a recruit spends in
the academy is necessarily limited. Police academies must focus on those topics with the highest degree
of liability, thus the emphasis on force, firearms, and driving. A two-year basic academy is simply not
practical. However, recruits are tested in each area of instruction, and to graduate, recruits must
achieve a passing score in every training domain.
We have come to recognize that, although law enforcement and crime fighting are critical parts of
the police role, they are not the most important in terms of time spent or citizen satisfaction. As is
commonly understood, police personnel spend the majority of their time negotiating settlements
between spouses, lovers, or neighbors and providing other services that have little to do with law
enforcement. As buffers between aggrieved parties, police personnel need to develop skills in this area.
Successful intervention into the daily lives of citizens requires specific skills, as well as cooperation on
the part of the individuals involved. Increasingly, communication skills (both verbal and nonverbal)
and human, community, and cultural competency are emerging as among the most important assets
of a skilled, effective police officer.
Training and Community-Oriented Policing
Basic training curricula place little emphasis on these skills in the job setting. Recent research
regarding this issue shows mixed results. Approximately 80% of police academies offer recruits at least
some form of training in subjects related to community policing; however, the amount of time spent
on those and similar issues is minimal in comparison to the more traditional subjects, such as firearms
training, physical fitness, and the like.62
As policing evolved to become more community oriented, academies could have included more
than the mechanical aspects of policing in their curricula.63 Unfortunately, many never did, and now
that community-oriented policing initiatives are no longer funded to the same extent they were during
the late 1990s and early 2000s, the topic areas covered remain dominated by a concrete and practical
approach. Thus, for example, the BJS reported the following statistics. Unlike the data cited in the
above studies, this report examined police recruits attending all state, local, municipal, and college
campus-based training academies, regardless of population.
As of the end of 2006, there were 648 police training facilities offering basic recruit training.
Basic training programs averaged 19 weeks in length.
Topics with the most instruction included firearms, self-defense, health and fitness, patrol
procedures, investigations, emergency vehicle operations, criminal law, and basic first aid.
Of the approximately 57,000 police recruits who entered the basic training program in 2005,
86% (49,000) graduated from the academy.
Academies with a predominantly academic orientation had a higher completion rate (89%) than
academies with a predominantly paramilitary orientation (80%).
Community policing instruction increased slightly, while sizeable increases were observed in
terrorism-related training.64

Still, there are good arguments for maintaining a community-oriented policing focus in training
recruits. A 2008 study compared traditional and community policing academy curricula and found
that the newer model had a higher rate of recruit officer success in academy performance.
Additionally, findings indicated that recruits who had higher levels of education and females
performed better in this training model.65
1. What lessons can U.S. law enforcement agencies learn from the RCMP’s model?
2. What types of unique challenges does the RCMP face? Do you see similar challenges faced by
U.S. police agencies?
3. How might U.S. law enforcement agencies use the CAPRA model to solve problems, improve
community-oriented policing outcomes, and reduce crime?
Recruit Training: Also known as basic training, refers to the initial training successful police applicants are exposed
to; training covers criminal law, traffic code enforcement, arrest techniques, firearm training, self-defense tactics, vehicle
searches, and a host of similar topics; successful recruit training culminates in certification as a sworn police or peace
Around the World 5.1
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is a national police service that has approximately 26,000 employees,
including sworn, civilian, and public service employees. Strategic priorities include organized crime, terrorism, youth,
economic integrity, and serving Aboriginal communities. The RCMP is unique because it is a national, federal, provincial, and
municipal policing body.
Cadet training involves a 24-week, basic training course and then a 6-month Field Coaching Program under the
supervision of a field coach. The Cadet Training Program consists of 785 hours in the following areas:
Applied police sciences: 373 hours
Detachment visits, exams, etc.: 115 hours
Police defensive tactics: 75 hours
Police driving: 65 hours
Firearms: 64 hours
Drill, deportment, and tactics: 48 hours
Fitness and lifestyle: 45 hours
The Capra Model is an operational application of the RCMP’s vision and mission . . . and combines commitment to
communities and clients, problem solving in partnership, and continuous learning. The acronym CAPRA stands for:
C = Clients
A = Acquiring and analyzing information
P = Partnership
R = Response
A = Assessment for continuous improvement
Source: “Cadet training program brief overview,” and “Corporate facts,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 2011
Field Training
Although the information provided in basic training academies is crucial, there is often a
considerable gap between the academy content and what actually occurs on the streets. In a very real
sense, academy training is simply a preparatory step for OJT or field training. The same is true in
many other professions; for example, doctors complete four years of medical training, but much of
what they learn is theoretical. To be fully confident and competent, doctors require additional training
through residency and internship. Their book learning is necessary preparation for the real world.

SAGE Journal Article: Field Training Officers, Their Trainees, and Allegations of
Field training is an opportunity for new officers to put to use what they learned in the classroom
under the watchful eye of an experienced officer who can provide immediate feedback and mentoring.
Additionally, it is impossible in the academy to provide training for every potential event an officer
might encounter. Field training, when done correctly, should extend and build upon academy
The first opportunity for the rookie to practice what he or she has been taught comes during the
first year or two of service, often referred to as the probationary period. Field training and the
probationary period work hand in glove. Field training is typically conducted during the first six
months of probation. The idea is to see how an officer performs on the job. During this period, the
officer has very little in the way of civil service employee protections. Thus, if an officer is unable to
perform satisfactorily during training, it is relatively simple for the agency to terminate the officer.
This becomes exponentially more difficult at the conclusion of probation.
Normally, new officers are or should be involved in field training under the supervision of field
training officers (FTOs) who have been selected and prepared to direct, evaluate, and correct the
performance of recruits immediately after their basic academy training. Such programs have become
widespread since they began in San Jose, California, in the early 1970s. They provide daily evaluation
of a recruit’s performance by two or more FTOs, as well as weekly or monthly evaluations by other
supervisory personnel. The FTO programs are expected to achieve the following goals:
Produce a competent police officer capable of working solo patrol assignments in a safe, skillful,
productive, and professional manner.
Provide standardized training to all newly assigned regular officers in the practical application of
learned information.
Provide clear standards for rating and evaluation, which give all trainees every reasonable
opportunity to succeed.
Enhance the professionalism, job skills, and ethical standards of the law enforcement
If the recruit successfully completes field training and probation, she or he becomes a full-fledged
and sworn police officer. If remedial training is required but still fails to produce the desired results,
FTO evaluations may serve as a basis for terminating undesirable or ineffective personnel. This can
pose a dilemma for administrators, because when FTOs and supervisory personnel determine or
recommend that a recruit be terminated for unsatisfactory performance, many police executives
remain reluctant to terminate the individual(s) in question, due to the significant costs already
incurred during the hiring process. However, this economic shortsightedness could cost the agency
more through the years than the cost of training—in terms of civil liability and strained community
relations. It is sometimes necessary to terminate probationary officers who do not satisfy the demands
placed on them during field training.
Formalized field training programs make it easier for both the FTOs and the recruits to assess
progress. One researcher indicated, “FTOs are no longer macho types, although certain physical and
survival skills remain important. Good FTOs teach their trainees how to recognize and deal effectively
with problems in ways other than the use of physical force. Trained FTOs know that an officer’s
verbalizations should be used to avoid problems rather than create them.”67
Although the FTO program continues to be used today, the Police Training Officer (PTO)
program is a more recent postacademy training program. The PTO program “provides a foundation

of lifelong learning that prepares new officers for the complexities of policing.”68 A PTO program is
different from the traditional methods often employed in policing training. Learners are presented
with real-life problems and follow a pattern of discovery whereby they express ideas about solving a
problem, list facts already known surrounding the problem, determine what they need to know and
where to go for the answers, develop an action plan, and—finally—evaluate their outcomes.69
Field Training: Occurs immediately following successful recruit training; during field training, new officers are
paired with specially trained veterans and are evaluated on how they perform on the street, normally in the patrol
division; field training programs normally last anywhere from six weeks to six months
Probationary Period: The period starting on the first day of recruit training, during which the performance of new
officers is evaluated; this period ranges from six months to two years, depending on the agency; during probation,
officers are “employees at will” and do not enjoy any of the employment protections (such as grievance procedures)
granted to officers who have successfully completed their probationary periods
Field Training Officers (FTOs): Officers who have been selected and trained to direct, evaluate, and correct the
performance of recruits immediately after their basic academy training
Police Stories 5.1
Brian Fitch, Author and Former Lieutenant, LA County
Sheriff’s Department
A friend of mine has wanted to be a police officer as long as he can remember. Unfortunately, at the age of 19, he stole
$500 of clothing from the retail store where he worked. When asked about the missing items, he confessed to the theft and
returned the items. He was arrested for the theft, but never charged. Shortly thereafter, he took a job with a national bank,
where he was promoted to the level of assistant manager based on his work ethic and attitude. He has since applied to several
law enforcement agencies. Each time, however, the story is the same. He is able to pass the written examination, physical
agility course, and physical, but fails the background process.
He has always been honest about his earlier mistake. He has explained to several background investigators in great detail
the mistake he made, as well as what he learned as a result. He has also emphasized how he has worked as a bank manager for
the past ten years with an excellent performance record. Despite his best efforts, he has been rejected by no less than five
different police agencies—and all for the same reason: Poor judgment and character. Perhaps the most frustrating part is that
while he is open and honest about his mistake, someone who made the same mistake but was never caught is able to gain a job
as a law enforcement officer. Provided the agency never finds out the person’s dirty little secret, he or she can enjoy a long
career in law enforcement while my friend has given up hope. He has gone back to his job as a bank manager, where he
continues to work with large sums of money and, at least to date, without a single allegation of misconduct.
Police Training Officer (PTO) Program: Recently developed field training program that many researchers and
police executives claim is effective at helping new officers entering the field develop problem-solving skills rarely seen at
the early stages of their career; the PTO program involves two primary training areas: substantive topics and core
Ongoing In-Service Training
In-service training, also known as continuing professional education (CPE), is one of the
cornerstones of professionalism.
Most police personnel receive periodic in-service training that is provided by department
personnel, training consultants hired by the department, or regional or local training boards. Most law
enforcement agencies require their officers to complete in-service training to maintain competency.
From management’s perspective, in-service training enhances efficiency and effectiveness and may be
an important factor in work motivation.70 Those with specialty skills need ongoing refreshers and can
share their skills with others through in-service training.
Further, inadequate training could be a basis for liability under Section 1983 actions.71 The U.S.
Supreme Court, in deciding the case of City of Canton v. Harris, noted that inadequate police training
may constitute a jurisdictional liability “if the failure to train amounts to deliberate indifference to the

rights of persons with whom the police come into contact and the deficiency in the training program
is closely related to the injury suffered.”72
Although most departments offer occasional in-service training, many conduct it in a more
random way, with no real plan or program in mind. It can be viewed as a somewhat necessary evil by
both those conducting it and those being trained—rather than as a valuable means of keeping current
in the field.
Video Link: County Police Begin Training to Patrol Camden
In some states, professional boards issue licenses to qualified individuals who are required to meet
established qualifications. In many cases, this includes some form of in-service training. Licensure of
professionals has served as a gate-keeping function by ensuring the proficiency of professionals who
provide services to others, and it protects the profession itself by determining who can use the title.73
This requires that the government create a governing body to regulate licensure and discipline those
who violate their privileges or are found to be performing without a license. (See Case in Point 5.1 for
an example of the license requirement for Missouri police officers.)
In-service Training: Also known as continuing professional education, the intent is to keep professionals up to
date with continuous changes that affect their practice
Technological Advances and Online Training
Policing strategies and technological advances are closely and dynamically related. Radar changed
the way the police enforced speeding laws. The advent of Tasers offers a new option in use-of-force
situations. Global positioning systems (GPS) and electronic monitoring devices on probationers and
parolees help keep real-time tabs on high-risk citizens.
In the world of training, online courses are promising to reach large numbers of officers and keep
associated costs—which can be significant—to a minimum. Online education initially gained
popularity more than 10 years ago and has been gaining popularity since then. Improved technology
has produced sophisticated yet user-friendly online delivery platforms that make interaction between
student and teacher as robust as that of a traditional training or education environment. Audiovisual
capabilities, such as document viewing and sharing, animation, and interactive exercises, offer a wide
range of training possibilities.

Training officers mentor, observe, and evaluate probationary officers.
© AP Photo/The News-Item
Online training is not suitable for some police training needs, such as emergency driving and
firearms training. But, with the addition of computers in today’s police cars, a good deal of online
training can be done on the job. It can be used to teach and test things like knowledge of policy and

law prior to conducting the “hands-on” portions. By breaking training courses into small modules,
officers can complete one module a day (or week or month or whatever). The important point is that
officers can continue to work their regular assignments. Why spend time covering recurring policy
training when the student can complete the training in his or her patrol car, free of charge! This also
provides the agency with a permanent record of the officer’s test scores.
Continuing professional education is crucial to keeping officers’ skills sharp. Here officers
receive additional training on the proper use and safety procedures for Tasers.
Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
An additional example of alternative methods of police training is the Use of Force Training
Simulator (UFTS), which uses computer-generated images (CGI) and speech technology that enable
variability in characters and scenarios and responses to user commands and conversation.74 CGI
allows the police trainer to incorporate an array of features such as character ethnicity, voice, gender,
mood, and compliance, in addition to weather and time of day. The speech recognition capability of
the UFTS enables the police trainee to converse with CGI characters, and the nature and the tone of
the conversation from the trainee influence the character and scenario responses.75 Using this
technology, the trainee can attempt to gain the suspect’s compliance by using less-than-lethal force.
Alternatively, the officer can cause the suspect’s level of resistance to the officer’s commands to
Many law enforcement agencies use this new and interactive form of training. Perhaps one of the
more innovative programs is one started and sponsored by a partnership between the Minnesota
Chiefs of Police Association, the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, and the League of Minnesota Cities
Insurance Trust, known as Peace officer Accredited TRaining OnLine (PATROL).76 Dozens of
training courses are now offered online and are available to any law enforcement agency in the state
for a nominal fee per officer. The cost of online training is far less than for traditional teaching
methods. The topics are varied and include the use of force, blood-borne pathogens, and current legal
issues, to name a few. More agencies are turning to this easily accessible and relatively affordable form
of training to reach more officers over longer distances. Approximately 92% of respondents rated the
Maine Law Enforcement Online Training Initiative system as almost as effective as or better than
traditional classroom training.77
Case in Point 5.1
The state of Missouri requires that all persons commissioned as peace officers possess a valid peace officer’s license. The director
of the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training establishes the “minimum age, citizenship, and general education
requirements and may require a qualifying score on a certification examination as conditions of eligibility for a peace officer license.”
The number of hours of basic training for licensure is a minimum of 470 and a maximum of 600. However, up to 1,000 hours

may be required for license by state law enforcement agencies.
Peace officers in Missouri who make traffic stops are required to receive three hours of training within the law enforcement
“continuing education three-year reporting period concerning the prohibition against racial profiling and such training shall
promote understanding and respect for racial and cultural differences and the use of effective, noncombative methods for carrying
out law enforcement duties in a racially and culturally diverse environment.”
A peace officer’s license can be suspended immediately if the officer is under indictment for, charged with, or convicted of a
felony or if the officer is a clear and present danger to public health or safety.
1. Is three hours of training on racial profiling adequate?
2. What is more effective at eliminating racial bias from local police practice, leadership attitudes or training?
3. Discuss some circumstances under which police officers should be disciplined or terminated. Be specific.
Source: “Peace officers, selection, training and discipline,” Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 590, Section 590.020 to 590.090,
Exhibit 5.1
Internet-Based Training Portal Topics
Terrorism awareness
Hazardous materials
Workplace harassment
Federal firearm laws
Search and seizure
Dealing with people with mental retardation
Cultural diversity
Crime scene investigation
Weapons of mass destruction
Sexual assault
Source: “Partnering for Progress: Maine Law Enforcement Online Training Initiative,” by Schwartz, Rogers, and Plaisted,
2009. The Police Chief, 76(11), 1–7.
Use of Force Training Simulator (UFTS): Technology that employs computer-generated images (CGI) and
speech technology that enable variability in characters and scenarios as well as character and scenario responses to user
commands and conversation
Peace officer Accredited TRaining OnLine (PATROL): Innovative and inexpensive way to provide a myriad of
in-service training opportunities to officers on a statewide basis; this asynchronous, online training initiative was formed
by a partnership between the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, and the
League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust
Who Should Conduct Police Training?
Police trainers often come from diverse backgrounds. Trainers may include police officers,
physicians, computer experts, self-defense experts, college professors, and business leaders, to name a
few. They may be men or women and may be racially or ethnically the same or different from their
students. In general, the broader the spectrum of qualified trainers and the greater the exposure to
different skills, the better.78 Some police officers make good trainers when they have both information
to share and good communication skills to present their information. It is important to note that these
are two separate, equally important requirements. It is not enough to be an expert if good
communication skills are lacking. Similarly, it does little good to have expert communicators present
out-of-date or irrelevant information. Unfortunately, both situations occur in police training. When
in-service or retired officers meet both requirements of a successful trainer, they often have a
significant advantage over other trainers. Although other trainers may be similarly qualified, a current
or former police officer often has greater credibility among police personnel.
A related issue is the education requirements for police trainers. Only about two-thirds of police

training facilities had an educational requirement for full-time trainers.79 Of those, the most frequent
requirement was a high school diploma or GED, and the least frequent requirement was a bachelor’s
It is common in many police agencies to prepare officers for their role as an FTO by sending them
to instructor development programs that teach differences in learning styles, adult learning theory, and
communication skills. In fact, many agencies require that FTOs attend an instructor development
school prior to their final appointment as FTOs.
It is essential, however, that police training also be conducted by those outside the profession, for
two reasons. First, many of the skills required of trainers and educators are not frequently found
among police officers, such as technical skills, ability to analyze trainee interactions, and disease
prevention expertise. Many academies require their full-time trainers to have a certification as a subject
matter expert and as a trainer.81 Second, and perhaps most importantly, relying only on those within
the profession for training typically leads to a myopic worldview, which serves to isolate members
from the rest of society. Progressive thinking suggests that the police need to be more—not less—
connected to their communities.
One shortcoming of police training is that there is not enough emphasis on the skills needed to
deliver training effectively. Trainers need to establish a “three-dimensional” delivery environment.82
First, the instructor must have the requisite knowledge to deliver accurate topical information.
Second, the trainer must possess the facilitation skills needed to deliver information effectively. Third,
the trainer must have the ability to accurately assess trainee retention.
Thus, the reasons for recruit failure are not always directly attributable to the shortcomings of the
new officer. One example is a case involving the South San Francisco Police Department (SSFPD) in
2002. That year, the chief became concerned about the 50% failure rate of recruits in the FTO
program. He had been to a conference that addressed the importance of acknowledging and
responding to various adult learning styles in the training and education environment, so he set up a
series of meetings with training personnel and professors from a local university. A review of their
FTO program showed no consideration of different learning styles and concluded that this may have
caused confusion among the recruits.83 Key actions that led to the modification of the SSFPD’s FTO
program included the following:
A more detailed understanding of adult learning principles and different learning styles, provided
by the local professoriate
Recognition of differences in generations and culture between FTOs and recruits (at the time,
the FTOs were baby boomers, and the recruits were both Generation Xers—born between 1965
and 1980—and Millennials)
Proper assessment of preferred learning styles among recruits
Commensurate changes to the program84
The most significant program changes instituted as a result of this effort were as follows:
Including a variety of approaches, taking audio, visual, and kinesthetic preferences into account
Customizing training by facilitation through the integration of preferred learning styles,
whenever possible or feasible
Engaging recruits in more dialogue, so that the new information can be related to their past
Reinforcing learning by having recruits verbalize their understanding of what they have just

Observers found this basically simple solution to a rather complex problem resulted in a greater
success rate among recruits for a relatively low cost.86
Additional tips for a positive training experience include knowing the average skill level of
attendees ahead of time and planning accordingly. This also includes the technical skills needed to
operate any equipment. In addition, using real-life or job-related applications can emphasize and
clearly demonstrate the benefits of the training at hand. When feasible, a hands-on approach for the
learners is desirable, especially with technical equipment.87
Individuals who have a passion for training, a knowledge of the specific subject, a style that is
conducive to interaction with students, and a willingness to learn and to teach are the best suited and
most well prepared for the task.
There are eight general qualities of effective law enforcement trainers:
Administrators face many challenges in their decisions around exactly what training to require of
their officers and how to manage the time and financial burden that training demands.
Author Video: What challenges do law enforcement face to meet training requirements?
One challenge with in-service training is its geographic availability. In response to this dilemma,
some states have developed mobile training units that provide access to training within a specified
geographic area to make attendance easier for police personnel from rural areas and small towns.
Unfortunately, budget cuts and, in some instances, union contracts have made it increasingly difficult
for departments to release personnel to attend such training.
In some instances, longer training courses are offered to senior-level personnel as a reward for
longevity rather than to personnel who are in positions in which they could make active use of the
information provided. In addition, much of the information provided during these courses remains in
the minds of those who attend rather than being disseminated to others in the department through in-
service training sessions. Still, a good deal of the information obtained from such courses has practical
Funding for Training
Law enforcement agencies face a growing dilemma. They are confronting many new burdens, such
as computer crimes, identity theft, the threat of terrorism, and the need for homeland defense.
However, department resources are not growing as rapidly as the increased demand for police services.
On the contrary, many agencies have experienced a decline in funding, and training often represents
one of the first budget items cut. For training to gain and maintain a degree of importance, agencies
must be confident that their resources are well spent and that training leads to positive results for both

the police and the communities they serve.
Cost and convenience are huge factors. When an agency sends an officer to training, it has two
choices: (1) run short that day (or night); do not hire an officer to work overtime to fill in, or (2) pay
the overtime.
What happens when the number of hours or programs is cut? This is what often occurs in times of
budgetary shortfalls. Approximately 70% of police agencies reduced or eliminated training programs
in 2010 as a result of budget reductions.89 These data were based on a survey of over 600 police
agencies by the Police Executive Research Forum, whose report states, “When you cut training, not
only are you no longer having to pay for the training, you’re also not having to pull the officers off of
the street and replace them with other officers who may be working overtime.”90 Attempts to offset
the high costs of training have been implemented and actually show promise in this regard. For
example, Mobile Team Training Unit (MTTU) IV provides law enforcement certification training to
39 municipal and sheriffs’ police agencies in Illinois and Iowa.91
Web Link: LAPD broke labor laws in requiring some officers to repay training costs, court
For training to gain and maintain a degree of importance, agencies must be confident that their resources
are well spent and that training leads to positive results for both the police and the communities they serve.

Mandatory Versus Voluntary Training
Mandatory participation may adversely affect the quality of the learning experience. This is a
difficult and controversial issue, one that most police agencies are fully aware of and struggle with
daily. Training in communication, human relations, cultural competency, analysis of encounters, and
negotiating is available and has become more widespread, but may still be poorly attended unless
attendance is mandatory. There is a significant difference between “mandated” and “elective” training.
Typically, officers who are forced to attend such training fail to see the benefits of the training.
Although officers often tolerate certain forms of mandated training, many of those same officers
enjoy attending more advanced courses—especially, when there is a nexus to the job. It is safe to say
that certain forms of training are more enjoyable than others, more highly sought after, and given to
senior officers or administrators because of their tenure.
One problem is that something like a new court decision or litigation that was created by the
actions of a small group of officers often results in department-wide training efforts to prevent similar
events in the future, even when the chances of an officer encountering the situation in question are
slim to none. Nonetheless, any time there is a new requirement, the whole agency is typically
mandated, usually by law, to attend the training.
Researchers point to a variety of benefits associated with a policy of mandatory continuing
education (MCE), including the following:
MCE serves to either eliminate the laggards from the ranks of the profession or revive their
interest in learning.92
By virtue of the very existence of MCE, the quantity and quality of its programs tend to
Professionals view participation in MCE as being more acceptable to professionals than periodic
reexamination for license renewal.94
MCE protects the public from those who are unwilling to keep up with current developments in
their field, thus increasing public confidence.95
It is worth noting that, among many other professions and their related literature, participation in
MCE is no longer a debate; rather, it has become accepted practice. Unfortunately, the field of
policing has not consistently incorporated this educational philosophy.
Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE): Career-long training standards for police professionals to maintain
and improve their professional competence
Training and Police Leadership
One way of determining the value that police supervisors attach to training is to examine the
extent to which they participate themselves. Historically, many police supervisors (including chiefs)
avoided training and rationalized their absences by pointing out the other demands on their time such
as meetings, planning, administrative chores, and bureaucratic requirements. In reality, the absence of
police supervisors from training sessions may have more to do with other factors.
Some police executives operate as if they have no need for additional information. Why should
those at the top sacrifice their time and energy to attend training when those still striving for such
positions may benefit more? Related to this may be doubts about how well they will perform in the
classroom. What if they appear uninformed before their subordinates? What if their contributions to

the training session are not appreciated or well received? What if their performance is exceeded by
other, lower-ranking trainees? While these concerns are real, they are worth risking to demonstrate
that training is not a frill or superficial symbol, but a valued, ongoing part of the organization’s
However, it may be detrimental to the functioning or morale of an organization if leaders are less
informed than officers. It is clearly frustrating to return from a period of training and education with
an idea that seems ideal for implementation in one’s own organization, only to be ignored by
The sharing of training content is most effective when it includes supervisory personnel who may
otherwise find the concepts disseminated difficult to understand and may continue to operate using
outdated information. Again, the commitment to training must come from administrators, along with
the recognition that training is one of the ways that police personnel can receive an acknowledgement.
Merit-based selection for a specialized training course conducted at the department’s expense is a
rewarding experience, as is recognition of an officer’s ability to train others. Without such recognition,
training is more likely to be viewed in an unfavorable light.
Selected police personnel have the opportunity to participate in longer-term, specialized, or more
intensive training offered by a variety of training institutes around the country. Among the more
popular of these training groups are the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, the
Southern Police Institute, and the FBI National Academy, all of which offer courses lasting a week to
several months. Courses offered by these institutions cover topics ranging from traffic investigation to
executive management. In California, the Law Enforcement Command College began operation in
1984 with the mission of preparing “law enforcement leaders of today for the challenges of the
future.”96 The program focuses on the following:
Leadership principles needed to influence the future direction of the organization
Strategies to identify emerging issues and provide a proactive response
Skills and knowledge necessary to anticipate and prepare for the future
Methods and benefits of sharing information
Use of stakeholders in problem solving
Policing in Practice Video: Challenging aspects of the training process
The program emphasizes adult learning theories and holds students accountable for their
While these concerns are real, they are worth risking to demonstrate that training is not a frill or
superficial symbol, but a valued, ongoing part of the organization’s performance.
Training Effectiveness
Many professions use sophisticated evaluation techniques to assess program effectiveness and
relevancy and emphasize research that attempts to link training to job performance.98 Proper
evaluation helps determine whether training changes the way employees do their job and whether the
change is what leaders want. One of the major problems that criminal justice training programs have
encountered through the years is their lack of emphasis on evaluation with respect to the relevance and

applicability of training.
Although training techniques continue to advance, many questions remain about the impact of
training on the job. The effects of training are frequently improperly assessed by police agencies.
Police training has few easily measurable results, because training does not often result in clearly
measurable end products. The impact of training is often measured in terms of the numbers of hours
or programs attended annually. Clearly, such measurement fails to evaluate a program’s quality or
relevance. Policy agency leaders need to know if training provides useful information and if trainees
understand the material. Leaders too often neglect even a simple evaluation because they assume that
training is effective.
Web Link: How Police Training Contributes to Avoidable Death
A reliable way to assess the value of training is to conduct routine evaluations, which would ideally
include a pretest of and posttest of attendees’ knowledge of the material. Vendors of police training are
still analyzing program effectiveness by evaluating participants’ attitudes only after instruction is
completed. Research concerning CPE activities and their impact on relevancy, competency, and
improved job performance suggests that evaluation efforts should concentrate on techniques such as
practice audits and complex task analyses to achieve a positive relationship between participation in
CPE activities and professional competency.99
Important research from the 1980s offered insight as to why some training programs are more

effective than others in producing positive changes in job performance. The research analyzed eight
studies that produced positive changes in performance by physicians after participation in CPE
activities. The following five elements were common to all of the studies:
1. Specified audience. All of the participants expressed a desire to learn something.
2. Identified learning needs. All participants could identify a learning need and a gap between
present and optimal performance.
3. Clear goals and objectives. It was clear to everyone involved what was to be learned.
4. Relevant learning methods and emphasis on participation. Learning was participative in
nature, occurred in familiar surroundings, and involved small group discussions.
5. Systematic effort to evaluate. Assessment and evaluation procedures began the day the programs
were developed, course development was based on clear definitions of learning needs, and a
variety of evaluation techniques were employed.100
There are many reasons to question the effectiveness of CPE. The purpose and benefits of CPE
and whether participation should be mandatory for professionals have been extensively discussed in
the literature for nearly two decades, from the mid- or late 1970s to the early 1990s. It is not a given
that participation in CPE activities keeps a police officer current in the field. Nor is it a certainty that
police personnel participate in these activities at all.
Best practice, the technological revolution, and public accountability are some of the underlying
and important reasons for professionals to consistently update their knowledge and skills. Experience
shows us that government intervention often results when professional groups fail in their
responsibility to maintain and improve their level of competence and professionalism. Imposing
increased education and training standards from within policing is critical. The police must perceive
participation in CPE activities as a natural extension of the job.
5 Under Review
The underlying issues regarding police education and training, in all of its forms, have always assumed an aura of
controversy. Questions such as the following continually arise: How much initial and continuing training is actually needed?
What should be the minimum level of formal education required of police officers? Are training and higher education related
to work performance? Who should conduct the education and training—academicians or police officers?
The two types of programs—training and education—can and must coexist; improved cooperation between proponents of
each can only lead to more qualified police officers. Law enforcement agencies must recognize the changes that are taking place
in policing. These changes include an increase in the educational level of citizens and the number of police programs based on
increased police–citizen interactions. These two developments require a review of law enforcement educational policies. The
main question could be not whether college education is necessary for police officers, but how much and how soon.
Other issues involving training and education are intimately related to organizational and individual civil liability issues.
Agencies must be prepared to demonstrate to the courts that their officers have received proper training, such as in firearm
proficiency, the use of force, constitutional issues germane to policing (search and seizure requirements, excessive use of force,
etc.). The courts have also ruled that police agencies must be able to demonstrate that they utilize sound supervisory practices
and that they do not retain personnel in a way that could be construed as negligent.
One form of training stressed in this chapter is of extreme importance: officers’ initial field training received after
successful completion of academy or basic training. The selection of the right officers to be field trainers is critical, because
those individuals have tremendous influence on the subsequent behavior of the rookies they train. As such, these officers
should be men and women committed to professional policing and the mission of their respective organizations. Appointing
officers to these positions on the basis of seniority alone is an unwise policy and should be avoided.
Numerous studies conducted through the years have concluded that officers with higher levels of education tend to be
more professional, receive fewer citizen complaints, possess more tolerance for diversity, possess better oral and written
communication skills, and seem better suited for community-oriented policing strategies than their high school graduate
counterparts. Still, there are those who maintain that street experience rather than higher education makes or breaks an officer.
Most authorities, however, assert that higher education is a definite advantage to the individual officers, their respective
agencies, and the profession.

Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.
Training 99
Education 99
Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education 100
Police Association for College Education (PACE) 102
Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) 104
Recruit training 110
Field training 113
Probationary period 113
Field training officers (FTOs) 113
Police Training Officer (PTO) program 114
In-service training 114
Continuing professional education (CPE) 114
Use of Force Training Simulator (UFTS) 117
Peace officer Accredited TRaining OnLine (PATROL) 117
Mandatory continuing education (MCE) 120
Discussion Questions
Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.
1. Why is recurrent training so important to police personnel? What are some of the possible consequences of failure to train?
2. What types of topics should be included in police training? Who should conduct the training?
3. How would you evaluate the effectiveness of a police training program? Why is evaluation so important?
4. What is the relationship between education and training? Can one replace the other? Why or why not?
5. Discuss the arguments for and against college education for police officers.
6. Is there legal justification for requiring some college for entry-level police officers? What are the legal issues involved with this
7. Has the relationship between college education and improved police performance been thoroughly evaluated?
Internet Exercises
1. Use the web to locate the home pages of at least five different local police agencies. Find information pertaining to their
entry-level requirements and compare and contrast those agencies to find significant differences. Explain which agency’s
requirements are the most applicable to the activities of police officers in today’s society.
2. Regarding criminal justice curricula in higher education, go to the home page of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
(ACJS) and peruse the sections relevant to what ACJS refers to as its “curriculum standards.” Do you agree with the ACJS
recommendations? Why or why not?
3. Using the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, examine applicable journals from the issues generated during the past couple of
years and identify the views of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the importance of higher education for those working
in law enforcement.
4. Use International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) website to determine its recommendations regarding higher
education and in-service training in the field of policing.

Student Study Site
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SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and
links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.

Chapter 6 Police Work: Operations and Functions
© REUTERS/Reuters Photography
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Explain why the way that police view their role determines the nature of the functions they perform
2. List the priorities of the three main styles of policing
3. Describe how the three approaches to allocation are used to determine the appropriate number of police personnel for
various jurisdictions
4. Evaluate the effectiveness of each of the four main forms of patrol
5. Discuss implications of the seminal Kansas City preventive patrol experiment and other similar research results
6. Describe the strategies to evaluate officer and agency performance
7. Identify how the relationship between the local police and the local media can either enhance or hinder police–
community relations
U.S. police officers are expected to monitor public manners and morals, prevent crime by
patrolling, apprehend criminals, recover stolen property, resolve domestic disputes, and accomplish
dozens of additional tasks. Police performance in these and other areas is generally governed by the
U.S. Constitution, related statutes, and court decisions, all of which outline the powers, duties, and
limitations of police officers. City charters and ordinances further govern operations at the municipal
level. The following state statute is an example of the unique powers granted to police officers.
Other states, of course, have similar statutes that serve to indicate some of the specific functions of
the police (e.g., serving warrants, detaining persons), as well as some of the general ones (e.g., keeping
the peace). As a check on police power, the Bill of Rights and civil rights legislation restrict police
behavior by establishing, defining, and guaranteeing certain freedoms for all U.S. citizens (see Chapter
9). This means that police powers and actions must balance delicately with the rights of the individual
to freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and security from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Police functions are performed through the processes of arrest and detention, investigation, and
police–community relations programs. To help ensure that these processes are carried out successfully,

the police must recruit, select, train, educate, evaluate, and promote officers capable of facing ever-
increasing challenges. Some of the near-future challenges to law enforcement include “local and
transnational criminals engaging in more elaborate schemes, the increased movement of money
through sophisticated local and international communications systems, and the migration of criminal
enterprises to terrorist-related activities.”1 The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards
noted that the number of crimes associated with technology, such as identity theft, has dramatically
expanded the responsibilities of police over the past 15 years.
An officer performing a frequent police function, a “routine” traffic stop.
© Creative, Inc
The Illinois Compiled Statutes (Illinois General Assembly, 2012) describe police officers as “conservators of the peace” with
powers to (1) arrest or cause to be arrested, with or without process, all persons who break the peace or are found violating any
municipal ordinance or any criminal law of the state; (2) commit arrested persons in custody overnight or on Sunday in any
safe place, or until they can be brought before a proper court (65 ILCS 11-1-2).
Basic Police Functions
The three main basic police functions are crime prevention, law enforcement, and order
maintenance. Though these purposes are generally the same across all agencies, there may be
tremendous variation in the manner in which officers perform their tasks—even on the same shift, in
the same division, and in the same department. Department organization and philosophy, the exercise
of discretion by individual officers, training and education, and many other factors influence police
performance, especially officers’ encounters with other citizens.
Frequently, newspapers, news magazines, and “reality” police programs on television show police
officers reaching for their guns as they burst through the doors of an apartment in a housing project.
In the background is a police car with flashing lights. A less dramatic scene shows a policewoman
talking to a grateful mother whose lost child was returned. Which of these illustrations more
accurately describes the police role? How frequently do these kinds of events occur? What percentage
of police activity is violent and dangerous? Have police activities changed since the terrorist attacks on
September 11, 2001, or since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina? What do police officers really do?
Policing in Practice Video: Experience of basic police functions and experience of patrolling
The answer to the last question is that officers spend a good deal of their time on routine matters,
including taking statements, writing reports, running errands, and attending court. Traffic, social
service, police-initiated events, and crimes against property account for most of the rest of a patrol
officer’s time. Only a small percentage of the officer’s time is spent on serious crime.
Patrol officers’ responsibilities in large municipal police departments include the following:

Traffic enforcement
Community relations
Criminal investigation
Warrant service and property control
Narcotics investigation
Intervening in domestic violence situations
Civil process
Vice investigation
Bail/court officer and other duties2
Author Video: Police functions and duties
The way the police view their role helps to determine the nature of the functions they perform and
the manner in which they organize to perform these functions. Any list of police functions is likely to
be incomplete, but the following police functions are common in many agencies:
Preservation of public peace
Protection of the rights of persons and property
Prevention of crime
Detection and arrest of those breaking the law
Enforcement and prevention of violations of state laws and city ordinances
Service of processes and notices in civil and criminal proceedings3
Order Maintenance and Law Enforcement
It is difficult to arrive at a formal and universally accepted definition of the role of the police. Most
authorities recognize the existence of a law enforcement role and an order maintenance component of
The term order maintenance describes the police maintaining the status quo by using interventions
with short-term effects to keep society stable and functioning by acceptable rules. Order maintenance
can involve activity that is at the same time necessary and controversial. It is necessary because the
community dislikes disorder and controversial because the police often use some form of coercion or
force. The police can maintain order by settling a neighbor-versus-neighbor dispute, directing traffic
at the scene of an accident, or calming an angry patron at a restaurant.
The distinction between law enforcement and order maintenance for certain activities is not
always clear, especially when civil law gets involved, such as with landlord–tenant disputes or a
customer refusing to pay for an auto repair bill because she is not happy with the work.
The on-scene objectives of the police and their preferred intervention techniques might be best
represented as a continuum of responses, not as separate categories. For example, a theft involving
acquaintances is often conflict management, while a lost child—which appears to be a public
service/public safety problem—may evolve into a law enforcement issue (e.g., kidnapping, rape, or
murder). Hence, the police often respond to a given situation with an assumed on-scene objective and
with a preferred intervention technique, but both very often change as they obtain additional
information.4 Thus, it is clear that there are no mutually exclusive categories of police intervention

According to the “broken windows” theory, addressing issues such as graffiti, vandalism,
and littering in this neighborhood can help prevent the rise of violent crime.
© Chernenko

Broken Windows and Zero Tolerance Policing
Order maintenance typically involves calls for service such as suspicious person complaints,
intoxicated persons, or loud-music calls. Such relatively minor complaints are basic to an approach
referred to as “broken windows.” A major premise of broken windows theory is that neighborhood
social disorder causes a decline of overall conditions and leads to more violent criminal activity.5
Degraded conditions lead to more fearful residents who disengage and withdraw, which creates an
environment where more serious crime can occur. This idea was introduced during the 1980s. To
prevent serious criminal activity, police focus on order maintenance, most of which does not directly
involve criminal behaviors. According to broken windows theory, “fighting the minor indicators of
neighborhood decay and disorder—broken windows, graffiti, even litter—helps prevent major
crimes.”6 Early studies supported the premise, but over the years, evaluations did not demonstrate a
strong causal relationship between broken windows order maintenance and reductions in crime rates.7
Broken windows has been criticized for being long on public popularity, but weak when rigorously
evaluated. Its claims to crime reduction in New York City, for example, were discredited by those
pointing to lower crime rates in other cities that did not implement broken windows and that the
decline in crack cocaine use was far more of an influence in reducing crime rates.
Some argue, however, that broken windows–style order maintenance is valuable in improving
community life even if it does not significantly affect serious crime rates—that improving public order
has an intrinsic value separate from police officers’ role in crime prevention.8
Video Link: Broken Windows’ Policing, Three Decades On
Order maintenance policing has also been associated with “zero tolerance,” which implies that
officers exercise little discretion when enforcing minor offenses and stick to the “letter of the law.”9
Most police organizations adopted this theory and began some form of broken windows policing in
the 1980s.
Others have questioned the theory, arguing that broken windows policing has resulted in “mass
stop-and-frisks, mass suspicionless searches of housing projects, prohibitions against loitering with
known gang members, and aggressive, even repeated arrests of minor misdemeanants.”10 Still others
have questioned the effectiveness of the broken windows theory in light of reported increases in some
crime rates.
Broken Windows Theory: A theory stating that neighborhood social disorder causes a decline of the overall
condition of the neighborhood, which leads to criminal activity
Policing the Mentally Ill
Another way that the police maintain order is by assuming sole responsibility for dealing with
mentally ill persons whose behavior warrants some form of intervention. Research has shown that the
frequency of contact between police and persons with mental illness has increased significantly in the
decades since deinstitutionalization.11 Training in appropriate responses to the mentally ill has become
a more critical skill for police officers. Similarly, public drunkenness often becomes the responsibility
of the police; limited bed space and selective admission practices at detoxification centers hinder police
attempts to find shelter and care for those who are taken into custody for being drunk in public. At
the same time, of course, the use of jails to house public inebriates is deemed inappropriate, further
limiting the alternatives available to the police. The police also are frequently called to remove the

homeless from streets and parks, because these persons are perceived to have a negative impact on
businesses, create an appearance of community neglect, and are often a danger to themselves
(especially in cold weather). Finding a suitable alternative for the homeless often becomes a difficult
task for the police.
Video Link: Memphis police take specialized approach to mental illness
Frequently, police are called on to remove the homeless from the streets, but often have very
few options in terms of providing shelter and services.
Image: © epa european pressphoto agency b.v./Alamy
Zero Tolerance: An aggressive policing strategy in which all violators are ticketed or arrested and which disregards
extenuating circumstances
Investigations and Forensic Science
Investigation is another basic function of the police, typically carried out by detectives who dress
in plain clothes. Almost all calls to the police involve some type of investigation. Police investigate all
types of incidents, from simple vandalism to homicide. Depending on such things as the strength of
the evidence, the complexity of the case, and the seriousness of the crime, an initial investigation may
result in further, more protracted investigation. Ultimately, the goal of the investigation is to identify,
locate, and arrest the suspect for processing through the criminal justice system.
The duties and responsibilities associated with an investigation unit include the following:
Determining whether a crime was committed
Searching the crime scene
Photographing and sketching the crime scene
Collecting and processing physical evidence
Interviewing victims and witnesses
Interrogating suspects
Maintaining field notes and writing preliminary, follow-up, and supplemental arrest reports
Maintaining surveillance of suspects and known criminals
Recovering stolen property
Arresting suspects
Preparing criminal cases for court

The timing of investigation activities is often of great importance, as evidence can change,
witnesses and suspects become harder to locate, and other opportunities for solving the crime can be
lost. A longer-term investigation requires more planning and benefits from clearly defined objectives
and strategies, and an analysis of the resources required to conduct the additional inquiry.13
Policing in Practice Video: Policing in Practice Video: Crime Scene Investigator
There are far fewer personnel in investigations than in patrol. “About 15% of police personnel are
assigned to it, much smaller than the 60% assigned to patrol.”14 A national study of detective work
reported similar percentages and concluded that investigators account for 16% of all police agency
Early research by the RAND Corporation and the Police Executive Research Forum examined the
efficiency of the criminal investigation process. The RAND study concluded that a substantial amount
of an investigator’s time is spent in nonproductive work and that investigators’ expertise has little
impact on the solving of cases. Furthermore, this study concluded that more than half of all serious
crimes received no more than superficial attention from investigators and that half of all investigators
could be eliminated without negatively influencing the crime clearance rate.15 Many argue that the
actions of patrol officers are extremely important if a criminal investigation is to be successful. Often,
the single most important determinant of whether a case will be solved is the information a victim
provides to the responding patrol officer. If information that uniquely identifies a perpetrator is not
available when the crime is reported to the police, the perpetrator is often not identified.16
Many criminal investigation divisions have established cybercrime units because of the increasing
frequency of such crime on the Internet, which includes online sexual predation, distribution of online
child pornography, computer fraud, and online theft. Police investigators might assist in operations
related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) national security priorities.17 These include the
Public corruption
Civil rights
Organized crime
White-collar crime
Investigations and Community-Oriented Policing
The adoption of a community-policing philosophy—in all its varieties—by many police
departments has influenced investigative unit functions. Many departments reexamined the traditional
method of permitting only specialists to conduct criminal investigations and have now trained patrol
officers as generalists, permitting them to conduct follow-up investigations.
Policing in Practice Video: How does your department use social media to engage with the
community and in investigations?
Rather than simply taking the initial report of the offense and forwarding it to detectives for

follow-up, officers conduct follow-up, regardless of the type of crime. In larger departments,
investigators usually specialize. For example, detective bureaus are divided among property crime
investigators, domestic violence investigators, robbery-homicide investigators, gang investigators,
narcotics investigators, and so forth. Using this model, the first officer to respond conducts the
complete investigation. Therefore, there is no break in the investigation, and no information is lost.
Despite these changes, police work has remained relatively unchanged over the years. However,
police departments have experienced major changes in the application of forensic science techniques
to the increasing complexity of criminal investigations. Forensic science can be defined as any branch
of science used in the resolution of legal disputes.18 As an example, the West Virginia State Police
Forensic Laboratory (2015) outlines forensic science examinations and functions. It covers the proper
methods for collecting evidence and maintaining a chain of evidence related to such things as drugs
and alcohol; paint, glass, and building materials; biological materials; firearms; fractured, cut, or torn
items; and skin impressions.19
How have these techniques employed by the police affected criminal investigations? Some believe
that technical advancements have resulted in a CSI effect, which refers to the television show Crime
Scene Investigation and the increasing public awareness of advances in DNA testing and other forensic
exams and the growing expectation on the part of jurors to see forensic evidence at criminal trials. The
result, experts say, is that police are sending much more evidence to labs for testing than they used
to.20 However, one study of randomly summoned jurors revealed that, “although the CSI viewers had
higher expectations for scientific evidence than non-CSI viewers, these expectations had little, if any,
effect on the respondents’ propensity to convict.”21
DNA analysis has had some positive impacts on criminal investigations. One study found that,
when conventional investigative techniques were used, a suspect was identified 12% of the time,
compared with 31% of the cases using DNA evidence. Additional findings of this study include the
Property crime cases that involve the processing of DNA have twice as many suspects identified,
arrested, and accepted for prosecution compared with traditional investigations.
DNA is approximately five times as likely as fingerprints to result in the identification of a
A forensic examiner from the crime lab at work using a comparison microscope on evidence
retrieved from a crime scene.

Forensic Science: Any branch of science used in the resolution of legal disputes
CSI Effect: Refers to the perception of scientific testing by television viewers
Styles of Policing
Watchman Style
James Q. Wilson identified three relatively distinct types of policing—the watchman style, the
legalistic style, and the service style.23 The watchman style involves the principal function as order
maintenance rather than law enforcement in cases that do not involve serious crime. The police use
the law more as a means of maintaining order than of regulating conduct and judge the seriousness of
infractions less by what the law says about them than by their immediate and personal consequences.
In other words, circumstances of person and situation are taken into account. Police officers are
encouraged to follow the path of least resistance in carrying out their daily duties. Minor issues are to
be ignored, but officers are to be “tough” when serious matters arise. This style of policing often
occurs in departments with low-level educational requirements (high school education or less),
relatively low wages, little formal training, considerable on-the-job training, and few formal policies.
Such departments have few specialized personnel; thus, departmental transfers are rare. Officers are
encouraged to take individual differences of citizens into account, both when communicating with
them and when enforcing the law. Who the citizen is, other than in serious cases, is as important as
what he or she has done.24
In the legalistic style of policing, juveniles are more frequently detained, and misdemeanor
arrests are more common.
© Ingelhart
Watchman Style: Focuses on an order maintenance style of policing
Legalistic Style
In police organizations that use a legalistic style, officers are encouraged to handle commonplace
situations as if they were matters of law enforcement as opposed to order maintenance. Officers
frequently issue traffic tickets, detain and arrest juveniles, and arrest for misdemeanors. These officers
take action against illicit enterprises on a regular basis. They are under pressure to “produce” arrests
and tickets and are expected to simply do their jobs as defined by an administration that views a high
volume of traffic and other stops as simply a means of discovering more serious crimes and enhancing

The legalistic style values technical efficiency, and promotions are based on such efficiency.
Administrators prefer middle-class officers with high school educations and emphasize a professional
image (new buildings and equipment). The law is used to punish those perceived as deserving of
punishment. Supervisors issue orders, and officers follow them, regardless of whether such orders seem
Service Style
The service style of policing requires officers to intervene frequently but not formally, take all
requests for service seriously, and find alternatives to arrest and other formal sanctions. Officers are
encouraged to be consumer-oriented and to meet community needs. Officers are expected to be neat,
courteous, and professional. Authority is less centralized, and community relations and public
education are viewed as important aspects of policing. The service style values college education,
rewards officers with good salaries, and encourages specialized expertise.26
One researcher proposed another array of police operational styles that focuses on individual
officers rather than entire police organizations, suggesting four officer personality types.27 Enforcers
are concerned with the enforcement of laws versus protection of individual rights. Idealists place value
on the individual rights of all citizens. Realists focus on neither enforcement of laws nor the protection
of individual rights, and optimists are more service-oriented and value individual rights.28

Web Link: When Schooling Meets Policing
Although most police organizations have characteristics of all four styles of policing, tendencies to
emphasize one style over the others are often easily discernible. In fact, a community may become
known for its emphasis on a specific style of policing. (“Don’t speed in that town; they ticket
everybody”; “That town lives off income from traffic citations”; or “You can get anything you want in
that town as long as you don’t rock the boat.”) Many watchman and legalistic departments exist, but
service-style organizations appear to represent the current trend in policing. This makes sense, given
the trend toward community-oriented policing and cooperation between the police and other citizens
in maintaining order and enforcing the law. An emphasis on community-oriented policing and
problem solving has required police administrators to reexamine the abilities of current personnel to
accomplish these initiatives.
Although research supports the belief that police officers have certain general styles that influence
their behaviors, it may be that other factors are more important.29 These factors are personal
characteristics (age, gender, education); situational characteristics (demeanor of the parties involved,
seriousness of the offense); environmental characteristics (amount of perceived crime in the
neighborhood, social disorganization); and organizational characteristics (department style, shift
assignment, management support).30 Furthermore, a police officer’s style could change during his or
her career, following the assignment to a different patrol shift or a special unit such as narcotics.
Legalistic Style: Focus is on law enforcement and arrests
Service Style: Searches for alternatives to arrest and the uses of formal sanctions
You Decide 6.1
Police officers are now wearing a type of body camera on their uniforms and, in some cases, also equipping stun guns with
cameras. Janesville, Wisconsin, police record all interactions with residents. “The video cameras are about the size of a Bic
lighter and clip onto an officer’s uniform.” They turn off and on by touch and are “downloaded at the end of the shift or on to
laptops immediately after an incident.”
Police officers in Janesville have found the tiny video cameras to be particularly useful for the arrest of intoxicated drivers.
“It’s hard to write notes about a field sobriety test when you have to watch someone attempt the test and count the number of
steps he or she is taking. In the past, officers had to juggle a flashlight and a clipboard while never taking their eyes off the
suspected drunk driver.”
In the wake of high-profile and lethal police shootings of citizens in Missouri and New York in 2014, President Barack
Obama convened the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to explore ways to help repair public confidence in the nation’s
police forces. The task force issued many justice-related recommendations, some of which pertain to technology. The task
force stopped short of specifically recommending the use of body cameras on the police, calling it a complex issue and noting
the difficulties in implementing it. In addition, the task force acknowledged that there is a difficult balance between
monitoring the police, protecting privacy rights of citizens, and the temptation to rely too heavily on the video as a source of
infallible information. Obama himself cautioned that cameras would not be a “panacea.”
The hope of many is that the cameras will serve a tempering influence on the police. In any case, the use of body cameras
is likely to increase. As it does, each state will have to grapple with the fine points of using such monitoring devices. According
to Wisconsin statutes, police are not required to inform a person that they are recording an interview or a traffic stop.
1. Should police officers be required to use tiny video cameras to record actions of all persons they encounter? Why or
why not?
2. Do you believe public knowledge that police are recording all interactions with the public has an effect on police–
citizen interactions? If so, explain.
3. Under what circumstances should officers be required or allowed to turn cameras off?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
Sources: “Janesville police officers see benefit in body cameras,” by Ann Marie Ames, 2012. Janesville Extra. Retrieved May
2012 from; “Obama task force urges independent probes of police killings,” by David Jackson, March
2, 2015. USA Today. Retrieved from

Patrol Strength and Allocation
Before determining the required number of patrol officers and their allocation, an agency must
determine the desired outcomes of patrol. Patrol can be divided into three related outcomes.31 First,
the presence of patrol officers may frighten offenders away or influence them not to commit
violations, at least until the police leave the area. There is sufficient evidence to conclude that these
actions do not actually prevent crime, but rather simply displace or delay the criminal activity. Second,
patrol provides police an opportunity to determine the probabilities of criminal behavior and, through
preventive strategies, to reduce or eliminate those probabilities. Third, patrol provides police the
opportunity to respond to calls for assistance in a timely manner.
Policing in Practice Video: A day in the life of a police officer
Police patrol staffing has three performance measures: crime reduction, visibility, and political
accountability. Leaders must consider these when determining how to achieve the desired results. No
single component of policing stands alone as a clear measure of the outcomes of patrol; other factors,
such as community support and cooperation, are also important in assessing the desired outcomes.32
Police administrators must consider not only the abilities of the officers they supervise, but also
the number of officers when they are assigning various tasks. There is no exact standard for
determining the required number of officers, but there is an expectation that police administrators can
justify staffing levels, especially as staffing relates to response times. Determining the number and
assignment of patrol officers is critical not only internally (to meet staffing needs), but also externally,
when considering the impact of numbers on the type of police service that can be provided to the
community.33 Thus, two cities with very similar populations may have different numbers of patrol
officers on the same shift. Population size is one factor that helps to determine the number of police
officers needed to answer service requests. Additional factors to consider include the types of services
provided (bomb disposal, underwater recovery, school-crossing services, search and rescue), whether
the department has a community policing plan, available resources, and other variables. It should be
noted that, beginning in 2008, many police departments’ budgets were cut, and some small
departments experienced difficulty in maintaining continuous patrol coverage. In some of these areas
that lacked patrol coverage, other police agencies, such as the county sheriff’s department or the state
police, provided patrol and responded to calls.
Intuitive Approach
There is a variety of ways to determine the appropriate number of police personnel for any given
jurisdiction—intuitively, comparatively, and by workload.35 The intuitive approach involves little
more than an educated guess and is often based on tradition, such as personnel numbers from
previous years. This approach can be related to the number of crimes cleared or the total number of
arrests; many administrators demand more police officers be hired as crime rates increase. However,
some research has suggested that differences in crime rates should not be attributed to variations in the
number of police.36 Since World War II, increases in the number of police have closely paralleled
increases in crime rates. Communities hire more police when crime rates rise, but some see this as a
desperate game of catch-up that has no effect on the increase in crime.37 Others attribute positive
effects to hiring more police officers.
Police Stories 6.1

Patrol is defined as moving about an area and observing or inspecting. While patrol can often be a monotonous and boring
job, things can very quickly turn deadly. In the span of a few seconds, an officer can go from bored to fighting for his life. In
one recent incident, a Morrisville, Pennsylvania, police officer and a suspect were injured during a confrontation at a local 7-
Eleven. The officer was on routine patrol at about 5:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, February 14, when he pulled into the store
and noticed a vehicle with its motor running. A check of the vehicle’s license plate revealed the vehicle had recently been
As the officer attempted to approach the vehicle, the driver put the car in reverse, hitting the officer and his patrol car. The
suspect took off, but the officer fired two shots, striking the suspect in the chest. The suspect eventually crashed the car up an
embankment with a bullet hole in the back door. The suspect was taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, in critical
but stable condition. He is now facing attempted murder charges.
The officer, who is a six-year veteran of the department, was treated at Aria Health Torresdale Campus and released.34
Comparative Approach
The comparative approach uses the ratio of police officers (per 1,000 in the general population)
to a certain number of residents or square miles to be policed.
If the comparison city has a higher ratio of police to citizens, it is assumed that an increase in
personnel is justified to at least the level of the comparison city.38
For example, the city of Los Angeles has one of the lowest citizen-to-officer ratios in the country,
about 400 residents to every 1 officer. New York is even worse, with 570 residents for every 1 officer.
So, if the New York Police Department wanted to use the comparative approach, it would argue that
the Los Angeles Police Department has a 400-to-1 ratio and that, because the cities are similar, the
NYPD should hire enough officers to obtain a 400-to-1 ratio.
The exclusive use of this method to compute police personnel needs is not advisable, as it is too
simplistic. Communities possess unique characteristics such as the size of the area served, miles of
roads to be covered, crime rate, number of juveniles, economic strength, employment rates, the size of
the elderly population, and special tourist attractions, all of which have an impact on the number of
officers required to respond to requests for police service. There is no universal number or simple
formula for determining a department’s optimal staffing level.
Intuitive Approach: Little more than an educated guess concerning the appropriate number of police personnel
Comparative Approach: Involves comparing the number of police officers between cities of similar characteristics
or the ratio of police officers to population
Case in Point 6.1
Although the average crime rate in the United States has declined significantly since the early 1990s, a 2011 RAND
Corporation report shows that a “10% increase in the size of a police force decreases the rate of homicide by 9%, robbery by 6% and
vehicle theft by 4% each year. (The effect on rates of sexual assault is less clear.)”
The costs of crime are far reaching and include the costs associated with the various parts of the criminal justice system,
including prosecution and corrections, to mention a few. Of course, costs also include the effects on victims, including fear, pain,
and suffering.
The addition of 725 police officers to the Los Angeles Police Department costs approximately $110 million annually. “When
Rand researchers factored in all serious crimes averted by adding those police officers, savings to citizens in the city came to $415
million a year, a 280% return on investment.” The report suggested that small departments that have a large burden of crime could
benefit from the investment of added police officers. However, “cities where police departments are big and crime rates relatively
low might not see reductions that exceed the costs of new officers’ training, salary and benefits.”
1. List all of the types of costs that you can think of that would be associated with a homicide.
2. What are the average rates of person and property crimes in your city? How many police officers does your city have? How
much does your city spend on its police force?
3. Given your answers from question 2, do you think your city should hire more police officers?
Source: “Save money—hire police,” by Gregg Ridgeway and Paul Heaton, 2011. Los Angeles Times.

Workload Analysis
Workload analysis is an important tool for administrators, which requires an elaborate
information system, standards of expected performance, well-defined community expectations, and
the prioritization of police activities.39 The workload analysis of patrol often involves the following:
Documenting the total amount of patrol workload that occurs
Determining the time it takes to handle that workload
Translating the workload data into the number of patrol officers required to handle it
Determining how many patrol officers are needed at different times of the day (allocation)
Determining how many patrol officers are needed on different days of the week (scheduling)
Determining how best to assign patrol officers to geographic areas (deployment)40
The actual computation of patrol workload is also complicated by the issue of uncommitted or
discretionary time. During a typical shift, police officers may enjoy substantial amounts of unassigned
or uncommitted time, during which they may initiate a wide range of tasks at their own discretion.41
This self-initiation is often based on the individual officer’s motivation and can be influenced by the
department’s desired style of policing.
Police work is incredibly unpredictable. One evening, an officer may drive around the city with
nothing to do. The following week, the same officer on the same beat might be so busy he won’t have
time to handle all of the evening’s assigned calls, which would need to be reassigned to other officers.
The RAND Corporation and the Center for Public Safety at Northwestern University developed
some of the few existing workload approaches to patrol staffing—the Chaiken Patrol Allocation
Methodology (1975) and the Patrol Allocation Model (1993), respectively. One of the more current
models is the Allocation Model for Patrol (AMP) developed by Justex Systems Inc. The AMP
projects the number of officers needed for patrol operations, using four primary performance
objectives for patrol: “1) the visibility of officers, 2) meeting response time goals for Priority 1 calls, 3)
meeting response time goals for Priority 2 calls, and 4) having an officer immediately available for
Priority 1 calls.”42 Even though many workload analysis models have proven to be methodologically
sound, few jurisdictions use them to compute patrol staffing. Most administrators cite the cost, the
complexity of the formula, and extensive data collection as the reasons for not using a workload
Whatever the method of arriving at staffing levels, the police administrator must determine the
appropriate method for assigning personnel. The unique problems of each community prohibit the
rote assignment of personnel across all shifts, districts, beats, or zones. The effective assignment of
personnel involves a variety of factors that are ever changing as new problems develop and others are
As geographic information systems (GIS) and other computer systems improved, another method
of effectively allocating patrol resources arose. Operational analysis, which relies on internal operational
factors, began to achieve higher status in the literature. Computer-aided crime reporting modules
track where, when, and possibly how crimes are occurring in a particular area, allowing a more precise
response from the police. (See Chapter 13.)
The intent of various deployment models, such as the police district, zone, or area, is for police
work to be channeled through dispatch so that the closest police personnel are assigned to calls. Some
consider the fixed-grid form of deployment that is used by most police agencies to be problematic in
practice.43 For example, “You leave your district to answer a call in another district; while you are
gone, another officer from another district is sent to answer a call in your assigned area. And so it
begins, one call leading to another until, shortly, no officers are close to their assignments.”44 Thus, in

response to the traditional district model, some departments have created a model that allows
supervisors to deploy patrol officers to hot-spot areas. These deployments involve an incident-
command model of dispatch using hot-spot technology. They entail dynamic and ongoing experience,
and a patrol officer may be assigned to any number of deployments throughout a given workday. The
paradigm has shifted, and an increasing number of police organizations are turning to geographic
analysis and advanced technology to make decisions about the best use of police resources to address
problems as they develop.45 For example, Corona Solutions uses three complementary software
applications for patrol staffing, scheduling, and redistricting.46 One of these applications is
GeoBalance, which helps distribute workload based on the level of activity.47
As technology improves, police departments are relying more on geographic information
systems to make decisions about deployment.
Alain Le Bot/Getty Images
Workload Analysis: Consists of an elaborate information system with defined levels of police performance for
computing the number of appropriate police personnel
Allocation Model for Patrol (AMP): A model involving several variables for estimating the number of required
police personnel
Exhibit 6.1
Patrol Staffing Requirements
The International Association of Chiefs of Police uses the following factors to define patrol staffing requirements. The
organization noted that the process is complex, because the factors considered in patrol staffing are unique to each locality and
police agency.
Policing philosophy
Cultural conditions
Policing priorities
Climate, especially seasonality
Police policies and practices
Policies of prosecutorial, judicial, correctional, and probation agencies
Number of calls for service
Citizen demands for crime control and non–crime control services
Population size and density
Crime-reporting practices of citizenry
Composition of population, particularly age structure
Municipal resources
Stability and transiency of population
Trend in foregoing areas
Source: “Patrol staffing and deployment study,” International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Deployment Models: The assignment of police personnel to districts, zones, and areas
Other Types of Patrol
Police use a variety of techniques to complete the tasks associated with patrol. Often, these
variations depend on the size and individual needs of the local jurisdiction. The Law Enforcement
Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey reported that approximately 55% of local
police departments employed scheduled foot patrol, and about 32% patrolled with bicycles.48
Video Link: Foot Patrols Lead to Less Crime in Boston
Foot patrol was the original form of patrol. Many agencies report that they routinely use foot
patrol; a number employ this strategy for special occasions, such as festivals, concerts, sporting events,
and parades. Foot patrol works extremely well where patrol officers on foot are in a one-on-one
situation with other people who are also on foot, such as in shopping malls, multiple-family residential
villages, parks, beaches, and recreational and amusement areas.49 It is not simply the existence of foot
patrol that improves police–community relations, but the actions of the officer.50
Significant studies to evaluate foot patrol were conducted in Newark, New Jersey, and Flint,
Michigan. In Newark, foot patrol officers were assigned patrol beats in one of eight neighborhoods.51
The results of one study suggested that increased foot patrol by police officers was not associated with
reduced levels of crime, but it was noticed by citizens and appeared to reduce fear of crime and to
increase public satisfaction with the police.52 The Newark study showed that citizens felt more secure
and had a more favorable opinion of the police compared with those residing in other areas.53
Directed foot patrol (assigning the officer to a specific area) is the most popular form of foot patrol
and is used in areas that allow the police to interact easily with large numbers of people. Departments
that combine the positive elements of foot patrols with a data analysis of the time, location, and type
of crime may use the findings to develop effective strategies to decrease crime and improve life in their
communities.54 Another form of foot patrol involves the “Park, Walk, and Talk” initiative, where
“officers are required to get out of their patrol cars and conduct 30-minute foot patrols at least twice a
shift.”55 This form of foot patrol is not directed at a specific area or crime problem. The intent of this
program is to encourage communication between the police and the residents of the areas they patrol.
Some communities are also using trained volunteers to walk neighborhood streets, parks, and schools
to deter crime and report incidents and problems.56
Bicycle patrol is popular in many departments. Bicycle patrols do require additional training and
special equipment. However, they have the advantage of low cost compared with automobiles.
Officers are accessible to the public; they can silently approach a situation on specially designed
bicycles. Officers can cover much more area than when they are on foot patrol, and bicycles can travel
where automobiles are unable to patrol.57 In Seattle, police department bicycle officers participate in
night and day patrols and are involved in undercover and on-view crimes (crimes that the police
officer actually observes while on patrol), drug enforcement, crowd control, and 911 calls.58 In one
study, bicycle patrols reported more than double the number of contacts as automobile patrols—10.5
people contacted per hour from cars compared with 22.8 people per hour from bicycles.59
Air patrol involves support units consisting of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Air support
units often assist ground units with fleeing felons, high-speed pursuits, missing person searches, drug
suppression, and general crime prevention. Although there is little question about its effectiveness, air

support is by far the most expensive type of police patrol. Studies claim that helicopters have 15 times
the surveillance capacity of a ground unit and that one helicopter can be as effective as 23 ground
officers in terms of observation ability.60
Mounted patrols—police on horseback—are popular in larger departments with unique patrol
requirements, including parks and lakefronts. Mounted patrols are involved in crime prevention,
community interaction, and crowd control. The Chicago Police Department estimated that one
mounted police officer has the effect of 10 to 20 police officers on foot.61 However, with the addition
of bicycles, more foot patrols, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), the number of mounted patrol units has
been declining.
Foot Patrol: The original form of police patrol; often employed today at parades, concerts, and sporting events
Bicycle Patrol: Police patrolling while riding bicycles; this is a popular form of patrol because of the low cost and
possible coverage compared to foot patrol
On-View Crimes: Crimes that the police officer actually observes while on patrol
Evaluating Patrol
Although the patrol division involves the largest number of personnel in a police department, little
research into the effectiveness of this division was completed until 1960. Prior to this, patrol officers
provided a wide range of services, dealing with almost any problem presented to them, with minimal
accountability to administrators, the public, or the courts. This kind of patrol can be referred to as
“911 policing,” which involves allocating resources in a case-by-case fashion (incident-driven basis) as
citizens demand them (reactively). “Under 911 policing, departments have invested in increasingly
sophisticated systems to receive citizens’ calls for service, to locate calls spatially, and to designate a
patrol unit for rapid response.”62
Various reform efforts and tensions between the police and citizens have led to the examination of
several aspects of policing, including patrol. In 1972, the Kansas City preventive patrol experiment
was one of the most comprehensive assessments of the effectiveness of random police patrol. The
experiment analyzed variations in the level of routine preventive patrol within Kansas City. In the
reactive beats, routine preventive patrol was eliminated, and police officers only responded to calls for
service. In the control beats, routine preventive patrol was maintained at its usual level. In the
proactive beats, routine preventive patrol was intensified by two to three times its usual level by
assigning additional patrol cars so that patrol cars were a frequent presence. The researchers concluded
that decreasing or increasing routine preventive patrol in the areas tested had no measurable influence
on crime, citizen fear of crime, community attitudes toward the police on the delivery of patrol
services, police response time, or traffic accidents.63
Bicycle patrol is low cost and allows officers more direct access to the public.

The results of the Kansas City study had minimal effect on the primary strategy of police. Several
decades after the Kansas City experiment, random, mobile, uniformed patrol is still the primary
strategy used by police. The Kansas City preventive patrol research results “are generally accepted as
being true; its research strategy is considered to be seriously flawed; it has never been replicated; it has
not lessened appreciably the reliance of the police on random patrolling; but it has encouraged a
rethinking of police purposes and methods.”64 In other words, the implications of the Kansas City
study were that personnel normally allocated to preventive patrol could be assigned to more
productive crime-control strategies. The results indicated that police deployment strategies could be
based on targeted crime prevention and service goals rather than on routine preventive patrol (see
Figure 6.1).65
Some suggest that random preventive patrol offers many opportunities for proactive activity on
the part of individual officers.66 Random preventive patrol is a way of doing police work that allows
police officers to control their territories. Officers can decide to do what they want and where they
want to do it, as long as they control what goes on in their territory. Police supervisory styles influence
patrol officer behavior in the community. One study showed that patrol officers who were managed
by an active supervisor were more likely to be proactive in their policing and to spend more time per
shift engaged in problem solving and community-oriented activities.67
Figure 6.1 Results of Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment
A 1991 study concluded that police spend roughly two-thirds of their work time on criminal
matters, order maintenance assignments, service-related functions, traffic matters, medical assistance,
and administrative matters.68 Another reexamined the data from this study and found that the police
spent approximately 50% of their time on criminal matters, 16% on order maintenance, 8% on
service, 21% on traffic, and 4% on medical assistance; thus, about 47% of a police officer’s time was
not spent on actual assignments.69 This is a reasonable amount of uncommitted time, because in
reality most service organizations have limited numbers of contacts with their clients. An attempt to
specify the desired amount of time police officers spend engaged in specific tasks was developed by the
police department in Longmont, Colorado. According to its staffing study:
There is some agreement among community policing departments that a patrol officer’s
day should be divided between reactive, coactive, and proactive policing. Though no
nationally recognized standard exists, the Longmont Police Department strives for a
benchmark where patrol officers, on a routine and daily schedule, spend at least 60 percent
of an average day handling calls for service and report writing (reactive), 30 percent
conducting proactive and coactive patrol, and 10 percent dedicated to administrative duties,
such as briefing, court appearances, meal breaks, meetings, etc. Note that this time
breakdown does not include training time. Training time is recognized as a necessary
addition to every officer’s on-duty obligation; however it is not an everyday event. When
training is provided, it will reduce the percentage of time spent in the other three areas for

that particular day or week.70
The results of these studies challenge police departments to examine their patrol operations and to
develop alternative strategies for random mobile patrol. The police have responded by developing a
number of new strategies, which are discussed in detail in Chapter 7.
Audio Link: NYC Police Chief Calls Inspector General’s Critical Report ‘Grandstanding’
Air Patrol: Police patrolling from fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter
Mounted Patrol: Police patrolling on horseback
911 Policing: Allocation of police resources in a case-by-case fashion
Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment: One of the most comprehensive assessments of police patrol
Random Preventive Patrol: Method of performing police work that permits officers to control their area
Evaluating Police Performance
Evaluation and measurement of employee performance are closely related to the delivery of an
organization’s services. “Without such measurement devices, we will not know when the organization
needs improvement; we will not know what aspects of the organization need improvement the most;
and, following the implementation of changes, we will not know whether improvements have been
achieved.”71 Relevant to this discussion is the administrative task of evaluating officer performance
and evaluating the performance of the agency, especially with respect to using the results of evaluation
as an essential ingredient of evidence-based practice.
Evaluating Officer Performance
There are two types of performance measures: hard and soft. A hard measure is quantitative and
expressed numerically and is rather easy to formulate—the number, rate, percentage, or ratio of
Police have consistently used a set of conventional indicators of officer performance that involve
the counting of certain desirable law enforcement activities: the number of field reports submitted,
number of tickets written, number of referrals made to other agencies, and number of arrests in
general or felony arrests in particular.72 However, the number of arrests and reports only represents
the quantitative measures of police performance.
Policing in Practice Video: How is your police performance evaluated?
A soft measure is a qualitative or intangible attribute or characteristic that is usually expressed in
terms of degree of excellence, desirability, attitude, or perception and is often based on output or
outcome: for example, citizen satisfaction with police or citizens’ perceived levels of fear.73 It is more
difficult to assess the qualitative measures of policing (order maintenance, community service, and
problem solving). Perhaps consequently, law enforcement activities have typically been the most
important, prestigious, and rewarded.74 And besides only representing a portion of the role of the
police, quantitative measures are subject to misinterpretation. A crime rate might not indicate that the

police department is doing a great job; it may only mean that crime reporting is low, which can occur
when the public has no confidence in or mistrusts the police. According to this logic, crime rate
measures could be an inverse measure of police performance.
The evaluation of police personnel may be even more challenging in the context of community-
oriented policing. For example, how does a supervisor rate an officer who is no longer making arrests
because there is not as great a need? How do you quantify interaction with citizens who promote a
positive image of the department? (See Chapter 7.)
Performance measures can strongly influence an employee’s daily activities. For example, if the
number of tickets issued to cyclists for traffic violations is an important part of the department’s
evaluation instrument, many police officers will issue more citations. Depending on the perceived
weight or importance of the evaluation, some officers will ignore other citations and focus only on
bicycle violations. “Performance criteria originally selected because of the ease of their measurement
may become, in effect, the goals of the police department and the objectives of its individual
officers.”75 However, if properly administered, this form of evaluation will advance organizational
objectives and accomplish certain career goals. The administrator would have to continually assess the
evaluation criteria and ensure that the evaluation process is fair for all police personnel. For example,
an officer assigned to the “power shift,” from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., would be less likely to encounter as
many bicycle violations as would a day-shift officer.
Around the World 6.1
Report: London No Safer for All Its CCTV Cameras
“London is considered the most spied-on city in the world,” but according to some reports, there has been little change in
the crime rate since closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were widely installed in the 1980s.
A report from the British Security Industry Association (BSIA)—considered the most comprehensive study to date—
estimates that there are close to 6 million CCTV cameras, or 1 for every 11 British citizens. Over 400,000 of those are in
schools. In one half-mile stretch of a main road, there are approximately “70 cameras on display on lampposts, sides of
buildings and in underground and mainline train stations.”
Others disagree and believe that the CCTV cameras are important to preventing or solving crime. A BSIA spokesperson
claimed that 95% of Scotland Yard murder cases used footage from the cameras as evidence. In addition, the cameras have
other uses such as identifying locations of “traffic congestion and other ways like the time they helped rescue someone from
the Thames when they had fallen in the river.”
Critics of the camera system reject the invasion of privacy. A spokesperson for a civil rights and privacy watchdog
organization called the surveillance “out of control.” He added, “This report should be a wake up call that in modern Britain
there are people in positions of responsibility who seem to think ‘1984’ was an instruction manual.”
Sources: “Report: London no safer for all its CCTV cameras,” by Ian Evans, February 22, 2012. The Christian Science
Monitor. Retrieved from
cameras; “One surveillance camera for every 11 people in Britain, says CCTV survey,” by David Barrett, July 10, 2013. The
Telegraph. Retrieved from
Evaluating Agency Performance
It is important to note that a substantial part of a department’s mission statement often focuses on
quality of life, professionalism, respect, and public safety. Qualitative measures of police agency
performance could be accomplished through “community leadership meetings and discussions with
questionnaires, focus groups from the community where the services were delivered, and community
attitude surveys.”76 Thus, there is no one measure of police performance that accurately describes
today’s police. In 2006, the Los Angeles Police Department was assessed on the following performance
Crime reduction

Compliance with federal consent decree
Deployment strength
Diversity in hiring and promotion
Homeland security and disaster preparedness
Antigang policies
Fiscal management77
Policing in Practice Video: What is the role of citizen comments in police evaluation? What
categories are police officers evaluated on?
Similarly, a multidimensional performance system included critical dimensions that attempted to
capture the services provided to the public by the police:
Reducing crime and criminal victimization
Holding offenders accountable
Reducing fear and blight and enhancing personal safety
Guaranteeing safety in public and semipublic places
Using financial resources fairly, efficiently, and effectively
Using force fairly, efficiently, and effectively
Satisfying customer demands and achieving legitimacy with those policed78
The value of subjective measures of police performance became apparent during the 1980s, when
researchers discovered that public perceptions had behavioral consequences that affected quality of
life.79 For example, fear of crime can produce sickness and cause absenteeism and truancy; suspicion
of the police reduces the willingness of people to provide essential information to the police, thereby
decreasing the chances that crimes will be solved; fear of victimization can raise distrust among
neighbors, undermining the ability of communities to undertake cooperative crime-prevention action;
and the fear of crime may contribute to the decline of neighborhoods as people stop maintaining their
property, avoid local businesses and places of recreation, and move to safer, more desirable
Performance Measures: Indicators that assess the extent to which police patrol officers achieve the designated
Case in Point 6.2
Ferguson Vows Better Policing, Civil Rights Respect on Brown
As the anniversary of the shooting death by police of Michael Brown approached, the town of Ferguson, Missouri, prepared
itself. Ferguson has many new actors and a new outlook on the role of the police there. Andre Anderson was filling the role as
interim police chief and announced a community policing strategy to the city council:
“I’ve asked the police department to adopt four things as we start: We want to embrace professionalism, we want to embrace
respect, we want to embrace community engagement and we want to make the community safer.”
City Manager Ed Beasley stated that the Ferguson community “can expect we’re going to be very encouraging, supportive, but
also make sure the laws are upheld.” He promised to ensure that Ferguson’s citizens “have the right to exercise their civil rights the
proper way.”81

Police and the Media
No discussion of police operations would be complete without considering the media. The media
play a very important role in shaping the public’s attitudes and images of the police and the relations
between the police and the community. This is especially true after the adoption of community
policing, which identified the need for creating a closer relationship with the community by keeping
the public informed of the department’s actions and strategies.82
According to the National Institute of Justice, “episodes where police engage in excessive use of
force have been well publicized in the media. Television shows regularly portray excessive use of force.
Widespread media attention to these events unfortunately conveys the impression that rates of use of
force, or excessive use of force, are much higher than what actually occurs.”83
The myth of the crime fighter endures for many reasons. The entertainment media play
a major role in popularizing it. Movies and television police shows feature crime-related
stories because they offer drama, fast-paced action, and violence. . . . The news media are
equally guilty of overemphasizing police crime fighting. . . . A serious crime is a newsworthy
event. There is a victim who engages our sympathies, a story, and then an arrest that offers
dramatic visuals of a suspect in custody. A typical night’s work for a patrol officer, by way of
contrast, does not offer much in the way of dramatic news.84
Unless people have firsthand experience of the system, media images may shape their perceptions
of the participants in police encounters, of the issues involved, and of police procedures. Because press,
radio, and television select the events, the people, and the issues they cover, and because these are the
principal sources of information about what is happening in a community or in the nation as a whole,
the media are recognized as very powerful forces.
SAGE Journal Article: Police-press relations, impression management and the Leveson
The media and the police have experienced major changes due to “three separate but intersecting
phenomena: the introduction of community policing, the evolving economics of the media industry,
and the explosion of communications and information technology.”85 The demands for transparency
in police organizations in light of increased public scrutiny and the shift to community policing give
added significance to the role of the media in relation to law enforcement.86 Furthermore, in the past,
journalists often developed police stories and printed the results in a newspaper or released the
information on local radio or television stations. However, with news breaking on satellite, cable, and
the Internet, the media involves an ever-growing number of diverse information outlets. A video of an
alleged incident of police brutality can be captured on a cell phone and released on the Internet
moments after the activity occurs. And in many cases, large segments of the population can view
videos such as these before the police chief is even aware of the incident.
When covering the police in action, the media have a responsibility to the community they serve:
to observe with as much objectivity and to report with as much neutrality as possible. To fulfill this
responsibility, the media actively seek to discover what is going on and why, and then to inform their
readers, viewers, and listeners about their observations. The media may provide background
information, and may offer an opportunity for those involved to explain their positions, air their
views, and account for their behavior. It is essential that the police are aware of this aspect of the

media’s role. When appropriate, a department spokesperson should be available to furnish
information about the role, obligations, and conduct of the police in the situations being discussed.
On the other hand, those involved in disputes with the police are likely to be fully aware of the power
of the media to shape public opinion and may view reporters as forces to be manipulated to their own
ends. In certain cases, groups deliberately stage events to attract the attention of the press or television
cameras and to provoke extreme, inappropriate responses from the police to undermine their
reputation and authority. When the police respond to provocation by using excessive force, it can
seriously impair police–community relations. In addition, there is the physical harm inflicted on those
who are objects of such treatment. Uniformed officers wielding Tasers on crouched or prone civilians
are potent images in the minds of many U.S. citizens. It is precisely when the temptation is greatest
for the police officer to retaliate in a very personal, violent way that it is essential to respond with the
minimum necessary force. Such restraint is a characteristic of a well-trained and disciplined
professional police officer.
The department’s media spokesperson debriefs reporters on a recent, critical incident.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
The relationship between the media and the police has often been antagonistic. Certainly, there
are reasons that the police and media are wary of one another. The media may report inappropriate
information gleaned from questionable sources within or without the department. And the media can
be fickle. What is news one day is not the next day, and editorial opinion often fluctuates. Being
evasive with the media only exacerbates images of secrecy and self-protection among police
To avoid embarrassment to the department, police officials are sometimes reluctant to report
certain matters to the general public. This reluctance may conflict with media representatives’
responsibilities to keep the public informed and with the department’s own commitment to maintain
public confidence by being transparent and honest. On many occasions, police resist disclosing
information, because doing so threatens investigations, creates a level of fear, or endangers the
public.88 As police organizations have transitioned from a paramilitary structure toward a more open,
community-service orientation, they more readily understand that the media can be a valuable
A former commissioner of the London Police Department put it in these terms:
We had always adhered to the principle “Tell them [the media] only what you must.”
After consultation with most of the principal editors in London, we reversed this to
“Withhold only what you must” and we delegated to station level the authority to disclose
matters of fact not subject to judicial privacy or policies within the sphere of the home

The police should regard difficult situations as valuable opportunities to demonstrate their ability
to keep their cool and to function well under stressful conditions. They should take advantage of such
opportunities to display the professional care and skill used to discharge their obligations. The police
can keep the public informed about police behavior during such events.
The media can and should be viewed as police allies rather than as critics of policing. The primary
goal of the media is to observe life conditions and objectively report these events to the public. The
positive influence of the media is often overlooked by the police because of the perceived adversarial
nature of their relationship. Media attention is a powerful tool, and continuing personal relationships
with media representatives will establish a pattern of repeated coverage. Not all coverage will be
completely sympathetic to the police cause, nor should it be, but establishing a solid professional
relationship will create a foundation of honesty and mutual respect.90
Media Relations Programs
It is widely known that the media quickly pick up on any negative behavior on behalf of the
police. Corruption, brutality, discrimination, and other forms of misconduct are frequently lead topics
on television, radio, print, and Internet news. Prime-time television shows also frequently develop
plots based on such negative behavior shortly after the behavior is revealed to the public. “The
overwhelming search for news should warn law enforcement that the media will get their story one
way or another.”91 Convincing the media to cover routine or positive encounters between the police
and other citizens to balance coverage is the task before the police. To accomplish this task, police
administrators need to develop and implement media relations programs. For most police
administrators, police–media relations are the most important aspect of the police department’s
community outreach program.92
Author Video: The need for communication between law enforcement officers and the
A media relations policy is important to every police agency. It must be based on the public’s
right to know about the workings of government agencies (with certain important exceptions) and the
media’s obligation to keep the public informed. Although various state laws and departmental policies
restrict the release of certain information by the police (e.g., information concerning ongoing or
anticipated investigations), police personnel should be willing to explain why such information is
withheld. The goal of police departments is to develop a cooperative relationship with the media so
that they can appropriately provide information that does not hamper police operations or violate
constitutional rights.
Some police agencies appoint a public information officer (PIO) to represent the agency in all
contacts with the media. This officer typically reports directly to the chief and is responsible for
informing and educating the public on matters of public safety. The chief of police also is typically
available to address issues of mutual concern, to release information concerning the department, and
to provide news releases concerning major crimes and investigations. Funneling all information
through these two individuals avoids the confusion that sometimes results from having too many
spokespersons. With the explosion of different types of media discussed earlier, PIOs are finding the
release of information to the public more challenging.
During a typical shift, a police officer encounters numerous routine, repetitive events that are not
newsworthy. However, “the odd call about an alligator in a swimming pool, the vulture that flew into
a resident’s open living room window, or the deeds of the community’s unsung hero are the stories

that the media really want.”93 A PIO can distribute accounts of these incidents to build a relationship
with the media and to illustrate the department’s problem-oriented policing principles.
One context in which the media are especially significant is in their treatment of encounters
between the police and protestors. Heavy media coverage can help transform a neighborhood
disturbance or protest into a citywide or national phenomenon and, in the process, escalate a local
neighborhood issue into a citywide crisis. Decisions by media executives not to cover or to discontinue
coverage of a demonstration severely restrict the extent to which others may become aware of or
involved in the event, and raise serious questions about the proper role of the press in society.
In the final analysis, in spite of accusations of bias in coverage and the potential for abusing the
public’s trust, the presence of the media in the various arenas of community conflict appears to be in
the best interests of both the police and the public. Besides functioning as reporters of community
events, the fact that media observers are present and that they have the ability to communicate their
observations quickly tends to discourage extreme behavior in all parties, in most circumstances.
Furthermore, in a democracy, exposure to public scrutiny is a healthy and democratizing experience
for powerful forces such as the police.
Media Relations Policy: Policy based on the public’s right to know and the police department’s obligation to keep
the public informed
Public Information Officer (PIO): Person who represents the police department in all contacts with any form of
Social Media
Many observers see lessons to learn from the Boston Police Department (BPD) and its use of
social media after and before the bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2013. As events unfolded
rapidly after the incident, the BPD used Twitter to inform the public about the investigation, reassure
the public and ask for assistance, and correct erroneous news media accounts. In its Twitter messages,
the department confirmed the event, announced road closures and press conferences, expressed
sympathy for the victims and their families, posted the number of casualties, and confirmed that no
suspect had yet been apprehended. By directly offering official information, the agency established
itself as the source of reliable information, as opposed to the news media, where rumors were
circulating. That the BPD was successful in its use of social media indicates a level of trust that the
department had previously been using social media to build.94 During the critical hours after the
incident, the BPD relied on specially trained staff persons (the bureau chief of public information and
her team) to maintain contact personally with department commanders and craft the messages that
went out to the public. See Table 6.1 for the types of social media used or planned to be used by
As the manhunt for the suspects unfolded, the police asked for the public’s cooperation in not
revealing police activities that could thwart their efforts to apprehend the last suspect, who was
eventually found and taken into custody. Afterward, the department was praised for “leading an
honest conversation with the public during a time of crisis in a way that no police department has
done before.”95
As illustrated by these events, social media allows police departments to communicate directly
with the public, without having to use the news media as an intermediary. Handled properly, it
legitimizes them as the source of information. Prior to the bombing, the BPD had used social media as
an avenue for its press releases, which the news media relied on for accurate information.96

Agencies can use a social media presence to build a trusting relationship with the community, to
gain control over their reputation, to receive questions from the public and to share tips, to coordinate
messages and disseminate information quickly, and to enlist the public’s help in furthering their
investigative efforts. To accomplish all of this, police agencies are in turn learning from public
relations experts from the corporate and private sectors, who have elevated communications to an art
and a science.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) tracks social media metrics on a
dedicated website and listed 3,541 agencies in July 2015. It lists the agencies with how many “Likes”
they have on Facebook and the number of Twitter followers they have. The site requests that
subscribing agencies indicate their other social media platforms—Myspace, YouTube, LinkedIn,
Nextdoor, Google+, Pinterest, and Blog.97
6 Under Review
Chapter Summary
The responsibilities of police have expanded over the last decades. The operations and functions of a police agency are
varied and depend largely on factors such as the size of the population they serve and the organizational structure they use to
perform their functions. As a result, most police administrators now assess the number and allocation of police personnel on a
continuing basis. The duties of police officers range from animal complaint calls and thefts of bicycles to burglary and murder
The purpose and effects of patrol techniques have been challenged from time to time. Patrol techniques prior to the
community-oriented policing era focused on rapid response time to calls for service and the deterrent effect on crime of
marked police cars randomly patrolling the community. Key studies identified significant flaws associated with this strategy.
Today, police use a variety of strategies.
The evaluation of police performance at the individual and agency levels and media relations are important issues.
Performance evaluation criteria should be consistent with the mission and goals of the organization. Evidence-based practice
calls for ongoing evaluation. Finally, it is important that police agencies maintain positive relationships with the media and use
social media wisely to build community and public respect.
Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.
Broken windows theory 129
Zero tolerance 130
Forensic science 132
CSI effect 132
Watchman style 133
Legalistic style 134
Service style 134
Intuitive approach 137

Comparative approach 137
Workload analysis 138
Allocation Model for Patrol (AMP) 138
Deployment models 139
Foot patrol 140
On-view crime 140
Bicycle patrol 140
Air patrol 141
Mounted patrol 141
911 policing 141
Kansas City preventive patrol experiment 141
Random preventive patrol 142
Performance measures 144
Media relations policy 148
Public information officer (PIO) 148
Discussion Questions
Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.
1. Discuss the functions of today’s police.
2. Describe the investigative function of today’s police.
3. Describe Wilson’s three styles of policing.
4. Describe the various forms of police patrol.
5. What are the expected outcomes of police patrol?
6. Is random police patrol an effective technique?
7. Compare and contrast the relationship between the strategies of directed patrol, differential response, and saturation patrol
and crackdowns.
8. Describe the methods for determining the appropriate number of police personnel and discuss the strengths and weaknesses
of each method.
9. Discuss the factors used in the allocation of police personnel.
10. How can we best evaluate police performance?
11. Why are police media relations so important to the police? The public?
Internet Exercises
1. Go to the Internet and locate a media policy for a police department. What types and forms of information can be released
to the media? Who is in charge of releasing this information?
2. Select one of the police innovations discussed in the chapter (hot spots, directed patrol, third-party policing, etc.). Go to the
Internet and find information about this innovation. How is this innovation evaluated? What has been its effectiveness in
relation to crime prevention or crime reduction?
Student Study Site
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SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and

links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.

Chapter 7 Contemporary Strategies in Policing
© Grantham
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Compare and contrast the underlying tenets of both traditional and community-based styles of policing
2. Describe the strategies associated with problem-oriented policing
3. Evaluate, based on research, the effectiveness of community-based policing and problem-oriented policing
4. Debate the criticisms of community policing
5. Discuss recent innovations in police information, resources, environment, organization, and process
6. Select the form of policing you believe to be the most effective and justify your response with empirical evidence
U.S. police officers are better educated, trained, and equipped than ever before. At the same time,
the scope of police duties has expanded in the age of international crime and terrorism. Technology
continues to advance, budgets are constrained, and police forces are increasingly diverse. Examples of
excessive force, police corruption, and inefficiency still appear frequently in the media, and the police
remain unable to prevent most crimes or to apprehend most offenders. Every police agency faces some
combination of these challenges and has grappled with ways to improve its effectiveness. In the two
decades leading up to the 21st century, policing changed from a closed, incident-driven, reactive
bureaucracy to a more open, dynamic, quality-oriented partnership with the community.1 Such
changes are included under the general heading of community policing, which represents the most
significant shift in policing in recent history.
Still, as we have seen, corruption, litigation, harassment by some segments of society, inconsistent
leadership, and inefficiency are just some of the issues that continue to burden police agencies.
Scandals involving theft, use and sale of drugs by officers, police brutality, and other serious violations
are still far too common. It appears that many of the ways the police tried to adapt to a rapidly
changing society have resulted in or have perpetuated a cycle of isolation and alienation.
Specialization, for example, was viewed as one way of providing better service to the public. As a

result, agencies developed numerous specialized units (internal affairs, community relations, juvenile,
robbery, homicide, drug, sex crimes, and traffic). In many cases, a consequence of such development
has been little cross-training, an “it’s not my job” attitude, tight-knit and highly secretive units, and
too little effective communication between officers in specialized units and patrol officers. When
scandals arise in such units, the confidence of both the general public and the noninvolved officers
within the police ranks is understandably undermined. In recent times, gangs, drugs, race, ethnicity,
immigration, technological innovations, cybercrime, and increasingly violent encounters involving
automatic weapons have become focal points. The increased visibility of immigrants and a small
number of terrorist incidents within the borders of our country have led to a rebirth of concern about
racial and ethnic differences and the reemergence of extreme right-wing groups. Relationships between
the police and members of racial and ethnic minority groups continue to be problematic in many
cases. All of the new police technology and all of the old police traditions have not been able to solve
these distinct but related problems. As a result, a search for innovative approaches continues.
Author Video: Community Policing
The philosophy of police omnipresence: an effective method for the prevention of crime?
© Krinke
Community Policing
Although it is becoming more widely adopted, there is still some confusion about community
policing, what it might be expected to accomplish, and how or why it might be expected to work
where other strategies have failed. Some believe community-oriented policing (COP) simply retreads
shopworn elements of police community-relations programs—that it is little more than a passing fad
that will fade away as have many others before it.2 This may be most true with respect to traditional
police agencies that are highly resistant to change; these tend to be characterized by a paramilitary
organizational structure and unionization, among other factors.3
Video Link: Building trust between police and community
Community-oriented policing may take a number of different forms. Still, there are elements
common to all of the programs, such as police–community reciprocity, areal decentralization of
command, reorientation of patrol, and civilianization.4 A brief discussion of each of these elements
helps to clarify community policing.

Police–community reciprocity refers to a “genuine feeling” on the part of the police that the public
they serve has something to contribute to policing. Further, the police communicate this feeling to the
public, learn from public input, and consider themselves accountable to the community they serve.
The police and the public become “co-producers” of crime prevention.5
Areal decentralization of command refers to the establishment of substations, mini-stations, and
other attempts to increase interaction between police officers and the public they serve in a particular
geographic area.
Reorientation of patrol involves moving from car to foot patrol to increase police interaction with
other citizens. This may involve permanently assigning certain officers to walking beats or having
officers park their cars so they can get out and talk to residents. Positive contacts between officers and
other citizens are thought to be one result of foot patrol that can contribute to crime prevention.
Findings from one study in Philadelphia indicated that officers assumed greater responsibility for
permanently assigned beats. Whether such effects are long term is a question that must still be
addressed, because the officers in this study were observed only for a period of weeks rather than
months or years.
Civilianization refers to employing civilians in an increasing number of positions within police
agencies. For example, an increasing number of civilians work in research and training divisions, in
forensics, and as community service officers who handle many non–crime-related tasks. Civilianization
has been related to successfully introducing and carrying out programs and policies related to
community mobilization and crime prevention.6 (See also Chapters 4 and 5.)
In reality, then, COP requires adopting both philosophical and operational changes and, to a great
extent, turns traditional policing practices upside down. It is, after all, “not easy to transform blue
knights into community organizers.”7 Several principles form the basis for this transformation from
traditional to community policing.8 First, COP is a philosophy based on the belief that law-abiding
citizens should have input with respect to policing, provided they are willing to participate in and
support the effort. Second, community policing is an organizational strategy that requires all police
personnel (civilian and sworn) to explore ways to turn the philosophy into practice. Third, police
departments that implement community policing must develop community-policing officers (CPOs)
to act as links between the police and community residents that have continuous, sustained contact
with law-abiding citizens. In addition, community policing implies a contract between the police and
other citizens that helps overcome apathy and curb vigilantism. Further, community policing is
proactive, and it helps improve the quality of life for those who are most vulnerable, such as the poor,
the elderly, and the homeless. Although community policing uses technology, it relies on human
interaction and ingenuity. Finally, community policing must be fully integrated into the department.
Community-oriented policing focuses on opportunities to create connections between police
and the citizens they serve.

Community policing is not a technique to be applied only to specific problems but, rather, a new
way of thinking about the police role in the community.9 Community policing is not the same as
public relations, nor is it simply social work renamed. It is not antitechnology, but it uses technology
in a different framework. Community policing is not soft on crime, nor is it an independent program
within a police department. Community policing is not cosmetic; it requires substantive changes in
the relationships between the police and other citizens. Community policing is not a top-down
approach; it must involve the entire department. Finally, community policing incorporates traditional
policing responses; it is not tradition bound, but requires risk taking and experimentation. According
to one observer, “policing becomes less effective and more likely to drive a wedge between law
enforcement and the public when conducted outside a comprehensive COP framework.”10
Policing in Practice Video: What is one example of community policing by your
Community policing is not solely directed at addressing problems that cannot be addressed by
traditional policing methods.11 Suburban and low-crime communities also can use community
policing to address the specific needs and problems of their citizens. The community policing
philosophy recognizes that patrol officers are the government representatives best positioned to address
a number of social problems, and enforcing the law is only one of several strategies the police can
employ to cope with such problems.12 Long-term interaction between police officers and
neighborhood residents is thought to help develop relationships based on mutual trust and
cooperation. It also encourages the exchange of information between citizens and police officers,
including mutual input concerning policing priorities and tactics for specific neighborhoods.13
By challenging people to work as partners in making their communities better and safer
places, Community Policing produces a subtle but profound shift in the role and
responsibility of the police. No longer are they the experts with all the answers, the “thin
blue line” that protects the good people from the bad—“us” versus “them.” Community
officers are part of the community, generalists who do whatever it takes to help people help
In COP, patrol officers become liaisons, ombudsmen, problem solvers, and mobilizers of
community resources. They seek to obtain community or neighborhood cooperation to identify and
resolve problems rather than simply handling incidents. They look for patterns of incidents that are
indicative of problems that may best be addressed by resources other than, or in cooperation with, the
police. In short, they practice problem-oriented policing (POP, introduced in Chapter 2, is discussed
in the following section) as a part of the overall COP strategy.
The LEMAS Survey
The Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey periodically
assesses the community policing practices of state and local police departments. Some of the related
highlights of the 2013 LEMAS survey are as follows:
In 2013, about 7 in 10 local police departments, including about 9 in 10 departments that serve
a population of 25,000 or more, had a mission statement that included a community-policing

component (see Figure 7.1).
Departments with a community-policing component employed 88% of all local police officers in
A majority of the local police departments serving 25,000 or more residents reported that they
had one or more problem-solving partnerships or agreements with local organizations in their
community in 2013.
Most departments serving 50,000 or more residents encouraged officer involvement in problem-
solving projects.15
By the beginning of the 21st century, COP had made some inroads in many departments across
the country, in part as a method of fostering trust in communities that are typically skeptical of the
police. At the same time, however, the United States was undergoing major changes in diversity with
respect to race, ethnicity, and culture. Roughly 1.5 million new immigrants arrive on U.S. shores each
year; Hispanics have displaced African Americans as the largest minority group in the nation; and
immigrants have moved away from major population centers to establish neighborhoods in more
sparsely populated areas of the country.16 Because police work is affected by all of these changes, it is
essential that commensurate changes occur in recruiting and hiring, as well as in familiarization with
the values, norms, and customs of an increasingly diverse population. Hispanics tend to have less
favorable attitudes toward the police than Whites, and many immigrants don’t trust the police enough
to contact them for assistance.17
Figure 7.1 Local Police Departments With a Mission Statement That Included a
Community Policing Component, by Size of Population Served, 2003 and 2013
Source: Reaves, 2015. Local Police Departments, 2013: Personnel, Policies, and
Practices. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Source: Reaves, 2015. Local Police Departments, 2013: Personnel, Policies, and Practices.
Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Policing is constantly evolving in many ways to meet changing demands and has now evolved into
what might be called the strategic management era.18 The evolution into strategic management was
based on the practice of computer-generated crime data and a resulting convergence of police
management, technology, strategy, and community involvement. Using technology to process
intelligence provided by community resources, changing the roles of police administrators from
administrative to operational, and developing strategies to attack identifiable crime hot spots and
patterns led not only to the era of strategic management in policing but—some contend—to
reductions in crime rates wherever it was implemented.19

Community-Oriented Policing (COP): A philosophy based on the belief that law-abiding citizens should have
input with respect to policing
Exhibit 7.1
Implementing COP
Implementing community-oriented policing (COP) requires a number of concrete changes in most police organizations:
Redefine the department’s role in the community.
Train all officers in COP.
Evaluate employees differently.
Assign officers to specific patrol areas.
Prioritize calls.
Tailor police work to community needs.
Problem-Oriented Policing
The concept of problem-oriented policing (POP) originated in 1979 in the works of Herman
Goldstein. Goldstein noted many of the difficulties previously discussed and added that, although
many police agencies gave the appearance of being efficient, this appearance failed to translate into
benefits for the community. After looking carefully at public expectations of the police, he determined
that people want the police to solve problems. Crime statistics were not enough to accurately evaluate
this ability or performance. Instead, evaluation needed to focus on the problems encountered and the
effectiveness of the police response to such problems.20
Problem-oriented police officers, then, need to define the problems they encounter, gather
information concerning these problems (frequency, seriousness, duration, location), and develop
creative solutions. This model of problem solving is known as the SARA model.21
Problem-oriented policing represents a dramatic change from traditional policing, which is
incident driven and in which the police typically receive a complaint or call, respond to it, and then
clear the incident. Although the specific situation is addressed, the underlying conditions are not—so
more calls are likely, requiring further responses to similar incidents. POP regards these incidents as
symptoms of underlying conditions that must be addressed to keep the incidents from proliferating.22
Accordingly, patterns of incidents that are similar represent problems that must be attended to by the
police. Problems—rather than crimes, calls, or incidents—become the basic unit of police work.23
Line officers become problem identifiers and solvers. Identifying and solving community problems
requires input from those who live in the community, as well as from other service providers.
Relevant to promoting innovative problem-solving is the willingness of police to engage
third parties in furtherance of crime control. Harnessing such capacities is critical to POP
given that many public safety problems the police have to address require some level of
partnership with external agencies. One reason for this is that many factors that lead to
crime have very little to do with the police directly, but instead originate in the functioning
of other institutions and the capacity of actors within those settings to assert effective social
control. . . . Hence, drawing upon the crime control capacities of external parties as a core
aspect of problem analysis and response is essential to the effectiveness of POP in practice.24

Web Link: How to Fix a Broken Police Department
A closely related strategy was named as an extension of POP—solution-oriented policing (SOP),
which focuses on addressing some police–community issues through unique approaches or thinking
outside the box. Rather than focusing on apparent causes of such issues, SOP seeks out the best
options among potential solutions to problems in a proactive instead of a reactive way. Officers are
encouraged to seek such causes and solutions before the resulting problems grow to unmanageable
POP and COP share a need for community involvement, and both focus on the conditions that
underlie order disruption and crime.26 POP must continue to be evaluated, but it is surely among the
most promising police strategies.27
Strategic Management Era: Based on the practice of computer-generated crime data and a resulting convergence of
police management, technology, strategy, and community involvement
Exhibit 7.2

SARA stands for a four-step approach.
Scanning means identifying the problem in terms of time, location, and behavior.
Analysis means answering who, what, where, when, how, and why questions.
Response refers to the development of alternative problem-solving approaches and the selection of those most
Assessment means evaluating the selected response to determine its effectiveness.
Research on Community and Problem-Oriented Policing
COP and POP have undergone a fair amount of rigorous evaluation over the last several decades,
and that evaluation has yielded mixed results.
Some research found that it was difficult to convince police officers to accept the new roles
required for community policing, partly due to poor communication from police administrators
concerning these new roles.
Research revealed the following sorts of challenges:
Officers who belonged to special units were often distrusted by other officers in more traditional
assignments, especially senior officers.
Other officers felt that they had little or no input into the new program and that community
residents were not generally excited about being involved.
Fear of retaliation from drug dealers had a chilling effect. That fear was based on the assumption
that the police would abandon the program and leave them to suffer the consequences.
Still, with proper education and training, community residents did come to report better
relationships with the police, even when the program’s effects on drugs and crime were difficult to
detect. In fact, later research found that community residents tended to have a more positive view of
community policing than did the officers involved in COP.28
Research from 1992 that used a control group found that citizen complaints about gangs, crime,
and disorder in POP neighborhoods decreased over a two-year period, while such complaints
remained constant or increased in control neighborhoods.29 Due to limitations in the research design,
the authors stopped short of claiming that POP caused the changes, but the data are certainly
suggestive. Overall, these researchers concluded that POP seems to be a good thing in that residents
involved in the program seem to be happier about their neighborhoods and the police. “The research
suggests that law enforcement agencies that take the time to learn and deal with their constituents’
irritants and troubles will be perceived in increasingly positive terms.”30
One meta-analysis of 12 other studies of community policing found among police officers
generally positive effects on job satisfaction, improved relationships with coworkers and citizens, and
greater expectations for citizen participation in preventing crimes.31
SAGE Journal Article: Assessing the Interrelationships Between Perceptions of Impact and
Job Satisfaction
A 1998 survey of 82 police departments in Massachusetts communities with fewer than 200,000
inhabitants concluded that deployment strategies such as bike patrol and mini-stations represented
new ways for some departments to perform their policing functions, but that most residents
participate only by providing information to departments using these strategies.32 Residents were
more likely to participate in the problem-identification and problem-solving processes associated with

community policing when collaborative strategies such as advisory councils and citizen academies were
established. These results point to the need for the police to take the initiative for establishing such
relationships, particularly in more disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Other research looked at how well officers were being trained in new strategies and the extent to
which departments offered the requisite training in the skills and knowledge necessary to make the
transition to community policing.33 One observer concluded that, “without clear guidelines and
leadership from the department, efforts to connect the police with the community through the line
officer will have no more success than did the old police-community relations programs of the past.”34
Still other research on nine agencies found few accounts of automatic success in the community-
policing arena. “In fact . . . most of them failed at both their earlier and recent attempts to implement
what they thought were solid police strategies guided by idealized versions of community policing
prerogatives that allegedly worked in other departments.”35 Citing cumulative evidence on COP, a
2009 study concluded that many of the strategies employed in COP (storefront offices, neighborhood
watch, and community meetings) do not lead to a reduction in serious crime or an increase in police
Solution-Oriented Policing (SOP): Focuses on the fact that some police–community issues are best addressed
through the development of unique approaches or thinking outside the box
Criticisms of Community Policing
There is little doubt that community policing has been a major trend in U.S. policing; in 1999,
nearly two-thirds of county and municipal police departments with 100 or more officers had a
formally written community-policing plan.37 Still, some have raised questions about its worth.
Rhetoric Versus Practice
One common criticism is that many police departments embrace the rhetoric of community
policing rather than the philosophy or practice. Indeed, there are police administrators who institute
foot patrol programs or establish neighborhood watch programs and claim to have initiated
community policing. In some departments, the considerable enthusiasm for community policing has
led to its introduction as an organizational objective with little substance in many police
departments.38 This remained the case as we entered the 21st century.39 These constitute a criticism
not of community policing itself, but of those who claim to have implemented it without developing
the substance.
Crime Reduction
There is little empirical evidence to suggest that community policing is effective in reducing
serious crime.40 Indeed, available evidence seems to indicate that, although people involved in
community policing efforts feel more secure, crime is not significantly reduced.41 It may be that
people who feel more secure will use the streets and other public places more frequently, thus
eventually making it more difficult for criminals to ply their trades. It may also be that people who feel
more secure, but are not in fact more secure, are more likely to engage in activities that make them
available as victims, thus increasing the risk of crime.
Implementing COP may decrease the mobility and availability of the officers involved, because

the officers are out of their vehicles a good deal of the time and because they are involved in
community organization activities and are sometimes unavailable to respond to calls. In fact, in many
programs, COP officers no longer perform routine motorized patrol, and other officers must take over
this duty so that it can continue. It has also been suggested that the money spent on community
policing might be better spent on improving social and economic conditions.42 In fairness, it must be
noted that community policing is seldom touted as a money-saving approach. Although it does cost
money to implement any new program, there are various ways of measuring costs and comparing
them to benefits. Departmental budgets may have to be increased initially to support COP.43
However, the strategy may succeed in improving cooperation between the police and other citizens. It
is a more elusive matter to measure the savings in crimes prevented or solved as a result of this
increased cooperation. Further, some departments have managed costs by rearranging priorities,
eliminating services for nonemergency calls, and providing reporting alternatives (telephone, fax,
letters) for the public.44 It appears that the federal government agrees that continued efforts in support
of COP are worthwhile. On July 28, 2009, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Department
of Justice Office of COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) awarded $1 billion in American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding through its COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) to
state, local, and tribal law enforcement to create or preserve nearly 5,000 law enforcement positions.45
And, in 2011, the office awarded more than $243 million in grants across the nation.46
Video Link: Mayor to reinforce Community-Oriented Policing after Pittsburgh shootings
The permanent assignment of police officers, who have a good deal of independence in operations,
enhances the possibility of corruption. This harkens back to corrupt police officers who walked beats,
who were not subject to routine supervision, and who frightened neighborhood business persons
(legitimate and illegitimate) into paying them for not enforcing the law or for protecting them from
other predators. However, the very nature of COP works against such corruption. That is, COP
officers work closely with members of the community, often in the setting of a community forum, and
are well known on the streets. When these officers truly care about their professional reputations and
the relationships they have formed, it is more difficult instead of less so to engage in corruption or
Some critics argue that the time is simply not right to change from traditional policing strategies
to COP. There are always crises to be faced and numerous reasons for not changing strategies.
Whether or not the time is right, numerous variations on community policing have emerged across
the country.
If we don’t risk changing when the time is right, we will be forced to change when we
are not prepared. If we are afraid to change because we are comfortable, we may be holding
on just to prove that certainty is better than taking a risk. No one benefits in this scenario.
Not the police and certainly not the community.48

The Current Status of COP and POP
Over the last three decades, the culture of community policing has permeated the vast majority of
police organizations, so much so that tactics and strategies associated with the model have become
common knowledge among policing scholars, law enforcement executives, and street-level officers.52
By now, it appears that “everybody knows” that police organizations need to successfully engage
citizens and implement collaborative strategies to solve problems in the community. Although the
emphasis has shifted to a number of new policing strategies, there is little doubt that most of these
new strategies have incorporated the basic principles of COP and POP. It might, in fact, be argued
that the shift toward technological innovations, intelligence gathering, antiterrorist efforts, and
information exchange require more cooperation from the public than in the past. As we have noted,
the police cannot be everywhere all the time. To be effective in the contemporary world, the police
must rely more than ever on the eyes and ears of the public for the information they need to
accomplish their tasks. Policing after 9/11 expanded to encompass problem- and community-oriented
policing and to include the philosophy of intelligence-led policing. COP and POP have had a role in
the development of many other new strategies. Enlisting the help of the Muslim community, for
example, is reliant upon those community members accepting the legitimacy of the police to the
degree that they will relay key information. Police build that legitimacy through consistently adhering
to fair procedure.53 In this and other ways, community-oriented policing and homeland security are
complementary as strategy and goal.54
Exhibit 7.3
CAPS: Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy
Community policing in Chicago is known as CAPS, or the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy. The program had its
origins at the time of rising crime rates in the early 1990s and was in the planning stages for more than a year before it was
officially instituted in 1993 in 5 of the city’s 25 police districts.49 During initial phases, the strategy permanently assigned
officers to beats and trained them in problem-solving techniques. Citizen committees formed in the various neighborhoods,
and police and area residents began to meet on a regular basis. Police and residents worked together to identify and prioritize
problems, develop ways of addressing them, and use community resources to accomplish goals. By the spring of 1998, almost
80% of the city’s residents were aware of CAPS, over 60% knew about beat meetings in their neighborhoods, and about 15%
had attended such meetings. Support for the program has grown among line officers.
To be sure, not all has gone smoothly with CAPS. Within the police department, CAPS challenged the business-as-usual
mentality of officers and created initial pessimism among officers who did not care to take on noncrime problems. Developing
workable performance measures and incentives has been problematic. It is difficult to quantify the extent to which officers are
involved in problem solving and what indications there are of success.50 A generally positive 10-year evaluation of CAPS
noted that “an important point affecting everything that has happened is that CAPS is not simply the Police Department’s
program, rather it is the city’s program. This is not true in most places, and community policing is vulnerable in many cities
because of it.”51
Around the World 7.1
Community Police in Nepal for Security and Justice
Policing is a vital part of the security institution in Nepal, and efforts have been made to mobilize the police to meet the
needs of society. Established in 2004, community police in Nepal have been working to achieve security, justice, and public
order. To achieve these goals, community police have coordinated with several social institutions in the community to work on
problems such as household violence, children’s issues, drugs, and other social ills. In addition, community police focus more
on improvement than on punishment.
Apart from security, justice, and public order, community police are involved in humanitarian tasks as well. For example,
the community police unit in Chitwan assists in providing shelters for street children and female victims of war and domestic
abuse. Community police have also been providing scholarships and stationery to deserving students from poor economic
backgrounds in coordination with various educational institutions. Head Constable of Community Policing Gokarna Prasad

Dhakal noted, “We give counseling to school and college children for their mistakes rather than taking direct actions on them
because in the long run it might have a negative impact on the future of these children. Therefore, if they are caught doing
anything wrong, we bring [in] their parents and give counseling together.”
There are still a number of obstacles to successful community policing in Nepal, including a lack of resources and budget
and the difficulty of establishing coordination and cooperation with the community. On the positive side, Dhakal says, “Since
the community is involved, information is delivered very quickly because of which our actions can be prompt.”
Dhakal has been involved with community policing as an officer for three years and says, “I am very satisfied with my job.
. . . It gives me a feeling of self-contentment to be able to build the society. Now I am directed toward doing something for the
society and [helping] the society transform itself as well.”
1. Skeptics of Nepal’s community policing efforts would argue that law enforcement officers should be fighting crime,
not providing counseling to school and college children. What would justify these efforts as the best use of the Security
Institution’s limited resources?
2. The community police have shifted their focus in many cases from punishment to improvement. Do you believe
that these efforts are effective at fighting crime?
3. Is there anything that U.S. law enforcement can learn from Nepal’s efforts?
Source: Pradhan, P. (2012, February 10). Community police in Nepal for security and justice. Xinhua News Agency;
Dateline: CHITWAN, Nepal. Record Number: ChkhaeE000047_20120210_GWTFN1_fake. COPYRIGHT 2012 Xinhua
News Agency.
Innovations in Policing Strategies
There has been a proliferation of new approaches to preventing and responding to crime. Many
innovations departments combine several of these strategies. Evaluation of these approaches continues
to inform the growing body of professional knowledge, and so is an important part of this discussion.
Although they are closely related, innovations can be loosely grouped into categories. Some focus
on the efficient and strategic use of information of all kinds to craft the best possible approach to
dealing with crime problems. These include intelligence-led policing, evidence-based policing, and
CompStat. Others use that intelligence to focus resources and officer power where it appears to be
needed most. These include hot-spot policing, directed patrol, and differential response policing. Still
others are based on the idea of thwarting the efforts of individuals who are intent on criminal behavior
and making conditions inhospitable for committing crime. These include situational crime
prevention, crime prevention through environmental design, and saturation patrol and crackdowns.
Others are mostly concerned with collaborating or tight organization to fight crime or respond to
emergencies, such as pulling levers policing (discussed later in this chapter), and Incident Command
Systems (ICS, introduced in Chapter 3 and discussed further below). Others are more focused on the
process of policing and how that can shape behavior and the role of the police. These include broken
windows policing and the procedural justice model.
Police administrators would be grateful for some certainty that their strategic efforts will pay off. It
requires a great deal of time, effort, and resources on the part of an entire department to move to a
new way of doing things. Although researchers have attempted and continue to evaluate policing
strategies, there is generally not enough evidence to draw an airtight conclusion either way about their
true effectiveness. Research continues, but results are often mixed. Almost all studies measure the
correlation of factors, not causal relationships. It is difficult to say that the strategy under evaluation
caused a reduction (or increase) in crime. Crime rates are influenced by a complex mix of factors,
including unemployment, education, drug epidemics, and demographic shifts. However, research
design continues to evolve along with policing strategies and may yet yield more useful information.
Research can be categorized according to three common dimensions of crime prevention: the
nature of the target, the extent to which the strategy is proactive or reactive, and the specificity or
generality of the strategy. So far, proactive, place-based, and specific policing approaches appear much
more promising in reducing crime than individual-based, reactive, and general ones.55

Information Innovations
Intelligence-Led Policing
Intelligence-led policing (ILP) builds on the major developments in law enforcement in the last
two decades of the 20th century, including COP and POP. Many describe ILP as a conceptual
framework and an information-gathering process that allows police agencies to better understand their
crime problems and consider the available resources before deciding on the most effective enforcement
tactic or crime-control or -prevention strategy.56 More specifically, ILP is informant and surveillance
based with respect to recidivists and serious crime offenders and provides a central crime intelligence
mechanism to facilitate objective decision making. Part of this is the police knowing who is
committing the crimes. Much of the crime that is committed in any city is the result of repeat
offenders, many of whom have often been recently released from jail or prison. So knowing who these
people are and where they are living, and paying extra attention to them, is also part of ILP.
SAGE Journal Article: How Intelligence-Led Policing Has Repackaged Common Sense as
Transcendental Truth
Many of the examples in the literature involve traditional street crimes and gun crimes, but ILP
also assisted in the arrests following the London subway and Madrid train bombings.57 In these cases,
intelligence gatherers used surveillance cameras, community informants, and prison officials. ILP
tends to focus on threats rather than crimes that have occurred.58 These cases also indicate that ILP
depends on strong community relationships, the belief that crime will continue to be a critical
responsibility for the police, and that community support is vital to maintaining an active dialogue
between law enforcement and the community.
The implementation of ILP is a challenge for most U.S. law enforcement agencies; the experience
and lessons of community policing and CompStat serve as an important foundation. ILP can help law
enforcement agencies better prepare for and prevent serious violent crime and acts of terror by taking
advantage of the partnerships built through COP. ILP can also benefit from the problem-solving
process.59 ILP is not only consistent with COP but fits well under the COP umbrella. ILP adds a new
dimension of community policing based on years of COP experimentation.60
Police Stories 7.1
John Crombach, Former Chief of Police, Oxnard Police
I received a telephone call from a resident who lived on a cul-de-sac in a nice neighborhood in the north end of town. She
was in tears as she described the activity at the house across the street. She told me that she was considering selling her house
because they could no longer tolerate the disturbances, loud parties, and traffic in and out of the house during the day and at
night. She told me that the police would respond and things would quiet down for a couple of hours, and then the
disturbances would start up again. The officers repeat that there isn’t much they can do.
After we spoke, I called the captain who was in charge of that area of the city, who confirmed the story. He told me they
had done several searches and made several arrests at the house over the past months. He then said, “This house has been a
problem for years.”
Clearly, the typical police strategies and tactics were not working here. We learned that the owner of the home was living
in an assisted living facility and the owner’s son was living in the house and renting out the individual rooms and the
converted garage to other people. So, when the police made an arrest and removed one occupant, the son quickly found
another person to move in—usually a narcotics user or dealer.

After some discussion, the captain and the rest of the leadership for that district decided to step outside the typical
strategies and use a more creative and contemporary approach.
The senior lead officer held a meeting with all of the neighbors on the street where the problem house was. The neighbors
all agreed to call police for any disturbance they witnessed, and the lead assured the neighbors that the police would deal with
the problem.
After enlisting the help of the other neighbors, the senior lead officer for that beat contacted the homeowner at the assisted
living facility and made him aware of the events at his house. The homeowner had never authorized his son to occupy the
house; however, he was reluctant to tell his son to move. The senior officer contacted the city code compliance officer for that
beat as well as the city attorney and inquired about permits for the garage conversion or other city code violations. There were
no permits, and the property taxes were current. They learned that Chase Bank held the mortgage on the house. A call to
Chase Bank revealed that the son had taken out a reverse mortgage on the property in his father’s name. Chase Bank did not
know that the father was in assisted living, and a requirement for the reverse mortgage is that the father live in the house.
Chase agreed to cooperate with the officers.
With this information, police contacted the son and cited him for the city code violations and informed him that the city
attorney was going to declare the residence a public nuisance, due to the number of police events at the house. They kept the
father apprised of the investigation, and on his authority all of the “renters” were evicted from the residence. None had rental
agreements. The district attorney (DA) prosecuted the son for real estate fraud. The son was convicted; the father sold the
At the end of the day, it was the collaboration of the police, code compliance, city attorney, Chase Bank, and the DA’s
office that cleared out the house and ended the problems in that neighborhood. After years of relying on typical police
enforcement strategies and telling the neighbors, “There’s not much we can do,” a more contemporary problem-solving
approach actually solved the problem.
Evidence-Based Policing
Evidence-based policing involves a scientific method of discovery to support an informed
decision-making process.61 Police administrators use the best available research to create policies and
regulations and to conduct training. Police practices are often untested, and in many instances,
nobody knows if these practices work.62 In many cases, even after research has indicated that
something does not work, police agencies continue to do it as a result of political pressure, inertia, or
lack of awareness.63 Today, there are a number of policing practices that promise to effectively prevent
crime. Police are currently using many of these innovations, but there are some that should be
eliminated or modified to better suit the needs of the community. Although there will always be some
barriers to research-based policing (as police are asked to do more with less), research will become an
even more important part of the decision-making process concerning what works and what does not
work in policing.
Policing in Practice Video: Crime/Statistical Analyst
Evidence-Based Policing: Involves using the scientific method to support an informed decision-making process
The New York Police Department’s crime-control model (CompStat) is a multifaceted system
used to administer police operations. The model is a comprehensive, continuous analysis of results for
improvement and achieving prescribed outcomes.64 CompStat was created to provide police agencies
with preliminary crime statistics that would permit tactical planning and deployment of police
resources. CompStat is composed of five basic principles: specific objectives, timely and accurate
intelligence, effective strategies and tactics, rapid deployment of personnel and resources, and
relentless follow-up and assessment.65 The essence of the CompStat process is to collect, analyze, and
map crime data and other essential police performance measures on a regular basis and hold police
managers accountable for their performance as measured by these data.66

Skeptics have noted that the declines in crime in cities that adopted CompStat were part of a
broader trend, as crime rates have been declining nationwide since the mid 1990s.67 There are some
possible conflicts between CompStat and community policing.68 CompStat gives police command
staff most of the responsibility for reducing crime, largely excludes patrol officers from the decision-
making process, and focuses on crime reduction.69 Some also argue that community policing relegates
decision making to the street, envisions police and the community as partners in problem solving, and
makes officers responsible for a broad spectrum of community problems. “At stake here are two vastly
different conceptions of the officer’s role in modern society.”70 Others view CompStat as “perhaps the
single most important organizational innovation in policing in the latter half of the 20th century.”71
Further, CompStat includes quality-of-life data (an important aspect of COP) in the production of
maps and statistics to develop interactive crime prevention and reduction strategies.72 CompStat has
attracted considerable attention from both scholars and practitioners.
Despite its popularity, little empirical research demonstrates the effectiveness of the CompStat
strategy. Studies have looked at various aspects of CompStat such as its effectiveness outside New York
City; whether it generated a significant increase in “broken windows” arrests; its role in changes in
violent, property, and total index crimes; and whether pressures on police managers resulting from
CompStat might influence unethical crime reporting.73 As with many other innovative policing
strategies, there is not enough evidence on CompStat to determine its true effectiveness.
CompStat: Stands for computer statistics and is based on collecting and analyzing data from crime maps and other
performance measures while holding police administrators accountable for their performance as measured by the data
collected; a multifaceted system used to administer police operations based on a comprehensive, continuous analysis of
Focused Resources
Hot-Spot Policing
Crime hot spots involve geographic areas with clusters of criminal offenses occurring within a
specific interval of time.74 Patrol officers have always known the location of consistent problems and
responded with more aggressive patrols, surveillance of the area, and other methods. However, until
recently, police crime prevention strategies did not focus systematically on hot spots and failed to
address the underlying conditions that often give rise to high-activity crime locations.75 Often, the
strategic approach to a hot-spot location involves the police implementing high-visibility patrol, zero-
tolerance disorder enforcement, POP, police crackdowns and raids, intensive enforcement of firearms
laws through safety frisks during traffic stops, and other strategies.76 Although there is some question
as to what form of hot-spot enforcement has been the most effective, overall the research has revealed
that hot-spot policing can have a meaningful effect on crime without simply displacing crime to
nearby areas, which was assumed might happen.77 Some observers, however, believe that the
popularity of this reform may have buffered it from consideration of the potentially disproportionate
impact of hot-spot policing on disadvantaged community members and the consequences of this
impact for police legitimacy.78 One study used a randomized experimental design with a panel survey
of 371 persons and found that criticisms of hot-spot policing that focus on possible negative effects for
residents of the targeted areas may be overstated.79 It appeared that residents were neither aware of,
nor much affected by, a dosage of aggressive order-maintenance policing on their blocks. Still other
research suggests that simply increasing police presence does not gain as much community support,
nor is it as effective as problem-oriented strategies.80

An assistant chief for the Brooklyn South police surveys the CompStat results for his precinct.
CompStat is a program designed to disseminate preliminary crime statistics to enable tactical
© New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images.
Hot Spots: Geographic areas with clusters of criminal offenses occurring within a specified interval of time
Directed Patrol
To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of random patrol officers, many departments began to
use a form of goal setting. The concept of directed patrol developed in response to the findings from a
Kansas City study and was an attempt to alter the outcomes associated with random preventative
patrol. Directed patrol involves increasing police presence in a specified area. Directed patrol in
combination with a general deterrence strategy would saturate a high-crime area, including stops of as
many people as possible for all (primarily traffic) offenses. However, directed patrol with a targeted
deterrence strategy would focus patrol officers on specific behaviors, individuals, and places.81 “Under
both strategies, perceptions of the probability of punishment for crime generally, and under targeted
deterrence, of violent crime in particular, will presumably increase, thereby deterring more individuals
from committing crime.”82 Research results are mixed; some directed patrol appears to lead to a
decrease in the specific crime the approach focused on, but other evaluation found not statistically
significant reductions in crime.83
Directed Patrol: Involves increasing police presence in a specified area
Differential Response Policing
Differential response policing involves rejecting the idea of dispatching each request for
assistance or service in the order the call is received. Police have consistently responded to one radio
call and returned to the vehicle to answer the next call. Many began to question the effectiveness and
efficiency of an immediate response to every type of call received by the dispatcher. Much like triage
in a hospital emergency room, differential response programs classify calls by their seriousness: (1) an
immediate response by a sworn officer, (2) a delayed response by a sworn officer, or (3) no police
response with reports taken over the telephone, by mail, or by having the person come to a police
station in person.84 Some departments support their own web page and allow the public to submit
certain types of information online, by fax, or by email directly to the department. For example, the
Sacramento Police Department allows residents to make online reports of crimes such as financial

identity theft, harassment incidents, hit and run, mail theft, theft from a vehicle, threat incidents,
vandalism, and violations of restraining orders.85 Implementing differential response strategies may
increase the time available for patrol, allowing police to focus on crime prevention. Police
administrators sometimes use community service officers (CSOs) to enhance differential patrol
strategies. CSOs are nonsworn employees who perform duties not requiring a police officer (unlock a
vehicle, file insurance reports, document minor traffic accidents). CSOs wear different uniforms and
patches and drive different vehicles than sworn officers.
Changing Up the Environment
Situational Crime Prevention
This innovation provides a means of reducing crime by reducing crime opportunities and
increasing the risk to the offenders,86 which centers on five major strategies:
Increasing the effort needed to commit the crime
Increasing the risk associated with the crime
Reducing the reward derived from the crime
Reducing the provocation
Removing excuses for committing the crime87
A New York City effort to eliminate graffiti on subway cars serves as an example of situational
crime prevention (SCP).88 Instead of expending resources in an attempt to apprehend the violators in
the act of defacing the cars, city authorities decided that any subway car that was painted would not
run until completely cleaned. Since graffiti artists derive great pleasure from seeing their artwork travel
around New York, the new strategy removed the incentive the offenders had to paint the cars.89 The
officials determined the motivation for the criminal acts, eliminated the rewards, and focused on
reducing the opportunity for misconduct and not the individual offenders. Situational crime
prevention has been successful in reducing crime rates, though many argue that these types of
innovations simply displace criminals into different venues.90
A major criticism of SCP strategies is that they simply displace crime from one area to another. If
one neighborhood has a robust community watch program, car thieves and vandals are likely to move
on to another neighborhood that is poorly monitored. In an analysis of 102 evaluations of
situationally focused crime-prevention projects, the authors attempted to determine the extent of
crime displacement.91 Of the 102 studies that examined (or allowed for examination of) displacement,
researchers reported displacement in 26% of observations. Because different departments have
different ways of monitoring and measuring crime, displacement is easier to detect within a single
jurisdiction than from one jurisdiction to another. The same study reported the opposite of
displacement—diffusion of benefit—in 27% of observations. Diffusion of benefit occurs when areas
near the target neighborhood also see a reduction in crime. Other researchers reported in 2014 that
their meta-analysis revealed no significant displacement of crime, offering evidence to abut the
frequent criticism that place-based policing strategies have only a temporary benefit.92

As noted in the preceding section, intelligence-led policing has proven to be quite effective in
the prevention and/or successful investigations of major crime incidents, including acts of
© REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
In the 13 studies that allowed for assessment of overall outcomes of the prevention project, when
displacement occurred, it tended to be less than the displaced crime, suggesting that the SCP
intervention was beneficial.
Differential Response Policing: Involves classifying calls by their seriousness to determine the appropriate police
Community Service Officers (CSOs): Nonsworn employees who perform duties not requiring a sworn police
Situational Crime Prevention (SCP): Focuses on reducing crime by reducing crime opportunities and increasing
risk to the offenders
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
SCP can be tied to an approach referred to as crime prevention through environmental design
(CPTED), which is based on the following premise: “The proper design and effective use of the built
environment can lead to a reduction in the fear of crime and incidence of crime, and to an
improvement in quality of life.”93 In other words, schools, banks, businesses, housing, and so on may
be constructed in such a way that potential offenders are discouraged from targeting them as a result
of the materials employed, the use of open spaces and lighting, the location of the buildings, and a
variety of other factors. Although the efficacy of SCP strategies on convenience store safety has
received considerable attention, the security of fast-food restaurants has been virtually ignored. A study
of 295 convenience stores and 321 fast-food restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina, attempted to
determine whether situational crime control strategies commonly recommended to the convenience
store industry were effective at reducing robbery in the fast-food industry. The study also examined
whether target-hardening strategies (e.g., removing posters from windows to open the interior of a
store to view from the outside, providing better lighting, or obvious use of surveillance cameras to
make it less likely that offenders will strike) have similar effects on robbery prevalence rates across the
two types of businesses. The results indicate that many target-hardening strategies failed to impact
robbery rates for either type of establishment and that those preventive strategies that did work
generally appeared to impact one type of establishment or the other, but not both. The authors
interpret their findings to mean that effective SCP strategies are situation specific rather than “one size
fits all.”94
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED): Based on the premise that proper design and
effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear of crime and incidence of crime

Saturation Patrol and Crackdowns
Saturation patrol adds patrol officers and increases police visibility. Crackdowns involve more
planning than mere saturation. Crackdown refers to an increase in the number of police targeted
toward a specific type of law violation, such as prostitution, drugs, domestic violence, driving under
the influence (DUI), and speed and seatbelt violations. These strategies are meant to prevent criminal
activities and decrease citizen fears. When a police crackdown is tightly focused, evidence suggests that
immediate crime prevention benefits are likely.95 For example, the Chicago Police Department (CPD)
instituted a curfew crackdown and focused police personnel in areas of high gang activity through
tactical teams and foot and bicycle patrols in parks and other areas where people congregate.96 This is
a good example of how different strategies can work together. The CPD used intelligence to identify
hot spots for saturation patrols.
In most cases, successful third-party policing strategies result in reduced crime for less money, as
civil justice mechanisms usually cost less than criminal justice mechanisms.97 Third-party policing is
most often used in drug-prone areas such as parks, malls, and designated street corners. It has also
been deployed at locations such as bus stops disposed to robbery, late-night bars, and locations that
have spray paint available to minors.98 In these types of cases, police work with third-party partners to
relocate or improve safety at bus stops, reduce hours at late-night bars, and restrict the sale of spray
paint to minors.
Saturation Patrol: Involves adding patrol officers to a specific area in order to increase police visibility
Crackdowns: Increases in the number of police targeted toward a specific type of law violation
Collaboration and Organization
Pulling Levers Policing
Several police agencies have used an innovation that has its roots in POP. This pulling levers
policing, or deterrence strategy, focuses attention on a small number of chronic offenders responsible
for a large share of the crime problems.99 More specifically, “the approach consists of selecting a
particular crime problem, such as youth homicide; convening an interagency working group of law
enforcement, social service, and community-based practitioners; conducting research to identify key
offenders, groups, and behavior patterns; [and] framing a response to offenders that uses a varied
menu of sanctions (pulling levers)” to halt the criminal behaviors.100 Continual, direct
communication with these offenders is an important segment of the approach. An impact evaluation
sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice suggested that pulling levers policing was associated with
a decrease in the monthly number of gun homicides in Stockton, California.101 The results of a
pulling levers reassessment conducted in Indianapolis indicated a significant reduction in homicide
following the intervention, while six other similar Midwestern cities did not experience a significant
decline in homicide.102 The study found that gang-related homicides (the target of the pulling levers
strategy) declined significantly more than did nongang homicides.
Incident Command Systems
Incident Command Systems (ICS) involve a “standardized on-scene incident management
concept designed specifically to allow responders to adopt an integrated organizational structure equal
to the complexity and demands of any single incident or multiple incidents without being hindered by
jurisdictional boundaries.” (See also Chapter 3.) Such systems are thought to make managing major
traffic accidents, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and hostage situations easier by clarifying the

command structure so that personnel from all responding agencies know who is in charge of various
functions and the overall incident and whom they are to report to concerning various issues that
might arise. ICS have also been used by police at nonemergencies such as large concerts, parades,
sporting events, and celebrations. The systems provide a common framework wherein people can
work together effectively when assessing the situation, developing and implementing strategies,
allocating resources, and reassessing. Many incidents require skills and capacities that are beyond those
found in a single organization and therefore require a network of responders from multiple agencies
who do not routinely work together. An ICS organizes responses around a central command. At the
scene of an accident, the central command may consist of police officers with input from medical and
fire personnel.
A commander who tries to single-handedly manage a large-scale operation risks losing sight of the
activities related to logistics, media, and other agencies at the scene. Thus, a key principle of the ICS
(and the basis for its success when it is properly implemented) is that it divides functions modularly
and ensures that no one person is trying to wear all the hats.
In many cases, emergency scenarios and even nonemergency events involve multiple agencies.
Examples of multiple jurisdictions include the following:
Geographic boundaries such as two or more states
Levels of law enforcement such as local, state, or federal
Functional responsibilities such as police, fire, or emergency medical personnel103
Pulling Levers Policing: An innovation that focuses attention on a small number of chronic offenders responsible
for a large share of the crime problems
Policing Processes
Broken Windows
Sometimes known as zero-tolerance policing, broken windows policing (also discussed in Chapter
6) is based on a theory that suggests that a reduction in minor crimes will lead to a decrease in violent
ones.104 The approach has remained popular over the past quarter of a century, perhaps in large
measure because of its alleged success in reducing crime in New York City in the 1990s. The approach
suggests that order maintenance within a community (fixing broken windows before they suggest the
possibility of burning down the building) can be a major factor in crime control. Further,
maintenance of property suggests that residents have a stake in the neighborhood and, by extension,
that they will unite to keep the neighborhood safe and in good repair. Thus, broken windows policing
seems to make sense, on the surface at least. Some researchers uncovered an unintended consequence
of broken windows policing, a sort of “backfiring.”105 They found that such crackdowns can increase
the fear of crime among community members and suggested that police needed careful planning to
increase the effective benefit of any such intervention.106
Unfortunately, however, there is little solid evidence that strict police enforcement with respect to
minor violations leads to a reduction in the rate of serious crime.107 The debate continues over the
effectiveness of broken windows policing.
Procedural Justice Policing
Police administrators must pay attention to public judgments about how they exercise their
authority, because such judgments help to determine the legitimacy of the police and the willingness

of individuals to obey the law and to cooperate in efforts to enforce the law. The procedural justice
model of policing entails four main components of the interaction: citizen participation in the
proceedings prior to an authority reaching a decision, neutrality on the part of the authority in
decision making, a demonstration of dignity and respect throughout the interaction, and manner that
conveys trustworthy motives.110
Audio Link: Procedural Justice: Taking the Ego Out of Policing
A procedural justice approach thus proposes a significant shift in emphasis for many departments.
Procedural justice is:
grounded in empirical research demonstrating that compliance with the law and
willingness to cooperate with enforcement efforts are primarily shaped not by the threat of
force or the fear of consequences, but rather by the strength of citizens’ beliefs that law
enforcement agencies are legitimate. And that belief in turn is shaped by the extent to which
police behavior displays the attributes of procedural justice—practices which generate
confidence that policies are formulated and applied fairly so that, regardless of material
outcomes, people believe they are treated respectfully and without discrimination. . . . In
the procedural justice model, officers are not oriented toward addressing situations
primarily with the threat of force. Instead, officers are trained to view every citizen contact
as an opportunity to build legitimacy through the tone and quality of the interaction, with
force a last resort.111
The notion of procedural justice is critical to all policing strategies that require public input and
support. Nonetheless, implementation of this strategy is far from universal and—in an era where
public input to the police is critical—its implementation might pay especially large dividends. A 2013
meta-analysis of procedural justice interventions suggests that they constitute an “important vehicle
for promoting citizen satisfaction, confidence, compliance and cooperation with the police, and for
enhancing perceptions of procedural justice.”112
Procedural Justice Model: A model of policing based on empirical research demonstrating that compliance with
the law and willingness to cooperate with enforcement efforts are primarily shaped by the strength of citizens’ beliefs
that law enforcement agencies are legitimate
Case in Point 7.1
At a time when an apparent rash of police shootings of unarmed African American men is creating or perpetuating a deep public
mistrust of the police—at least among some of the populace—one trouble-ridden city has been making huge strides in turning the
tides on that mistrust and on violent crime. Richmond, California, has long been plagued by high rates of violent crime. Even
though the rates for violence declined nationally by 20% between 2004 and 2013,108 in Richmond, they dropped even faster.
Homicides in this city of just over 100,000 decreased 40% between 2003 and 2013.109
Much of the credit for this turnaround is going to Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus, who has built strong relationships
between the police and the community and implemented improved and effective policies. One of the chief’s strategies was
geographic policing, which assigns officers to specific beats for extended periods, up to several years. The chief also challenges the
department’s officers to adopt a more service-oriented attitude and go beyond merely responding to calls. Performance evaluations
reflect this change in policy; officers are judged on how well they address the priorities of the town’s residents.
In 2006, even though the homicide rate was extremely high, the residents complained to the chief about the number of
abandoned vehicles on their streets. Far from putting this issue on the back burner, the chief devoted resources to removing the cars,

which helped immeasurably in building trust with the people of Richmond, who saw that the chief was serious about listening to
them and responding to their needs. The stronger the community relationships, the more likely the police are to access information
useful in preventing or solving crime, especially violent crime. “Just starting a conversation sometimes leads to surprising results,”
says Magnus.
“Pretty much every department, if you ask them, would say they’re doing community policing,” says Magnus. “And I think
most believe it. But the challenge is: is community policing really policing the community in the way that the community wants to
be policed, or is it driven by the police department?”
Many of the national protests against the excessive use of police force ended in violence. In Richmond, the chief stood with the
protestors and held a “Black Lives Matter” sign, an act that drew intense criticism. In response, Magnus said, “It seemed to totally
represent what we’re trying to accomplish, which is respect: this idea that we acknowledge that the relationship between police and
the African American community, particularly in many cities, has really been at best strained and at worst incredibly difficult for
many, many years.”
Magnus stands by his decision and believes that the position that all lives matter is what community policing should be about.
Others recognize the chief’s insight and effectiveness. The Department of Justice sought out his help by asking for his participation
on a panel of experts to review procedures, training, and supervision in St. Louis County, where the police and the community have
been engaged in serious conflict over the now iconic shooting death of Michael Brown.
Magnus concedes that the approach is not easy, but that to operate from a position of goodwill in the interest of building trust
opens the door to accomplishing goals by working in partnership with the community.
1. Although leadership is critical to instituting reforms, what other factors might be involved in achieving positive results?
2. What strategies have been successful for the Richmond Police Department in lowering crime rates?
3. Do you believe that it is possible for other police departments to duplicate what has happened in Richmond?
Source: “Richmond police chief: ‘All lives matter. That’s really what community policing should be about,’” by Brad Marshland.
Yahoo News “Richmond reports lowest homicide total in 33 years, credits multipronged efforts,” by Robert Rogers. Contra Costa
Times (January 6, 2014).
You Decide 7.1
Most criminologists agree that there are three interrelated areas in which crime-prevention strategies can be put in place to
deter crime. These are the criminal, the victim (or target), and the environment (or opportunity).
One theory posits that if a motivated criminal and an attractive target come together, either by chance or by design, and
the environment does not visibly display enough “target hardening” to deter the criminal from committing the act, a crime
will likely take place. Therefore, it is believed that by removing any of the three factors, the crime will not take place.
Situational crime prevention focuses on the environment, which is often interpreted as merely target hardening. It actually
includes several approaches, but the main theme involves opportunity. Environmental criminologists claim, “opportunity
makes the thief,” and “if opportunity increases, so will crime.”
Critics of this logic that pertains to environmental criminology disagree and feel that if a crime occurs, it is entirely
dependent on the offender’s propensity—that if an opportunity is taken away, he or she will just continue looking for other
opportunities and eventually commit the crime.
1. Do you agree with the statement that opportunity makes the thief? Why or why not?
2. Do you feel that having more marked police cars driving around the city will deter crime? Why or why not?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
7 Under Review
Chapter Summary
Policing continues to evolve as new and different strategies are developed, implemented, and tested in response to
allegations of police misconduct and the demands for police services—from the day-to-day necessities of crime control to the
increasingly global nature of national security and terrorist activities. Over the last three decades, many police administrators
across the country have adopted community-oriented and problem-oriented policing models, tailoring and modifying them
according to the needs of their departments and communities. Community-oriented policing represents both a philosophical
and a practical shift toward a more collaborative, decentralized, and reciprocal approach to law enforcement. It continues to be
tested, and its detractors point to its alleged failures such as poor implementation, ineffectiveness, and cost. There are also
significant trends toward innovations that incorporate data gathering, targeting resources, technological advances, and
information sharing among police agencies and other government departments. Many feel that strategies that are tailored to
more specific problems are also more effective in controlling crime and disorder.
We must still ask how far we have come from the traditional reactive, incident-driven model of policing. Although there is
considerable evidence that the traditional model of policing is both ineffective and inefficient, evaluators seek evidence to

indicate that the new innovations undertaken produce greater efficiency and effectiveness. These too must be tested for
Research to answer these and other questions is ongoing. As time goes on, evaluators may discover increasingly certain
evidence of the effectiveness of specific strategies in determined locations.
To obtain public participation, administrators need to promote citizens’ beliefs that law enforcement agencies are
legitimate. In return, police agencies stand to gain citizen compliance with the law and cooperation with enforcement efforts.
Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.
Community-oriented policing (COP) 154
Strategic management era 157
Solution-oriented policing (SOP) 158
Evidence-based policing 164
CompStat 165
Hot spots 165
Directed patrol 166
Differential response policing 167
Community service officers (CSOs) 167
Situational crime prevention (SCP) 167
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) 168
Saturation patrol 168
Crackdowns 168
Pulling levers policing 169
Procedural justice model 170
Discussion Questions
Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.
1. List and discuss some of the problems that characterize traditional policing. Which of the policing strategies discussed in this
chapter might successfully address these problems?
2. What is community policing? In your opinion, is it a better approach than traditional policing? Why or why not?
3. What are some of the criticisms of community policing? In your opinion, are these criticisms justified? Why or why not?
4. Discuss problem-oriented policing and its relationship with other policing strategies.
5. What is intelligence-led policing? Is it an improvement over more traditional policing strategies? Why or why not?
6. Discuss the rationale for the development of differential response policing. Given the current economic conditions, does
differential response policing make sense?
7. What is the role of researchers in evidence-based policing? Is it reasonable to expect line police officers to willingly accept the
recommendations of police researchers? Why or why not?
8. Under what circumstances are Incident Command Systems most likely to prove useful? Can you give an example based on
personal knowledge or experience?
9. Describe the policing strategy you feel is most appropriate in light of the contemporary global concerns about terrorism.
Internet Exercises
1. Use your browser to access articles on hot-spot policing. Summarize the conclusions of the researchers concerning this
policing strategy. Does it appear this strategy is worth pursuing further? Why or why not?
2. Locate articles on the Internet dealing with the procedural justice model of policing. Based on your research, is the

procedural justice concept new to policing? Is the concept of particular importance in the current policing environment?
Student Study Site
Sharpen your skills with SAGE edge!
SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and
links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.

Part III Police Conduct
© Anderson
Chapter 8: The Police Culture and Work Stress
Chapter 9: Law, Court Decisions, and the Police
Chapter 10: Discretion and Ethics in Policing
Chapter 11: Police Misconduct and Accountability

Chapter 8 The Police Culture and Work Stress
© David Grossman / Alamy
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the unique aspects of police subculture
2. Analyze the factors that contribute to police subculture
3. Identify the sources of police stress
4. Discuss the effects and consequences of police stress
5. Assess the influence of police shootings and critical incidents on officers
6. Evaluate the various strategies that both organizations and individual officers can implement to mitigate the negative
effects of job-related stress
What Is Culture?
Professional culture exists in many arenas. Culture is the set of assumptions, beliefs, expectations,
and philosophy that governs the professional’s interactions, performance, and role. A professional
arena may have its own unique subculture. Police administrators and the law specify the broad
parameters within which officers operate, but the police subculture tells them how to go about their
tasks, how hard to work, what kinds of relationships to have with their fellow officers and other
categories of people with whom they interact, and how they should feel about police administrators,
judges, laws, and the requirements and restrictions they impose. The police subculture also consists of
the informal rules and regulations, tactics, and folklore passed from one generation of police officers to
The subculture may vary widely from one agency to another. Subculture may be affected by such
things as crime rates, leadership values, and long-standing traditions. In a high-crime area that involves
perhaps daily violence, a warrior culture may dominate and may help give rise to an “us-versus-them”
environment. In a less military-like environment, a command structure may prevail where dialogue
between administrators and officers is encouraged and where officers see themselves more as

peacekeepers in service to the community. The potency of an agency culture varies among agencies as
well. Some departments have deeply ingrained traditions, whereas others may be more dynamic and
experimental. Some may welcome or even encourage a questioning attitude, whereas others may
demand complete and unquestioning obedience on the part of subordinates. Even though every
agency is likely to have officers who approach their work in different ways, personalities that do not fit
well into an agency’s culture may end up having difficulties adapting to it.
In any case, professional subculture organizes and guides the behavior of its members. Subculture
is quite deliberately perpetuated through the police socialization process, which begins in the academy.
An organizational culture can have many positive effects and can actually reduce anxiety and
uncertainty in relationships and communicate the ideology that defines what the organization is all
about.1 The inherent uncertainty of police work, combined with the need for information control,
leads to police teamwork, which in turn generates collective ties and mutual dependency.2 Police
subculture includes “protective, supportive, and shared attitudes, values, understandings and views of
the world.”3 These shared values and attitudes are a natural outgrowth of the shared experience of
However, police culture can also demand conformity and exert pressures that take a toll on its
members. There are risks that individual officers and entire agencies can become too insulated and
separate from the public. The us-versus-them mentality can further isolate the officer from everyone
besides other officers. That isolation is both a cause of job stress and a result of it.
Combined, the effects of formal pressures and the pressures that the police subculture generates
often lead police officers to experience a great deal of stress in their occupational, social, and family
lives—resulting in cynicism, burnout, and a host of physical and emotional ailments. Many officers
may not readily recognize the extent to which the police subculture and the pressures of the job affect
the way in which they view and act toward others.
Socialization, Isolation, and the Code
The process of socialization, which creates the “blue fraternity,” begins at the police academy. The
process continues throughout a police officer’s career. If the subculture characterizes the public as
hostile, not to be trusted, and potentially violent, this outlook requires secrecy, mutual support, and
unity on the part of the police.
The social isolation of the police in turn contributes to a code of silence or blue wall—a closed
police society (also referred to as the “brotherhood” or “blue fraternity”). Where this exists, there may
be grave personal or professional consequences for violating it.
The more defensive that officers become in their isolation, the more entrenched the us-versus-
them attitude becomes. From the outside, the police culture is often viewed negatively, and the code
of silence has resulted in police officers not being held accountable for misconduct.4
Recently, intense public scrutiny has been focused on highly publicized police misconduct cases
across the country, including such incidents as the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart
corruption case or the Houston Police Department’s shooting of a Mexican immigrant. With each
new headline, anxiety and mistrust of police officers and their departments increase. Police executives
repeatedly find themselves confronted with the issue of the code of silence. But, how much is fact, and
how much is fiction? Reality or perception?5
Code of Silence (Blue Wall): Protective, supportive, and shared attitudes, values, understandings, and views of the
world associated with the police society

Exhibit 8.1
The Stigma of Being a Cop
In many cases, police officers tend to socialize with other officers (not unlike members of other occupational groups) and
come to realize (unlike members of many other occupational groups) that their identities as police officers sometimes make
them socially unacceptable, even when off duty. That is, in some circles at least, there is a kind of stigma attached to those who
are perceived as being “too close” to police officers; and police officers themselves are sometimes suspicious of the motives of
civilians who become too friendly. The dangers associated with policing often prompt officers to distance themselves from the
chief source of danger—other citizens.6 The authority provided to police officers also separates them from other citizens.
Thus, police officers are socially isolated from the public and rely on each other for support and protection from a dangerous
and hostile work setting. They tend toward a strong sense of loyalty toward other officers.7
Erosion of the Public’s Trust
Apart from the extent of the code’s existence, it is certain that the public believes that it exists.
Much of the public believes that officers who are guilty of wrongdoing are protected by the code of
silence and are not held accountable for their actions. Regardless of whether a blue wall of silence is a
reality, the belief by the public that such a protective environment exists has a negative effect on the
relationships between the police and the community. The erosion of public trust in the police inhibits
their ability to perform their duties. Police scandals have supporters and critics alike calling for civilian
review boards and other external oversight mechanisms.
Author Video: The Transformation of the LAPD and the Work that Remans
Recognizing the damage to the public trust, some departments are willing to openly look at their
record of complaints. An examination of the internal affairs investigations in the Houston Police
Department from 1992 to 2002 found that, in 7 of the 11 years examined, more than 50% of all the
complaints investigated were generated internally—by other officers as opposed to external citizen
complaints. In one year, almost two-thirds of the complaints were initiated from internal sources.
These internal complaints ran the gamut from minor procedural violations to felony criminal
To see whether Houston’s Internal Affairs Division data were different from those of other major
departments, the city’s Planning and Research Division gathered data from 15 departments of the
nation’s 50 largest cities. Seven of those departments keep track of whether complaints come from
internal or external sources. The seven departments are Arlington, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Baltimore,
Maryland; Jacksonville, Florida; Columbus, Ohio; Memphis, Tennessee; and El Paso, Texas. These
departments had numbers similar to those in Houston.9 These statistics would tend to indicate that
the blue wall or code of silence is not as prevalent as Hollywood would have us believe.

This patrol officer is attempting to explain to members of his department’s administrative
committee on traffic safety why the traffic accident he was involved in was unavoidable.
© Guy Cali/Corbis
Police officers develop resources to deal with the isolation from the community and even family
members, which results from job stress and the police socialization process.10
The police are human beings just like everyone else and do make mistakes. In policing, mistakes
can have critical consequences. Police must continue to be trained in how to recognize and address the
ethical issues they routinely encounter. “Compromising situations frequently occur without warning
and with little if any time to think, and as in life-and-death situations, a wrong decision in the ethical
arena can have life-changing consequences for the officer.”11
Ultimately, one way that police officers cope with their organizational environment is by taking a
“lay low” or “cover your ass” attitude and adopting a crime-fighter or law-enforcement orientation,
which tends to perpetuate the entire dynamic.12 The establishment of a professional, moral, ethical
culture in a police organization can control, prevent, and punish misconduct and corruption. Of
course, this type of culture relies in part on the organization’s hiring, retention, promotion practices,
leadership, and socialization process for new police officers.
Police Subculture: Shared values, attitudes, and norms created within the occupational and organizational
environment of policing; a set of informal norms, largely based on tradition and passed on from generation to
generation, that greatly influence police behavior and the perception of the public by police. Certain of these
subcultural forces have a significant influence on the use of discretion, in both positive and negative ways
Analyzing Police Subculture
The police subculture is a key concept in the explanation of police behavior and attitudes.13
Traditional characterizations of the police culture have focused on describing the shared values,
attitudes, and norms created within the occupational and organizational environments of policing.14
One observer identified “six normative orders” within policing—law, bureaucratic control,
adventure or machismo, safety, competence, and morality—and concluded these orders serve as
boundaries for the subculture that both justify and limit certain actions of police officers.15
Some research concerning police culture proposed the existence of different attitudinal subgroups
of officers.16 Some groups of police officers represent many of the negative attitudes of the traditional
culture, such as authoritarian, hard line, and aggressive. Others often have attitudes of problem solving

and assisting. As police departments become more heterogeneous, a single department’s cohesive
police culture may give way to a more multifaceted one.17 Racial minorities, women, and college-
educated personnel bring different outlooks and attributes, based on past experiences, which may
affect the way in which police collectively interpret the world around them.18–19
At the academy, a new police officer learns the laws and formal rules required before initiating a
traffic stop on a motor vehicle. However, beyond these formalities, new officers quickly learn the
importance of tone of voice, posture, and initial approach to a hysterical, threatening, or apologetic
driver. In many cases, veteran police officers have refined, through years of traffic stops, a ritual or
standard approach and accompanying explanation for almost all drivers.
There are different but related forms of organizational culture: artifacts, values, and basic
assumptions.20 The artifacts are the most visible parts of the organizational culture and include
sounds, architecture, smells, behavior, attire, language, products, and ceremonies. Police culture is in
part transmitted and defined by certain artifacts. For example, police recruits quickly learn police
jargon, how to address superiors, how to communicate on the radio or computer, a writing style for
police reports, and a host of other behaviors unique to policing.
Another police artifact is the patrol officer’s uniform, which is a symbol of law and order and
allows members of society to readily identify a police officer. Some departments have researched the
use of blazers or a more casual form of dress to encourage police–community interactions and de-
emphasize the paramilitary associations the uniform can have.
SAGE Journal Article: An Examination of Officers’ Occupational Attitudes
The values embedded in the organization are the most important, because they guide the behavior
of the organization’s members.21 For example, new police officers often complete months of training
on the street with a field training officer or FTO, who has a pivotal role in conveying values such as
respect, integrity, honesty, and fairness to a new police officer. The FTO socializes and orients new
police officers, and in most cases, the trainee’s career and behavioral attributes are impacted by this
influence.22 However, in policing, as in many occupations, some values can set up ethical, moral, and
legal conflicts.
Many police officers view themselves as teammates linked together by portable radios, cell phones,
and person-to-person messaging, part of a team that is no stronger than its weakest member. As
members of the team, they feel a good deal of pressure to live up to the expectations of other team
members and to support the practice of secrecy.
Evidence of secrecy is clearly articulated in phrases you might hear among officers, such as “Watch
out for your partner first and then the rest of the guys working,” “Don’t give up another cop,” “Don’t
get involved in anything in another cop’s sector,” or “If you get caught off base, don’t implicate
anybody else.”26
One study reported that in many cases newer police officers were more willing to admit to viewing
unethical acts, compared to police officers with more seniority. “One conclusion would be that the
[longer the] length of time an officer is exposed to this socialization process, the greater its impact.”27
What is relevant, recruits are told, is the experience of senior officers who know the ropes or know
how to get around things. Recruits are often told by officers with considerable experience to forget
what they learned in the academy and in college and to start learning real police work.28 Among the
first lessons learned are that police officers share secrets among themselves; that these secrets, especially
when they deal with activities that are questionable in terms of ethics, legality, and departmental
policy, are not to be divulged to others; and that administrators often cannot be trusted. Thus,

emphasis on the police occupational subculture results in many officers regarding themselves as
members of a minority that has to look out for itself.29
When officers hold an us-versus-them view of the world, the “us” consists of other police officers;
the “them” encompasses almost everybody else. To be sure, members of other occupational groups
also develop their own subcultures and worldviews, but often not to the same extent as the police.30
According to a classic text, “Set apart from the conventional world, the policeman experiences an
exceptionally strong tendency to find his social identity within his occupational milieu.”31
Rank-and-file police officers sometimes even begin to view their administrators as dangerous
outsiders to the patrol subculture and somewhat personally and professionally threatening.32 This
tension between police officers and police administrators is primarily due to the discrepancy between
what patrol officers are commanded to do and what they can realistically be expected to accomplish.33
Postulates that show the us-versus-them view include the following:
Don’t tell anybody else more than they have to know; it could be bad for you, and it could be
bad for them.
Don’t trust a new guy until you have checked him out.
Don’t give them (police administrators) too much activity.
Keep out of the way of any boss from outside your precinct.
Know your bosses.
Don’t do the bosses’ work for them.
Don’t trust bosses to look out for your interests.
Don’t talk too much or too little.
Protect your ass.34

Web Link: Putting Police Ethics on Trial
Contributing Factors
Factors inherent in police work contribute to the tendency toward social isolation. Among these
factors are danger, authority, and the need to appear efficient.35
In police work, danger is always a possibility, and it is highly unpredictable, except in certain types
of situations. Who knows when the traffic stop at midday will lead to an armed attack on the police
officer involved? Who can predict which angry spouse involved in a domestic dispute will batter a
police officer (or, for that matter, whether both spouses will)? Who knows when a sniper firing from a
rooftop will direct his shots at the windshield of a patrol car? Under what circumstances will a person
with a mental disorder turn on an officer attempting to assist? Will drivers approaching an intersection
heed the flashing lights and siren of an officer’s car? Does the fleeing young burglar have a firearm
under his shirt? “The potential to become the victim of a violent encounter, the need for backup from
other officers, and the legitimate use of violence to accomplish the police mandate all contribute to a
subculture that stresses bravery, which is ultimately related to the perceived and actual dangers of

In fact, because of the unpredictable nature of danger in policing, police officers are trained to be
suspicious of most, if not all, citizens they encounter. Police are encouraged to treat them as symbolic
assailants, to approach them in certain ways, to notify the dispatcher of their whereabouts when
making a stop, and to wait for additional officers or backup to arrive before proceeding in potentially
dangerous cases.37 Even though violence occurs in a low percentage of police–civilian interactions,
“the highly unpredictable and potentially dangerous person, who cannot be dependably identified in
advance, conditions officers to treat each individual with suspicion and caution.”38 Examples of
symbolic assailants include two men walking in a quiet residential neighborhood at 3 a.m. or a police
officer receiving the description of a person approaching a subway station carrying a “suspicious
package.” In other words, police officers create in their mind an image of what they perceive to be the
behaviors of a threatening person. This image is based on training, past experiences, and sharing of
war stories by veteran officers, and it is ever changing depending on the perceived threat to the safety
of the officer and the community.
There is a paradox of policing concerning the perception of danger and actual danger.39 According
to some research, it is not the actual danger that results in fear, but the constantly present potential for
danger that has the significant impact.40 The fear of danger by police may be both functional and
dysfunctional.41 The very real hazards of police work require that police be alert to the risks of the job.
However, the constant concern over danger can contribute to increased levels of stress and burnout.
During everyday contacts with the public, police officers believe they can minimize the potential
danger they will confront, as well as properly display their coercive authority, by always being prepared
—or “one up” on the public.42 One inquiry identified three types: “suspicious persons,” “assholes,”
and “know-nothings.”43 Suspicious persons include those who are most likely about to commit or
might have already committed an offense. The assholes include those individuals who disrespect the
police and do not accept the police definition of the situation. These individuals might receive some
form of street justice or “a physical attack designed to rectify what police take as a personal insult.”44
The know-nothings are the typical citizens who interact with the police when they request service.
Constantly viewing citizens as symbolic assailants and potential threats can lead to burnout
and difficulty coping with stress.
© Anderson
Police Stories 8.1
Connie Koski, Professor and Former Police Officer
Police stress is often difficult to truly understand without personal experience. It wasn’t until I experienced firsthand the
influences of police subculture, expectations from the public, dangerous encounters, and pressures from administrators that I
began to fully comprehend how these factors could produce a toxic combination of cynicism and physical and emotional

One particularly serious incident took place on a hot summer evening around the middle of my career. I was a field
training officer and senior patrol officer on my shift; I felt confident in my abilities on patrol and took these roles seriously. On
the night in question, I was working my fifth 12-hour shift in a row and was feeling the early signs of exhaustion. We received
a call of an older Black female harassing a group of older Black men who lived in a senior citizen public housing complex. I
recognized the name of the woman causing the problem. She was someone with whom I had a friendly rapport. I told my
fellow officers they could remain back at the station to complete shift briefing while I responded to ask her to leave the
property. I made the mistake of assuming she would comply, given our friendly relationship, but when I arrived she refused to
leave and resisted arrest. As I struggled to place her in handcuffs, the woman grabbed my ink pen from my uniform pocket and
began stabbing me in the neck, coming perilously close to my jugular vein. Several of the male callers, also Black, were seated
in a gazebo nearby, witnessing the entire struggle. Given that I am White and always worked very hard to treat all people
equitably, I made a special effort not to use a significant amount of force to subdue this woman for fear that it would appear
either racist or excessive, despite the fact that I was later told by several administrators that I should have done so, given her use
of near deadly violence against me. I was finally able to wrestle the woman to the ground without harming her and was able to
secure her until backup arrived.
As fellow officers arrived and took custody of the woman, I suddenly and very unexpectedly burst into tears for reasons I
could not explain. I was embarrassed in front of my male coworkers and couldn’t understand why I was crying. I later
discovered that this “adrenaline dump” is what happens to a person’s body when he or she experiences sudden violent “fight or
flight” situations and has no real release for the adrenaline following the de-escalation of the incident. To compound the
situation, the next day I was admonished by administrators for not using deadly force against this woman (as I would have
been authorized to do based on the force continuum and her actions toward me), as well as for not having taken backup with
me to the call. I was personally proud of my restraint and the ability to bring the incident to a successful resolution without the
use of excessive force or inappropriate language in front of other city residents, and was frustrated by the response from my
I became very cynical and resentful toward my agency’s administrators as a result. This attitude became very demotivating
for me over the course of the next several months. Rather than seeing this as a sign of stress, many of my superior officers
simply saw this as a bad attitude and became very adversarial toward me, rather than helping me understand or seek help,
compounding the problem. My behaviors were clearly the result of several years of stress. I was unable to identify it myself,
because I had been socialized to believe that I could “handle” it on my own. Most police officers would be untruthful if they
told you they never experienced stress at some point during their careers. Some officers ultimately leave the profession as a
result of job stress. Others are so heavily indoctrinated into police culture that they resist seeking outside assistance in times of
great stress and become almost incapable of recognizing their need for help.
Artifacts: Most visible forms of an organizational culture (sounds, behaviors, language)
You Decide 8.1
Police Discretion
Police officers have discretion in several areas of the job that include whether to issue traffic citations, whom to stop and
contact, and, in some cases, which laws to enforce. For a variety of reasons, a police officer may decide to enforce the law—or
not to. Almost everyone likes discretion, provided they are able to choose when, where, and how to use it. Depending on how
a person is affected by an officer’s discretion, it can be seen as a good thing or as a bad thing. For example, if an officer decides
to give you a break on a speeding ticket, you will probably see the officer’s discretion as something positive. On the other
hand, if the officer issues you a citation for driving three miles per hour over the speed limit, your feelings about discretion
may be very different.
Eliminating an officer’s discretion is one way to ensure that laws are enforced in the same ways across the board, regardless
of the circumstances or the people involved. One example of eliminating officer discretion would be to require officers to issue
speeding tickets to everyone caught traveling faster than the posted speed limit. This would prevent officers from considering
external factors, for instance, whether the person had a legitimate medical emergency. The problem with this approach,
however, is that all things are rarely equal. In other words, no two circumstances an officer will encounter are likely to be the
same. Driver experience, rate of speed, weather, and traffic conditions can be very different. Therefore, while driving five miles
per hour over the posted speed limit may be perfectly safe on a sunny day with dry roads, light traffic, and excellent visibility,
the same speed may be dangerous when the roads are wet, visibility is poor, and traffic is heavy.
1. Do you think police officer discretion should be strictly limited? Why or why not?
2. Do you believe police officer discretion should be eliminated in certain cases? If so, under what conditions should
discretion be eliminated?
3. What are the advantages to police officer discretion?
The final aspect of organizational culture involves the basic assumptions of the organization. Veteran employees of an

organization may not be consciously aware of the basic assumptions that guide employee behavior.23 These assumptions
develop over the history of the organization and include many aspects of human behavior, human relationships in the
organization, and relationships with the organization’s external environment. In most cases, the assumptions are unconscious
and are often difficult for veteran police officers to describe to new police officers. Often police officers comprehend these
assumptions by observing the behaviors of other officers in a variety of different situations. For example, there are certain
organizational assumptions or deeply held beliefs that guide behaviors and, in turn, communicate to members of the
organization how to perceive and think about things.24 The police ethos (fundamental spirit of a culture) encompasses three
concepts of the utmost importance in policing: bravery, autonomy, and secrecy.25
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
Organizational Assumptions: Deeply held beliefs that guide behaviors in an organization
Ethos: Fundamental spirit of a culture
Symbolic Assailants: Potentially dangerous citizens to whom police are trained to accord a level of suspicion
Academy instructors teach police officers to assess others with whom they are involved in terms of
their ability to physically handle such individuals if it becomes necessary and to be aware that in most
instances their encounters with other citizens will be perceived as creating trouble for those citizens.
Instructors teach officers that they work in an alien environment in which everyone knows who they
are, while they lack such information about most of the people with whom they interact.45
In addition, of course, as representatives of government, police officers are told they have specific
authority to intervene in a wide array of situations. They are equipped with a Taser, a firearm,
handcuffs, a portable radio, backup officers, and a uniform to be sure that their image as authority
figures is complete and unmistakable. And they are told that, when dealing with a dispute in progress,
their definition of the situation must prevail, and they must take charge of the situation. Police are
taught that, as a part of their role, they must give orders, exercise control over law enforcement and
order maintenance situations, place restraints on certain freedoms, enforce unpopular laws (even ones
they do not agree with), conduct searches, make arrests, and perform a number of other duties.46
What is not routinely stated to police officers—but what they learn very quickly on the streets—is
that other citizens, not infrequently, resent their intervention. And other citizens, when treated
suspiciously by the police, may react with hostility, resentment, contempt, and occasionally physical
violence. Nor are police officers routinely taught that certain segments of the population hate them or
hold them in contempt simply because they wear the badge and uniform. If members of these groups
challenge the authority of the police, based on their training, the police will often resort to threats of
force or the use of force to impose their authority, which often escalates the level of danger in the
encounters. On those relatively rare occasions in which the challenge to authority is prolonged or
vicious, danger may become the foremost concern of all parties involved, and the capacity to use force,
including deadly force in appropriate circumstances, becomes paramount.47 Under the circumstances,
the need for police solidarity and the feelings of isolation and alienation from other citizens become
apparent. Police unity bolsters officer self-esteem and confidence, which enables the police to tolerate
the isolation from society and the hostility and public disapproval.48
Case in Point 8.1
Police officers see horrific things, including homicides, rapes, car accidents, and violent assaults, with some of these cases
involving children and teenagers. Although some officers may become desensitized over time to certain aspects of the job, it is never
easy. And, it is even more difficult to shake the lasting emotional distress that confronting these situations produces. Although we
seldom hear about police officers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they suffer from it as we now know that
military veterans do as well.

Retired Officer Bill Kruger has lived with PTSD ever since killing an escaped convict while on duty. The police usually think
they need to “tough it out” when they are having difficulties, that being emotionally challenged is a sign of weakness. Those who do
admit a problem risk being stigmatized, being relieved of their badges and guns, and having their peers and superiors assume they
are a risk to themselves or others. As with most people who need help, without it, they tend to get worse.
Officer Kruger joined a peer-support group to help cope with his illness. After realizing that his situation would not be kept in
confidence, and fearing that staying might jeopardize his career or opportunities for promotion, he decided to leave the group.
Untreated PTSD and other psychological illnesses can lead to drug or alcohol abuse, or even suicide. Officer Kruger
acknowledges the effect his PTSD had on his personality. It made him an angry person, and he drank to alleviate his pain. The
police community has precious few mental health resources available to officers; agencies retain few trained therapists or
psychologists who can properly identify and address PTSD and other conditions. PTSD is sometimes delayed, and retirees may
experience an onset of symptoms after they leave the force.
Police administrators need to implement consistent psychological checkups and greater attention to police officer mental health
care. Only then will PTSD and other mental health problems be effectively resolved.
1. Should officers with diagnosed cases of severe PTSD be forced to retire from law enforcement? If not, what can law
enforcement agencies do with these officers?
2. Do law enforcement agencies have a duty to identify and treat officers with PTSD?
3. Considering the serious nature of PTSD, why would an officer refuse to continue counseling or other treatment services?
4. Should officers be compelled to continue treatment if they do not want counseling or other services?
Source: “Toughing it out: Posttraumatic stress in police officers,” by Robert T. Muller, 2013. Psychology Today
At the same time, we expect the police to be efficient, and the police themselves are concerned
with at least giving the appearance of efficiency, if not the substance, because performance evaluations
and promotions often depend on at least the former. Concerns with efficiency and the resulting
pressures they produce have increased dramatically with computerization and other technological
advances in the police world. Simultaneously, taxpayers have begun to demand greater accountability
for the costs involved in policing and the addition of well-educated (and therefore more costly) police
personnel. The resulting “do more with less” philosophy has led many police executives to emphasize
even more the importance of efficient performance. “Citizens expect professional police behavior,
respectful treatment, maintenance of human dignity, responsiveness, and a high value on human life.
In addition, these increasingly sophisticated taxpayers also insist that the police achieve maximum
effectiveness and efficiency in the use of their tax dollars.”49

This officer bears the authoritarian tools of her trade.
© Alex Segre / Alamy
In some cases, the police subculture has established standards of acceptable performance for
officers and resists raising these standards. Officers whose performance exceeds these standards are
often considered rate-busters and threats to those adhering to traditional expectations. For example,
fueling the patrol car, in some departments, is an operation for which the officer is expected to allot
20 to 30 minutes. Because the operation may actually take less than 5 minutes, administrators
concerned about accountability, totaling the amount of time lost in this operation for, say 10 cars,
recognize they are losing two to three hours of patrol time if they fail to take action to modify the

fueling procedure. At the same time, however, officers concerned about accountability who wish to
patrol an additional 15 to 20 minutes and fuel the car in less time make those officers adhering to the
20- to 30-minute standard look bad, and they are under considerable pressure to conform to the
established standard. Similar expectations and conflicts exist with respect to the number of drunk
drivers who can be processed in a shift, the number of felonies that may be processed, the number of
subpoenas that may be served, or the number of prisoners who may be transported. Officers must
make choices as to whose expectations are to be met and sometimes operate in a no-win situation, in
which meeting one set of expectations automatically violates the other, leaving the officer under some
stress no matter how he or she operates.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Emotional disturbance leading to a numbing of emotions, insomnia, and
Exhibit 8.2
The Police Subculture
The police subculture creates a set of truths, according to which officers are expected to live. Note that there is some basis
in fact for each of these subcultural truths and that each makes integration and communication between the police and the
citizens they serve more difficult.
The police are the only real crime fighters.
No one understands the nature of police work but fellow officers.
Loyalty to colleagues counts more than anything else.
It is impossible to win the war on crime without bending the rules.
Other citizens are unsupportive and make unreasonable demands.
Patrol work is only for those who are not smart enough to get out of it.50
The Police Personality: How Real?
Some have suggested that the impact of police work and the police subculture itself lead to the
development of a distinctive police personality.51 The police personality has been conceived as a
combination of characteristics and behaviors—a stereotype of the police. Often, these characteristics
include a “desire to be in control of the situation, assertions, cynicism, authoritarian attitude, a wish to
be aloof from citizens, an increased solidarity with other police officers and a tendency to be physically
aggressive.”52 How does such a personality develop? Is it a matter of an individual innately possessing
those personality characteristics, or does it develop from the work itself?53 Some believe policing
attracts individuals who possess a certain type of personality, while others propose that the exposure to
violence, corruption, and danger creates an elusive personality. On the positive side, one study
reported that police applicants differ from the general population in several positive ways: “They are
more psychologically healthy than the normative population, as they are generally less depressed and
anxious, and more assertive and interested in making and maintaining social contacts.”54
“There is some evidence for the existence of a police working personality. Most of the evidence
points to the influence of socialization and experiences after becoming a police officer as the main
source of the unique traits.”55
Although some of the research on police personalities does appear to distinguish certain traits, no
one has been able to “disentangle the effects of a person’s socioeconomic background from the
demands that police work and its subculture places upon individual officers.”57 The research does not
support the existence of a single dominant personality type among police officers. “There is no
evidence for such a thing as a typical police personality showing a cluster of traits that is constant

across time and space.”58
Types of Stresses in Police Work
As previously mentioned, the formal police organization and the police subculture both contribute
to the stress levels experienced by police. The effects of formal pressure from police organizations and
pressures generated by the police subculture often lead police to experience a great deal of stress in
their occupational, social, and family lives, resulting at times in cynicism, burnout, and retirement on
the job, as well as a host of physical and emotional ailments. Also, those police officers who reported
higher levels of stress reported more acts of deviance. Correspondingly, as the stress levels of police
officers were reduced through reassignment from high-stress duties, the reported deviance decreased.59
Although there does not appear to be a cluster of personality traits that distinguish police officers
from other occupational groups, there is no doubt that the nature of police work and the subculture in
which it occurs creates difficulties for officers, their families, and their friends. The need to perform
under stress is a concern in many professions; policing may not be as stressful as some other
occupations such as brain surgery or even teaching. Nevertheless, stress is one of the most common of
all occupational hazards for police and can be extremely debilitating, leading to early onset of stress-
related illness.60 Police stress may manifest in a variety of ways.61
Of course, the cost associated with a stressful event is a function of how each individual perceives
the event.62 What may be viewed as very threatening to one police officer may be perceived as simply
an exciting challenge by another. Those individuals who are capable of venting their feelings and
discharging their emotions do not suffer as much from stressful events.63
Research on police stress has focused on the sometimes violent nature of the work and the
organizational structures found in almost all police agencies.64
One top-ranked stressor was concern for fellow police officers being injured or killed.65 Other
research failed to demonstrate a clear association between the dangers of police work and the level of
stress that officers experience.66 A segment of research suggests police officers are “no more stressed
than other groups and police work is not especially stressful.”67
Author Video: How do law enforcement identify and know when officers are under stress?
How do law enforcement approach and guide officers to handle stress?
The quasi-military nature associated with some police organizations often breeds alienation among
street officers, who are required to use high levels of discretion while being tightly controlled by
supervisors and administrative rules.68 Cops have strict guidelines, and they are dealing with people
who are not governed by any rules at all. Additional stressors included public criticism, family
demands, career stages, and working the late shift.69
To the list of stressors we might add excessive paperwork, red tape, discrimination, lack of
participation in decision making, and competition for promotion, among others. One study used
saliva and blood samples from police officers to examine their levels of cortisol, which is often referred
to as a “stress hormone.” The research revealed that police officers “who work the graveyard and swing
shifts are more likely to be tired” and have a high rate of injuries, compared to those officers assigned
to the day shift.70
One study found new and more severe sources of stress for police: increased scrutiny and criticism
from the media and the public, and anxiety and loss of morale as a result of layoffs and reduced salary
raises.71 Even positive changes, such as the movement to community-oriented policing, have caused

increased levels of stress for many officers. Today, the increasing response to or the threat of terrorism
is also a job-related stressor.72
The sources of stress can break down into four categories in organizations—task demands, role
demands, interpersonal demands, and physical demands.73
Task Demands
Task demands or the lack of them can impose high stress levels on police. Quantitative input
overload is a result of too many demands for the time allotted, while qualitative input overload is the
result of complexity and limited time.74 These two types of input overload can lead to hyperstress.
Quantitative overload occurs when police officers experience stacking of calls or when they receive
more calls than they can answer. Emergency calls are prioritized by 911 systems, but minor theft cases,
criminal damage to property cases, trespassing violations, and other nonemergency calls are answered
in order. An officer on a busy shift might respond to 25 calls for service, with little time for patrol or
personal breaks. Obviously, with this number of calls, the quality of the police interaction with the
public can suffer. Investigators assigned a large number of cases more readily experience quality
overload. Each case must follow case management criteria and may include interviews, interrogations,
evidence collection, search warrants, and numerous reports. The number of cases that supervisors
assign and the pressure that prosecutors generate to complete an investigation affect the quality of
investigation and the extent of overload experienced by individual officers.
Low levels of mental and physical activity cause hypostress, which is the result of too little
quantitative and qualitative input.75 Police officers experience high levels of boredom when they work
a shift with no calls, when their only activity is random patrol and personal breaks. Answering service
call requests—one of the primary roles of a police officer—is often seen by officers as routine,
mundane, and boring.
Police Personality: Combination of characteristics and behaviors that are used to stereotype the police
Exhibit 8.3
Working Personalities
One system of categorization identifies four working personalities of police: enforcers, idealists, realists, and optimists.
Enforcers emphasize the law enforcement function, while idealists focus on individual rights. Realists place little emphasis on
social order and individual rights. Optimists view policing as an opportunity to help people.56
Hyperstress: An overload resulting from too many complex demands for the time allotted
Role Demands
Role demands develop two types of role stress in the work environment: role conflict and role
ambiguity.76 Role conflict is a result of the inconsistent or incompatible expectations. A role conflict
can occur when society’s expectations of police behavior conflict with certain police principles, beliefs,
and behaviors. For example, for many decades, society has condemned the use and sale of illegal drugs.
However, the police are limited in their ability to successfully reduce drug sales and trafficking due to
many factors outside their sphere of influence, such as search and seizure laws, drug legalization, and
limited resources.

Cops must avoid the harsh glare of the external observation which would reveal (1) that
they were frequently in violation of the law, and (2) that they were doing exactly what the
public wanted them to do, generating arrests for drugs the only way they can—fabricating
evidence, dropsy, lying on the witness stand, entrapment—in a word, by being more
criminally sophisticated than the criminals.77
Thus, the perceptions of society and the actual behaviors of police performing undercover drug
enforcement can generate high levels of stress, especially for police who must become a part of the
drug culture, appear in court as a professional police officer, and still maintain relationships with
spouses, children, and other family members.
Role ambiguity is the confusion a person experiences related to the expectations of others.78 For
example, the police are seen by the public as “alertly ready to respond to citizen demands, as crime-
fighters, as an efficient, bureaucratic, highly organized force that keeps society from falling into
chaos.”79 However, this is an exaggeration of actual police work. Police work resembles other kinds of
work in that it can be boring, tiresome, mentally draining, or technically demanding. It is not always
dangerous. And to add to the role confusion, the public has demanded an even higher level of the
crime-fighting activities, which are grossly exaggerated in books, movies, electronic games, and
television shows.
Interpersonal Demands
Abrasive personalities, sexual harassment, and the leadership style in the organization are examples
of interpersonal demands.80 Even with general support by the public, police typically encounter
individuals with abrasive personalities. Many citizens feel the police are just a little above the evil they
fight or believe that the police are against them and misuse their right to use force to uphold the law.81
The police often perceive the public as extremely harsh critics, leading to increased levels of
occupational stress.
In most cases, besides the on-duty demands on police officers, there are also off-duty requirements
that affect the stress levels of officers and their families. For example, language similar to the following
can be found in most police department policy manuals: “A police officer’s character and conduct
while off duty must be exemplary, and maintain a position of respect in the community.”82 To an
extent, police are never off duty, which adds to high levels of stress in police officers and their families.
Management or leadership styles play an important role in work environment stress levels. There
are significant differences in employee stress levels depending on management styles.83 One study
revealed that management styles were one of the primary predictors of stress in employees. This is
especially true in police organizations that are characteristically authoritarian but attract college-
educated personnel.
Hypostress: Low levels of mental or physical activity
Role Conflict: The result of inconsistent or incompatible expectations being communicated to a person
Role Ambiguity: Confusion a person experiences related to expectations of others
Physical Demands
Extreme environments, strenuous activities, and hazardous substances create physical demands for
people in the workplace. Figure 8.1 illustrates the most common types of serious injuries incurred by
police officers. The six types of injuries exhibited in the table account for 89% of all injuries to police
officers and investigators. Figure 8.2 indicates the types of calls police officers respond to that led to

76.5% of all injuries described in Figure 8.1. The figures include police officer contact with blood-
borne pathogens, which is rarely discussed and includes exposures to relatively minor disease as well as
far more serious diseases, such as hepatitis or HIV.
Figure 8.1 Most Common Types of Injuries Incurred by Police Officers
Figure 8.2 Most Common Call Types That Result in Injuries to Police Officers
Source: Reducing Officer Injuries: FINAL REPORT. The IACP Center For Officer
Safety & Wellness, Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2009
Source: Reducing Officer Injuries: FINAL REPORT. The IACP Center For Officer Safety
& Wellness, Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2009
Although generally believed to be a very high-stress occupation, more recent research suggests a
more moderate environment.84 This may be due in part to different hiring processes, stress-reduction
training classes, and individual characteristics of the officers. However, on a regular basis, police are
exposed to situations that other members of society rarely experience.
Effects and Consequences of Police Stress
In 2000, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) concluded that police were experiencing new levels
of stress based on a perceived increase in public scrutiny, adverse publicity, and a perceived decline in
police camaraderie. Fear of contracting air- and blood-borne diseases (e.g., TB, HIV, and hepatitis),
the focus on cultural diversity and political correctness, and the transition to community policing also
increased stress levels.85 Furthermore, these stressors have serious emotional and physical effects on
police. The average age of death of a police officer is 67, which is approximately 10 years younger than
the average life expectancy for all men in the United States.86
Personal Pitfalls

Many departments train their officers in handling physical confrontations. Part of this training
involves deliberately desensitizing officers out of a natural tendency to avoid either receiving or
inflicting physical blows. To be able to maintain control in physically combative situations, officers
need to be able to engage and not be hindered by their personal inhibitions. However, the
psychological desensitization to trauma can have an ill effect on the officer as an individual and on his
or her professional performance. As one officer put it:
There is a process called occupational socialization that includes the organizationally
informal dynamics of becoming blue, for example desensitization and detachment. It is the
reason we do not cry over dead bodies or beat child molesters as opposed to reading them
their rights. One of the tragedies, yet defense mechanisms this profession “gifts” us with is
the ability to separate ourselves from the horrors we see for the sake of getting the
paperwork completed.89
The consequences of stress and desensitization reported by police include cynicism, suspicion, and
emotional detachment from everyday life. In addition, stress leads to reduced efficiency, increased
absenteeism, and early retirement, as well as excessive aggressiveness, alcoholism, and other substance
abuse. Marital and family problems (extramarital affairs, divorce, domestic violence) and PTSD are
additionally related to stress.90
Exhibit 8.4
Categories of Stressors
Stressors experienced by police fall into the following five major categories:
Internal stressors: those originating within the organization, poor supervision, absence of career development
opportunities, inadequate reward system, offensive policies, and paperwork
External stressors: absence of career development (not able to transfer to another department), jurisdictional
isolation, seemingly ineffective corrections system, courts, distorted press accounts, derogatory remarks, and adverse
government actions
Performance stressors: role conflict, adverse work schedules, fear and danger, sense of uselessness, and absence of
Individual stressors: feeling overcome by fear and danger, and pressures to conform
Effects of critical incidents87
Another typology lists seven police stressors that selectively interact with a police officer’s job activities, decision making,
and organizational life:
Life-threatening stressors: ever-present potential of injury or death
Social isolation stressors: cynicism, isolation, and alienation from the community; prejudice and discrimination
Organizational stressors: administrative philosophy, changing policies and procedures, morale, job satisfaction,
and misdirected performance measures
Functional stressors: role conflict, use of discretion, and legal mandates
Personal stressors: police officer’s off-duty life, including family, illness, problems with children, marital stresses,
and financial constraints
Physiological stressors: fatigue, medical conditions, and shift-work effects
Psychological stressors: possibly activated by all of the above and the exposure to repulsive situations88

Over the years, the literature on the police has characterized them as more authoritarian and
prejudiced than other occupational groups. Authoritarian personalities tend to be conservative, rigid,
punitive, and inflexible, and they tend to emphasize authority and rules.92 Prejudice (in this case,
unfavorable attitudes toward a group or individual not based on experience or fact) appears to be more
common among those with authoritarian traits. Prejudiced individuals tend to develop and adhere to
stereotypes based on race, ethnicity, occupational group, and other factors. Police actions based on
such stereotypes are discriminatory and clearly inappropriate in a democratic society. Because these
stereotypes and prejudices are attitudes and are difficult to directly observe, they are also difficult, if
not impossible, to eliminate. Discriminatory actions, however, are more easily observed, and steps to
prevent such actions can and must be taken. The extent to which prejudices and stereotypes translate
into discriminatory action remains a question, though there is no doubt that it does sometimes
These characterizations may be based in part on the previous history of the police. The 1960s was
a time of civil unrest and of protests against the police amid accusations of police brutality. Recent
changes in policing have had a significant impact on the characterization of the police personality and
culture. These changes include more diverse police organizations, more educated police officers, and
technical sophistication.93 In addition, because of the changes in the police role, departments began
seeking officers with the personalities and characteristics that were consistent with quality-of-life issues
and problem-solving expertise.94 One of the main reasons for the changes in today’s police culture
may be the implementation of community-oriented policing, which has dissolved some of the barriers
between the police and the community.95
Early research found essentially no differences between police officers and those in other
occupations with respect to either authoritarianism or prejudice, and studies have found police officers
to be intelligent, emotionally stable, and service oriented.96 In fact, a later study found that years of
service as a police officer did not create increased levels of authoritarianism, which runs counter to the
“popular belief that years on the job will ‘harden’ police officers and lead to negative attitudes and
Prejudice: Unfavorable attitudes toward a group or individual not based on experience or fact; a feeling about a
person or persons based on faulty generalizations
Stress: Occurs when an event involves a constraint, opportunity, or excessive physical or psychological demand
General Adaptation Syndrome: Stages of stress experienced by a person after the exposure to stressors
Exhibit 8.5
Positive Effects of Stress
Stress need not always be harmful. In fact, moderate stress appears to be positively related to productivity. Elimination of
all stress is neither possible nor desirable. However, the effects of prolonged high levels of stress are clearly associated with
dysfunction, producing both debilitating psychological and physical symptoms. In part, the damage caused by stress occurs
because of the general adaptation syndrome.91
In the first stage of this syndrome, the body prepares to fight stress by releasing hormones that lead to an increase in
respiration and heartbeat. In the second stage, the body attempts to resist the stressor and repair any damage that has occurred.
If the stress continues long enough and cannot be successfully met through flight or fight, then the third stage, exhaustion,
occurs. Repeated exposure to stressors that cannot be eliminated or modified by the organism eventually leads to stage three.
Cynicism is another feature of the police officer’s working personality that is addressed by students
of the police. Cynicism involves the loss of faith in people, of enthusiasm for police work, and of

pride and integrity.98 Some contend that cynicism peaks in the 7th to 10th year of police service, and
the level of cynicism varies with the organizational style of the department and the type of department
(urban or rural).99 “Although most individuals entering police work are idealistic, service-oriented,
and outgoing, by about the fifth year in the profession some officers tend to develop attitudes that are
cynical, defensive, alienated, authoritarian, and often racist.”100 What causes the changes in a police
officer’s personality that result in these types of attitudes? Some think it is related to the reality of big-
city streets, high crime rates, and anonymity, while others suggest it has to do with length of tenure or
Within different police subcultures, cynicism is thought to involve different issues, including the
public, the police administration, the courts, training and education, dedication to duty, and police
solidarity.102 The study of police cynicism reached its zenith in the 1980s, and it has slowed since,
leaving many questions unresolved.103
Cynicism: In this context, involves a loss of faith in people or loss of enthusiasm for police work
Gradually, officers may become disillusioned, bored, frustrated, and later apathetic. Each of the
stages entails a variety of stressors. The lack of an appropriate way to relieve stress may lead to
burnout, which is characterized by emotional exhaustion and cynicism. Individuals unable to cope
with stressors reflected in psychological, behavioral, and physical symptoms are said to manifest
burnout.105 Repeated exposure to high levels of stress results in emotional exhaustion, which is often
followed by depersonalization of relationships as a coping response. Police who suffer from this level
of stress tend to view victims and complainants as case numbers and have little empathy or individual
attention for them. An additional contributor to burnout is the fact that police often suppress their
emotions. This begins when new recruits observe police academy instructors, field training officers,
and veteran officers, and they learn or are told directly to control and hide their emotions, particularly
when they are in public view.106 This control is referred to as displaying a “courtroom face.” In
general, most believe that police officers exhibit higher rates of burnout compared to other types of
An advanced stage of burnout involves reduced personal accomplishment, in which the officer
loses interest in the job, his or her performance declines, and motivation is lacking. It is important
that police administrators understand the implications of burnout, because research has revealed that
elevated levels of stress and associated burnout in police officers can decrease job performance.108
Officers who experience such stress sometimes turn to alcohol or other drugs, physical aggression,
and even suicide in attempting to alleviate it (see below). The literature has theorized that police
officers consume more alcohol than the general population.109 Most believe the consumption of
alcohol by police is related to stress or social camaraderie issues. However, one survey of officers
revealed drinking levels equivalent to those reported by the general population.110
Burnout: Exhaustion and cynicism resulting from repeated exposure to high levels of stress
Exhibit 8.6
Four Stages That Lead to Police Cynicism

Stage One—pseudo cynicism: New recruits are idealistic; their desire is to “help people.”
Stage Two—romantic cynicism: Involves the first five years of police work; these officers are the most vulnerable to
Stage Three—aggressive cynicism: Failures and frustrations, resentment, and hostility are obvious and prevalent at
the 10th-year mark.
Stage Four—resigned cynicism: Detachment, passiveness, and acceptance of the flaws of the system characterize
seasoned officers.104
Stress and Police Families
Some studies have focused on the effects of police work on the police family. A police officer’s
level of emotional exhaustion was shown to be related to the level of job satisfaction,
depersonalization, and marital distress.111 Furthermore, domestic violence committed by police
officers against their intimate partners occurred at the same rate when compared to the general
population.112 However, apart from the fact that most families will not air dirty laundry, domestic
violence by police officers was often not detected, due to the officer’s strong adherence to a code of
secrecy, commitment to camaraderie, and resistance to external intrusion.113 Similarly, individuals
who marry a police officer marry into the police family and are expected to follow the values and
norms of the subculture.114
There are so many experiences unique to the field of policing that those outside it may find it
difficult to understand. Allegiance to the subculture can become almost stronger than the officer’s
family relationships.115
Family-related stress has the potential to adversely affect the job performance of employees. Police
officers not experiencing job stress can be adversely affected by problems in the home environment.
Several sources of stress commonly cited by police officers’ spouses are as follows:
Shift work and overtime
Concern over the spouse’s cynicism, or need to feel in control in the home
Inability or unwillingness to express feelings
Fear that the officer will be hurt or killed in the line of duty
Police officer’s excessively high expectations of his or her children
Avoidance, teasing, or harassment of the officer’s children by other children because the parent is
a police officer
Presence of a weapon in the residence
Perception the police officer prefers to spend time with other officers rather than with the family
Perception the officer is paranoid, excessively vigilant, and overprotective
Problems in helping the officer cope with work-related problems
Critical incidents or officer’s injury or death on the job116
Policing in Practice Video: How do you identify and handle police stress in your
department? How do you address relationships with family and friends?
The police profession can intrude in various ways into intimate family relationships, disrupting
the well-being of marriage and family life. The danger of police work causes fear among family
members for the safety of their loved one in uniform. The schedule can entail odd hours and
overtime, which complicates family logistics. Spouses may resent the “secret society” nature of the
work and the off-limits topics of conversation. Police families can also become the targets of media

scrutiny and have to bear that invasion of privacy.117
Exhibit 8.7
A Day in the Life
An example of the incidents occurring in the first few hours of a police officer’s tour of duty will help clarify the stressors
to which officers are routinely subjected. Shortly after reporting “in service,” the officer receives a call that another officer
requires immediate assistance. The officer who responds to the call for help turns on red lights and siren and drives as rapidly
as possible to reach a colleague. On the way, he prepares for the possibility of a physical struggle or armed resistance, and the
physical changes described are taking place. The officer is tense and excited, but also frightened. The fear experienced may
have to do with anticipation about what will happen when he arrives at the scene, but it also has to do with what other drivers,
noting the red lights and siren—or failing to note them—will do. Will they yield at intersections? Will they pull off to the
right? Will they pull to the left? Will they stop in the middle of the street? Will they slow down or speed up? What will happen
if the officer is involved in an accident?
Arriving at the scene, the officer finds the situation under control, a suspect in custody, and the colleague uninjured. As the
officer gets back into the patrol car, another call comes from the dispatcher. This call involves an accident with serious injuries.
The officer proceeds to the scene (with the same set of concerns about arriving safely). As the first emergency officer to arrive,
he finds that several people have been seriously injured and an infant killed. After the accident has been handled, the officer
gets into the police vehicle and is told to come to the station to meet with the chief. His concerns on the way are somewhat
different but perhaps equally stressful. For the next several hours and, in some cities, for the next several days, weeks, and years,
these scenarios are repeated. The ups and downs of police work take their toll, and the officer experiences repeated stress,
anxiety, and perhaps burnout.
Around the World 8.1
A study in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, revealed high levels of anxiety, depression, and stress among police officers.
The 2012 study indicated that “female officers, married officers, officers with more years of service, officers with low ranks and
officers who work in urban areas have higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress than male officers, married officers,
officers with fewer years of service and officers with high ranks and officers working in rural areas.”
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police agree that police officers often face “stress-producing situations.” As an example,
“terrorists have no qualms about threatening police officers with death . . . and those threats sometimes extend to their
families.” In some cases, they have seen significant turnover of police officers, and others have lost their commitment to the
job. In 2012, there was an attempt to reduce the levels of stress experienced by police. Many have suggested stress counseling,
improved safety, and the addition of training related to stress management.
Source: “Study finds KP police suffer from psychological pressures,” by S. A. Abbas (2012). Central Asian Online
Police Officer Suicide
Research suggests that personality and situational factors often interact and determine the way the
individual experiences and reacts to stress. In some cases, severe stress can lead to suicide.118
In a profession where strength, bravery, and resilience are revered, mental health issues and the
threats of officer suicide are often “dirty little secrets”—topics very few want to address or
acknowledge. Our refusal to speak openly about the issue perpetuates the stigma many officers hold
about mental health issues—the stigma that depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide are signs of
weakness and failure, not cries for help.119
Research on Police Suicide
Despite fairly extensive literature on the subject, many questions persist about the prevalence of
police suicide.120 Although it is very difficult to measure, some estimate that the officer suicide rate is
significantly higher than that of the general population. The question of whether the police are at a
greater risk for suicide than the average citizen is a potent one. Researchers attempt to answer the
question of whether policing contributes to suicide. A 2014 report on the subject analyzed data from
the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and a 2012 National Study of Police Suicides. It claims that
police officers died twice as often by suicide than in traffic accidents or as a result of felonious

assault.121 Other researchers conducted a meta-analysis of published suicide rates in law enforcement
officers and concluded that they are less likely to complete suicide than an age-, race-, and gender-
matched population.122
Thus, research on this subject has brought in mixed and inconclusive results. It is even uncertain
about how to properly measure suicide among police; and there is suspected underreporting, for
example, due to the social stigma of suicide.123 Also, it is difficult to design a proper methodology
with a meaningful comparison group.
The police population does not mirror the “general population” in gender, age, employment, or
ethnic aspects; therefore, comparing suicide rates of the general public and police may be deceptive.124
Differences between these two groups include personality traits such as machismo, being over 21 years
of age, access to firearms, and working in urban areas.
Besides the stress of police work, other factors contribute to police suicides. Among these are abuse
of alcohol and drugs, involvement in deviance and corruption, depression, and (for women) working
in a male-dominated organization. Family and economic problems, alienation, and cynicism
associated with the police culture; role conflict; and physical and mental health problems are other
contributing problems.125
Suicide ideation, planning a suicide, and attempts to commit suicide were more likely to occur
when individuals were exposed to the suicide of another person.126 In most cases, police are among
the first responders at the scene of a suicide and are required to perform an investigation. Thus, police
officers have a much higher exposure to the act of suicide compared to the general population.
In any case, suicide among officers is a problem, given that the majority of officers are
psychologically screened prior to hiring and are, by definition, employed and insured populations—
which one might think would reduce suicide risk.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recommends the following measures for
departments to reduce the risk of suicide among their officers.
Recruit leaders who care about the mental wellness of their officers and who unequivocally
endorse physical and mental wellness parity as critical to a resilient and healthy police force.
Recruit and hire resilient officers who have demonstrated a commitment to public service and
proven stress management skills.
Establish and institutionalize effective early warning and intervention protocols to identify and
treat at-risk officers, for example, by launching awareness campaigns on what to look for and
whom to call when officers may be in a mental health crisis or suffering from clinical anxiety or
chronic depression.
Audit existing psychological services and determine whether they are effective in identifying early
warning signs of mental wellness issues, including mental illness and suicidal behavior, and in
treating at-risk officers.
Invest in training agency-wide on mental health awareness and stress management.
Begin mental wellness training at the academy and continue the training throughout officers’
careers, with a particular emphasis on first-line supervisors.
Include family training to reinforce and invest in those critical family connections.
Establish clear post-event protocols to implement and follow when officers die by suicide.
Police Shootings and Critical Incidents
According to preliminary data for 2014, 126 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in
the United States, which is a 24% increase over 2013 (102).130 Firearms-related incidents were the
leading cause of death among officers; there were 50 such deaths in 2014, which represents a 56%

increase over 2013 (32). Traffic-related incidents were the second most frequent cause of deaths in
2014, killing 49, which is an 11% increase over 2013 (44).131 (See Figure 8.3.)
The stress of actually being involved in a shooting, whether as shooter or victim, is very real. In
many cases, prior research argued that officers involved in a shooting experienced PTSD. Symptoms
associated with this psychological condition include inability to be intimate, sleep disorders,
nightmares, feelings of guilt, and reliving the event.132 However, earlier research from the NIJ found
that few police officers involved in shooting incidents suffer long-term negative emotional or physical
effects. In fact, “following about one-third of the shootings, officers reported feelings of elation that
included joy at being alive, residual excitement after a life-threatening situation, and satisfaction of
pride in proving their ability to use deadly force appropriately.”133 Given that officers experience a
variety of reactions to traumatic events, the training they receive in preparation for their possible
exposure to trauma should also encompass the range of reactions.
Web Link: We Are Not Damaged Goods (Officer PTSD)
Death, extreme physical abuse, and fear of the unknown have significant effects on the physical
and mental health of police. For example, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, approximately 33% of the
police officers and firefighters involved with this natural disaster “reported either depressive symptoms
or symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or both.”134 The top five traumatic events for
police officers involve the following:

Child abuse
Killing of an innocent person
Conflict with regulations
Domestic violence calls
Hurting a fellow police officer135
A more recent study confirmed that the largest stressor for police involved crime and incidents
against children. For example, a police officer responding to a trouble call finds that the father has
shot his two young children, his wife, and then himself. The public will read only a short abstract
about this tragedy in the newspaper, but the image of the young child gripping her doll just before
being shot in the head with a shotgun by her father will remain with the officer forever.136
Figure 8.3 Causes of On-Duty Police Officer Deaths
A critical incident is a traumatic event that has a stressful impact sufficient enough to overwhelm
the otherwise effective coping skills of an individual.137 Almost every police officer will experience a
marked reaction during and after a critical incident. Examples of critical incidents include officer-
involved shootings, hostage standoffs, a mass suicide, an infant at the bottom of a pool, a family
trapped in a burning vehicle, school shootings, and natural disasters.138 Additional examples of critical
incident hazards include terrorist bombings, exposure to toxic chemicals, and biological or radiation
The San Jose Police Department considers it important to have a Critical Incident Stress
Debriefing Team to address such occurrences.140 For example, from 1972 to 1987, when the team did
not exist, 52 police officers were involved in shootings, and 17 left the department. However, after
creation of the team, 122 officers were involved in shootings, and none left the department.
Obviously, a number of limitations exist that could have affected the outcomes of this comparison,
such as training and individual differences among officers. See Figure 8.4 for a breakdown of the
circumstances of fatal shootings of officers.
Exhibit 8.8
Law Enforcement Officer Deaths, 2014
According to the National Law Enforcement Office Memorial Fund, 117 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty
in the United States in 2014.127 Firearms-related incidents were the leading cause of death among officers; there were 48 such
deaths in 2014.128 Auto incidents were the second most frequent cause of death in 2014, killing 32.129

Most Common Causes of Law Enforcement Officer Deaths, 2005–2014
Source: National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund, “Causes of Law Enforcement Deaths”
Counteracting Police Stress
If stress and its consequences are an inherent part of the work of policing, then handling it
appropriately so that it does not become a larger problem—either for the individual officer or for the
department—should also be thought of as an inherent part of the job. To the extent that departments
have recognized that police work can exact a high toll in personal costs, they have made numerous
attempts to identify and lessen the impact of such stress.
There is no exact formula for stress reduction. Individuals differ markedly in the events they define
as stressful, in the ways they react to pressure, and in what is effective for them for dealing with
stressful events.141 Higher education and critical reflection by police on their career show great
promise for alleviating or mitigating the symptoms of burnout.142
It is apparent that stress-reduction training should be provided early in a police officer’s career.
This can be performed during the initial training period, because police recruits are a “captive
audience,” and because the information may remain with them throughout their entire police
career.143 However, recruit training may not be the most effective time or approach, because most
academy attendees are not experienced enough to recognize the stresses of the job. The optimal time
to reach a new police officer may be after he or she has worked the street for six to eight months.
Figure 8.4 Circumstances of Fatal Shootings of Officers, 2013, 2014
Source: Preliminary 2013 Law Enforcement Officers Deaths

The photo shows the aftermath of the off-duty officer who took his own life, one of the most
serious consequence of police burnout.
© ZUMA Press, Inc/Alamy
Individual police officers often either fail to recognize the signs of stress or fail to seek help when
they do recognize the symptoms. This may be due, in part, to the influence of the police subculture,
which holds that “real” police officers can handle their own problems and do not need the help of
“shrinks,” employee assistance programs, clergy, or other outsiders.144
Video Link: Beyond Ferguson: Warriors to Guardians
To the extent that stress results from discrepancies between the official expectations of police
administrators and the unofficial expectations of the police subculture, these discrepancies need to be
confronted. Because both official and subcultural expectations will continue to play roles in policing,
efforts must be made to reduce existing differences between the two. Revisions to administrative
policies that frustrate and create stress for officers can be beneficial.
Officer suicide is perhaps the most significant and urgent reason to address the consequences of
job stress. The causes of suicide by police officers are complex and involve a number of factors. Most
prevention programs for police involve some type of suicide awareness classes, training to identify
“signs” in coworkers, support for employee assistance programs, critical incident stress debriefing, and
often some form of mandatory counseling.145 In the future, police departments may want to open up
frank discussions about mental health and alcoholism and encourage officers to get annual voluntary
and confidential mental health checks.
It behooves police organizations to directly face the effects of stressful work conditions in the
interests of the officer, the department, the officer’s family, and the public. These are some of the ways
that administrators can help police officers better manage the stresses they encounter:
1. Provide employee assistance programs, including services to officers and families
2. Require orientation programs for the new officer’s transition into the police culture
3. Emphasize physical conditioning during pre-academy programs
4. Teach coping mechanisms related to crime, death, and boredom146
The Melbourne Police Department in Florida is an example of an agency that has developed a
stress-management program to address personal and professional problems and provide support to
police officers and their families concerning the effects of critical incident stress. The program
specifically involves providing emotional support, identifying conflicts, making referrals, intervention,

and debriefing.147
SAGE Journal Article: Training Police Leadership to Recognize and Address Operational
The police–public relationships that have continued to evolve are important in the reduction of
stress among police officers. If a good deal of the stress experienced by officers results from constant
contact with the criminal elements in the community and from constantly working in an environment
in which the police are regarded as causing trouble for other citizens, then increasing contacts with
law-abiding citizens under positive circumstances should help alleviate some of the stress. To some
extent, this gain may be offset by the additional problem-solving responsibilities placed on
community-policing officers, but if the administration accepts risks and occasional failures as part of
the growing process in community-oriented policing, then this stress can also be reduced.
“Progressive police departments actively implement innovative strategies (e.g., providing peer
counselors, encouraging officers and couples to enter confidential counseling, making structural
administrative changes, adding diversity programs, changing hiring and training practices, adding
critical incident programs, etc.) to help minimize the risk of work stress among police.”148
Critical Incident: An event that has a stressful impact sufficient to overwhelm the effective coping skills of a person
8 Under View
Chapter Summary
Most organizations have cultures and subcultures that influence the behavior of employees. Culture involves deeply held
beliefs that guide behaviors, among other things. Many subcultures are consistent with the organization’s legitimate goals and
serve as a positive influence on the operations of these organizations. However, subculture can involve detrimental elements.
The police culture can involve extreme loyalty to other police officers, to a problematic degree, overidentification with the role,
an intense desire to be accepted by the group, and adherence to a code of silence, which tends to erode the public’s trust of the
police. Indoctrination into the police culture begins at the academy and continues throughout the officer’s career.
As society’s concept of the police has changed, so too has police culture. The adoption of and experimentation with
community-oriented policing may have altered the occupational and organizational environments of policing, and within these
environments, the stresses experienced by police officers.149 Greater attention to officers’ efforts to reduce disorder, solve
problems, and build rapport with the public could modify the us-versus-them outlook.150
Additional influence of the police culture often involves feelings of isolation from the communities that the officers serve
and a mistrust of supervisory ranks. The danger and authority of the work add to these dynamics. Stress and desensitization are
other forces that affect police officers, the sources of which are both real and perceived. The isolating us-versus-them attitude
can be both a cause and an effect of stress. Policing involves numerous stressors, both individual and organizational in nature.
How officers deal with these various stressors is extremely important. Officers who exhibit responses to stress associated
with the negative aspects of the police subculture are much more likely than their counterparts to fall victim to burnout,
cynicism, and even criminality. Many police officers cope with stress well by performing daily fitness routines and maintaining
their commitment to the legitimate goals of the law enforcement profession.
To counteract the negative influences of the police subculture and the related forms of stress, police administrators and
officers alike must be vigilant and recognize their responsibilities to identify and address problem behaviors before they become
larger problems.
Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.

Code of silence (blue wall) 177
Police subculture 179
Artifacts 181
Organizational assumption 182
Ethos 182
Symbolic assailants 183
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 185
Police personality 187
Hyperstress 188
Hypostress 189
Role conflict 189
Role ambiguity 189
Stress 192
General adaptation syndrome 192
Prejudice 192
Cynicism 193
Burnout 193
Critical incident 199
Discussion Questions
Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.
1. What is the police subculture, and in what ways does it conflict with the official mandates of police work?
2. What are the forms of organizational culture? Give an example of each form.
3. Why is it so difficult for police officers to avoid getting caught up in the subculture? Give specific examples.
4. Is policing a stressful occupation? Why and in what ways?
5. What are some of the major sources of police stress? How might some of these stresses be alleviated? Can they be eliminated?
6. What are the relationships among police stress, alcohol use, suicide, and family disruption?
7. How are police stress and the police subculture interrelated?
8. Discuss the ways in which community policing may help to reduce police stress. Can community policing also increase stress
levels among officers? Explain.
Internet Exercises
1. Go to the Internet and search for information about suicide by police. Is this a recent phenomenon, and how often does it
occur? How does involvement in a suicide by police affect the officer, the family, and the police department?
2. Most agree that police officers experience high levels of stress. Using your favorite search engine, go online and search for
information on the effects of chronic stress and cardiovascular disease in police officers. How can police officers improve
their cardiovascular health? Should police departments require all applicants to complete a cardiac stress test?
Student Study Site
Sharpen your skills with SAGE edge!
SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and

links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.

Chapter 9 Law, Court Decisions, and the Police
© AP Photo/Joe Burbank
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Describe police responsibilities in terms of actions related to the 1st Amendment
2. Discuss the effects the 2nd Amendment has on police
3. Identify the necessary elements for police to conduct search and seizure under the 4th Amendment
4. Describe the implications of the 5th Amendment for police procedure
5. Define due process and its relation to policing and the 14th Amendment
6. Explain the exclusionary rule as it applies to police procedure and evidence collection
7. Identity some of the legal issues associated with police use of force
8. Analyze some of the legal issues associated with the USA PATRIOT Act, homeland security, and terrorism
Discretion, ethics, and accountability influence (or fail to influence) police activity, which is also
governed by federal and state constitutions, municipal ordinances, and court decisions. Both the
substance and procedures enacted into criminal law (and all other law as well) must be consistent with
the U.S. Constitution and with the constitution of the state in which the law is enacted. “American
criminal law is mostly statutory, with courts interpreting the meaning of penal codes as necessary.”1
Therefore, laws continue to undergo challenges in the courts, and court decisions have an enormous
impact on the meaning of the laws and their impact on police policy and procedure. Understanding
the implications of ever-changing case law is another responsibility of the police; administrators must
build case law education into ongoing officer training.
Criminal law is the body of law established to maintain peace and order, and its basic purpose is
to protect society from the injurious acts of individuals. Civil law defines and determines the rights of
individuals to protect their persons and property. There is considerable overlap between the two basic
types of law, and police officers are involved with enforcing not only criminal but also some forms of
civil law. In fact, an act causing injury to a person or damage to property may be both a civil wrong,
referred to as a tort, and a crime.2

Policing in Practice Video: How does your department handle mandates coming down
from state and local governments?
If laws were written in perfectly clear language, contained no contradictions or ambiguities, and
simply involved applying the principles stated in laws to particular situations, and if all officers were
thoroughly familiar with all laws, deciding whether a particular law had been violated would be a
simple and straightforward task for the officer.3 Under these circumstances, the need for police
discretion would be minimal. Unfortunately, these conditions, taken either singly or in combination,
are seldom met. The law in the United States is a huge, complex, sometimes contradictory, and
constantly changing collection of prescriptive and proscriptive rules. The fact that professionally
trained legal experts make their living arguing over different interpretations of the law gives some
indication of the ambiguities and complexities involved in applying the law. Most police officers are
not, and for that matter do not need to be, lawyers—but officers need to be familiar with the basics of
law to perform their jobs and discharge their responsibilities appropriately. Even the best police
training programs provide only limited information on the law; most of the police officer’s
understanding of the law is achieved indirectly. Through the informal instruction and advice offered
by colleagues and supervisors, in-service training programs, cramming for promotional exams, self-
initiated reading, day-to-day work experiences, and experiences in the courtroom, however, police
officers quickly acquire what might be called a “working knowledge” of the law. This working
knowledge constitutes the law as it functions in the day-to-day activities of police officers. It is this
work-generated interpretation of the law—which may or may not correspond with the interpretations
of lawyers and judicial officials—that guides officers as they carry out their duties.4
The law explicitly grants some discretionary powers to police officers and creates a framework
within which other discretionary judgments may legitimately be made. It is one measure of the
importance of discretion in police work that these are among the first items that become incorporated
into the officer’s working knowledge of the law. The officer understands, for example, that certain
leeway is permitted in determining whether probable cause for a search is present (though legislation
and court rulings have increased the confusion surrounding the legal latitude granted the officer in
these matters). It is also common knowledge among officers that the overlap that frequently exists
among laws gives police officers the opportunity to pick and choose which laws, if any, will be cited
once a suspect is apprehended. Thus, the officer can choose to “throw the book” at a suspect by citing
violations of several laws or can charge the suspect with a more or less serious offense according to the
circumstances. In a variety of ways, then, the law, as interpreted and understood by the police officer,
creates the framework within which and sometimes around which the police exercise discretion.5
Determining whether a law has been broken is a technical judgment, dependent on the officer’s
knowledge of the law and capacity to apply the general principles embodied in the law to the
particular events that have occurred. However difficult this judgment may be (and it is difficult in
many instances), it is a decision that merely sets the stage for a far more consequential one—deciding
whether to take official action. If the police officer decides not to arrest, the remainder of the legal
machinery in the criminal justice network does not normally come into play.6 The police officer, to be
sure, is not alone in making legal decisions. It is the responsibility of the prosecutor (state’s attorney,
district attorney, attorney general) in a given jurisdiction to advise the police in matters pertaining to
law and to help them prepare cases for trial. Cooperation between the prosecutor’s office and the
police department is essential to both so that the police can follow legal procedures that help the
prosecutor obtain convictions.
This chapter covers some of the general implications of constitutional amendments and legal

concepts that govern police behavior, specifically, the relationship of police conduct to the 1st, 2nd,
4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments and related court decisions. Other amendments also have a
bearing on police conduct, but these are the most important to this subject. Both statutory law and
court decisions are dynamic. Keeping up with these changes requires ongoing examination of the laws
and court decisions that apply in various jurisdictions.
Video Link: Can US agencies balance security and the Constitution?
Criminal Law: Body of law established to maintain peace and order to protect society from the injurious acts of
Civil Law: Defines and determines the rights of individuals to protect their persons and property
The 1st Amendment
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known collectively as the Bill of Rights. The 1st
Amendment states that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion or
abridging the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, and the police are frequently involved in
protecting these rights. With respect to the rights of freedom to assemble and free speech, the police,
whether or not they agree with protestors’ causes or statements, may be called on to protect them from
those who disagree with them. For example, police officers may find certain types of protests at
military funerals distasteful, but in Snyder v. Phelps et al., the Supreme Court held that the 1st
Amendment protects hateful protests at military funerals.
In fact, it is not uncommon for the police to be caught between parties in conflict, both verbal and
physical in such situations, nor is it uncommon for members of both parties in the conflict to direct
their hostilities toward the police. The Ku Klux Klan marches in cities where its members’ views are
unwelcome to the majority of residents, and the police attempt to prevent violence between the parties
involved. Political protests and demonstration sometimes devolve into violence, with both police and
protestors pointing fingers at one another. The most professional of departments train officers to set
their own opinions aside to accomplish the job of protecting the lives and property of those subject to
the protest as well as the lives of the protestors. They must, of course, protect their own safety at the
same time.
Religious activities have also been a focus of police attention, especially following the events of the
9/11 terrorist attacks. For example, when conflict arises between Muslims and those of other religious
persuasions, mosques as well as individual members of the faith may be threatened, or Muslims may
threaten those who hold other religious beliefs. In such cases, the police may be called on to maintain
order or protect lives and property.
In other cases, where protestors fail to follow approved procedures and become destructive or
violent, or both, the police are called on to use force to arrest those responsible. At the same time, the
police may be involved in undercover operations in which officers infiltrate groups with histories of
violence and destruction in order to prevent outbursts during protests through advanced knowledge of
events that are likely to occur. Police must ensure, though, that these undercover infiltrations of
protests are used to collect only criminal intelligence.
During the civil unrest of the late 1960s, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) was sued civilly
due to the actions of members of its Intelligence Unit. The case was adjudicated some 15 years later by
virtue of a consent decree between the plaintiffs (Alliance to End Repression and the American Civil
Liberties Union [ACLU]) and the CPD. The allegations were that many of the CPD’s covert
intelligence operations during that time period were not focused on criminal wrongdoing; rather, their

intent was to gather information for local and national politicians to use to gain advantages over their
opponents. Because of this case and the ensuing consent decree, the official policy of the CPD was
that investigations directed at 1st Amendment conduct were prohibited unless express written
permission for said conduct was granted and monitored by the superintendent of police. Legal abuses
from the past continued to hamper legitimate law enforcement efforts until 2004, when the city of
Chicago asked the court to relax the investigative restrictions on their police department, citing
changes in case law and judicial philosophy. The court found in favor of the city of Chicago.7
In other circumstances, the police may be present at athletic events, holiday parades, and concerts
to control pedestrian and vehicular traffic and to deter unruly participants from engaging in activities
that would disrupt the enjoyment of those in attendance. For example, consider the case in which the
ACLU contended that the Pittsburgh police too frequently issued citations for swearing, making
obscene gestures, and other acts deemed disrespectful.8 The case concerned a man who was arrested
for disorderly conduct for flipping his middle finger. In 2006, he made the gesture to another driver,
and he made the same gesture when he heard someone yelling at him. The person yelling at him was a
police officer. A federal judge ruled that the person should not have been arrested because he was
engaging in constitutionally protected expression.9
Similarly, the police may become involved in dealing with those whose speech goes beyond the
limits of 1st Amendment protections. They may, for instance, arrest an individual whose
verbalizations constitute a clear and present danger to others (the classic example being the individual
who cries “fire” in a crowded venue when no fire exists, causing panic and perhaps serious injury to
some in the crowd). Hate speech, fighting words (words that by their very nature inflict injury or
incite violent conduct), and obscenities may also lead to police intervention, though the boundaries
that must be crossed for this response to occur are often unclear and call for discretion. The Internet
and related technologies have raised additional issues with respect to freedom of speech. The sharing
of child pornography via the Internet, for example, has been ruled beyond the protection of the 1st
Amendment. Other uses of the Internet to intimidate, harass, or humiliate targets may also be beyond
such protection, though the law is not yet well established in this area.
You Decide 9.1
A perpetrator uses the Internet to humiliate another person by describing her as physically and mentally unattractive. The
perpetrator sends hostile and hurtful comments that have supposedly been written by the target’s peers over the Internet on a
continuing and frequent basis. Ultimately, the target commits suicide, leaving a note indicating she could no longer deal with
the hurt to which she was being subjected.
1. Should the perpetrator’s actions be protected by the 1st Amendment? Why or why not?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
The 2nd Amendment
Although the 2nd Amendment does not deal with due process, it is nonetheless important to the
police for a variety of reasons. The 2nd Amendment deals with the right to bear arms, which has been
the source of considerable litigation. This amendment is of concern to the police not because it spells
out appropriate police procedures, as do some of the other amendments discussed in this chapter, but
because its interpretation determines to some extent the number of citizens who have access to and
permission to carry weapons and the circumstances under which this can legally occur. The right to
carry concealed weapons has received a great deal of attention in the last few years, with law
enforcement officials supporting both sides of the argument. In addition, attempts by states and
municipalities to control licensing, ownership, and carrying of guns have come under scrutiny. Gun
control statutes typically impose licensing and registration requirements on gun owners and specify

who may and may not legally own a gun (e.g., convicted felons and those with histories of mental
illness may be prohibited from gun ownership) and the circumstances under which it may be carried,
either openly or concealed. Such statutes further impose requirements on gun dealers by specifying the
type of weapons and ammunition they may sell and the waiting period required for delivery of the
weapon.10 At the same time, 49 of the 50 states now allow some form of concealed carry of firearms.
The controversy over concealed carry continues, with advocates insisting it helps prevent some violent
crimes and opponents arguing it increases injuries and deaths. Police personnel are divided as to the
consequences and desirability of concealed carry.
Author Video: Changes in Law Enforcement
In 2008, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court reversed a 70-year
position that the 2nd Amendment should apply only to organized militias. The Court ruled that law-
abiding individuals have the right to own firearms for self-defense, and relaxed the rules around the
storage of those firearms in private homes. This ruling stated that it was unconstitutional for local
officials to prohibit the vast majority of Washington, D.C., residents from owning handguns. This
represented a watershed moment in the history of government regulation of the conditions of private
gun ownership. This federal ruling applied only to the District of Columbia. However, though other
cities have continued to ban handgun ownership, Heller opened the door for many other challenges to
the application of the 2nd Amendment at the state level, without giving useful guidance for how to
enact gun control legislation that is consistent with the amendment.
In 2010, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that has a definite bearing on these cities. In the
case of McDonald v. Chicago, the court extended its 2008 decision in support of gun rights in
Washington, D.C., to state and local laws.11 The Supreme Court ruled that the personal right to keep
and bear arms applies not only to the federal government, but to state and local governments as well.
This is just one of dozens of consequent 2nd Amendment challenges in the courts.12
It was suspected that police personnel would more frequently encounter loaded handguns when
carrying out regular duties such as entering households or making traffic stops. It remains to be seen
whether an extension of the Heller decision has resulted or will result in an increased number of
incidents involving the police, handguns, and shots fired. However, subsequent to Heller,
Washington, D.C., enacted specific limitations on assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition
magazines, and the District of Columbia has seen a documented decrease in the use of these weapons
since the legislation passed.13
Search: Occurs when an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to consider reasonable is infringed upon
The 4th Amendment
The 4th Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of persons, houses, papers, and
effects and requires that probable cause be demonstrated prior to the issuing of warrants. A search
occurs “when an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to consider reasonable is infringed. A
seizure of property occurs when there is some meaningful interference with an individual’s possessory
interests in that property.”14 With reference to police searches and seizures, in practical terms, the
former refers to the fact that a police officer invades the privacy of an individual to seek evidence of a
weapon, crime, or contraband, and the latter refers to the confiscation of that weapon, evidence,
contraband, or the person suspected of committing the crime in question. In other words, both
property and persons may be seized under appropriate circumstances. To comprehend the impact of

this amendment, the police must be conversant with the underlying concepts of probable cause and
reasonableness. This takes vigilance because the 4th Amendment is probably the most fluid
amendment with respect to changes in case law and the requirements that must be met to search
persons, properties, and vehicles.
Probable Cause and Reasonableness
The notion of probable cause is derived from the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,
which says, in part, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but on
probable cause. . . .” Understanding this concept is important to police officers in the process of
stopping and questioning citizens, making arrests, and conducting searches. In regard to effecting an
arrest, in Brinegar v. United States,15 the U.S. Supreme Court found that probable cause exists when
facts and circumstances within a police officer’s knowledge, which are based on reasonably trustworthy
information, are sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe that an offense has
been or is being committed by the person being arrested. It is important to note that the decision
recognizes two different ways in which the officer may come into possession of information related to
probable cause. First, the officer may observe conduct that leads to the conclusion that an offense is
being or has been committed. Second, someone else may observe such conduct and then relay
information concerning the conduct to the officer. In the latter case, the officer must reasonably
believe that the information provided is from someone who, in the present circumstances, is likely to
be reliable.
Video Link: State Court Ruling Makes Searching Cars Easier for Police
A further attempt to clarify the standard of probable cause was made by the Court in Illinois v.
Gates.16 In this decision, the court noted that the standard for probable cause is a “practical,
nontechnical conception” dealing with probabilities based on “factual and practical considerations of
everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act.” These decisions, of
course, raise the issue as to what is reasonable. Reasonableness generally refers to what a reasonable
person, in similar circumstances, based on similar information, might conclude. For example, arresting
someone who happens to be in the general area in which an offense may have been committed, and
with no other evidence that the individual in question may be the perpetrator, may well be
unreasonable. The individual could be a witness, a nearby resident, a passerby, or even a victim.
Arresting that same individual in the area in which an offense was reported and who matched several
of the characteristics of the offender (height, gender, race, and clothing) reported by a witness would
be reasonable, and this arrest would almost certainly meet the probable cause standard even if the
individual arrested turned out not to be the perpetrator. It appears that the courts have determined
that reasonableness is not a single standard but may vary from case to case. Taking official action must
be balanced against the expectation of privacy guaranteed by the 4th Amendment (Illinois v.
Rodriguez, 1990).17 Further, it is important that the officer taking action based on probable cause or
reasonable suspicion is able to articulate the facts that justify the action. While simple suspicion is
generally insufficient to meet the standard of probable cause, reasonable suspicion, based on objective
facts and logical conclusions given a specific set of circumstances, may be used as the basis for stopping
and frisking suspicious individuals.
The standards for reasonableness are relevant in many aspects of police activity. What constitutes
reasonable use of force is a complex equation based on several legal factors. The 1989 unanimous U.S.

Supreme Court decision of Graham v. Connor established a precedent for the reasonable use of force
that persists to today.18
The Fourth Amendment “reasonableness” inquiry is whether the officers’ actions are
“objectively reasonable” in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without
regard to their underlying intent or motivation. The “reasonableness” of a particular use of
force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene. . . . The
calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often
forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and
rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.19
Here, a police officer uses forcible entry to execute a search warrant.
The notions of probable cause and reasonable suspicion are important in virtually all aspects of the
policing process. To obtain a search warrant, for example, the requesting officer must demonstrate to
the issuing judge that it is reasonable to expect to find the items identified at the location specified.
Similarly, prior to making a traffic stop, an officer must be able to articulate the reasons for the stop—
exceeding the speed limit, equipment problems, weaving back and forth across traffic lanes, and so on.
(Exceptions may exist with respect to “safety checks,” in which every vehicle is stopped and examined,
but these vary considerably by locale.) An important point to keep in mind is that the reasonable
suspicion or probable cause must have preceded the stop or arrest and cannot be based on the evidence
found after the stop or arrest. Failure to act in terms of probable cause typically results in evidence
collected during an unreasonable stop or search being excluded at the time of the trial.
Most officers are keenly aware of the importance of a justifiable probable cause as a basis for
official action. The temptation can be great, in its absence, to create probable cause so that the fruits
of their searches are admissible in court; the ethics of doing so are problematic. However, wrongful
searches and seizures cannot be made right in this way, according to the law.
Based on a series of court decisions, there are a number of exceptions to the requirements imposed
by the 4th Amendment. The following examples indicate the scope of the amendment as currently
Seizure: Of property occurs when there is some meaningful interference with an individual’s possessory interests in
that property
Case in Point 9.1

Concealed Weapons
Police Say Concealed-Carry Law Would Deter Criminals
Some local police chiefs and other police personnel in the Peoria, Illinois, area indicated that putting fear into the minds of
criminals on the streets is one of the best arguments for allowing concealed carry. “If you’re not sure if a guy has a gun, you may not
try to do some things to him that you might otherwise try to get away with,” said Peoria police officer Troy Skaggs, president of the
Peoria Police Benevolent Union. “It’s the fear of the unknown.” Further, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association passed a resolution
supporting a concealed-carry law in Illinois, with several conditions in place.
According to Peoria police chief Steven Settingsgaard, who, along with 250 worldwide law enforcement executives, recently
spent 10 weeks at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, “Everyone I spoke to was in favor of concealed carry.”
Concealed Weapons Bill Meets Objections on Campus
Opposition to a concealed weapons bill comes from the University of Missouri Police Department and two organizations it
belongs to—the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and the Missouri Association of Campus
Law Enforcement.
There is opposition to the bill, because it might expose campus police officers to heightened danger. For instance, if an officer
were to respond to a situation in which a Good Samaritan was trying to stop a criminal and both of those parties were armed and
had their weapons drawn, how would the officer know who was the aggressor? In such cases, innocent people might be injured or
killed. If alcohol played a role in the confrontation, the danger for all concerned would be even greater, and parties and events where
alcohol is involved are common on college campuses.
Source: “Concealed weapons bill meets objections on campus,” by N. Winters and R. Barros, 2009. Columbia Missourian
1. Do you believe that laws allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons are effective at deterring crime, as some have argued?
2. What are the possible advantages to concealed carry laws? What are the disadvantages?
3. If possible, would you carry a concealed weapon? Why or why not?
Source: “Police say concealed carry law would deter criminals,” by R. Ori, 2009. Journal Star
Probable Cause: Exists when facts and circumstances within a police officer’s knowledge, which are based on
reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe that an offense
has been or is being committed by the person being arrested
Reasonableness: Generally refers to what a reasonable person, in similar circumstances, based on similar
information, might conclude
Reasonable Suspicion: When based on objective facts and logical conclusions given a specific set of circumstances,
may be used as the basis for stopping and frisking suspicious individuals
Searches and Seizures With and Without a Warrant
A search warrant is an order in writing, issued by a judge, that commands the officer requesting it
to search for certain types of property in certain locations and to bring the fruits of that search before
the judicial authority in question. An arrest warrant is an order to take a certain person into custody
and bring him or her before the judge.20
Although a warrant is the preferred means of justifying searches and seizures, the circumstances of
police encounters often preclude obtaining a warrant. For example, when a police officer makes a
traffic stop and discovers contraband or evidence of a crime or when an officer comes on the scene of a
crime in progress in which a weapon has been or may be involved, there may be no time to obtain a
warrant. Further, if an officer pursues a suspected drug dealer into a building and the suspect runs into
a restroom, there is reason to believe the suspect may destroy evidence if immediate action is not
taken. For example, in Kentucky v. King,21 the U.S. Supreme Court held that warrantless searches
conducted in exigent circumstances do not violate the 4th Amendment so long as the police did not
create the exigency by violating or threatening to violate the 4th Amendment. In this case, police
officers followed a suspected drug dealer to an apartment complex, smelled marijuana outside an

apartment door, knocked loudly, and announced their presence. When the officers began knocking,
they heard noises coming from the apartment, which they believed were consistent with the
destruction of evidence. The officers announced their intent to enter the apartment, kicked in the
door, saw drugs in plain view during a protective sweep of the apartment, and found additional
evidence during a subsequent search. The plain view doctrine holds that if a police officer sees an
incriminating object in plain view during a legitimate stop, he or she may seize the object. There are
literally dozens of other exceptions and specifications to stop-and-frisk rules.22
Policing in Practice Video: Former Drug Investigator
As technological advances expand the ability of the police to conduct different kinds of searches, it
further challenges the jurisprudence of the 4th Amendment. In the case of State v. Brossart (2014),
police conducted a warrantless search of a man’s home using a drone (or unmanned aerial vehicle
UAV). The evidence gained from the UAV search was used to convict Rodney Brossart and his four
sons. This is one of the first cases concerned with drones and searches of private individuals. The
protections of the 4th Amendment have been debated for the past 200 years, so this issue continues
that debate about the needs of the state versus the reasonable expectation of privacy of individual
citizens.23 Part of the issue, when it comes to drones, is whether an aerial view from legally navigable
space constitutes a search that should be protected by the 4th Amendment.
Nonetheless, where possible and practical, a warrant is preferred because it requires the officer to
demonstrate to an independent third party (magistrate or judge) the probable cause or reasonable
suspicion upon which his or her anticipated action is predicated. It also places the burden of proof on
the defense, which must demonstrate how the search was unlawful.
Warrant: An order in writing, issued by a judicial authority, authorizing a police officer to take specific actions
Police Stops
Based on the totality of circumstances that the officer perceives, he or she may stop and briefly
detain or —with a warrant—arrest a person if the officer can articulate facts that generate reasonable
suspicion that criminal activity has occurred.24 Totality of circumstances is the “whole picture” and
requires that an officer have a “particularized and objective basis for suspecting that a particular
person” is or has been involved in criminal activity. The totality of circumstances (“the whole
picture”) includes “various objective observations, information from police reports (if available) and
consideration of modes or patterns of operation of certain kinds of lawbreakers” from which the
“officer draws inferences and makes deductions” concerning the probability that the party in question
is involved in criminal conduct.25 Again, the officer must be able to provide reasons that justify the
stop. After making such a stop, a police officer can briefly detain the person, ask questions, and check
identification, because the “law enforcement interests at stake in these circumstances outweigh the
individual’s interest to be free of a stop and detention that is no more extensive than permissible in the
investigation of imminent or ongoing crime.”26 Such stops, often referred to as Terry stops, must be
discontinued in light of evidence that demonstrates that the officer’s initial interpretation of the
circumstances was incorrect.27 The Terry case, for which such stops are named, involved an
experienced police officer observing Terry engaged in behavior that indicated to the officer that Terry
was likely “casing” a store to commit a robbery. On stopping and questioning the suspect, the officer
concluded that Terry might be armed. A pat-down search led to the discovery of a firearm. The
Supreme Court determined that the temporary stop did not violate the 4th Amendment and that such

stops are permissible based on reasonable suspicion. Thus, if the officer making a stop reasonably
believes that the person stopped may constitute a threat (e.g., may be armed and dangerous), the
officer may frisk the suspect. The frisk must be initially limited to a pat down of the suspect’s outer
clothing and may become more extensive only if the officer detects something that may be a weapon.
Absent the discovery of an object that may be a weapon, no further search of the suspect is permissible
at this point. If a suspicious object is discovered during the pat down, the officer may reach into the
suspect’s pockets or clothing for the sole purpose of seizing the weapon. However, any contraband
(e.g., illegal drugs) found during the search for a weapon may be confiscated and used as evidence in a
criminal trial related to the initial stop.
In Michigan v. Long,28 the Supreme Court extended the range of a search for weapons to include
the passenger compartment of the car driven by a suspect if the police have reasonable suspicion (e.g.,
see a weapon in plain view when approaching the car) that the driver is a dangerous person.29
Web Link: Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose and the rise of ‘vehicular stop and frisk’
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rodriguez v. U.S. that prolonging the detention of a
person who is subject to a traffic stop for the purpose of waiting for drug-sniffing dogs to arrive and
further inspect the vehicle is unconstitutional.30

The Supreme Court determined that “Terry stops” do not violate the 4th Amendment if they
are based on reasonable suspicion.
© Michael Matthews – Police Images / Alamy.
Justice Ginsburg stated that, “An officer, in other words, may conduct certain unrelated checks
during an otherwise lawful traffic stop,” but, “he may not do so in a way that prolongs the stop, absent
the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to justify detaining an individual.” The decision in this
case is seemingly opposite a 2005 ruling to which Justice Ginzberg dissented. At that time, the Court
held that “a dog sniff conducted during a concededly lawful traffic stop that reveals no information
other than the location of a substance that no individual has any right to possess does not violate the
4th Amendment.”
Another issue related to police stops has received considerable attention in recent years. The issue
in question deals with the rights and obligations of police officers who have probable cause to stop a
person they believe may be in the United States illegally, especially in Arizona. The Arizona law before
the court, known as SB 1070, authorizes police officers to make warrantless arrests when they have
probable cause to believe someone is illegally in the country. Another provision of the law requires
state and local law enforcement officers, upon reasonable suspicion, to detain anyone stopped or
arrested for any reason, no matter how minor, until the immigration status of that person is
determined.31 The governor of Arizona maintained that the law is necessary, because federal
authorities have failed to meet their obligation with respect to illegal immigrants. The Obama
administration maintained that immigration matters are the domain of the federal government and
sued the state in federal court to invalidate the law. In July 2012, the Supreme Court delivered a split
decision on the law, sustaining the law’s central provision known as the “show me your papers”
provision, while leaving the door open to further challenges. The “show me your papers” provision
requires state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or
arrest if they have reason to suspect that the individual might be in the country illegally. The majority
of justices rejected other provisions that would have subjected illegal immigrants to criminal penalties
for activities such as seeking work.32
Plain View Doctrine: Holds that if a police officer sees an incriminating object in plain view during a legitimate
stop, he or she may seize the object
Totality of Circumstances: Requires that an officer has a particularized and objective basis for suspecting that a
particular person is or has been involved in criminal activity
Police Stories 9.1
Gene L. Scaramella, Former Police Officer, Author, and

My regular partner and I, both younger officers assigned to a busy district in the Chicago Police Department, were
assigned to a permanent beat. That particular beat was characterized by a high minority population, a high unemployment
rate, and a serious problem with street crime, primarily as a result of the heavy presence of street gangs.
It did not take long to figure out that when we observed young, White males driving by the “hot spots” (where drug
dealing occurred) of the district, most of the time they were buying drugs from street gang members. Thus, when we observed
this phenomenon, we sat in a covert position and watched. When we witnessed a drug sale, we waited a few moments and
then stopped the car driven by the young, White males in question away from where the incident occurred. We then got the
occupants out of the car (passengers included, if applicable), searched them and the inside of the car, and, if they had drugs in
their possession, placed them under arrest. I recall one particular incident. We were at the station filling out the paperwork
and, of course, had to include our probable cause for stopping the car and for searching the driver and the car. I recall asking
my partner in a jovial manner why we stopped the car. He replied, “The guy didn’t use his turn signal when he turned off of
the side street.” Regarding the search, I said, “And he gave us permission to search his car! How about that?” Thus, that’s how
the story was documented with respect to these types of arrests.
Were our actions improper? Sure they were, but we justified our actions by knowing that we had done a good job for the
community and the department by removing some drugs from the street. After all, we were in pursuit of a “noble cause,” and
we weren’t going to let silly court rulings stand in our way. The bad guys don’t play by the rules, so why should we? Besides,
the majority of our arrestees were used later by tactical unit officers to help build a case against the dealers who sold them the
drugs. We even received honorable mentions by the department on several occasions.
In retrospect, an “ends justifies the means” approach is not a good idea for obvious reasons. For example, what if one of
our cases went to trial rather than being pled out by the prosecutor? We would have had to take the stand and commit perjury.
Thankfully, we never had one of those cases go to trial. Faced with similar circumstances today, I would play by the rules for
fear of potential consequences and for the sake of professionalism.
Arrest: Occurs when an individual authorized to take a person into custody detains that person with the intention
of making an arrest and when the person being arrested understands that the intention of the person making the arrest
is detaining him or her for that purpose
Police Searches Incident to Arrest
Discussing searches incident to arrest requires an understanding of what constitutes an arrest. In
general terms, an arrest occurs when (1) an individual authorized to take a person into custody detains
that person with the intention of making an arrest and (2) when the person being arrested understands
that the person making the arrest intends to detain him or her for that purpose. The arrest may be
affected with or without a warrant, though the latter is preferable, when possible.
The basic law governing searches related to arrest can be found in Chimel v. California.33 To
justify a full search, the suspect must be taken into custody by the officer, and the arresting officer
must conduct that search. Further, the search must be conducted at the time of or shortly after the
arrest to be legal. In addition, generally speaking, the officer may use the degree of force necessary to
protect self and others or to prevent the flight of the suspect or the destruction of evidence. In general,
the arresting officer may search the arrestee for weapons or evidence and may extend into any area
under the direct or immediate control of the arrestee at the time of the arrest. The search may be
extended to companions of the arrestee if the officer reasonably believes that these companions may
present a threat or may destroy evidence.34
Author Video: 4th Amendment
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. Gant (2009) addressed the circumstances related
to the search of a vehicle related to the arrest of an occupant. Gant was arrested for driving with a
suspended license, handcuffed, and locked in a patrol car before police officers searched the passenger
compartment of his vehicle and found cocaine and a firearm. The Court held that police may search
the passenger compartment of a vehicle incident to a recent occupant’s arrest only if it is reasonable to
believe the arrestee might access the vehicle at the time of the search or that the vehicle contains

evidence of the offense of arrest.35 In some arrests for traffic violations, there is reasonable basis to
believe that the vehicle contains relevant evidence.36 However, in other cases, such as arrests for
possession of controlled substances, the basis of the arrest will supply acceptable rationale for searching
the arrestee’s passenger compartment and any containers inside. Some might suggest that Arizona v.
Gant encourages unsafe police practices such as leaving the arrestees unsecured to justify a search
incident to arrest. However, according to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC),
Justice Scalia addressed this issue in Thornton v. United States.37 He stated that “if an officer leaves a
suspect unrestrained nearby just to manufacture authority to search, one could argue that the search is
unreasonable precisely because the dangerous conditions justifying it existed only by the virtue of the
officer’s failure to follow sensible procedures.”

A search must be conducted at the time of or shortly after an arrest.
© Ingelhart
More recently, in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington (2012),38 the
Supreme Court further extended the right to search suspects when it held that officials may strip
search individuals who have been arrested for any crime before admitting the individuals to jail, even

if there is no reason to suspect that the individual is carrying contraband.
Consent Searches
Another type of search frequently conducted by the police requires neither probable cause nor a
warrant. A consent search occurs when an individual voluntarily waives his or her 4th Amendment
rights and allows a police officer to search his or her person, belongings, vehicle, or home. An example
of a consent search might involve a traffic stop during which the officer asks the driver of the stopped
vehicle if he would mind opening the trunk of the vehicle. Many individuals comply with the request,
often because they have nothing to hide from the police or because they are uncertain of the
consequences if they refuse the request.
If an individual voluntarily waives 4th Amendment rights, police may perform a consent
search in a home or, in this case, a vehicle. Lawful consent searches cannot be obtained as a result
of coercion or duress.
The courts have made it clear that consent searches must be voluntary, that no coercion—either
implicit or explicit—may be used, that no deception or misrepresentation may be used, and that the
consent be clearly stated (either orally, by gesture, or in writing).39 The courts have also imposed
limits on the scope and object of the search. Finally, in State v. Lewis and other cases, it has been held
that the consenting party may revoke his or her consent at any time after the search has begun.40
There are numerous other exceptions and procedures related to the amendment that are beyond the
scope of this text.
The 5th Amendment
The 5th Amendment provides that no citizen is to be tried for a capital or “otherwise infamous
crime without a presentment or indictment” by a grand jury (exception here is that the grand jury
clause does not protect those serving in the armed forces, whether during wartime or peacetime), or
may be subject to trial for the same offense twice, or compelled to incriminate himself or herself or be
deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. This is a far-reaching amendment, but
for our purposes here (due process will be discussed in relation to the 14th Amendment), the right
against self-incrimination is of particular importance; it often relates directly to police encounters with
suspects. Initially, the privilege against self-incrimination seems straightforward. It implies that no
person can be compelled to incriminate himself or herself—that the suspect need not answer questions
or disclose information that would support his or her own conviction. The courts have ruled that the
privilege refers to testimonial communications and does not prevent compelled appearances in lineups
or photo lineups, handwriting samples, fingerprints, or blood-alcohol tests, among other things.41 It is
interesting to note that, although compulsory appearances in lineups do not constitute constitutional
violations for persons in custody, roughly 75% of wrongful convictions found through subsequent

DNA analysis involved some form of mistaken eyewitness identification.42 As a result, several states
and some major police agencies are changing their policies concerning photo and in-person lineups.43
The impact of the privilege against self-incrimination on police actions is considerable, since it is
related to (1) statements, (2) admissions, and (3) confessions given to police officers. The courts have
ruled that all three must be given voluntarily and with knowledge on behalf of the suspect that he has
the right to remain silent or request the presence of an attorney. Once the police interrogation
commences, the 6th Amendment also guarantees the right to counsel. Involuntary confessions are
considered to be both unreliable and a violation of due process when resulting from police coercion.
This is true even though the statement, admission, or confession itself may actually be reliable. Thus,
the Supreme Court held in Townsend v. Sain that “any questioning by police officers which in fact
produces a confession which is not the product of free intellect renders that confession
A key question for the police concerns the point at which questioning during an investigation
becomes an interrogation. In Escobedo v. Illinois, the court held that, when “the investigation is no
longer a general inquiry into an unsolved crime but has begun to focus on a particular suspect” and
“the suspect has been taken into police custody, the police carry out a process of interrogation. . . .”45
Then, in Miranda v. Arizona, the court indicated that when a person is taken into custody or
otherwise deprived of his or her freedom by the police and is subjected to questioning, the privilege
against self-incrimination is jeopardized.46 At this point, procedural safeguards must be employed to
protect that privilege. This decision resulted in the now-famous warning the police give prior to
interrogating suspects: “You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can be used against you
in a court of law; you have the right to the presence of an attorney; if you cannot afford an attorney,
one will be appointed for you.” Suspects are then typically asked whether they understand these rights
and whether they wish to continue talking to the police. If a suspect asks for an attorney at this point
in the process, or at any other point, the interrogation is to stop until an attorney is present. In
Berghuis v. Thompkins, the Supreme Court elaborated on Miranda, indicating that suspects must
explicitly tell police they want to remain silent (rather than simply remain silent) to invoke Miranda
protections during criminal interrogations.38 Failure to inform suspects of their rights under Miranda
likely means that any statement, admission, or confession obtained is inadmissible at the time of trial.
Currently, the Obama administration is contemplating legislation to initiate changes in Miranda to
expand the ability of authorities to question international terrorists.47
Not all statements, admissions, or confessions are invalidated by failure to provide the Miranda
warning. Statements voluntarily made prior to the beginning of any interrogation and not in response
to police questioning may be admissible. Similarly, information obtained in the process of routine
questioning (e.g., in the booking process) is not generally protected by Miranda. Questions
spontaneously asked by the police in regard to an emergency or related to public safety, or impulsively
asked, are not typically held to be interrogation.48 Further, it should be noted that Miranda applies
only to custodial interrogation conducted by the police. Thus, statements, admissions, and confessions
made to private citizens are likely to be admissible in court.
Questions often arise concerning whether a suspect knowingly and voluntarily waived his or her
rights under Miranda. To help ensure that it was indeed voluntary, the police often request a written
waiver and may provide the necessary warnings in more than one language. The general rule of thumb
for police officers is that it is better to be safe than sorry. Thus, the Miranda warning may be given
when it is not needed simply to ensure that it has been given should questions arise concerning the
privilege against self-incrimination. A recent case indicates the complexities that may be involved in
Miranda interrogations. In 2003, a police detective tried to question a suspect, who was incarcerated
at a Maryland prison as a result of a prior conviction, about his alleged sexual abuse of his son.

Shatzer, the suspect, invoked his Miranda right to have counsel present during interrogation, and the
detective terminated the interview. Shatzer was released back into the general prison population, and
the investigation was closed. Another detective reopened the investigation three years later and
attempted to interrogate Shatzer, who was still incarcerated. Shatzer waived his Miranda rights and
made incriminating statements. He was convicted of sexual child abuse. The Supreme Court held
that, because Shatzer experienced a break in Miranda custody lasting more than two weeks between
the first and second attempts at interrogation, his 2006 statements need not be suppressed.49
This suspect has invoked his Miranda rights and the police must wait to continue their
interrogation until his attorney arrives.
Consent Search: Occurs when an individual voluntarily waives his or her 4th Amendment rights and allows a
police officer to search his or her person, belongings, vehicle, or home
Privilege Against Self-Incrimination: Implies that no person can be compelled to incriminate himself or herself—
the suspect need not answer questions or disclose information that would support his or her own conviction
The 14th Amendment
The 14th Amendment is often referred to as the due process amendment because it states that no
state can deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Currently, the
rights guaranteed by the 1st, 4th, and 6th Amendments, along with parts of the 5th and 8th
Amendments, have been applied to the states.50 As it relates to the police specifically, due process
requires that evidence of a crime be presented in court and that both testimonial and physical evidence
is obtained according to the rules. In addition, the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment
applies to the police in that it prevents the federal government and all states from denying the
protection of the law to any group of persons by making arbitrary, unreasonable distinctions based on
race, religion, gender, and national origin.51 Thus, this amendment is the basis for a good deal of the
civil rights legislation we have seen in the past 50 years. For example, the problems of biased
enforcement and racial profiling by the police are clearly prohibited by the equal protection clause.
Author Video: Department of Justice: Ferguson Police Department Discriminate Against
African Americans
Due process has become a cornerstone of the U.S. legal system, and it is sometimes problematic
for the police because of the requirements it establishes for many police activities, including arrest,
interrogation, and collection of evidence through searches and seizures, as well as many other
activities. Briefly stated, it would be much easier for the police to operate under a crime control model

than a due process model. The crime control model allows for the arrest of individuals who are
known to be factually guilty of committing a crime. The due process model requires that evidence of
guilt presented in court be obtained according to legal guidelines. The due process model relies on
equal treatment of all accused persons and imposes a variety of restraints on the actions of the police.
For instance, the police might receive a tip from an anonymous caller who states that a specific
individual living in a specific college dorm room is distributing illegal drugs from that location. Using
the crime control model, the police break down the door to the room, find the drugs, arrest and
charge the offender, and use the drugs as evidence in the ensuing trial. Under the due process model,
the police must demonstrate that the tip came from a reliable informant, obtain a proper search
warrant, and maintain a proper chain of evidence, or the drugs will be inadmissible as evidence in
court and the defendant will be acquitted. In other words, even though the defendant was factually
guilty of distributing illegal drugs, he or she is not legally guilty because the procedures established to
safeguard the rights of citizens were violated. While the emphasis on technicalities related to due
process shifts with political administrations, public opinion, and the judiciary, the underlying right to
due process remains. This may be frustrating to the police, who often view due process requirements
as obstacles to successful enforcement of the law. Still, most officers would probably agree that if they
were the focus of an investigation, they would prefer the due process model.
SAGE Journal Article: The American Exclusionary Rule: Is There a Lesson to Learn from
Equal Protection Clause: Of the 14th Amendment, applies the equal protection clause to the police in that it
prevents both the federal government and all states from denying the protection of the law to any group of persons by
making arbitrary, unreasonable distinctions based on race, religion, gender, national origin, and so on
The Exclusionary Rule
The exclusionary rule is a judicially imposed requirement that any evidence obtained by the
police using methods that violate an individual’s constitutional rights be excluded in a criminal
prosecution against that individual. Note that the wrong done by the police must involve
constitutional questions for the exclusionary rule to apply. The rule was first expounded in Weeks v.
United States and applied only to federal law enforcement officers.52 In Wolf v. Colorado, the Supreme
Court held that the rule applied to the states as part of the due process clause of the 14th
Amendment.53 Then, in the case of Mapp v. Ohio, the court mandated enforcement of the rule by the
Interestingly, the exclusionary rule was specifically designed to prevent police misconduct and
applies to both police officers and those acting as their agents. Thus, if a police officer without
probable cause or a warrant indicates to a private citizen that she might assist the police by searching
the purse of a third party, any evidence obtained would be subject to the exclusionary rule. If the same
woman searched the same purse on her own initiative, however, the fruits of the search might well be
admissible in court proceedings.
The exclusionary rule applies to evidence obtained directly as the result of constitutional violations
and also to evidence found indirectly as a result of the violation under what is referred to as the fruit
of the poisonous tree doctrine. For example, if the police conduct an illegal search and discover
stolen property in the home of a suspect and, at the same time, discover evidence that a second suspect
was involved in the crime, neither the stolen property nor the name of the second suspect is admissible
in court. As you might expect, based on an earlier discussion in this chapter, there are a number of

exceptions to the exclusionary rule. Among these are what is known as the good-faith doctrine, the
inevitable discovery doctrine, and the independent source doctrine.
The good-faith doctrine deals with searches conducted with a warrant, and it states that when a
police officer acting in good faith obtains a warrant, conducts a search, and seizes evidence, that
evidence will not be excluded from court proceedings even if the warrant is later invalidated.55
Describing a 2009 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, a headline in The New York Times declared
that the court was a “step closer to repeal” of the exclusionary rule.56 The case in point, Herring v.
United States, involved a police investigator who had several run-ins with Mr. Herring. When the
police officer saw Herring, he requested a warrant check, and a neighboring county reported there was
a warrant for his arrest. Acting on this information, the police officer stopped Herring’s vehicle and
located methamphetamine in his pocket and a handgun under the seat.57 Approximately 10 minutes
later, the police officer learned that a mistake had occurred and the warrant had been withdrawn five
months earlier. The U.S. Supreme Court held that when police mistakes that lead to an unlawful
search are the result of isolated negligence attenuated from the search rather than systematic error or
reckless disregard of constitutional requirements, the exclusionary rule does not apply.58
Police must be very careful about how evidence is handled. If collected improperly, even
crucial evidence such as weapons can be inadmissible in court, according to the exclusionary
© Digital Vision

The inevitable discovery doctrine allows the admission of illegally obtained evidence if it would
have been discovered lawfully in the “normal course of events” anyway.59 The normal course of
events, for instance, might include routine police procedures or testimonial evidence from a witness.
Finally, the independent source doctrine (which also uses the biblical reference, “fruit of the
poisonous tree doctrine”) holds that illegally obtained evidence may be admitted if it was also obtained
through an independent source not tainted by police misconduct.
The exclusionary rule indicates the lengths to which the courts have gone in attempting to
guarantee constitutional rights by preventing police misconduct. It appears that the courts are not
convinced that the police can or will adhere to all procedural requirements without judicial oversight.
Crime Control Model: Allows for the arrest of individuals who are known to be factually guilty of committing a
Due Process Model: Requires that evidence of guilt presented in court be obtained according to legal guidelines
Exclusionary Rule: A judicially imposed requirement that any evidence obtained by the police using methods that
violate an individual’s constitutional rights be excluded in a criminal prosecution against that individual
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine: Evidence found indirectly as a result of a constitutional violation
Good-Faith Doctrine: Involves searches conducted with a warrant and states that when a police officer acting in
good faith obtains a warrant, conducts a search, and seizes evidence, that evidence will not be excluded from court
proceedings even if the warrant is later invalidated
Inevitable Discovery Doctrine: Allows the admission of illegally obtained evidence if it would have been
discovered lawfully in the normal course of events anyway
Independent Source Doctrine: Holds that illegally obtained evidence may be admitted if it was also obtained
through an independent source not tainted by a failure to follow procedure or police misconduct
Police Use of Force
This discussion of police use of force presents a brief summary of relevant issues versus a
comprehensive coverage of all the legal issues related to the use of force. A text on criminal law and
procedure would contain a more complete discussion of the issues.
From time to time in the performance of their duties, the police must resort to the use of force to
either prevent criminal activity or apprehend criminals. Under common law, police officers could use
less-than-lethal force to arrest a felon and, as a last resort, deadly force to arrest a fleeing felon. Less-
than-lethal force refers to force used by the officer that is not likely to result in serious bodily harm or
death, whereas lethal or deadly force may result in great bodily harm or death. Examples of less-than-
lethal force include launchable and hand-deployable chemical agents, kinetic energy or impact
munitions, and electronic control devices (Tasers), among others.60 In some cases, use of less-than-
lethal force has resulted in death or serious injury to suspects. Recently, Tasers (electroshock weapons
that use electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles) have come under increasing scrutiny
in this regard; the ACLU indicated in 2009 that it submitted a petition to the Supreme Court to hear
a case on the constitutionality of excessive force related to police use of Tasers.61
Tasers have traditionally been categorized as less-than-lethal force, but have come under
scrutiny with claims that they may constitute an excessive use of force.

© Junglecat
Over time, the maximum penalty for various felonies has been reduced from death to
imprisonment. While under common law, police officers would have been permitted to use deadly
force against criminals who committed such felonies, the current maximum punishment on
conviction would be imprisonment. It made no sense to allow the police to continue to use deadly
force in cases where a conviction in court could not result in capital punishment. Thus, police officers
today are not empowered to use deadly force against unarmed or otherwise nondangerous offenders.
Generally speaking, police officers are authorized to use reasonable force (recall our earlier
discussion of the criteria for reasonableness) to make arrests, to prevent escapes, and to protect
themselves and others from harm.62 The Supreme Court language in Tennessee v. Garner best
describes the current situation: “A police officer may not seize an unarmed, non-dangerous suspect by
shooting him dead,” but “where the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat
of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others, it is not constitutionally unreasonable to
prevent escape by using deadly force.”63 When determining probable cause in such cases, officers
typically consider a series of factors, including the suspects’ motivation to harm or escape, their
propensity for violence, their current state of mind, their combat experience (in cases where this is
known), whether or not they are in possession of a weapon, and the location in which the encounter
Policing in Practice Video: Within the last few years, has your department changed its
policies on use of force? How does implicit bias come into play?
In addition to using force to perform an arrest or prevent an escape, police officers may be
confronted with the need to use force to enter a dwelling or a vehicle. Typically, a warrant is required
for such entry, but in exigent circumstances, the officer may enter without a warrant. Such
circumstances may exist when the police are in hot pursuit of a fleeing felon, when there is a danger of
imminent destruction of evidence, when a suspect is escaping, or when there is imminent danger to
the officer or others. Where the officer has legal authority to enter a dwelling, he should first knock on
the door, announce his purpose and identify as a police officer, and demand entry. If the demand to
enter is refused or met with silence, the officer may enter after waiting a reasonable (usually quite
short) period of time. And in Wilson v. Arkansas, the Supreme Court recognized that announcing the
presence of a police officer and waiting outside for a response is unreasonable in certain cases.65 Some
instances in which the requirements to knock, announce, and wait may be waived include those in
which the safety of the officer or others is at stake, where the procedure may allow the offender to
escape, and where knocking and announcing might allow the suspect to destroy evidence.
One additional example of an issue relating to the use of deadly force is that of high-speed police
pursuit. In such pursuits, the police vehicle itself may become deadly for innocent bystanders, those
being pursued, or the pursuing police officers. A recent Supreme Court decision shed some light on
the current pursuit situation. In Scott v. Harris, the Court concluded the following:
We are loath to lay down a rule requiring the police to allow fleeing suspects to get away
whenever they drive so recklessly that they put other people’s lives in danger. It is obvious
the perverse incentives such a rule would create. . . . A police officer’s attempt to terminate a
dangerous high-speed car chase that threatens the lives of innocent bystanders does not
violate the 4th Amendment, even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury
or death.66

Author Video: Police use of force
A major concern of police officers everywhere, as well as of police administrators whose forces span
out across the city 24 hours a day, is with liability for their actions. Under Section 1983 of the U.S.
Code—Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights—suits may be brought against both officers and their
supervisors, as well as the branch of government they represent in some cases, for failure to train
officers properly and for developing unconstitutional policies and practices.67 These fears seem well
founded given that some estimates of the monetary cost of such suits range as high as $780 billion
annually—even though most suits are eventually decided in favor of the officer.68 If the alleged
violations by the officer are criminal in nature, prosecutors may take action in addition to the civil
action that state and federal courts may take. Thus, the family of an individual killed by a police
officer may allege wrongful death and file civil suits in both state and federal courts to collect damages.
If a prosecutor has cause to believe that the death resulted from inappropriate behavior on the part of
the officer, he or she may file criminal charges as well. The type of defense commonly employed
against such actions includes the good-faith doctrine and the reasonable belief that probable cause
The decision concerning use of force, particularly deadly force, is one of the most critical a police
officer is required to make. Such decisions are typically made in a matter of seconds, but they have
consequences that may last a lifetime.
Less-Than-Lethal Force: Force used by an officer that is not likely to result in serious bodily harm or death
Lethal or Deadly Force: Force that may result in great bodily harm or death
Taser: Electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles
Exigent Circumstances: Circumstances that may exist when the police are in hot pursuit of a fleeing felon, when
there is a danger of imminent destruction of evidence, when a suspect is escaping, or when there is imminent danger to
the officer or others
The decision concerning use of force, particularly deadly force, is one of the most critical a police officer
is required to make. Such decisions are typically made in a matter of seconds, but they have consequences
that may last a lifetime.
The USA PATRIOT Act, Homeland Security, and Terrorism
Prior to September 11, 2001, very few discussions of police behavior focused on their role in
preventing terrorism and apprehending terrorists. Now, terrorism is one of the critical issues of our
time for police officers at all levels. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, “terrorism consists
of the unlawful use of force or threat of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a
government, a civilian population, or any part thereof in furtherance of political or social
objectives.”69 Most terrorists claim to be not criminals, but rather freedom fighters (religion, ideology,
special interest). But, almost all terrorist acts violate criminal laws.70
Law enforcement officials around the world have reported a significant increase in the range and
scope of international terrorist activity in recent years. The public is frequently warned that the danger
from terrorists is real and that the nation cannot afford to let down its guard. Further, a visible police

presence reminds people of the danger they face every time they travel by air or enter a public
building. And, with the continued danger of terrorism comes the continued temptation to dilute
constitutional ideals concerning the right to privacy and searches and seizures (note the scanners at
airports, coupled with pat-down searches and seizures of bottles of liquid containing more than a few
ounces). Similarly, many public buildings, including courthouses and schools, have metal detectors
through which employees and visitors alike must pass on entry. Clearly the events of 9/11 have caused
Americans to reconsider their approach to national and local security issues.
The passage of the USA PATRIOT Act in October 2001 and the Homeland Security Act in
November 2002 raised legal issues that impact the lives of every American. The intent of the USA
PATRIOT Act, when it was passed in 2001 as an immediate response to the 9/11 attacks, was to
provide federal law enforcement officers with better means to defend against terrorists. Key points
included the expansion of surveillance activities, tighter prohibitions on money laundering, and
increased information sharing. For example, Section 216 of the act made the Internet subject to
surveillance. Section 351 created directives to financial institutions that increased auditing and
reporting requirements.72
Through the Homeland Security Act and the USA PATRIOT Act, the U.S. government focuses
on several terrorism prevention strategies and tactics.
Developing public safety programs to protect vulnerable targets and locations
Enhancing community participation in “terrorist watch” programs
Improving intelligence by increasing the cooperation among law enforcement agencies
Improving training for security forces by developing realistic antiterrorist action scenarios
Organizing regular exercises for security forces and citizens
Fostering coordination between security forces and communities on the basis of model local,
state, and federal plans for responding to terrorist attacks73
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) effort, first
established in 1980, involves multiple law enforcement agencies working together to increase dialogue,
improve relationships, and maximize information sharing.74 JTTFs have proven successful in
thwarting numerous terrorist plots in the United States and in providing an effective venue for local
officers to assist in the mission of national security. The FBI benefits from having the JTTF program
in that its efforts in counterterrorism are enhanced by cooperation of state and local police officers
with street-level experience and knowledge of local jurisdictions. Police departments also benefit from
having an officer assigned to a JTTF, because these officers may undergo extensive specialized training
and gain experience in managing complex investigations.75
The significance of attacks by terrorists throughout the world must not be minimized, but it is
also important to consider the possibility of overreaction. The need to monitor people entering the
country as well as those already here creates a certain level of tension, as government agencies ask for
unprecedented access to personal information.
At the same time, however, the right to privacy requires the protection of personal information.
Some argue that parts of the USA PATRIOT Act take away checks on law enforcement and threaten
the very rights and freedoms that we are struggling to protect. For example, without a warrant and
without probable cause, the FBI now has the power to access private medical records, library records,
and student records, and it can prevent anyone from telling those being investigated that it has been
done. Another case, however, raised the issue of whether the police have the right to use global
positioning system (GPS) devices without a warrant to track the movements of suspects.76 In the case
of United States v. Jones, the Supreme Court unanimously restricted the ability of the police to use a

GPS device to track criminal suspects by ruling that the use of such a device constitutes a search and is
governed by 4th Amendment protections. This case is a first test of how privacy rights will be
protected in the digital age. Recognizing that questions of privacy and technology represent a legal
frontier, the Court stated that the decision should not be construed as a basis for more complex
privacy issues. The constitutionality of a variety of police actions under the USA PATRIOT Act is
certain to be tested. Police officers, especially, need to know both the scope and the potential hazards
of these federal statutes.77
It is possible to draw some limited conclusions about the impact of the USA PATRIOT Act and
the Homeland Security Act on state and local police. First, the ways in which state and local law
enforcement personnel continue to assist in the effort to prevent terrorist attacks are multifaceted and
critical. Perhaps contrary to popular belief, police officers encounter known and suspected terrorists in
both urban and rural areas. The expanding JTTF concept and enhanced information-sharing
techniques have considerably improved the processes of obtaining and analyzing information. With
new tools at their disposal, state and local law enforcement authorities will continue to play an
important role in preventing future terrorism.78
Web Link: Civil Liberties
Although it is clear that everyone contends that local police are critical partners with federal
officials and are most often the early responders, many of the details about training, coordination, and

funding remain unclear. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acknowledges that local
officers are “the country’s eyes and ears on the ground” for antiterrorism efforts, and have formalized
some of the structures for technical support, training, and sharing and analyzing information.79 Two
years after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, “1,200 federal officials, explosive ordinance
detection teams, canine units, and behavioral detection field officers [were available] to assist the
Federal Coordinator in helping the event planners enhance the overall event security.”80 Some of the
enhanced measures may be obvious to the public, and some may be behind the scenes. The lessons
learned in Boston—according to the DHS—have been adopted at special events across the nation.
Communications between federal and local police have improved, but there is a great deal yet to
accomplish. For example, what do the various alert stages (amber, orange, or red) mean to local police
in terms of how they should react, what they should look for, and what kinds of information they
should provide to the public? What types of intelligence do federal authorities expect from state and
local police concerning terrorism?81 Will constitutional guarantees be further diminished in the
attempt to prevent and apprehend terrorists? Among those guarantees that may be in danger,
according to some observers, are the very amendments discussed in this chapter. Are compromises
involving constitutional rights really necessary to help keep the United States safe from terrorists?
The USA PATRIOT Act at work—besides routine checks on passengers using basic screening
procedures, the act gives law enforcement personnel the authority to conduct additional, more
intrusive screening procedures, such as complete searches of the person, use of explosive screening
devices, and searches using dogs trained to detect the presence of drugs, explosive materials, and
other contraband.
Liability: Legal responsibility for costs or damages
Terrorism: The unlawful use of force or threat of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a
government, a civilian population, or any part thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives
Homeland Security Act: Law passed by the U.S. Congress that focuses on terrorism prevention strategies and
USA PATRIOT Act: Federal legislation passed in 2002 that represented a major reorganization of national security
agencies; it created the Department of Homeland Security, which conducts services previously handled by various other
Global Positioning System (GPS): A U.S. space-based global navigation satellite system providing positioning,
navigation, and timing services to users
Around the World 9.1
Interpol is the world’s largest international police organization. In Tel Aviv, Israel, Interpol holds a three-day, high-profile
international conference with senior police officers from 49 countries to discuss cybercrime, counterterrorism, and drug

trafficking. Israel’s liaison with this organization tells The Jerusalem Post about the country’s growing cooperation with foreign
law enforcement.
Internet-based crime costs countries more money than all drug trafficking combined, and European countries lose a total
of 750 billion euros a year due to cybercrime. Targets include global financial institutions, state institutions, and even the
Interpol website.
Ronald K. Noble, secretary-general of Interpol, told delegates, “I certainly do not need to convince anyone in this room
that crime has become inherently transnational and can touch our citizens from any country in the world where the Internet is
in use. . . . What is more, the Internet also facilitates the dissemination of violent, extreme and radical ideologies, enabling
radical leaders to reach friendly ears right in our communities and in all corners of the world.”
One of Israel’s first decisions as a sovereign country was to join Interpol in 1949. Today, Israeli police instantly share
information, issue international arrest warrants, and receive such warrants through Interpol’s secure Internet network, which
connects the Israeli police to 189 Interpol members.
1. Considering the risks to national security, do you believe the government should limit access to the Internet or
secretly monitor Internet activity?
2. What steps can law enforcement agencies in the United States take to prevent cybercrime?
3. Because the Internet has international applications, should law enforcement agencies in other countries be able to
monitor the Internet activities of U.S. citizens without their knowledge? Why or why not?
Source: Lappin, Y. (2012, May 9). Interpol holds high-profile international conference in TA. Police from 49 countries to
discuss cyber crime, counter-terrorism, drug trafficking. The (Israel) Jerusalem Post, p. 6. Record Number:
9 Under Review
Chapter Summary
It is impossible to comprehensively cover the wide variety of rules and regulations that govern police behavior in the
United States. This chapter highlights some of the more important laws and court decisions to indicate the extent of the legal
parameters surrounding police activities and the subsequent impact these statutory and judicial decisions have on police
policies and procedures. In addition to the issues discussed here, the police are subject to hundreds of state, county, and
municipal rules and regulations and to departmental policy.
Police at all levels have a tremendous amount of discretionary authority over their daily practice, such as enforcement of
the law, methods used to obtain information, conduct involving interaction with citizens, and the majority of other police
actions. The public has the right to protection from any unlawful police practices; related civil and criminal laws exist at both
the state and federal levels.
Court decisions and case law add protections at all levels of government. Case law has a major impact on a variety of police
actions and administrative policies. Issues such as search and seizure, use of force, interrogation methods, and other related
constitutional concerns are often the focus of court decisions issued within a constitutional framework. In addition, case law
applicable to the use of deadly force, high-speed vehicle pursuits, negligent training and supervision, negligent retention of
personnel, and investigative methodologies that use profiling are examples of areas where the court has an impact on police
policy. It is also important to note that when these court-imposed dictates are ignored and violated, individual officers may
expose themselves to criminal and civil liability. Their respective agencies can be held civilly liable as well, which may cost
agencies millions of dollars.
More recent concerns involve the increasingly global and technological nature of crime. The effects of the USA PATRIOT
Act and similar laws have broadened the scope of police power and policies and raised additional constitutional questions
concerning police behavior, which may take years to resolve in the courts.
Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.
Criminal law 205
Civil law 205
Search 208
Seizure 208
Probable cause 210
Reasonableness 210

Reasonable suspicion 210
Warrant 211
Plain view doctrine 212
Totality of circumstances 212
Arrest 214
Consent search 216
Privilege against self-incrimination 216
Equal protection clause 218
Crime control model 219
Due process model 219
Exclusionary rule 219
Fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine 219
Good-faith doctrine 219
Inevitable discovery doctrine 220
Independent source doctrine 220
Less-than-lethal force 220
Lethal or deadly force 220
Taser 220
Exigent circumstances 221
Liability 222
Terrorism 222
Homeland Security Act 223
Global positioning system (GPS) 223
Discussion Questions
Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.
1. What are some distinctions between criminal and civil law?
2. Why is it important to understand the role of police discretion when discussing constitutional law and court decisions?
3. What is the proper role of a police officer assigned to work at a protest involving hundreds of people when the officer
strenuously disagrees with the protestors?
4. Why might some police officers invent probable cause for a stop they made without such cause?
5. Is it usually preferable for a police officer to make an arrest or conduct a search with or without a warrant? Provide examples
to support your answer.
6. When in doubt, should a police officer administer the Miranda warning to a suspect or not? Why or why not?
7. Does the exclusionary rule deal only with the 14th Amendment? If not, what other amendments are involved?
8. What is the purpose of the due process clause? How is the concept of fruit of the poisonous tree related to the due process
9. What is the recognized role of local police officers in the war on terror? What are some resources that are available to the
police to help them in their counterterrorism efforts?
Internet Exercises
1. Go to the Internet and type in the key words Muehler et al. v. Mena, 125 S. Ct. 1495, (U. S. Sup. Ct., No. 03–1423,
March 22, 2005).
Review the facts of the case. In your opinion, based on the material discussed in this chapter, were the plaintiff’s
constitutional rights violated when she was placed in handcuffs during the search of the house she occupied? Why or why

2. Type the key words Groh v. Ramirez, 540 U. S. 551 (U. S. Sup., No. 02–0811, February 24, 2004), into your search
Review the facts of the case. In your opinion, based on the material discussed in this chapter, were the defendant’s 4th
Amendment rights violated by the execution of this warrant? Why or why not?
Student Study Site
Sharpen your skills with SAGE edge!
SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and
links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.

Chapter 10 Discretion and Ethics in Policing
© Bajic
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Define police discretion and the factors that influence it
2. Assess factors that can affect the use of discretion by police
3. Define the term ethics and discuss its importance in the field of policing
4. Identify and describe various organizational strategies that can be used to mitigate unethical police conduct
Due to the multiple roles the police are expected to perform, along with the myriad of external
and internal influences that tend to shape police policy and public expectations, the right measure of
discretionary authority by the police is essential. Fulfilling the police mission in a competent and
responsible manner requires a sustained organizational and individual commitment to underlying
ethics, accountability, and professionalism. If the police are to be perceived as professionals, they must
exercise discretion wisely and ethically and remain accountable to the public they are sworn to serve.
Professional ethics outline the moral obligation to act in ways that are proper to accomplish
professional goals. For police officers, ethical conduct is especially important because of the authority
granted to them and because of the difficulty of overseeing the daily behavior of police officers on the
street. The public must be able to trust the police to act as if someone were watching, when most of
the time, there may be no witnesses.
Author Video: In law enforcement, how important is it for supervisors and others to instill
core values?
Figure 10.1 highlights a recent poll that elicited responses regarding community members’
confidence in their police officers. As will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 12, there is often a

discrepancy in confidence based on race.
It is appropriate to consider discretion and ethics together, because they are closely interrelated.
Discretion is a necessary and desirable part of policing and involves selecting among several possible
courses of action. Reducing the number of unethical options is a continuing pursuit of attentive police
administrators. Wise exercise of discretion by police officers demands ethical choices. Further, whether
the police make wise choices or foolish ones, they are accountable to the public for their actions.
Chapter 11 covers the consequences of unethical police behavior and accountability for it.
Police Discretion
To perform their role competently and effectively, the police must regularly exercise their
discretionary authority, and they must do so ethically and responsibly, if public trust is to be
established and maintained. Police discretion can be defined simply as “the exercise of individual
choice or judgment concerning possible courses of action.”1 Discretion amounts to the perceived
ability to choose when, how, and in what order to complete assigned work.2 Efforts to define
discretion are important. “If discretion is to be spoken of as a real and variable aspect of policing that
is believed to influence police behavior, then it needs to be defined in such a way that it lends it to
direct observation and to quantification.”3
Figure 10.1 Community Members’ Confidence in Their Police Officers
Featured in the photo is a controversial practice referred to as roadblocks or checkpoints to
conduct random safety checks on motorists. Many question if these checkpoints are really random
in nature.
Discretion is a normal, desirable, and unavoidable part of policing that exists at all levels and
departments within a police agency and at all levels of policing. It is important that the police are not

robotic but have a sense of autonomy, exercise common sense, and interpret the law. There is a great
deal of complexity associated with the discretionary decision-making process:
Whether to enforce the full letter of the law, to simply advise a citizen, or to choose a
middle ground, street-level officers must incorporate all of the tools of their trade and select
the plan of action most appropriate or reasonable on a case-by-case basis. Though there are
many factors to consider regarding officer discretion, personal biases, prejudices, and values
are not to be employed in this decision-making process.4
Discretion is required, because the code of criminal law—as well as departmental policies—is
often expressed in intentionally imprecise terms that make interpretation a necessity. In addition,
police resources are limited; the police cannot be everywhere at once. Policing, like many other
occupations, consists of a number of specializations, and not all departments have the specialized
personnel to investigate all types of crime or provide all types of services. Finally, the police are well
aware that the other components of the criminal justice network also have limited capacities (e.g.,
court time, jail cells).
SAGE Journal Article: Measuring Police Attitudes Toward Discretion
Although police officers are not in the strictest sense judges or jurors, they must and do perform
the functions of both on certain occasions. That is, they must decide the facts in any given encounter,
interpret the law with respect to the encounter, and decide how best to bring the encounter to a
successful conclusion. They also consider extenuating and mitigating factors.
“The extent to which police officers are encouraged to exercise discretion varies from department
to department, from shift to shift, and among divisions within the same department, but the exercise
of discretion is routine in all police agencies.”5 This is true because of the very nature of policing and
because, in most cities, the police simply cannot enforce all the laws all of the time or perform all of
the services demanded at the same time.
Thus, both law enforcement and policing are selective processes in which some laws are enforced
and some services are provided most of the time, while others are not. The determination of which,
and when, services are provided rests to some extent with police administrators, the general public,
prosecutors, judges, and other politicians, but police officers do not typically operate under
immediate, direct supervision. Therefore, they are relatively free to determine their own actions at any
given time.
Factors That Influence Discretion
Police officer decisions are typically influenced by factors such as the situation, setting, and
suspect; departmental policy and culture; the law; victims and public safety; and financial and political
expectations. Further, the education, training, and length of service of the officer and the wishes of the
complainant have been shown to affect officer decisions.6
The Situation, Setting, and Suspect
Every situation is in some measure unique, and officers must use their personal judgment about
the people involved and the context of the situation; a person’s age, gender, appearance, mental and

emotional state, and economic status are important details that figure into the equation. The officer
must calculate these characteristics in light of a host of other things.
However, an officer who decides to render service or enforce the law based solely on the gender,
race, or physical appearance of the citizen involved is exercising discretion inappropriately. Agencies
can discourage such behavior; proper training can teach why such decisions are unacceptable.
An officer must quickly figure into his or her decision of how to handle a situation by also
considering the severity of the offense and the potential for harm, whether there is a clear victim and
how vulnerable that person might be, especially to future harm. For example, an officer may decide to
follow through on an arrest in a domestic violence situation if a family member is clearly at risk, or if
the complaint is not the first one. If an officer has trouble determining who is at fault in the situation,
all parties may end up under arrest to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Police Discretion: A police officer’s exercise of individual choices or judgments concerning possible courses of
Departmental Policy and Culture
For some decisions, there is a range of behaviors that the department may acknowledge and
permit. Department practice may allow that a driver who is exceeding the speed limit by three or four
miles per hour should not be subject to citation. Leadership may establish a tolerance limit of five
miles per hour and instruct officers that those driving over the speed limit, but within the tolerance,
need not be cited. Or (as is true in most cases), the decision of whether or not to cite the driver may
depend completely on the officer’s discretion. Although officers can still cite a driver for driving two
or three miles per hour over the speed limit, they know that it is permissible to ignore or warn those
who are only marginally speeding.7
Author Video: How does the blue wall of silence play a role in law enforcement and society?
Officers exercise discretion in performing their duties, as they must do. The agency’s leadership
and supervision, as well as organizational norms and culture, can lead them to ignore rules and
policies; exercise restraint and tolerance and give a person a second chance; choose to refer an
individual for treatment or services instead of arrest; resort to threats, “street justice,” or force; regard
tasks not related to enforcement as less than “real” police work; and add another arrest charge to help
facilitate an individual’s punishment.
Chapter 8 discussed the police subculture and some of its problematic ideas—for example, that
people are not to be trusted to follow the law or that people do not like the cops—and officers have to
control and demand respect from the public. Depending on the agency, the subculture might
reinforce the idea of being lenient with people who have never been in trouble, or it might support the
idea that flaws in the criminal justice system justify making decisions about innocence and guilt
outside the courtroom. According to the culture of some agencies, preventing crime and enforcing the
law depend largely on deterrence, and severe consequences are more likely to achieve deterrence.
The Law
Of course, officers must know and follow the law. But there is a great deal of gray area in the law,
often quite deliberately, and in these situations, discretion plays a critical role. In an effort to curb
intimate partner violence, for instance, some states passed laws that require an arrest in many of these
instances, thereby removing or significantly limiting police discretion.8 There are advantages and

disadvantages to limiting police discretion. One advantage is greater consistency in terms of how and
when police officers enforce a given statute. Among the disadvantages to removing discretion is that
the law effectively might have a “new-widening” effect; the police may be constrained to make an
arrest when it is not really necessary.
Political and Economic Pressure
The police are also subject to political pressure to respond to high-profile or hot-button issues, and
to ease up or crack down on protestors, drunk drivers, celebrities with drug problems, or
undocumented immigrants, to name just a few issues. Officers answer to supervisors, and department
leaders have to answer to mayors, commissioners, and lawmakers.
CompStat and other performance measures can and do lead to pressure to meet political and
department expectations for citations, which can translate into significant revenue for the jurisdiction.
The Challenge of Discretion
Clearly, the exercise of discretion is necessary for effective policing, but it is not neat or easy, and
problems arise. The consequences of the police using discretionary authority unethically or otherwise
improperly can have devastating outcomes. These consequences include poor morale, civil liability
issues, tragic and unnecessary loss of life, and public mistrust of the police.
Author Video: Discretion
Maintaining ethical standards within the field of policing is important for reasons that may seem
obvious. First and foremost, the police are public servants—agents of the government sworn to
uphold the laws of the land. As such, they must be role models, on and off the job. When police
officers engage in unethical or illegal behavior, it shakes the trust and confidence of the public they
serve. Perhaps even more devastating, when the bond between the public and police is compromised
or severed, the ideals of the entire criminal justice network may be called into question. As stated by
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller, “Public corruption is the betrayal of
the public’s sacred trust. It erodes public confidence and undermines the strength of our democracy.
Unchecked, it threatens our government and our way of life.”9 More specifically, another high-
ranking official from the FBI stated, “The oath taken by the men and women of law enforcement to
uphold the law is not an idle one. Corruption cases involving a police officer erode the public trust
and thereby complicate and impede the efforts being made by the law enforcement community at all

Establishing performance standards can have the unintended consequence of promoting
biased enforcement because officers under pressure to meet monthly targets for ticketing may turn
to inappropriate profiling to find sources for tickets.
Quotas—one type of biased enforcement—are arbitrary and fixed numbers of citations or stops
(or some other measure of activity) that officers are required to meet on a periodic basis. Quotas are
unethical and often illegal, because they pressure officers into making decisions to meet the quota
requirement rather than what the situation should dictate. Quotas undermine healthy discretion.
Audio Link: Despite Laws and Lawsuits, Quota-Based Policing Lingers
Most administrators would deny that there are quotas in their agencies, being fully aware of the
controversy about quotas. Rather, they may point to performance standards, which tend to identify
acceptable ticket and arrest activity of department members, using measures such as averages and
medians. Regardless of the language, officer performance evaluations are often based in part on an
officer’s number of tickets and arrests. In response, some officers may engage in unethical behaviors
such as biased enforcement practices in attempting to meet agency expectations. One former New
York Police Department (NYPD) officer turned whistle-blower about the department’s quota system,
which the department routinely denies. Adhyl Polanco secretly recorded conversations at the Bronx
precinct where he worked and later filed suit against the NYPD. The justification for quotas might be
that it is a way to ensure productivity from officers, and such numbers are easy to calculate and
compare. However, Laurie Robinson, co-chairwoman of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st
Century Policing, concluded that numbers-based policing sends the wrong message to the public. “If
citizens believe that tickets are being issued or arrests are being made for reasons other than the goal of
law enforcement, which is about public safety,” says Robinson, “then their trust in the legitimacy of
the system is really eroded.” The problem can be made worse when officers receive pressure from city
officials or police administrators to write more citations as a source of revenue. “That, according to the
Justice Department, is exactly what happened in Ferguson, Missouri [where] the largely white police
there wrote huge numbers of tickets for the city’s black residents, collecting millions of dollars in fines
every year.”11
Biased Enforcement: Police practice that results from enforcement of the law based on any number of personal and
occupational-based biases
Quotas: Arbitrary and fixed numbers of citations or stops (or some other measure of activity) that officers are
required to meet on a periodic basis
Police Stories 10.1
Connie Koski, Professor and Former Police Officer
The Relationship Between Police Subculture, Misconduct, and
When we think of police ethics and police corruption, we often think of personal gain such as the acceptance of gratuities,

officers taking bribes or dealing drugs, or stealing items from crime scenes. What happens when officers take advantage of their
power to achieve positive policing outcomes? This noble cause corruption is either unethical or illegal behavior, but the motive
is pursuit of a benefit to society.
Noble cause corruption represents a form of behavior that is both complex and difficult to study because, at first glance,
officers who engage in such behaviors are passionate about protecting the public, a duty they were sworn to uphold.
The pressure is great on today’s police officers from administrators, politicians, and the public to “do something about
crime,” but bolstering the insularity of the police subculture—the “thin blue line”—threatens the delicate bond of trust and
legitimacy between the police and those they are sworn to protect.
I worked with a group of five officers who were the pride of my department; they were often used as example of what
constitutes “good police work” by many of our top administrators. These officers consistently made the most arrests and were
particularly devoted to ridding the city of guns, drugs, and the dealers who distributed them and were particularly skilled at
cultivating the information necessary to locate these perpetrators and illegal items. During my time on patrol, however, I often
encountered people on the street (both criminals and noncriminals) who informed me that these officers regularly used “drop
guns” and “drop bags”—evidence allegedly planted by the officers in question—to make their arrests. Additionally, many of
my coworkers admitted to having heard these same accusations, and, although no one would ever admit to having seen the
behavior firsthand, many of my fellow officers believed these accusations to be true.
One day, I finally got up the nerve to ask one of the officers directly if he participated in such activities. I could tell by his
facial expressions and body language that he was being evasive. He asked, “What difference would it make if I did?” He
justified his position by stating that all of the officers in the department knew that this person or that person was a drug dealer
who would be caught eventually. Therefore, why might the occasional act of “dropping a bag of dope” on a foot chase
ultimately matter in the long run, so long as the dealer was off the streets? I recall being perplexed by this answer and feeling
conflicted about this approach to policing. I could certainly agree that getting drugs, guns, and their dealers off the streets was
a very positive thing. Ethically, however, I was strongly opposed to the methods and told my fellow officer so. He simply
responded that I was naïve and I needed to get some more “TOJ” (time on the job) to understand the value of this approach to
fighting crime.
Although there was never enough evidence to substantiate any of the claims against my former coworkers, I often
wondered how many residents in my jurisdiction had been affected by such practices. In many ways, I could tell that these
behaviors directly and indirectly fed the long-standing mistrust of the police in the minority neighborhoods.
Ethics and Police Conduct
Perhaps the most important guide for officers as they make their decisions is ethics. Although
there are many different bases for the study of ethics, for the purposes of this text, ethics is “the study
of right and wrong, duty, responsibility, and personal character. . . . [We] should regard all of these
concepts . . . as having an implicit modifier—‘moral’—attached to them. Ethics is concerned with
moral duty, what is morally right and wrong.”12 Ethical conduct involves “doing the right thing in the
right way at the right time for the right reasons.”13 Although ethical issues have always existed in
policing, the introduction of community-oriented policing is an example of an organizational
transformation that relates to ethical decision making on the part of officers. This focus assists the
police in forming a partnership with the community and increasing accountability to the public.
“Because of concerns about the types of information being collected by law enforcement and how that
information is retained in records, concerns have been expressed that law enforcement may violate
citizens’ rights in the quest for terrorists.”14 A greater need for more and different types of information
has fostered the advancement of intelligence-led policing, which goes a step further than community-
oriented policing. (See Chapter 7.)

Web Link: Ethics and Integrity
Ethics has become an increasingly important topic in discussions of police discretion. Many
behaviors that were once permitted are no longer tolerated by the public. The behavior of police
officers in today’s society must be beyond reproach. Police agencies should emphasize ethics in their
recruitment, selection, hiring, and promoting practices to ensure the agency employs and rewards
individuals of excellent character. “Rewarding ethical behavior is the key to message sending for police
executives and middle managers. The logical response to unethical behavior is the appropriate use of
general orders, policies, and procedures to discipline officers for unethical behaviors and
noncompliance.”15 Former president Theodore Roosevelt stated, “No man can lead a public career
really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great
abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable to his private
Ethics in Police Education
It is imperative that the criminal justice curriculum in colleges and universities incorporate and
emphasize the study of ethics. The same is true of basic and advanced law enforcement training
programs. Ethics should be emphasized continually, and act as a thread that runs through all facets of
police hiring, training, and continuing education.

Author Video: Ethical Considerations
Research on police ethics in education that compares criminal justice students and active police
officers indicates a concerning level of tolerance for unethical behavior in both groups, albeit in
different areas. Student respondents were nearly twice as likely as their police officer counterparts to
respond ethically when dealing with a scenario about an off-duty police officer stopped for driving
while intoxicated, theft by a police officer at the scene of a burglary, the use of excessive force by
coworkers, witnessing supervisory misconduct, and stopping an off-duty police officer for a serious
traffic offense.17
However, student respondents reported a willingness to perjure themselves to keep themselves or
coworkers out of trouble or to ensure the conviction of someone they knew to be guilty. Far fewer
police officers and other professionals reported a willingness to perjure themselves for the same
To help change the cultural aversion to reporting wrongdoings of officers by other officers,
criminal justice educators must understand, emphasize, and teach ethics at every opportunity. Also,
police officials should require ongoing in-service training in ethical decision making for their officers.
Psychological testing and applicant background investigations can focus more on eliminating
applicants who have demonstrated unethical behavior. All of these measures may ultimately prove to
be ineffective, however, if the police subculture continues to reinforce nonfeasance as an indicator of
group loyalty, which is deeply embedded in the tradition.
Officers are called on to recognize the moral dilemma in each situation, decide what to do within
ethical boundaries, act with integrity, and follow through consistently. Peer pressure and lax
administration are just two of the forces that can thwart good intentions. The 2003 National Business
Ethics Survey found that approximately 40% of those surveyed would not report misconduct if they
observed it because of fear of reprisal from management.19
Research has demonstrated that ethics education can assist officers in better navigating moral
challenges by increasing ethical awareness and moral reasoning—two critical aspects of ethical decision
To be effective at changing bad behavior or maintaining good behavior, ethics education must go
beyond lectures and must engage officers in challenging dialogue and active tests of reasoning skills.
To maintain high standards, departments must incorporate discussions of ethics into daily
operations, stimulating those discussions through a variety of means including video clips, current
events, and hypothetical scenarios.21
Ethics: The study of right and wrong, duty, responsibility, and personal character—all of these concepts have an
implicit modifier—”moral”—attached to them; ethics is concerned with moral duty, what is morally right and wrong
You Decide 10.1
Undercover policing is a common practice that usually involves a variety of forms of deception. For example, “the police
have introduced drugs in prison, undertaken assignments from Latin American drug cartels to launder money, established
fencing businesses that paid cash for stolen goods and for ‘referrals,’ printed counterfeit bills, and committed perjury.” These
otherwise criminal activities are excused for undercover cops; their “authorized criminality” allows them, for example, to
maintain a fictitious identity to gather evidence in building a case against a known offender, for example.
Although undercover operations may sometimes seek merely to observe criminal behavior (surveillance operations) or to
prevent crime from occurring (preventative operations), many operations encourage crime commission or consider it a
necessity in carrying out a plan (facilitative operations), either through emboldening suspects—short of entrapment—or by
weakening potential victims.22

1. Should police be authorized to violate the law to carry out activities that are ultimately meant to enforce the law?
Be specific.
2. Should undercover policing apply to certain types of crimes and not others? Who should decide which crimes?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
Source: “Breaking the law to enforce it: Undercover police participation in crime,” by Elizabeth E. Joh, 2009. Stanford Law
Review, 62(1), 1. Retrieved July 2012 from
Evaluating Police Ethics
The vast majority of criminal justice students indicate that they would not turn in a classmate who
lied, cheated, or stole.23 A significant proportion of police officers indicated that, when they became
police officers, they would not turn in a fellow police officer who lied, cheated, or stole.24 Where does
the message that it is acceptable to let others do these things without taking action originate? How has
doing the right thing become the wrong thing to do?
In 1972, the Knapp Commission discovered that the majority of New York City police officers
did not aggressively seek out opportunities to engage in unethical conduct, but may have engaged in
minor acts of corruption, such as accepting gratuities.25 The commission referred to these officers as
“grass eaters.” They generally chose not to get involved in unethical conduct; however, they also
refused to turn in fellow officers who did—and thus, in effect, condoned unethical acts. This
reluctance to report wrongdoing is generally referred to as nonfeasance in the professional literature.26
Do trainers and leaders somehow teach police recruits and tenured officers to condone unethical
conduct? Unfortunately, the answer may be yes. And it may be more entrenched than is apparent.
(See also Chapter 11.)
Author Video: Ethical Theories
Although parents usually teach children not to lie, steal, or cheat, many also teach them not to get
involved when others lie, steal, or cheat. “It’s not your business—stay out of it!” “Don’t get involved!”
“You just worry about yourself, not about other people.” This and similar advice may indeed lead
youth to become grass eaters who simply turn away from lying, cheating, and stealing. They learn very
early that “ratting” on another individual is unacceptable behavior in many settings, which is perhaps
as detrimental as being directly involved in unethical conduct. Of course, the police subculture often
builds on this consideration. Loyalty to the group (other officers) is held out as a virtue, even when it
means engaging in seemingly minor unethical conduct (covering, making excuses, telling “white lies”)
to protect unethical individuals. Yet, police officers are required by the Code of Conduct as well as by
federal law (Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights, 1871) not to condone such behavior. According to
the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a number of factors negatively influence
police ethics:
Changing moral standards of contemporary society
Americans “lacking a moral consensus”
Increasing number of individuals who reject responsibility for their own actions
High degree of frustration experienced by today’s police officers
Misinformed or conflicting perceptions of the role of police and conflicting expectations about
what is or should be expected from the police
Law enforcement agencies that fail to clearly draw the legal, ethical, and moral lines in the form

of clear policies and procedures, training, supervision, and discipline27
In some cases, policy issues reflect the values of administrators who are not adequately committed
to ethical conduct.
After researching thousands of incidents of serious misconduct, the single most
damaging category of misconduct in law enforcement is administrators intentionally
ignoring obvious ethical problems. There is nothing as negative as a chief, sheriff, director
or superintendent knowing his department has ethical problems and intentionally looking
the other way, trying to make it to retirement.28
In some instances, administrators model unethical conduct on a regular basis, allowing officers to
rationalize that their own misconduct is no worse. Placing all the blame for unethical conduct on
administrators, however, may encourage individual officers who engage in such conduct to attempt to
escape responsibility for their actions.
In a study that examined frontline supervisors’ perceptions of police integrity, the supervisors
reported reluctance to act on the misconduct of their subordinates because of the perceived unethical
practices of high-ranking supervisors in their organization. The researchers posed the following
question: “[T]hough supervisors may believe in the need for reform, will they act on those beliefs
when they do not believe their own supervisors are legitimately committed to improvement?”29
Realistically, the answer is probably no.
Certainly, the majority of police officers perform their duties honestly, ethically, and
professionally. Still, the officers who engage in inappropriate behavior tarnish the reputation of
everyone in policing and place the field in the challenging position of having to constantly convince
the public that acts of police malfeasance are not widespread. Far too often, those who do the right
thing by telling the truth and exposing corruption and brutality are the victims of attacks from within
their ranks.
Knapp Commission: Investigative committee formed in 1972 by the city of New York in response to allegations of
large-scale corruption among NYPD officers; set the stage for many cities and states in the years that followed
Grass Eaters: Term coined by the Knapp Commission to refer to officers who engage in minor acts of corrupt
practices (acceptance of gratuities, etc.) and passively accept the wrongdoings of other officers
Nonfeasance: To the reluctance of generally honest police officers to report misconduct committed by their peers;
has been identified as one of the factors perpetuating this issue and is often the result of the influence of the police
Code of Conduct: Formed and adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which sets forth
standards of conduct for police officers on and off duty
Police Ethics: Standards of conduct based on moral and professional principles that influence a variety of actions
taken or not taken by police officers on and off duty
Around the World 10.1
Police officers in Wales are held to high professional standards. Officers have been dismissed or resigned for crimes,
including “supplying drugs, possessing indecent images of children and drunk-driving.” However, many other officers who
committed offenses, including “violence, traffic offenses and animal cruelty,” were not dismissed. Many argue that every
incident or offense must be judged on the merits of the case. This often involves shifting the burden to the officer to prove
why he or she should not be dismissed.
The Home Office believes “public confidence in the police is crucial in a system that rests on the principle of policing by
consent.” Michael Levi, a professor of criminology, argues that the “figures indicate that police officers were less likely to
commit crimes than the general population. The general statistics are that one in three males can expect to be convicted of

something over their lifetime.”
1. Police agencies invest considerable money and resources in identifying, hiring, and training law enforcement
officers. Should law enforcement officers be dismissed any time an officer violates the law, regardless of the type of
offense? Or should different offenses be treated differently?
2. Considering the importance of public trust, what measure can a police agency take to regain the public trust in the
event an officer is disciplined or dismissed for criminal activity?
Source: “12 of 32 police in Wales kept jobs after breaking the law, figures show,” by Kevin Leonard, 2012. BBC News.
Retrieved September 2012 from
Biased Enforcement and Racial Profiling
Racial profiling occurs when an officer considers race as part of a decision to take, or not to take,
law enforcement action. Legally, an officer can only consider race as part of a specific, reliable suspect
description tied to a particular crime. Considering a person’s race as a basis for action is unacceptable
and grounds for disciplinary action.
Empirical evidence has documented the existence of biased enforcement during routine traffic
stops. Black and Hispanic drivers are both ticketed and searched at higher rates than Whites.
© Leg
The action is still racial profiling, even if the officer does not base his or her decision “solely on
race,” but considers it as one factor among many. For example, if an officer takes into account a
person’s race when deciding whom to stop and cite for speeding, it is racial profiling even if the driver
is actually violating the law. In this case, the officer has a perfectly legitimate reason to stop and cite,
but the fact that he considered race as one of many factors makes the stop illegal. That is very
different, however, from a case where a person’s race is part of a reliable description tied to a crime—
for example, “a male Hispanic wearing a red and blue sweater.” In that case, the officer can consider
Author Video: Racial profiling
Though it is impossible to know how many, certainly there are police officers who continue to
engage in such practices. Indeed, some well-publicized police practices are criticized as overt profiling.
New York City’s “stop and frisk” program is one such practice. Even if the proportion of officers
involved in such practices is small, all officers should be aware that racial profiling is grounds for
disciplinary action. Harassment of individuals short of taking official action also is unacceptable. (See
Chapter 12.)
Police are sworn to uphold the “rule of law” in the protection of individual rights, while

dutifully enforcing traffic and criminal laws for the protection of the public at large. . . . It is
essential that law enforcement administrators take every necessary action to ensure zero
tolerance regarding enforcement actions that are discriminatory against any segment of the
Racial Profiling: Occurs when an officer considers race as part of a decision to take, or not to take, law enforcement
action; legally, an officer can only consider race as part of a specific, reliable suspect description tied to a particular
Leadership and Improving Decision Making
Every police department must establish a clear code of ethical conduct that is based on a set of
core values and a mission statement and then go beyond that. Chiefs and supervisors must lead by
example, demonstrating that the code applies to everyone in the organization and that everyone is
accountable for it.
Video Link: Buffalo Police to mandate ethics training
Because the police department is a public service agency, honesty and accountability to the public
are particularly important. It is extremely valuable to recognize and communicate the importance of
discretion at all levels in policing. In reality, it is impossible to treat everyone exactly the same. A
necessary first step in dealing with discretion is to recognize its existence and importance. Only then
can departments address the proper and improper applications of discretion, be more transparent with
the public, and improve on effective training.
Although it may not be possible to arrive at a comprehensive set of guidelines for the exercise of
police discretion, it is clearly possible to improve on current guidelines. Clarifying guidelines for
discretion will assist officers themselves in behaving according to professional standards. It will also
assist the community in understanding police actions. The most effective officers grasp the social and
historical context in which they operate.
Figure 10.2 Ethics and Honesty Ranking by Profession

Leaders set the tone for the entire organization; therefore, without a strong commitment to ethical
decision making by the chief executive officer and his or her entire command staff, instances of
unethical or illegal practices are sure to follow.
Leaders can and must affect the ethical climate in their organizations. Subordinates
learn from observing the behaviors of their superiors and the consequences of those
behaviors. If leaders are rewarded for ethical behavior and punished for unethical behavior,
their subordinates will learn to emulate the ethical behavior. Nothing any leader can say will
have a more powerful effect than what he or she does.31
Police agencies must have clear policies and practices. Only then will officers and community
members know what is expected. Police leaders must address unethical conduct or other breeches of
public trust in the most open, honest, and transparent ways possible. Any reluctance to respond will
almost certainly arouse suspicion of wrongdoing and acts as a barrier to the trust and confidence of the
public in the police that are essential if the police are to operate effectively.32
When authority, power, and discretion are granted to public officials . . . rational people
presume that they will not use more than they need for their legitimate purposes, because
rational people would never grant more authority or discretion to abridge liberty or use
force than they believed necessary. The presumption is not of guilt but of official respect for
restraint. Citizens expect public officials to justify their use of authority or power when
questions arise.33
In a 2014 Gallup poll on honesty/ethics in professions, 48% of respondents rated police honesty
and ethical standards as high or very high. Figure 10.2 shows how police officers are ranked in
comparison to other professions.
One approach that may be more effective in guiding officer discretion involves the use of
incentives to promote voluntary compliance with policies. Such incentives include officer participation
in policy formulation, establishment of specialized units to deal with specific tasks, positive
disciplinary practices aimed at correcting the problem behavior without humiliating the officer
involved, and more and better training on discretion in a variety of different situations.34
Another departmental approach is to regularly discuss discretion, ethics, and decision making,
weaving such discussions into the organizational culture. Rather than waiting for a critical incident to
occur, supervisors and managers should engage their officers with scenarios and case studies, taking the
opportunity to communicate important agency values, clarify law and policy, and challenge officers to
think critically. By making it acceptable to talk about ethics, police agencies can better prepare their
officers to face the inevitable difficult choices required of law enforcement officers. However, by
discussing common dilemmas before they occur, officers will be better prepared to make the right
decisions, rather than to rely solely on individual judgment. In the same way that officers continually
train for tactical situations, they should continually train for ethical decisions as well.

Departments must also create systems and foster a culture that rewards ethical behavior.
Administrators send key messages by taking allegations of misconduct seriously, protecting
confidentiality, and counteracting retaliation for whistle blowing.
SAGE Journal Article: Whistle-blowing and the Code of Silence in Police Agencies
It is also important that leaders realize that informal leaders in a police organization also impact
police officer attitudes and behaviors. Police leaders must be prepared to immediately confront ethical
violations and punish immoral behavior.35 Law enforcement executives who are committed to ethical
behavior can encourage it as follows:
1. Incorporate the ideals of ethics and integrity into their organization’s mission statement
2. Make ethical decision making part of the organization’s formal functions
3. Emphasize ethical behavior as part of the agency’s organizational philosophy
4. Implement zero-tolerance policies for unethical behavior or decision making36
Police administrators can also mandate the study of ethical decision making during training and
press training directors to stress this activity at the recruit level. In addition, training directors should
revisit their curriculum designs and ensure that trainers are experienced educators who understand and
emphasize the importance of ethical considerations and discretionary activities. All policies governing
individual and collective police behavior should be consistent with the ideals of justice and morality.
Administrators must build safeguards into department policy that anticipate and address any
tendency toward taking shortcuts or other predictable secondary leanings toward the unethical.
Leaders must communicate that they support ethical practice.
Media Relations
As discussed in Chapter 6, the media, both print and broadcast, have the technological ability to
transmit news stories throughout the world in a matter of seconds. For a variety of reasons, police–
media relations in this country have been problematic. Many police officials—line and staff personnel
alike—tend to shun media representatives whenever possible, withholding information on
newsworthy events even when disclosing information could not possibly harm anyone or compromise
a criminal investigation. In such cases, the media rely instead on questionable sources for information,
which frequently results in inaccuracies in the story. Transparency with respect to police operations—
for example, when such transparency does not jeopardize ongoing investigations—even if it involves
disclosing unethical conduct or poor discretionary choices on the part of the police, may result in
more balanced coverage and more focus on the positive contributions of the police.
Policing in Practice Video: What is your department’s experience with the use of discretion
and media relations? Is there specific training for working with the media?
The conventional wisdom about the most effective way of dealing with the media appears to be
changing. Forward-thinking departments are viewing the media as a tool and a partner rather than an
adversary from whom they must conceal as much of the truth as possible. Police chiefs are learning
from past mistakes and recognizing that clear and effective communication to the public through the
media is a necessity in today’s world. They are finding that their integrity and their reputation are key

assets in public relations.
Police departments, like this one in Dallas, use Twitter to inform citizens about crime and
traffic enforcement locations, but also to build community relations.
Progressive administrators are seeking training in media and public relations. Specialists dedicate
themselves to coaching and educating police administrators on interviews, how to respond to reporters
in a crisis situation, and defining the conversation and the issues. Trainers advocate for a proactive
attitude, stressing the need for the police to “face tough issues head-on and speak-out when news
coverage is skewed or inaccurate. . . . Law enforcement has been a victim too long. It’s time to stand
up and fight back when people make false allegations about [a] department.”37
Police departments are increasingly using social media as a tool to counter false information,
define the version of events as official, and build public relations and community. (See Chapter 6.)
Intolerance of Malfeasance
Although the next chapter will discuss police misconduct in detail, the discussion of ethics
inevitably comes around to how leaders must react to breaches of ethics. Rather than focus on zero-
tolerance arrest policies, some police administrators adopted zero-tolerance policies concerning
inappropriate conduct by department members. As previously asserted, the vast majority of our
nation’s police officers perform their duties ethically, professionally, and competently. Those officers
who engage in unethical or criminal activities and the departments that allow it damage the reputation
of the entire field of policing. Most honest, hardworking officers know who the problem officers are,
as do the command staff. The snag here is often the reluctance of officers who believe their own ethics
are sound to report the wrongdoings of their colleagues. A National Institute of Justice (NIJ) study
designed to promote integrity in the police profession focused on the following issues for agency staff:
Do they know the rules?
How much individual and organizational support is there for those rules?
Are staff familiar with disciplinary actions associated with violations of rules and policies?
Do staff view disciplinary measures as fair?
How willing are staff to report misconduct?38
As stated in the executive summary of the report, “An agency’s culture of integrity, as defined by
clearly understood and implemented policies and rules, may be more important in shaping the ethics

of police officers than hiring the ‘right’ people.”39
The data also indicated that officers quickly learn how various acts of misconduct will be treated
by observing their organization’s ability to identify unethical conduct and discipline errant officers. “If
unwritten policy conflicts with written policy, the resulting confusion undermines an agency’s overall
integrity-enhancing efforts.”40 The report also offered recommendations for encouraging officers to
come forward to report acts of misconduct by their coworkers. They included the following:
1. Making it clear that officers and supervisors who do not report misconduct will be disciplined
2. Terminating any department member caught lying during an internal investigation
3. Issuing rewards, in anonymous fashion, to officers who do report misconduct
4. Allowing for anonymous or confidential reporting
5. Regularly rotating supervisors and officers among shifts, districts or precincts, and other units of
assignment (which keeps officers from becoming too comfortable)41
Case in Point 10.1
A Shreveport, Louisiana, police officer was terminated from the department for malfeasance. The termination was based on an
incident in 2010. The officer was “assisting in a prisoner transport at the Shreveport City Jail. As the officer reportedly searched the
suspect, a police supervisor reported seeing the officer remove an item from the suspect’s pocket and hand it to a female standing
The female was detained, and the investigation revealed the item removed from the prisoner’s pocket was a small, plastic bag of
suspected marijuana. The officer was arrested for malfeasance in office and obstruction of justice. He was subsequently placed on
administrative leave until time of termination.
1. Could there have been a legitimate propose for passing the contents of an arrestee’s pockets to a bystander?
2. How should the department inform the staff of the outcome of an investigation into malfeasance? Be specific.
3. What privacy issues might there be for an officer who is under investigation?
Source: “Shreveport police officer fired for malfeasance,” by KSLA News 12, 2011. Retrieved June 2012 from
10 Under Review
Chapter Summary
The use of discretion by police is a necessity in the world of policing. The exercise of this broad power is not always
underscored by responsible and ethical decision making, and the police subculture has a tremendous influence on the use of
Discriminatory law enforcement practices erode the public trust, which creates strained police community relations and a
dangerous societal divide. One of the most significant such issues is racial profiling, or the targeting of minorities and other
certain classes by police for no other reason than race, ethnicity, or perhaps social class. This has weakened the trust between
the public and the police, particularly among minority populations.
This was not the only cost as Congress and state legislatures in the nation created laws that require mandatory data
collection by police agencies regarding police encounters with citizens pertaining to detention, search and seizure, and arrests
or other legal sanctions. The economic cost for the implementation of these new policies came at great expense to individual
Ethics in policing is extremely important. Unethical conduct by police ranges from violations of department rules and
regulations to more serious issues such as unlawful searches and seizures, the use of excessive force, covering up for the
malfeasance of fellow officers, and abuse of authority or criminal misconduct.
Police officers must be held to a higher ethical standard than most other citizens because of the oath they take when they
enter the field of policing. Honesty, integrity, responsibility, accountability, and professionalism (on and off duty) are the
underlying tenets of that oath. When officers breach their fiduciary responsibilities, the consequences can be damaging to the
individual officers, their respective agencies, and the communities they serve. A loss of faith or trust by those communities is a
serious consequence that is difficult to remedy and helps further degrade public safety.
There are many reasons why unethical practices by some police officers continue, and chief among them are the negative
influences of the police subculture, lack of strict accountability on the part of all police officers, ineffective supervisory
practices, and weak or ineffective leadership structures.

Discretion, ethics, accountability, and professionalism are dynamically interrelated and must be addressed in a coordinated
Ethical practice practice is a requisite for professional status, and if the field of policing is to progress further along the path
to professionalization, all parties concerned must commit themselves to achieving this end. Whether the police are able to
attain this end depends, in large part, on the responsible and accountable exercise of discretionary authority.
Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.
Police discretion 229
Biased enforcement 233
Quotas 233
Ethics 234
Knapp Commission 236
Grass eaters 236
Code of conduct 236
Nonfeasance 237
Police ethics 237
Racial profiling 238
Discussion Questions
Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.
1. What are some of the more important ethical issues in policing? Should police recruits be taught ethics?
2. What is police discretion? How extensive is its use?
3. Why is the police subculture important in understanding discretion?
4. What are some possible negative consequences of the exercise of discretion? What are some positive consequences?
5. What factors besides the police subculture affect the exercise of police discretion?
6. Can we eliminate the exercise of police discretion? Should we eliminate it? How might we gain better control over it?
7. Discuss racial profiling as an example of poor discretionary decision making.
8. Discuss the evolution of the police code of ethics or conduct. Why are ethics especially important for the police?
9. List and discuss strategies that may be undertaken to improve the current state of ethical decision making.
Internet Exercises
1. Using the key words “international police accountability,” locate and discuss information concerning attempts to establish
police accountability in at least one foreign country.
2. Use the Internet to locate the code of ethics or code of conduct for a police agency in your area. How does this code compare
to the code established by the International Association of Chiefs of Police? In your opinion, is the code enforceable?
3. On the Internet, locate information concerning racial profiling or bias.
Student Study Site
Sharpen your skills with SAGE edge!

SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and
links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.

Chapter 11 Police Misconduct and Accountability
© Patriz
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Define the general concept of police corruption and how it is investigated
2. Identify specific examples of police corruption
3. Describe the findings of research on police misconduct and use of force
4. Discuss the impacts of police misconduct, particularly in terms of police–community relations
5. Evaluate some of the alleged causes of police misconduct
6. Describe the relationship between management, administrative issues, and police misconduct
7. Summarize the ways in which police agencies and individuals are held accountable for officer conduct
Misconduct by the police is a reality that agencies and society must address. Problem behavior
ranges from minor infractions of rules or policy to egregious criminal acts. Many ethical violations by
the police fall under the general heading of conduct unbecoming a police officer. Even though the
most troublesome or tragic incidents of misconduct represent a small fraction of the tens of thousands
of daily police interactions, police misconduct is a serious matter whenever it occurs. It creates an aura
of suspicion, mistrust, and uncertainty. When allegations of corruption arise and are confirmed, or—
as seems to occur with increasing frequency—when members of the public document acts of
misconduct that seem to go unpunished—it severely inhibits strategies intended to improve policing.
In our present era of policing, law enforcement executives, government officials, community
groups, and academicians all advocate policing strategies that include partnerships with the public in
the control and suppression of crime, thus providing for an overall improvement in the quality of life.
Such strategies require an atmosphere of trust and confidence between the public and those who have
been sworn to serve and protect them.
Misconduct may be divided into two broad categories—corruption and physical or emotional
abuse. There are many forms of each of these; all are violations of the ethical standards of police

What Is Corruption?
Corruption occurs when a police officer acts in a manner that places his personal gain ahead of
duty, resulting in the violation of police procedures, criminal law, or both.1 “Corrupt acts contain
three elements: 1) They are forbidden by some law, rule, regulation, or ethical standard; 2) they
involve the misuse of the officer’s position; and 3) they involve some actual or expected material
reward or gain.”2
Video Link: Chicago’s Gun Violence and Police Misconduct
Police corruption is best viewed not only as the aberrant behavior of individual officers, but as
group behavior guided by contradictory sets of norms. It involves a number of specific patterns that
can be analyzed according to the acts and actors involved, the norms violated, the extent of peer group
support, the degree of organization, and the police department’s reaction. Though most likely
relatively small, the actual number of police officers involved in corruption nationwide is significant,
enough to generate a good deal of negative attention when their acts are exposed. Although most
police officers are not directly involved in corrupt activities, large numbers do condone such activities
by their failure to speak out or take action against them. These are the officers (referred to as grass
eaters by the Knapp Commission) who passively accept the presence of corruption as a part of the
police world.3 (See Chapter 10.) Meat eaters are those officers, typically far fewer in number, who
actively engage in corrupt activities.
Lexow Commission: Investigative committee formed in 1894 by the city of New York in response to allegations of
large-scale corruption amongst NYPD officers; this form of investigation set the stage for many cities and states in the
years that followed
Background of Corruption
Police misconduct is a complicated topic with a long and convoluted history in the United States.
The history of the U.S. municipal police is replete with examples and discussions concerning
corruption. (See Appendix.) Reform movements have been initiated periodically to reduce or
eliminate corruption but have largely failed to achieve their goals. The reform movement of the
middle 1800s attempted to remove blatant and undesirable political influence from policing. The civil
service reforms of the late 1800s sought the same goal, and though there were some successes, they
were bitterly opposed and circumvented.4 In 1894, the Lexow Commission, an investigative group
appointed by a coalition of concerned citizens and good government groups, closed its hearings into
police corruption and ineffectiveness in New York City.5 It reported that corruption was systematic
and pervasive, a condition that it attributed in large part to malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance
in the higher ranks. The next 15 years saw similar investigations and findings in almost every major
U.S. city.
Reforms in the early and middle 1900s emphasized the importance of professionalism as a means
of reducing corruption of all types, and reform-oriented chiefs were appointed in many cities across
the nation. Yet the problem of corruption resurfaced, sometimes in departments previously marred,
other times in departments previously untouched by scandal. “For cops as for anyone else, money
works like an acid on integrity. Bribes from bootleggers made the 1920s a golden era for crooked

police. Gambling syndicates in the 1950s were protected by a payoff system more elaborate than the
Internal Revenue Service.”6 In 1971, Frank Serpico brought to light police corruption in New York
City, and the Knapp Commission investigation that followed uncovered widespread corruption
among officers of all ranks.
Some departments were built on corrupt foundations, with politicians requiring payments for
positions, while others gave police positions away in return for political favors. Allegations of
corruption still occur on a regular basis in many large departments, as well as in small- and medium-
sized (fewer than 500 sworn personnel) departments.
Meat Eaters: Term coined by the Knapp Commission to describe officers who engage widely in corrupt and
unlawful practices during the performance of their duties
Official Investigation Into Corruption
Two highly publicized commissions were formed more recently to investigate police corruption
and offer recommendations for change, the first of which was the Christopher Commission. Created
by former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley in 1991 in response to several high-profile media accounts
of misconduct by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) members, the commission specifically
addressed structure and operation, recruitment and training practices, internal disciplinary procedures,
and citizen review and oversight issues.7
The final report of the Christopher Commission painted a disturbing, but all too familiar, picture
of the LAPD for both the public and the police. Key findings of the report included the following:
A small, but significant, number of police officers systematically engaged in acts involving
excessive force.
Police administrators clearly knew who these problem officers were but took little or no
preventive measures to address the problem.
A new policy needed to be adopted that would hold both individual officers and command staff
strictly accountable for future acts of malfeasance.8
Whether the LAPD adopted any of these recommendations stemming from the Christopher
Commission report is subject to debate. Many remain skeptical that any fundamental changes
occurred within the LAPD.
For many of the same reasons cited by Los Angeles public officials and enraged citizen groups,
former mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City formed a special commission to investigate
allegations of corruption within the ranks of the New York Police Department (NYPD). The Mollen
Commission officially formed in 1994 and was headed by retired New York Supreme Court justice
Milton Mollen. The commission was to investigate allegations of misconduct, analyze the effectiveness
of anticorruption mechanisms within the department, and offer recommendations for improvement.
Key findings and recommendations included the following:
Much of the corruption was closely tied to the illegal drug market and the use of excessive force.
Many of the corrupt acts were perpetrated by police officers acting in concert with one another,
sometimes with as many as 15 conspiring officers.
Corruption occurred primarily in crime-ridden precincts, populated predominantly by minority
group members.
The leadership structure of the department demonstrated no sense of commitment to rooting
out corrupt practices.
There existed a strong police subculture that frowned on honest officers reporting the

wrongdoings of corrupt coworkers.
The internal mechanisms responsible for uncovering and investigating misconduct were
ineffective and, in many instances, focused on the whistle-blowers rather than the perpetrators.
There existed a department-wide belief that the identification of corruption would cause the
department administrators to retaliate for bringing discredit on the NYPD.
A recommendation was made to create a permanent, external panel to monitor internal
anticorruption measures and conduct investigations.9
It appears that the mayor and police administrators have yet to adopt the recommendations of the
Mollen Commission and strongly object to oversight from outside the NYPD. This reluctance may be
partly responsible for the continued allegations of misconduct that plagues the NYPD. Nearly 15 years
after the Mollen Commission findings and recommendations were released, the executive director of
the New York Civil Liberties Union stated the following:
Under his [Commissioner Raymond Kelly] watch the discipline of officers guilty of
misconduct has deteriorated dramatically, and many misconduct cases have been closed
without any action whatsoever. . . . The police department has sabotaged independent
scrutiny of officer practices, creating an atmosphere in which even the most egregious
misconduct goes unpunished—unless, of course, a YouTube video puts the lie to the official
Policing in Practice Video: What do you find are common public misconceptions about
police conduct? Is there a public misconception of the level of police misconduct?
Clearly, a brief comparison of the major findings and recommendations of both the Christopher
and Mollen Commissions reveals many more similarities than differences: the inability of these two
agencies to police themselves, a reluctance to proactively and seriously confront this issue or encourage
independent oversight, subcultures that discourage honest police officers from reporting coworker
misconduct, and leadership structures that do not actively promote and support anticorruption
Although the reports focused on two of our nation’s largest police departments, the critical issues
that formed the core of both investigations seem to ring true, albeit in differing magnitude, for all size
departments and in all regions of the country. Police agencies at all levels of government are
susceptible to police misconduct.
Christopher Commission: Investigative body created by former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley in 1991 in
response to several high-profile media accounts of various acts of misconduct by LAPD members
Mollen Commission: The charge of the committee was to investigate allegations of misconduct, analyze the
effectiveness of anticorruption mechanisms within the NYPD, and offer recommendations for improvement
Other Types of Police Misconduct
Because of their vast legal and discretionary power and authority, and the multiple roles that they
perform and assume in a democratic society. The opportunities for all forms of misconduct are,
unfortunately, present in the everyday world of policing. The officers who bring discredit on their
departments by compromising the police code of conduct causes severe damage to their respective

agencies in the areas of public trust, department morale, and overall community relations.
Nonfeasance, Misfeasance, and Malfeasance
Nonfeasance (Chapter 10) can be contrasted with misfeasance, taking inappropriate action or
intentionally giving incorrect information, and malfeasance, taking hostile or aggressive action against
others. In the context of policing, nonfeasance refers to the reluctance of most police officers to report
wrongdoings committed by their coworkers. Both misfeasance and malfeasance also occur within the
context of police culture. When committing the former, for example, police officers may perjure
themselves to cover misconduct; while in committing the latter, they may threaten witnesses or
victims to keep them from registering complaints concerning misconduct.
Misfeasance: Taking inappropriate action or intentionally giving incorrect information
Malfeasance: Any intentional act that either is based on illegality or disregards the law enforcement code of ethics
or a departmental policy
You Decide 11.1
Agencies need a citizen complaint process that is easily available to the community. This enhances the department’s
accountability to the public and serves as an indicator to administration of performance issues that may need to be addressed
department wide.
One method of handling complaints is to have an internal organization in which the police actually moniter themselves.
Naturally this type of system, especially on high profile cases, creates suspicion and skepticism by the community. The
majority of police personnel would prefer to be judged by someone who has law enforcement experience.
Another popular system involves a citizen review board made up of civilians who have no strong connection with the
police department. The community would likely welcome this type of system, but critics argue that citizens lack sufficient
understanding of police work to render a fair decision.
1. Of these two options, which method would you prefer? Give your reason(s).
2. Do you have any other suggestions on how internal investigations could be handled in a way that would be fair to
the employees as well as the community they serve?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
Drug-Related Corruption
Another form of police misconduct involves drug-related corruption. The large sums of easy
money associated with drug selling are a temptation that can prove too hard for many police officers
to resist.
When the wages of sin are incredibly lucrative, as they are in so many instances today,
the appeal of corruption is proportionately more alluring. . . . Let me suggest to you that
given the potential for misuse of police power, the wonder is that police officers, who
witness crime, inhumanity and degradation every day, do not lose their sense of integrity
and do not violate their oath of office more frequently.11
The 1998 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study provided insight into the systematic,
narcotics-related corruption in the field of policing. The study analyzed federal drug investigations and
prosecutions of police officers from several state and municipal police departments. The following is a
summary of the major conclusions of the GAO report:
Drug-related police corruption differs from other forms of police misconduct.
Officers involved in this corrupt practice “were more likely to be actively involved in the

commission of a variety of crimes, including stealing drugs and/or money from drug dealers,
selling drugs and lying under oath about illegal searches.”
Power and vigilante justice were found to be additional motives for drug-related corruption.
A recurring pattern of this form of corruption was that the misconduct involved small groups of
officers who consistently conspired and helped one another commit a variety of crimes.
The culture surrounding drug-related corruption was characterized by the code of silence, blind
loyalty to group members, and cynicism about the criminal justice system.
Younger officers, as well as those lacking experience and at least some higher education, were
found to be more susceptible to these corrupt practices.
A variety of critical management and administrative issues were also associated with this form of
corruption, such as lax or incompetent supervision; no real commitment from department
leaders to promote integrity; weak or ineffective investigative methods; inadequate training, basic
and in-service, particularly in the area of ethical decision making; police brutality; and informal
pressures stemming from officers’ personal friendships and affiliations with neighborhood

The aftermath of a successful narcotics raid, with the fruits of the crime showing. The
seizure of large quantities of illicit drugs and cash has frequently been the downfall of many
police officers.
© Photos 12/Alamy Stock Photo
Although the GAO report is somewhat dated, it is nonetheless a seminal piece of research on
police corruption. The conclusions appear to be supported by the media and the conclusions of police

corruption commissions. (See Appendix.) The issues pertaining to the strength of the police
subculture, the support of peers in the commission of acts of misconduct, lax supervisory practices,
and ineffective leadership structures seem to be key variables in the continuation of corrupt activities.
To some extent, perjury and other unauthorized deception serve as links between corruption and
other forms of misconduct. The line may not always be clear between lying to informants and drug
dealers and deceiving one’s superiors.
Once perjury and deception gain a foothold, they tend to spread to other officers and to other
types of situations until the entire justice system loses credibility. In some cases, perjury becomes
accepted as an inherent part of the job in much the same way as corruption.13
One researcher interviewed nearly 200 NYPD officers about police misconduct, presenting officers
with a variety of hypothetical scenarios.14 Of the officers interviewed, 77% indicated that perjury
“would likely be committed in some of the vignettes presented.”15 The following include other related
highlights from the research:
The three crimes found to be most significant in affecting officers’ decisions to perjure
themselves were the sale of narcotics, rape, and assault.
Officers seeking promotion were more likely to perjure themselves.
Officers with a significant need for overtime pay were highly likely to commit perjury.
The past performance of officers in this regard was a strong predictor of continued acts of
The duty assignments of officers affected their likelihood to commit perjury. Uniformed officers
were more than twice as likely as detectives to commit perjury.
Officers who had been expressly warned by their supervisors on prior occasions not to perjure
their testimony or lie on arrest reports were highly unlikely to engage in this form of misconduct
Author Video: What are two common types of police misconduct?
Emotional Abuse and Psychological Harassment
Police officers, like people in other occupational groups, are prone to use stereotypes and divide
the world into us and them, or insiders and outsiders. The police sometimes label those who are
perceived as outsiders. This is also referred to as “othering” in psychological terms, which allows
people to think of the “others” as less human and less deserving of respect and dignity, thus justifying
the abuse or harassment. The use of racial slurs is but one example of this kind of harassment. Other
special categories and labels are created for particular types of “deviants,” for example, drug dealers,
homosexuals, prostitutes, and protestors. The creation of special categories and the ensuing labels are
not unique to the police, but as police are public servants who represent the authority of the
government, their attitudes can significantly impact the lives of others.
Corruption of Authority
The corruption of authority is the most widespread category of police misconduct and includes
“a wide variety of unauthorized material inducements, anything from discounted underwear to free

commercial sex.”16
Although the acceptance of gratuities on the part of the police often violates department policy, it
does not violate criminal law when the gratuities are offered voluntarily. In many cases, gratuities are
viewed as part of the job and are overlooked by police departments unless they become a matter of
public concern. In other words, the acceptance of gratuities is often allowed, if not approved.
The difficulty with accepting gratuities is that the officer never knows when the donor may expect
or request special services or favors in return. This may never happen, but if it does, it places the
officer who has accepted the gratuities in a difficult position. In addition, it becomes difficult to draw
a line between such gratuities and other types of corrupt activities in terms of monetary value and
violation of ethical standards. To the extent that the public witnesses this kind of special treatment, it
acts to further erode confidence and trust in the police.
The issue of police officers and gratuities continues to be debated, but the weight of evidence
seems to suggest that they are best avoided when offered by commercial enterprises. Whether or not
gratuities pose a major problem when they are offered by a grateful citizen and involve nothing more
than a cup of coffee and a cookie remains controversial. Clearly, if an officer ignores an existing
departmental policy prohibiting acceptance of any form of gratuity, it establishes a bad precedent.
Corruption of Authority: The most widespread category of police misconduct; includes a wide variety of
unauthorized material inducements or gratuities
Around the World 11.1
All Africa News: Ghanaian Chronicle: Crack the Whip on
Erring Police Officers
A total of 947 policemen and women have been dismissed from the Ghana Police Service for various acts of misconduct
within three years, according to the vice president of Ghana, who is also the chairman of the National Police Council. He
continued by stating that, “although we have bad nuts in every establishment, I want to commend the police administration
for cracking the whip” on offenders and indicated the dismissals should “go a long way to deter other officers from indulging
in acts against the code of conduct of the Police Service.”
The vice president warned that the government would deal ruthlessly with the culprits who want to derail the house-
cleaning by the police service and cautioned the police against using the media to settle their personal and organizational
grievances, since that might expose divisions within the police service, which criminals might be able to use to their advantage.
The inspector general of police cautioned personnel against indulging in activities that could tarnish the image of the
service, adding, “As personnel of the Police Service, you must demonstrate a high level of professionalism, in words and in
deeds, by exhibiting impartiality and fairness to all parties . . .”
1. The chairman described the 947 officers as “bad nuts.” Do you believe the officers represent isolated cases of “bad
nuts,” or do you believe there is something deeply flawed within the police service itself? Explain your position.
2. Do you think the steps the Ghana Police Service took constitute a true deterrent to future misconduct by officers?
Source: “AAGM: Crack the whip on erring police officers.” Ghanaian Chronicle (Ghana), February 28, 2012.
Kickbacks refer to the practice of obtaining goods, services, or money for business referrals by
police officers.17 Those involved in offering these quid pro quo schemes could include lawyers, doctors,
towing contractors, auto body shop operators, and others who reward police officers who refer
customers to them. Some of the forms of misconduct in this category are not illegal; in fact, it is easy
to cross the line between violations of department rules and regulations and illegal activities. The

difficulties inherent in such activities are obvious, but in some police departments, they too are
condoned, unless a public issue arises as a result.
Kickbacks: Type of police corruption that refers to the practice of obtaining goods, services, or money for business
referrals by police officers
Shakedowns occur when officers take money or other valuables and personal services from
offenders they have caught during the commission of a crime.18 Drug dealers, prostitutes, and
motorists seem to be favorite targets, though incidents like these may occur when any arrestee is
willing to buy his or her way out of an arrest.
Shakedowns: Type of corruption that involves officers taking money or other valuables and personal services from
offenders they have caught during the commission of a crime
This type of malfeasance can assume many different forms. Sometimes referred to as the fix, it
involves police officers taking no enforcement action when they are normally required to do so,
usually in exchange for money.19 Common examples include officers who accept a payment to let a
motorist go without a ticket, deliberately misdirect an investigation, or perjure their court testimony
to ensure a favorable outcome for the defendant.20
Case in Point 11.1
Corruption and Conspiracy
In New Orleans, police lieutenant Michael Lohman pled guilty to a federal obstruction charge concerning his role in a cover-up
of the September 4, 2005, post–Hurricane Katrina, officer-involved shooting on the Danziger Bridge. That incident left two citizens
dead and four seriously injured. Lohman was not there when the shootings took place, but arrived afterward and directed an
investigation into the incident, which he found to be a “bad shoot”—an unjustified shooting.
The evidence in the case showed that Lohman conspired with the officers involved in the shooting incident, as well as other
investigators under his supervision, to create a story that would falsely justify the shooting, which included planting a gun, because
none was found at the scene of the shooting.
The conspiracy involved Lohman coaching the officers to help them get their stories together and rewriting the police report to
try to make it sound legitimate.
1. Why would a police lieutenant conspire with other investigators to fabricate a story to justify a “bad” shooting?
2. What measures can law enforcement agencies take to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future?
3. Do you believe that incidents like this are common among law enforcement officers?
Source: U.S. Department of Justice. Press release retrieved from
Opportunistic Theft
This form of misconduct pertains to police officers who steal money or other valuables when, for
example, they are guarding a crime scene—as in the case of a burglary—or steal other such goods from
unconscious, inebriated, or dead people.21 Similar activity also may occur when money and other
property are stolen from arrestees either prior to or during the booking process.
Protection of Illegal Activities

Protection of illegal activities is one of the most egregious forms of misconduct, and it involves
police officers taking money or other valuables in exchange for their protection of criminal activities.22
The most common forms of criminal activity protected by police are narcotics trafficking, gambling,
prostitution, the fencing or sale of stolen property, and chop shop or auto theft operations.
Unfortunately, allegations of this type of behavior occur all too frequently. To protect the illegal
behaviors, a good deal of organization is often required. It does little good for one officer to look the
other way when gambling occurs, if his or her replacement (for days off and vacations) or officers on
other shifts fail to protect the parties involved.
Protection of Illegal Activities: The most egregious of all forms of misconduct; involves police officers taking
money or other valuables in exchange for their protection of criminal activities
Excessive Use of Force
Nothing seems to grip the attention of the public more than the accounts of police officers
engaging in excessive use of force to affect an arrest, coerce information from, or simply bully people
over whom they have power. What constitutes excessive force is almost always a matter of judgment.
The police usually defend their actions as using the force necessary to, for example, defuse a threat or
to subdue someone who is resisting arrest. The police are authorized to use the force necessary to gain
compliance. There is a continuum of force, beginning with a verbal request, then a demand, then
chemical sprays, then physical force (ranging from grabbing, punching, and kicking to the use of
batons or Tasers), then lethal force. The public usually has limited knowledge of actual police
procedure and may not have all the facts or may not be in a position to understand a judgment call by
the police.
Problems arise when the police explanation is unconvincing, even taking the police perspective
into consideration.
Infamous cases such as the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles and the Abner Louima case in
New York City are indelibly etched into the minds of many Americans. More recently, the tragic
deaths involving the police of Oscar Grant (Oakland, California), Michael Brown (Ferguson,
Missouri), and Eric Garner (New York City, New York) are a few of the most publicized. These and
other incidents have ignited a movement to rectify race relations and the police. Some advocates point
out that these events are not new, that the African American community has suffered such losses on a
continuing basis. Partially to illustrate the ongoing and pervasive nature of violence against the Black
community, one website ( has posted a list of all of the unarmed Black men and women
that have been killed by the police from 1999 to 2014.
Officers are shown using physical force to subdue an arrestee. Some would characterized the
officers’ action as excessive and others claimed it is justified.
REUTERS/Keith Bedford

Excessive Use of Force: Also referred to as police brutality, this form of malfeasance pertains to situations in which
officers overextend their legal authority by using excessive force to arrest or coerce information from individuals with
whom they interact during the course of their duties
Police Stories 11.1
John Crombach, Former Chief of Police, Oxnard Police
On May 4, 2012, Keith Herrera, a former Chicago Police Department officer assigned to the Special Operations Section,
was sentenced to two months in prison. Herrera pleaded guilty to charges including civil rights violations and tax evasion. He
was the last of 11 officers charged with stealing money from suspected drug dealers, making illegal traffic stops, and
conducting illegal searches. The Special Operations Section targeted drug dealers, gang members, and other career criminals;
the arrest scandal resulted in the disbanding of Special Operations in 2007. According to Herrera, rather than being
sanctioned for his behavior, he received “commendations” and an “honorable mention” from his supervisors.
Officer Herrera, who initially faced up to 13 years in prison, had his sentence reduced by working undercover with federal
authorities, including wearing a wire to secretly record incriminating conversations with other members of the Special
Operations Section. Herrera spoke publicly about the scandal for the first time with CBS News correspondent Katie Couric in
May 2008. Officer Herrera described a culture where “getting the bad guy off the street” by any means necessary was common
practice among members of the Special Operations Section. They falsified reports, planted evidence, and lied in court—
behaviors that do not come naturally to police officers, Herrera argued. Rather, officers are “taught” how to falsify reports;
other, more-experienced officers coach younger ones in completing reports. One officer who worked closely with Herrera was
Officer Jerome Finnigan, whom officials charged with being the scandal’s ringleader. Herrera described Finnigan as his
boyhood hero—as “superman.” It was only when Finnigan solicited Herrera’s help in a plot to murder another member of
Special Operations Section, that Herrera approached the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for help. With Herrera’s
cooperation, Finnigan ultimately pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, for which he was sentenced to 12 years in
An idealistic young man when he began his law enforcement career, Officer Herrera read to the court during his
sentencing from a handwritten note, saying, “Words cannot describe how ashamed I am of my actions.” Officer Herrera’s case
illuminates failures at every level of the police department, including failures at the highest levels of leadership. It also points to
the importance of oversight, appropriate training, and good role models. Police officers, like the rest of us, want to fit in.
Unfortunately, when it came to Officer Herrera, fitting in meant violating his professional ethics and succumbing to pressures
to cover up the misconduct of others. His choices have forever tarnished the image of the Chicago Police Department and
changed his professional life forever.
Sources: “Ex-Chicago cop gets 2 months for participating in Special Ops misconduct scandal.” Chicago Tribune, May 5,
2012. “Corrupt cop reflects on career gone bad: 2-month sentence closes last chapter in sordid Special Ops case,” by Cynthia
Dizikes. Chicago Tribune, May 5, 2012.
Research on Police Misconduct and Use of Force
Measuring the extent of police corruption is a difficult, if not impossible, task. The following are
just several factors to consider.
How do researchers quantify corruption?
There is currently no official source of data on corruption, such as those provided by the
Uniform Crime Reports and National Crime Victimization Survey for most other crimes.
If it cannot be measured, how can researchers determine if anticorruption strategies are working?
Actual crimes that indicate corruption, such as bribery, are not labeled as such.
Data on misconduct are difficult to obtain. Without public statistics, researchers generally must
rely on police administrators, who are often reluctant to share such information.23
Author Video: Number of police officers engaging in police misconduct

Given this difficulty, it is also a challenge to assess the extent to which anticorruption programs
have been successful.
In one study, researchers examined the responses of 3,235 police officers from 30 different
agencies in multiple states to several different hypothetical scenarios involving various forms of
misconduct. They developed a number of questions and recommendations related to the issue of
Do all officers in the agency know the rules? If not, they must be taught.
How strongly do officers support the rules? If they do not, they should be told why they should
be supportive.
Do officers know the disciplinary actions associated with breaking the rules? It is imperative that
this be well known and publicized.
Do the officers believe the disciplinary actions associated with rule violations are fair? If they do
not, the chief must either modify the discipline or correct the officers’ perceptions.
How willing are officers to report misconduct of their colleagues? If they are unwilling, the chief
must establish a policy that encourages the reporting of misconduct, such as rules that call for the
termination of any officer who has knowledge of misconduct and does not report it, guarantees
of anonymity to officers who come forward and report misconduct, and so forth.24
Survey data from a random sample of police officers employed in the Philadelphia Police
Department helped explore the role of organizational justice in police misconduct.
Officers who view their agency as fair and just in managerial practices are less likely to
adhere to the code of silence or believe that police corruption in pursuit of a noble cause is
justified. Furthermore, perceptions of organizational justice are associated with lower levels
of engagement in several forms of police misconduct (fewer citizen complaints, fewer
Internal Affairs Division investigations initiated, and fewer disciplinary charges). The results
suggest that organizational justice is a promising framework to understand police
misconduct and may help guide police administrators in the implementation of effective
management strategies to reduce the incidence of the behavior.25
To close the loop, the Lynchburg Police Department in Virginia administrators constantly
encourage and reward ethical practice by their officers. This too is part of their routine, and is a key
ingredient in their recipe for individual and organizational success.26
Only a small percentage of police–public interactions involve the use of force, with an even smaller
percentage resulting in conduct that would be classified as excessive.
In 2011, 6% of drivers pulled over in traffic stops experienced some type of force used against
them, from shouting and cursing, to verbal threats of force or other action, to physical force, including
hitting, handcuffing, and pointing a gun, and only 33.3% of these thought that the use of force was
excessive.27 Of that 6%, only 1% report that physical force was used.
Some data on use of force collected in 2008 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics show the following:
Of the 39,914 residents surveyed across the United States, 776 individuals experienced the use or
threat of force by police.
Individuals aged between 16 and 29 accounted for approximately 58% of the instances in which
force was used or threatened by police.
Males were more likely than females to have force used or threatened against them during their

most recent contact with police.
Blacks were more likely than Whites or Hispanics to experience use or threat of force.
Of persons who had force used or threatened against them by police, an estimated 74% felt those
actions were excessive.
Of those individuals who had force used or threatened against them, about half were pushed or
grabbed by police.
Individuals police suspected of wrongdoing accounted for 16.6% of the force incidents, and
persons whose contact occurred during a criminal investigation accounted for 21.6% of force
An estimated 10.4% of persons who experienced the use or threat of force reported that police
found illegal items, such as drugs or a weapon.
About 19% of persons who experienced the use or threat of force by the police reported being
injured during the incident.
Among persons experiencing police use or threat of force, an estimated 22% reported that they
argued with, cursed at, insulted, or verbally threatened the police.
About 12% of those involved in a force incident reported disobeying or interfering with the
Among individuals who had force used or threatened against them, an estimated 40% were
arrested during the incident.
An estimated 84% of individuals who experienced force or the threat of force felt that the police
acted improperly. Of those who experienced the use or threat of force and felt the police acted
improperly, 14% filed a complaint against the police.
An estimated 9 out of 10 residents who had contact with police felt the police acted properly.28
See Table 11.1 for some types of force used or threatened by police.
The evidence cited is consistent with a 2005 National Institute of Justice (NIJ)–sponsored
research project regarding citizen contacts with the police.29 Of the 43.5 million persons who reported
having face-to-face contact with police, approximately 2.3% reported experiencing force or threat of
force by police at least once during that time period. In addition, of those respondents who reported
experiencing force or threat of force,
55% claimed that police actually used force (i.e., pushing, pointing a gun, and use of chemical
28% reported force being threatened by police, but no force was used;
10% reported police officers shouting or cursing at them but not applying force; and
approximately 17% admitted to provoking the officers by threatening them or resisting arrest.30
The NIJ reports also identified areas in need of further research such as administrative policies,
hiring practices, disciplinary procedures, use of technology, and the various influences of situational
characteristics on the use of force.
Research on the use of Tasers by the police has led to some interesting findings. One study, based

on 24,000 use-of-force records, found that most use-of-force encounters result from defensive efforts
by suspects trying to resist physical control.31 Another finding was that Tasers (also known as
conductive energy devices or CEDs), when used too frequently or over too long a time period, may
result in serious harm. These authors recommend that officers be trained to use Tasers only with
active resisters. They also note that their data were based largely on officer accounts, which might be
biased; there were differences between some officers’ versions and victims’ accounts.
The Impacts of Misconduct
One of the most significant impacts of misconduct is to increase the amount of suspicion and
distrust of the justice system among all parties, which damages the very foundation of democracy.
When officers use unlawful means to gain a desired end, they damage the system they
represent. Beyond the damage to the justice system, however, officers who engage in illegal
behavior denigrate not only the uniform of the guardian but also the individual within. The
eventual result to society is a loss of confidence in those charged with the protection of
others, leading to a fraying of the tapestry of the culture that binds communities together.32
Video Link: Police Accounts Appear to Differ With Laquan McDonald Shooting Video
Other important consequences of police misconduct are exacerbating racial tension, exposing
departments to costly civil lawsuits, and degrading the morale of the workforce—making the job of
policing that much harder.
Unfortunately, media accounts of police misconduct are not hard to find. Even more alarming for
police executives is that criminal conduct perpetrated by police officers represents only a small
percentage of the activities routinely classified as police misconduct.
Police misconduct and race continues to be an issue of paramount importance. A Gallup news poll
taken in 2011 examined the amount of confidence different racial and ethnic groups expressed with
respect to police honesty and ethical standards. A majority of Whites rated the police as honest and
ethical and reported having considerable confidence in them; a minority of Blacks agreed with that
assessment. (See Figure 11.1.)
Race and Police Harassment
Members of minority groups, particularly in high-crime areas, report that psychological or
emotional abuse is a routine part of their encounters with the police. And, in fact, the best available
evidence supports this contention.
There is widespread perception that citizen encounters with the police frequently and
unnecessarily turn violent in minority communities in cities of all sizes across the country. The
perception creates hostility and resentment on behalf of some citizens who view themselves as
particularly likely to be victims of harassment and brutality and on behalf of the police who view
themselves also as likely to be harassed, challenged, and criticized.
Disillusioned with what they see as a lack of accountability by police—a failure of justice—wary
and mistrustful citizens have taken to monitoring the police themselves and sharing that information
freely. Certainly, the proliferation of cell phone cameras has introduced a new and widespread means
for public monitoring. The Cato Institute has established a website that maintains a daily list of

incidents.33 The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a phone app that allows
citizens to record footage of the police and upload it directly onto an ACLU server for storage and
sharing.34 And three youngsters from Georgia have developed a website and invited others to publicly
share their accounts of interactions they have had with the police. Related to public wariness is, of
course, the issue of race, which continues to dog police departments, officers, and interactions of all
kinds. The question of racial fairness in law enforcement reflects the fact that our society is still very
troubled when it comes to what racism means and the persistent and vast differences in the ways that
different groups of people are treated and experience life in the United States.
Figure 11.1 Gallup Survey of Confidence in the Police
In spite of misgivings on both sides, the vast majority of police encounters with other citizens
occur without physical brutality on the part of either party.
In several studies, foremost among the complaints of minority group members about the police
were the use of improper forms of address (use of terms such as boy, or use of a first name when a
surname is appropriate) and stopping and questioning people for no apparent reason other than their
race or ethnicity.35 (See Chapters 10 and 12 for more on profiling.)
Research indicates that harassment and psychological brutality continue to occur in police
encounters with certain segments of the population. Repeated public opinion polls show that minority
groups look less favorably on the police than Whites. For example, a CBS News/New York Times poll
taken in July 2008 asked respondents whether they felt they had ever been stopped by the police just
because of race or ethnicity. Just 7% of Whites responded yes to the question compared to 43% of
Blacks and 30% of Hispanics.36
During recent federal testimony, police accountability expert Samuel Walker asserted that
disrespectful and offensive language by the police is “extremely important because of its pervasiveness,
its impact on police-community relations, and its special impact on communities of color.”37 Verbal
disrespect was a significant impediment to police–community relations in the 1960s and is still
pervasive today.38
Citing citizen complaint data, Walker outlined four key adverse consequences resulting from this
form of police behavior:
1. Personal psychological injury to the member of the community involved
2. A pervasive distrust of the police among those people most often the target of such language,
particularly communities of color
3. Provocation of hostility toward the officer, leading to an escalation of the encounter into more
aggressive behavior on the part of both parties, sometimes tragically resulting in the unnecessary
use of force by the officer, including even the use of deadly force
4. An undermining of standards of professionalism in the police department as officers learn by
experience that they will not be disciplined for such conduct39
Walker concluded his testimony by proposing the President’s Task Force on 21st Century

Policing implement a respectful policing initiative (RPI) and outlined the action items that would
Additional seminal research examined the perceptions of four types of police misconduct—verbal
abuse, excessive force, unwarranted traffic stops, and corruption by White, Black, and Hispanic
respondents and the factors that shape these perceptions. The researchers’ findings explain why and
how perceptions and trust of the police are heavily influenced by race. Their primary conclusion is
that “[d]ominant groups should perceive the police as an institution allied with their interests, whereas
minorities should be inclined to view the police as contributing to their subordination. This . . . does
increase the odds that [minorities] will believe police misconduct is a serious problem, whereas whites
tend to discount or minimize it and perhaps view criticisms as a threat to a revered institution.”40
Other research acknowledges that racial and ethnic minorities are often disproportionately on the
receiving end of aggressive behaviors on the part of the police. However, they conclude further that
such aggression is part of “ordinary social-psychological processes triggered by the characteristics of
Research on Profiling
Researchers have long been occupied with measuring profiling to prove that it does indeed exist
and to understand its forms and true prevalence. Observers describe racial profiling as most prevalent
in the context of street-level crime, counterterrorism, and immigration law enforcement.42
Policing practices in New Jersey and Maryland in 1998 put a spotlight on racial profiling and
evoked a huge public outcry, when members of the New Jersey and Maryland State Police were
formally accused of stopping Black motorists on state highways for no reason other than race.43
Empirical evidence gained from data collection efforts regarding traffic stops, detention and
investigation, and arrests of Black drivers on New Jersey and Maryland highways paints an alarming
picture. In New Jersey, researchers measured rates to ascertain whether state troopers stopped,
ticketed, or arrested Black motorists at rates significantly higher than other racial and ethnic groups.44
The results of the data collection efforts in New Jersey were disturbing. The analysis of the
approximately 42,000 cars involved in the study led to the following conclusions:
There was little or no difference concerning the frequency and type of traffic violations
committed by Black and White motorists.
Approximately 73% of the motorists stopped and arrested were Black, but only about 13% of
the vehicles involved in stops had a Black driver or passenger.
Blacks drove or occupied only about 13% of the vehicles in question, but accounted for 35% of
the total number of stops.
Results from a similar study in Maryland yielded remarkably similar results. In this case, 6,000
vehicles were included in the data collection, and, as in the New Jersey study, the purpose was to
discover whether Maryland state troopers were stopping, issuing citations, searching, or arresting
predominantly minority-group motorists. The following quotation summarized the Maryland results:
Blacks and whites drove no differently; the percentage of blacks and whites violating the
traffic code were virtually undistinguishable. More importantly . . . analysis found that
although 17.5% of the population violating the traffic code on the road . . . studied was
black, more than 72% of those stopped and searched were black. In more than 80% of the
cases, the person stopped and searched was a member of some racial minority.45

Since these studies were completed, many other police agencies have come under scrutiny for
similarly biased enforcement practices, prompting legislatures from all levels of government to sponsor
and adopt laws to eradicate this form of police malfeasance. Complaints came not only from the
African-American community, but from other racial and ethnic groups as well. The complaints from
the minority citizens were so numerous that the ACLU posted an online complaint form and
questionnaire to compile statistical data that would bolster a plea to government agencies for support
in eliminating these biased practices. Currently, each state and the federal government have adopted
laws requiring the collection and reporting of data pertaining to traffic stops (e.g., ticket issues, driver
or occupant searches).
Psychological or Emotional Abuse: Type of wrongdoing normally associated with the use of racial slurs and other
negative descriptions of certain classes of citizens (e.g., gays, drug addicts, homeless persons, and protestors, to name the
most common)
Causes of Misconduct—Bad Apples or Bad Barrels?
Many police administrators seem to readily offer the “bad apple” explanation that corruption is
the result of the weaknesses of individual officers. Most forms of corruption require some degree of
organizational support, at least in the sense that others within the organization turn their heads and
refuse to confront the corrupt officer. This failure to take action against corrupt officers, even on the
part of other officers who clearly dislike such activities, may be due to a complex set of factors,
including the police subculture.
There is a code of silence among police officers with respect to a variety of types of deviant
behavior.46 Such deviance has been called an “open secret” within the fraternity, but its existence is
denied to those outside the group.47 For Bernie Cawley, a New York police officer, it was “nothing to
lie to grand juries, to steal drugs, weapons, and money, and to protect other cops doing the same
thing.”48 His fellow officer, Michael Dowd, testified, “Cops don’t want to turn in other cops. Cops
don’t want to be a rat.”49 Many observers agree that the code of silence and lack of physical evidence
hampers many investigations. In the absence of reliable and cooperative witnesses, corruption cases are
nearly impossible to prosecute successfully. In such cases, the witnesses are often other police
In some departments, officers who are “straight” are regarded as stupid for failing to benefit from
corrupt activities. When an officer does decide to take action against corrupt colleagues, the fraternity
may react violently and is very likely to ostracize the one who violated the code or broke faith.
Why does police misconduct persist? The answer seems to lie with individuals, with agencies, and
—at least in part—in the relationship between the police and the larger society.
Of course there are individuals who are unsuitable for police work due to flaws in their character.
Some of these individuals still make it through the recruiting and hiring process. The absence of
appropriate controls such as adequate background checks, performance evaluations, or continuous
training can result in subsequent behavior problems. Agencies need to have policies and practices in
place that prevent the bad apples from having undue influence.
SAGE Journal Article: Police Corruption and Psychological Testing: A Strategy for
Preemployment Screening

In part, police corruption may be related to economic conditions, but that relationship is complex.
When police and other wages are low, the temptation to accept dirty money may be great. Not to
excuse the behavior, some observers find it exceedingly understandable.
Case in Point 11.2
In 2004, a team of researchers proposed that the public has more to do with police corruption than one would think. They
surveyed citizen respondents, who were asked to rate the seriousness of a variety of hypothetical police–citizen encounters. The
encounters described acts of police misconduct, some of which were within the law, others of which were illegal acts. The
respondents easily rated excessive force and offensive language as serious misconduct. However, they appeared to recognize that the
police might need to use questionable tactics; they had a higher tolerance for the “cloudier” issue of the police using tough talk or
threats to maintain order in certain circumstances. The study concluded that, in general, “[c]itizens expect officers to behave
professionally, or by the book, but with the recognition that ‘street-level’ discretion has a place in an officer’s toolkit.”52
1. Have you ever had any personal experience of being the target of verbal harassment or excessive force by the police?
2. Does this text change your mind about your personal experience or your attitudes about police use of force? Why or why
It is impossible to explain the extent of police misconduct and corruption with the bad apple
theory, however. One could argue that police misconduct is behavior that can only be learned on the
job. A corrupt environment can teach improper behavior to otherwise law-abiding and upstanding
The police subculture, especially the code of silence among police officers, results in collective
feelings and attitudes of cynicism, isolation from the community, and a sense of blind loyalty to
SAGE Journal Article: Organizational Justice and Police Misconduct
Psychologist Philip Zimbardo is responsible for the famous 1971 Stanford experiment on how
normal individuals easily become corrupted by power and authority. Zimbardo argues that the line
between good and evil is permeable, not solid, and the context (in this case, the negative side of the
police culture) can corrupt individuals. Other famous psychological experiments have demonstrated
the human capacity for inflicting pain on others out of obedience to authority, out of a sense that the
victim is the “other,” and out of a belief that the responsibility for wrongdoing is shared among the
group.51 For these and many other reasons, police departments must actively counteract the tendency
toward corruption.
The cycle of corruption persists also because honest police officers, due to fear of retaliation from
coworkers and supervisors, often hesitate to report the illegal and unethical acts of coworkers. Until
this aspect of the police subculture can be significantly diminished, and honest police officers develop
the courage to do the right thing, police misconduct is likely to continue.
Exhibit 11.1
Justifications for Misconduct
To help illuminate the psychology that underlies police misconduct, it is useful to analyze and categorize the cognitive
rationalizations that can contribute to unethical behavior. Developing a culture of ethics can mitigate misconduct, even before
it actually occurs.

Decades of empirical research have supported the idea that whenever a person’s behaviors are inconsistent with his or her
attitudes or beliefs, the individual will experience an uncomfortable state of psychological tension—a phenomenon referred to
as cognitive dissonance.48 People modify contradictory beliefs or behaviors in ways intended to reduce or eliminate
discomfort. Officers can reduce psychological tension by changing how they think about their actions and the consequences of
those actions, or by adjusting their activities, attitudes, or beliefs in ways that are consistent with their values and self-image. In
general, attitudes are less resistant to change than behaviors are.
Officers can cognitively restructure unethical behaviors in ways that make them seem personally and socially acceptable,
thereby allowing immoral behavior while preserving a self-image as an ethical person.
Most officers do not jump headfirst into large-scale misconduct—instead, they change incrementally.
The strength and ease with which officers can rationalize unethical behavior also depends, at least in part, on how they
view their conduct, the people harmed by their actions, and the consequences that flow from their actions. An officer’s initial
slide down the slippery slope of misconduct can begin with nothing more than simple policy violations that, if left unchecked,
generate a mild feeling of psychological tension or discomfort. However, by learning to rationalize wrongdoing in ways that
make it psychologically and morally acceptable, officers are able to relieve any feelings of distress or discomfort, effectively
disengaging their moral compasses.
Officers can employ cognitive rationalizations prospectively (before the corrupt act) to forestall guilt and resistance, or
retrospectively (after the misconduct) to erase any regrets. In either case, the more frequently an officer rationalizes deviant
behavior, the easier each subsequent instance of misconduct becomes. This is because the more frequently an officer
rationalizes, the easier it becomes to activate similar thought patterns in the future. With time and repeated experience,
rationalizations can eventually become part of the habitual, automatic, effortless ways that officers think about themselves,
their duties, and the consequences of their actions, eventually allowing increasingly egregious acts of misconduct with little, if
any, of the guilt or shame commonly associated with wrongdoing.
Table 11.2 lists common rationalizations that officers might use to neutralize or excuse unethical conduct.
Source: Adapted from “Understanding the psychology of police misconduct,” by Brian D. Fitch. The Police Chief 78
(January 2011), 24–27. Retrieved from
It is commonly said that police are a reflection of the society or community they serve, and this is
true with respect to police corruption. Simply put, a large percentage of corrupt practices by police
could be stopped quickly if the society were organized to eliminate them. For example, if other
citizens stopped offering bribes, free services, and other gratuities, and started reporting all police
attempts to benefit in unauthorized fashion from their positions—as was recommended by the Knapp
Commission in 1972—it would be very difficult for some forms of police corruption to persist as they
To some extent, it appears that we want our police to be corrupt, or at least corruptible. It gives
critics something to talk and write about, it provides a general sense that the police are not morally
superior to others, and it perhaps gives many a feeling of power over those who in some way are more
powerful. Does society want the police to be totally honest and trustworthy? Or is it preferable to
believe that they would overlook at least minor violations as a result of the favors they get? Most of the

police do in fact adhere to high ethical standards, and they are, after all, basically citizens like everyone
else. It is easy to cast stones at the police, because the average citizen has no idea what the police go
through, and because too many of the police succumb to the pull of corruption. It is fairly convincing
to the average citizen that corruption is inherent in the police role and that there is little that could
change it.
Noble Cause Corruption: Form of misconduct pertaining to various situations in which officers circumvent the
law in order to serve what they perceive to be the greater good (e.g., manufacturing probable cause, perjury to gain a
conviction in court)
Noble Cause Corruption
As the phrase implies, noble cause corruption pertains to various situations in which officers
circumvent the law to serve what they perceive to be the greater good. The following dilemma
describes this behavior: “If you have a perpetrator in custody, and he has information that could save
the life of an innocent victim, is it right to use extreme methods to get the information?”53 Although
such questions always generate debate, the answer is actually quite clear—police officers are sworn to
uphold the law and should never, under any circumstances, willfully violate the rights of anyone in
their custody. Those who disagree with this assertion point to the high stakes creating the need to
temper the requirements of the law; this is a classic ends-justifies-the-means situation.54

Noble cause corruption is often glorified in films that portray cops who are willing to
break the rules to get the job done. A classic example is Dirty Harry.
© Photos 12 / Alamy Stock Photo
The debate about noble cause corruption might apply to more commonplace activities

encountered by police officers. Imagine plainclothes officers approaching an individual on the street to
conduct a field interview. The person in question abruptly turns a corner and, while temporarily out
of view of the officers, drops a quantity of illegal narcotics to the ground. The police then find the
contraband and arrest the subject. What should the officers do? If they tell the truth, the case will
most likely be dismissed in court. If they elect to fabricate their report and possibly perjure themselves
in court, they have removed a dope dealer from the street. The problem with adhering to the noble
cause corruption philosophy is that two wrongs never make a right. If left unchecked, the collective
behavior of officers may eventually even assume a vigilante-like mentality.55
Misconduct: Management and Administrative Issues
The reluctance by chief executive officers to take appropriate disciplinary action against officers
engaged in unethical behavior serves only to strengthen the police subculture and the influence it
exerts on so many officers. Moreover, these types of attitudes by chiefs send a very disturbing but clear
message to subordinates: that more often than not—at least with respect to this research population—
the penalty for malfeasance will not be commensurate with the seriousness of the offense. In any
event, this view of corruption by chiefs of police is an issue that begs more attention, through both
research and professional development activities.56
Author Video: Preventing abuse of authority
Although one type of corruption does not necessarily lead to another, where one finds more
serious types of corruption, one is also likely to find most of the less serious types. Consider, for
example, a department that condones internal payoffs. If a supervisor attained her position by paying
someone for it, her authority to deal with less serious forms of corruption among those supervised is
compromised. In the long run, such a department is likely to be characterized by all other forms of
corruption. In addition, services to the public are likely to be less efficient and effective than they
might otherwise be, because promotions are not usually based on merit, and less competent or
incompetent people may become supervisors.
Discipline may be especially weak since any action might lead to unpleasant publicity. If
a large portion of a police department is implicated in such corrupt relations, no one can
enforce the law against the police themselves. Officers outside the network of payoffs have
to turn their backs on what goes on around them and deny publicly that any such activity
exists. . . . Moreover, what is the effect on a young patrolman who learns that his colleagues
and commanders are often more interested in profiting from the law than enforcing it?57
Daniel Sullivan, former head of the [New York City] department’s Internal Affairs
division, testified that the message from the top brass to his investigators was simple: “We
shouldn’t be so aggressive because the department doesn’t want bad press.” . . . Honest
officers testified that their efforts to report and investigate corruption ran into resistance and
Many police agencies fail to discipline officers who are guilty of misconduct. This failure to act
sends a clear message to line officers: We are not committed to ethical conduct. The resulting
consequences may be disastrous.59

The various commissions that investigated the misconduct in question found one common
denominator in problem agencies—the leadership demonstrated no real sense of commitment to
detecting and investigating corruption from within. Many police chiefs will point to the bad apples as
the problem, but corruption can result from faulty leadership structures and administrative policies
that avoid rather than promote strict accountability for all misconduct.60
The organizational culture of many police agencies actually fosters corruption. Research has
indicated that “. . . incentive structures within police agencies increase the problem of corruption.”61
Arrest quotas and arrest rates of officers are often used as criteria for more sought-after assignments,
such as gang crime and vice, and are even used for promotion; these are not good management
The Mollen Commission report pointed to the existence of a department-wide belief that the
identification of corruption would cause department administrators to retaliate for bringing adverse
public attention to the agency. Whistle-blowing is particularly difficult among the police, due to the
code of silence and the extreme emphasis on loyalty among the police. Whistle-blowers have often
been the targets of retaliation.62 Unfortunately, the history of the treatment of whistle-blowers is full
accounts of threats made and carried out.
In response to data such as those in the Mollen Commission report, some chiefs emphasize the
harm done to community relations when misconduct becomes public. They believe that covering up,
ignoring, or simply having wrongdoers resign rather than face the disciplinary ramifications
commensurate with their misdeeds is for the greater good. However, critics of this view believe that
[m]anagement accountability is perhaps the most important, effective and most difficult
proactive tool for preventing and detecting police corruption. This is not a program or a
device, but rather a thorough rethinking of the meaning of supervision and management
responsibility. The driving assumption underlying accountability is that commanders are
responsible for all police activity that takes place on their command. At its simplest, a policy
of accountability means that commanders may not plead ignorance and surprise when
corruption is discovered in their areas.63
Addressing Misconduct
No matter how one analyzes the situation, any administrative action short of holding all members
of the organization strictly accountable for their misdeeds serves only to perpetuate the problem and
send a disturbing message down the organizational ladder—a message that tacitly approves of corrupt
Eliminating or reducing misconduct warrants a well-constructed and well-delivered message that it
will not be tolerated. After New York City implemented a new police strategy in 1994, crime was
dramatically decreasing, and the number of citizen complaints against police was dramatically
increasing. However, two police precincts in the South Bronx managed to reduce the number of
citizen complaints to below the 1993 level.64 The decrease appeared to be related to two key variables:
(1) a new department-wide policy called CPR (courtesy, professionalism, and respect) and (2) the
dedication to improving community relations by the precincts’ commanding officers. The latter was
accomplished through commanding officers taking a keen interest in “repeat offender” officers, or
those receiving multiple citizen complaints. It did not take long for officers to figure out that their

commanders were keeping tabs on them. The most likely explanation for the decline in citizen
complaints in these two precincts was the “efforts made by precinct commanders to promote
respectful policing and change a police culture that tolerated citizen complaints.”65
Other management techniques for detecting misconduct include the use of field associates,
“turning” officers who have been caught engaging in misconduct, and the rotation of assignments.
Field associates are officers who are specially trained and sometimes recruited to obtain information
on misconduct while performing normal police functions. This information is relayed to management
without other officers knowing who the informants are (ideally, at least). If the program is discovered,
however, it can create an atmosphere of suspicion among officers. Turning involves offering leniency
or immunity to officers who have been caught engaging in misconduct and who agree to provide
information on other problem officers.
Rotating personnel across shifts and geographic assignments is a technique used to disrupt possible
misconduct by making it difficult for officers and other citizens to establish permanent ties.
Leaders must weigh this strategy with some caution. Although rotation may have a positive effect
on misconduct, it may also disrupt the flow of information between officers and other citizens,
negatively impact community relations, and make community-oriented policing more difficult.
Leaders cannot realistically expect the best outcomes by relying on strictly punitive measures for
their officers’ misconduct. Punishment alone is no more effective with disciplining police officers than
it is with controlling the behavior of public citizens.
Another strategy that may reduce misconduct is selective recruitment. Recruiting police personnel
of high moral character and providing training in ethics early in their careers appear to be steps in the
right direction.66 If the department and subculture also foster an anticorruption attitude, promote on
the basis of merit, and pay relatively well, the allure of corruption may decrease. Internal affairs units
and external review boards have also been used to help curb corruption by identifying and charging
those involved.
Field Associates: Specially trained officers used to obtain intelligence regarding corrupt police practices
Punishment alone is no more effective with disciplining police officers than it is with controlling the
behavior of public citizens.
In a democratic society, public servants are accountable to the community through the political
process; to some degree, the public expresses its desires through elections. Presidents, governors,
county and municipal administrators, and legislative bodies are responsible for overseeing the
performance of public servants, including the police. These overseers must balance the public’s wishes
with legal considerations.67
Because the powers granted the police are considerable, citizens are understandably vigilant in
monitoring police actions and are aware of their right to demand that the police account for their
behavior. Requirements that the police issue periodic reports concerning their activities are one
indicator of such vigilance, as is the increasing demand for transparency in policing.
Video Link: Rebuilding accountability and trust after police shooting

Over the years, the police have attempted to demonstrate accountability by becoming more
professional, using internal affairs units, improving citizen complaint procedures, increasing the
transparency of their process and decisions, and using early intervention programs. These focus on
identifying officers whose behavior is problematic, intervening to correct the problem behavior, and
following up with those who have received intervention.68 Although all of these agency attempts to
ensure accountability are worthwhile, police officers themselves have an obligation to demand peer-to-
peer accountability when they believe professional transgressions have occurred.69 This is a difficult
but desirable goal.
In the traditional police world, innovation is seldom rewarded. A typical response to attempts to
control, prevent, or correct discretionary behavior is the use of negative sanctions, which tends to lead
to temporary rather than permanent change, inappropriate emotional behavior, inflexibility,
degradation of desirable behavior, and fear or distrust of administrators. Further, stigma can have
negative effects on self-esteem and status; punishment and humiliation can lead to anger and
hostility.70 Depending on how a department holds its officers accountable for their behavior, there
may be positive as well as negative consequences for the individual officers and for the agency.
Accountability and Community Policing
Some police administrators view community-oriented policing as a positive step toward
accountability. The emphasis on community policing may be uneven across the nation, but there is
reason to believe that many departments have incorporated its core elements. Genuine partnerships
between the police and the public and the increased visibility of police operations help to bridge the
gap between the police and the public. Implementing ride-along programs, citizen police academies,
and neighborhood watch groups improves relationships and enables the public to learn about actual
police operations, which is the second part of the equation. Just as officers need to be culturally
competent and understand segments of society with fluency and sensitivity, society as a whole needs to
grow in its understanding of what the police experience and why they conduct themselves as they do.
Mutually, the two sides can work together to bridge the gap between them.
Early Intervention Programs: Administrative practice of identifying officers whose behavior is problematic,
intervening to correct the problem behavior, and monitoring intervention of those who have received it
Citizen Oversight Groups
The public has attempted to hold the police accountable through litigation, public protest, and
citizen oversight groups. Many of these attempts have focused on holding the police legally and
ethically responsible for their actions by drawing attention to the problem and establishing limits on
discretionary conduct; some efforts involve increased reporting on police performance. Success in
these attempts has been limited by the failure to adopt uniform standards of accountability, by failure
to maintain those standards that are established, and by lack of supervisory oversight. Still, some
observers believe that police will continue to embrace and expand accountability.
We expect to see more police agencies conducting their own routine public surveys, as
many do now, holding themselves accountable not only for reducing reported crime, but
also for reducing fear and the perception that crime is a problem in particular
neighborhoods or for especially vulnerable residents.71

Audio Link: Police are Learning To Accept Civilian Oversight, but Distrust Lingers
When such accountability exists, the public can judge for itself how successful the police are in
exercising discretion wisely and in conducting themselves ethically.
Some police agencies rely on citizen or civilian panels or boards as a method of external review.
Civilian review boards consist of a group of citizens (other than police officers) who investigate
complaints against the police and recommend consequences. Some argue that citizens who do not
serve as police officers cannot understand the issues involved in policing and therefore should not be
allowed to judge officers. Others argue that it is precisely because these citizens are not police officers
that they can judge the impact of officer actions from a different perspective and render more
independent judgments.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Civilian Police Merit Board met to hear testimony and
consider the dismissal of an officer accused of using excessive force. Civilian review boards such as
this one have been established to investigate complaints against the police and to provide the
impartiality of those outside the force.
© AP Photo/Michelle Pemberton.
Citizen or Civilian Panels or Boards: Groups of citizens (other than police officers) who investigate complaints
against the police and recommend punishment in cases where it appears to be justified by the facts
Internal Affairs
Internal affairs officers are designated to receive complaints, whether from other citizens or other
officers. They conduct investigations to determine whether the facts in a case point to officer
misconduct and report to their supervisors to decide whether to take action against the officers. As
might be expected, internal affairs officers are often not popular with their fellow officers, and internal
investigations is a career path in and of itself in some larger departments. In smaller departments,
internal investigations are often conducted by the highest-ranking officers. This, of course, begs the
question, “Who watches the watchers?” There is evidence that corruption exists even among internal
affairs divisions and personnel. For example, there are allegations that Chicago’s Independent Police
Review Authority (IPRA) deliberately drags cases out, resulting in a dismissal of charges in some
serious cases. Some of these cases have lingered for years, jeopardizing the firings of police officers that
the superintendent had deemed unfit to serve.72 According to the head of IPRA, the investigations are
often complex and need to be thorough. IPRA was formed in 2007 by city ordinance and investigates
about 2,800 complaints of police misconduct each year. The office faced a daunting task beginning
several years ago when it was created to replace the Office of Professional Standards (OPS). IPRA

inherited OPS’s caseload and was charged with restoring the public’s trust that allegations against
police officers would be taken seriously.73 Recognizing the importance of building trust and providing
professional internal review of police actions, in September 2009, the International Association of
Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) released
Building Trust Between the Police and the Citizens They Serve. This guide examines all aspects of
internal affairs operations and recommends strategies to improve and sustain community trust
Web Link: Metropolitan Police Department, Internal Affairs Bureau
Internal affairs units typically perform the following functions:
Receive and investigate complaints concerning police misconduct
Investigate other possible indicators of police misconduct (deadly force incidents, unethical
Prosecute officers who appear to be responsible for serious misconduct
Collect intelligence on misconduct and share it with police administrators
Keep complainants and victims of police misconduct informed of departmental actions related to
their cases

Police Discipline
Police officers who engage in misconduct or violate department policy are subject to different
types of discipline, depending on the severity of their misconduct. Similar to other citizens, police
officers may be prosecuted criminally for acts committed either on or off duty. For example, a police
officer who is arrested for drunk driving while off duty is prosecuted for his or her crime in the same
way as other citizens would be. The police make the arrest, the arresting officer completes an incident
report, and evidence is presented to the office of the district attorney, who determines what charges, if
any, the officer will face. An officer convicted of a criminal offense may face a fine, a term on
probation, or time in jail or prison. The arrestee also has the option of allowing a jury to decide his or
her guilt. The same is true with criminal offenses committed while on duty. An officer who uses
unreasonable force may be prosecuted for a variety of criminal charges, including assault under color
of authority.
Unlike many other professionals, law enforcement officers may also be charged with violating their
department’s policy. An officer who is convicted on a charge of drunk driving faces not only
punishment assigned by the court, but also administrative discipline for violating department policy.
The officer may be required to attend training, to accept a suspension without pay, or to face
termination. The type of administrative discipline an officer receives depends on the severity of the
offense, any prior discipline the officer has received, and other mitigating or aggravating factors, such
as the officer’s willingness to accept responsibility and truthfulness.
Many large law enforcement agencies have special units devoted to the investigation of alleged
criminal violations and administrative policy violations. Officers who are charged with violating a
criminal statute are entitled to the same legal protections as other citizens. The officer may not be
compelled to speak to investigators or testify in court, all evidence used in trial must be legally
obtained, and the officer may cross-examine witnesses.
Officers also have certain administrative rights; however, an officer’s criminal rights may conflict
with administrative rights. For example, an officer charged with a crime cannot be compelled to speak
with investigators; on the other hand, most police departments have administrative policies that
require officers to answer all questions asked during an administrative inquiry. As a result, police
agencies separate the criminal and administrative investigations. When an officer is charged with
violating both a criminal statute and administrative policy, investigators complete the criminal portion
first. It is only after the criminal investigation has concluded that the administrative investigation
begins. An officer who is suspected of committing a criminal violation as well as a policy violation
faces convictions for both, for one or the other, or for neither.
An officer convicted of a criminal offense may, like other citizens convicted of a crime, appeal his
or her conviction. Similarly, an officer who is convicted of an administrative policy violation may
contest the finding or discipline.
1. Studies have shown that police officers have a much more narrow definition of serious
misconduct than private citizens. How do you account for the difference?
2. What role does the “code of silence” play in identifying and addressing issues of misconduct?
3. Many professions practice a “code of silence.” Are there ways in which the “code of silence” is
beneficial to law enforcement? Should departments attempt to eliminate it altogether?
Internal Affairs Units: Units within police agencies that receive and investigate complaints concerning police
misconduct, investigate possible indicators of police misconduct, prosecute officers who appear to be responsible for
serious misconduct, and collect intelligence on misconduct and share it with police administrators

Around the World 11.2
Researchers have studied many of these same issues in another international context, focusing on 1,055 police officers from
Bosnia and the Czech Republic.75 The results with respect to officers’ opinions about the seriousness of police malfeasance,
associated disciplinary actions, and willingness to report misconduct were remarkably similar to those reported for officers in
the United States. They concluded that the most significant finding was that the disciplinary culture of the two countries
affected the views of individual officers more than any other variable. Specifically, officers from both countries had the
following similarities:
1. They shared an understanding of what constitutes serious issues of misconduct.
2. The majority of respondents from both countries observed the infamous code of silence, unless the misconduct at
issue fell on the serious end of the misconduct continuum.
3. Officers from the Czech Republic were more willing to expect disciplinary action for rule violations, and officers
from Bosnia felt that discipline was controlled by an informal set of rules and norms—and most felt they would not
receive any discipline at all, unless the misconduct was viewed as severe.76
Many police departments have adopted policies that require video cameras that are capable of
recording sight and sound to be mounted inside police vehicles, and increasing numbers of
departments are using body-worn cameras.
This technology could potentially help ensure the safety of both officers and citizens. In addition,
cameras provide a more or less permanent record of events captured during police encounters, should
any of the parties involved allege misconduct. All tapes are collected and maintained for review, if the
need arises. Because the videotape is in a sense a form of supervision, many officers claim that this
makes them better officers, more professional and more than ever willing to abide by department
policy. (See Chapter 13.)
11 Under Review
Chapter Summary
The issue of misconduct is a problem that has always plagued the field of policing. Regardless of how infrequently
misconduct occurs or by how few or many officers, it does damage to individuals, agencies, and communities. Misconduct
foments public mistrust of its supposed protectors, exposes departments to costly litigation, and degrades the morale of
individual officers and entire agencies.
As a result of high-profile police-involved shootings, police–community relations are extremely challenging at the present
time. Racial and political tensions are running high. Police officers and departments are under intense public scrutiny as
society struggles with the issue of how to police the police.
All misconduct is a breach of the public trust in one way or another. There are many forms of misconduct, including
corruption, which involves personal material or financial gain and an abuse of power, such as with bribery. Depending on a
person’s level of involvement with corrupt activities, misconduct can be nonfeasance, misfeasance, or malfeasance. Officers
succumb to the temptations of drugs and drug money, opportunistically bending and breaking the rules to make the job easier
or less risky, or—in its worst form—committing actual crimes, sometimes violent crimes. Getting in even deeper, officers may
lie to cover up misdeeds, even in court and under oath. Individuals often construct elaborate rationalizations to counteract the
psychological unethical behavior.
Corruption is always a risk that follows power. Despite periodic efforts and formal investigations to expose and eliminate
it, corruption persists and is an issue that every police agency must grapple with. Corruption in particular can be contagious
within an agency; peer pressure is one of the more significant forces that influences the behavior—good and bad—of the police
at every level.
There is ample evidence that the “bad apple” theory is not as potent an explanation for misconduct as the “bad barrel”
theory. Police culture—and agency leadership—create the atmosphere and set the tone for the conduct of its members. Many
feel that misconduct is largely learned within the agency, not borne there by unsuitable candidates.
There have been many recommendations made by police researchers, police executives, and governmental agencies to
mitigate the frequency of the many forms of police. The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the U.S.
Department of Justice have also offered many sound recommendations. Leadership lies at the foundation of the solutions to
this issue. Supervisory personnel must lead by example, and the examples need to start at the very top. To do otherwise makes

department leaders part of the problem rather than the solution. One theme that consistently emerges is that police
misconduct tends to flourish in the absence of genuine commitment from leadership to put an end to corrupt policing

Key Terms
Review key terms with eFlashcards.
Meat eaters 247
Lexow Commission 247
Christopher Commission 248
Mollen Commission 248
Misfeasance 249
Malfeasance 249
Corruption of authority 252
Kickbacks 253
Shakedowns 253
Protection of illegal activities 253
Excessive use of force 253
Psychological or emotional abuse 259
Noble cause corruption 265
Field associates 267
Early intervention programs 268
Citizen or civilian panels or boards 269

Internal affairs units 270
Discussion Questions
Test your understanding of chapter content. Take the practice quiz.
1. Why is police accountability important, and how can it best be promoted?
2. What are some of the obstacles to police accountability?
3. What constitutes police misconduct? Can you cite examples of police misconduct from your own experiences?
4. Why is corruption of authority (accepting gratuities such as free coffee, food, etc.) critical in understanding police corruption
in general?
5. Does society desire or demand police who are incorruptible? Why or why not?
6. What are the relationships between internal corruption in police agencies and other forms of corruption?
7. Do circumstances involving the philosophy of “the end justifies the means” or “noble cause corruption” mitigate the serious
nature of misconduct by police? Why or why not?
8. Why would a police officer perjure him- or herself? What is the impact of such perjury on the criminal justice network and
other citizens in general?
9. Is psychological brutality an important form of police misconduct? Why and in what ways?
10. What recommendations have been offered to mitigate the frequency and depth of police corruption?
11. Do you think police misconduct is as serious a problem now as it was a decade or so ago? Support your answer.
12. Why is domestic abuse by police officers problematic? How might the problem be alleviated?
Internet Exercises
1. Using the web, locate examples of three “real life” scandals pertaining to at least three different forms of corruption identified
in the chapter.
2. Using the web, locate what recent strategies are being used by law enforcement and other government personnel in their
fight against the drug cartels of Mexico.
3. Research the term or phrase narcoterrorism, and define it in detail. Document at least two examples of this form of terrorism.
Student Study Site
Sharpen your skills with SAGE edge!
SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help you accomplish your coursework goals in an easy-to-use
learning environment. You’ll find action plans, mobile-friendly eFlashcards, and quizzes as well as videos, web resources, and
links to SAGE journal articles to support and expand on the concepts presented in this chapter.


Part IV Contemporary Issues in Policing
© Slabber
Chapter 12: Policing in a Diverse Society
Chapter 13: Technology and the Police
Chapter 14: Organized Crime, Homeland Security, and Global Issues
Chapter 15: Private Police

Chapter 12 Policing in a Diverse Society
© Slabber
Chapter Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the characteristics of a democratic and multiethnic society that impact police–multicultural relations
2. Describe the historical origins of the current problems associated with multicultural relations and the police
3. Discuss the various strategies that can be implemented by both the police and the public to improve the perception of
4. Identify various strategies that may be implemented to mitigate acts of discrimination and improve police officers’
understanding of racial and ethnic diversity in the communities they serve
5. Explain the historical and current roles and challenges that women have in policing
6. Discuss the evolution of the treatment experienced by minority group members in policing and whether or not you
believe the current treatment of these groups is fair and impartial
In a democratic society, community relations are the cornerstone of good policing. Without
public support, the police are uninformed about most crimes, are likely to receive inadequate
resources, are not able to collect information needed to solve cases and apprehend offenders, and are
challenged in recruiting quality employees. The police are, or should be, protectors of civil liberties
and civil rights, as well as of life and property. If the police are to serve the community effectively and
in a manner acceptable to citizens, they must demonstrate their effectiveness in these areas and
establish a fruitful working relationship with the public.
Policing in a Multicultural and Multiethnic Society
The term police–community relations can be misleading. There is not a single, large,
homogeneous group that is the public, but many diverse publics, groups that are identifiable by
geography, race, gender, age, social class, respect for law and order, and degree of law-abiding
behavior.1 These different publics have unique interests and concerns that distinguish them from one
another in many ways. The police, as public servants, must serve everyone. However, because the

expectations of members of these different publics are often dissimilar, providing effective service is
often difficult.
Author Video: Policing in a multicultural setting
These different, sometimes conflicting, expectations point out that good police–community
relations are not easy to achieve. In a large, industrialized multiethnic society based on values such as
democratic decision making, individual freedom, and tolerance for diversity, to some extent, conflict
between the police and other citizens is inevitable and perhaps even healthy, within limits. However,
conflict with specific subgroups that becomes chronic or habitual is a serious problem.
Even though successful community relations depend on reciprocity, the public cannot be forced to
see and understand things from the police perspective. Therefore, the burden of trying to improve
police–community relations often rests with the police.
Changing Demographics
Developing positive working relationships in a rapidly changing, multicultural society is difficult.
The U.S. population is becoming increasingly diverse (see Figure 12.1). Changes in the demographic
proportions of minority groups result from differences in birth and death rates as well as immigration.
Hawaii, New Mexico, California, Texas, and Washington, DC, have high levels of immigration and
have more than 50% racial and ethnic minority populations.2
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010, slightly more than one-third of the population
reported their race and ethnicity as something other than non-Hispanic White.3
The minority population (in terms of race and ethnicity) increased from 86.9 million to 111.9
million between 2000 and 2010, representing a 29% increase.4 Asians and Hispanics continued to be
the two fastest-growing minorities. In 2010, California had the largest minority population in the
nation with 22.3 million, followed by Texas (13.7 million), New York (8.1 million), Florida (7.9
million), and Illinois (4.7 million).5 Time will tell if these trends continue. According to the U.S.
Census Bureau, the percentage of non-Hispanic Whites was 62% in 2014.6
What was recognized decades ago certainly remains the case today.
Our communities are changing quickly—often too quickly for law enforcement to keep
up. Failing to understand many of these changes, and still trying to conduct business as
usual, we find that the tools and rules that worked before don’t work now. For many
seasoned officers, their main concern is to make it through each shift and go home in one
piece. This only serves to reinforce a force-oriented culture that brings officers closer to each
other and further from the community they serve.7
The Asian population grew from about 4% in 2000 to about 5.3% in 2014.8 More than half of
the 10-year growth in the total U.S. population was due to the increase in the Hispanic population.
There were 57.7 million U.S. Hispanics projected for 2015 compared to 49.7 million in 2000. If
present trends continue, estimates are that non-Hispanic Whites will account for no more than 50%
of the population by 2044.9
At the same time, the national population is aging, and the elderly constitute an increasing
proportion of our population. A new type of generation gap is arising with most people over age 60

being non-Hispanic Whites.
In addition, gays and lesbians, the homeless, the mentally ill, religious minorities, political
extremists, and refugees from the Middle East, Central and South America, and island countries all
constitute significant minorities.
Policing in Practice Video: What does your department do to foster community relations in
consideration that Oxnard is a multicultural city?
Many of these diverse groups bring different languages, religious observances, dress, and lifestyles,
and different views of the police. Some immigrants who come from countries where the police are
integrated with the military and police actions are not regulated by strong constitutional and human
rights guarantees have very negative images of the police,10 while others have more positive images.11
All create challenges for the police in providing adequate services while dealing with problems
related to language and cultural understanding. Further complicating matters is the fear that terrorists
from abroad may hide among the numerous immigrants, while terrorists from within continue to
present very real threats as well. All in all, the police at all levels face ever-changing issues related to the
nation’s demographics.
Figure 12.1 Racial and Ethnic Minority Population, 2000, 2010, 2013
Source: Adapted from “Overview of race and Hispanic origin: 2010,” by K. Humes, N.
Jones, and R. Rameriz, March 2011. U.S. Census Bureau
( ).
Note: To comprehend the composition of each of the categories and to view a number
of cautionary statements related to the use of the data presented in Table 12.1, see the U.S.
Census Bureau website. Data presented here represent a general summary of census
Source: Adapted from “Overview of race and Hispanic origin: 2010,” by K. Humes, N.
Jones, and R. Rameriz, March 2011. U.S. Census Bureau
( ).

Note: To comprehend the composition of each of the categories and to view a number of
cautionary statements related to the use of the data presented in Table 12.1, see the U.S. Census
Bureau website. Data presented here represent a general summary of census information.
Department personnel should represent the racial, ethnic, and gender makeup of the citizens
they serve. Some police departments actively outreach to recruit women and minority residents.
© AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Police–Community Relations: Consists of both human and public relations
Immigrants and refugees have typically tended to remain in physical and cultural isolation, which
can leave them vulnerable to crime victimization both from members of their own ethnic group and
from the larger community. Interactions between immigrants and the police often involve social
misunderstanding, causing further alienation. Police agencies characterized by ethnic diversity serve
the public better—especially with community and problem-solving approaches—by providing sworn
officers who can deliver effective services within their own ethnic communities and to the community
as a whole.
Community-oriented strategies are particularly challenging in the face of anti-immigration
legislation, which is designed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants or to facilitate their removal.
Community cooperation is required for effective policing and is enhanced when residents believe that
laws are enforced fairly. Cynicism and distrust of the police undermine the public’s willingness to
cooperate. Some suggest that recent trends toward strict local enforcement of immigration laws might
undercut police efforts by creating fear and cynicism in immigrant neighborhoods.12 The
constitutionality of these laws is being tested in the courts.
Video Link: Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Part of Immigration Law
To complicate matters further, many immigrants entering the United States come from countries
where the police are corrupt, brutal, unreliable, and insensitive. For members of these groups who
have been subject to both prejudice and discrimination in their home countries, learning to trust the
police and accept them as public servants rather than as a group of armed and dangerous thugs is not
easy and takes time.

Mentally Ill
Another population that has increasingly involved the police and that the police do not fully
understand is individuals who are mentally ill or mentally disturbed. Mental health systems around
the country continue to be affected by budgetary concerns, and police officers are often forced to step
in to provide emergency services to those with mental illness. In doing so, the police encounter a
variety of problems. For example, some facilities may only accept patients who agree to treatment, and
persons who are mentally ill often refuse help. Further, dealing with those who have mental illness is
frustrating, because the police often find they have few options, yet the public expects the police to
“do something.” In some instances, the police transport persons with mental illness to receiving
centers (perhaps over and over again). If the receiving center refuses to accept the individual who is
mentally ill, jail may be the only alternative, and most officers would agree that is not a long-term
solution.13 In response to this need, many departments have specially trained crisis intervention
personnel; some departments have an entire team or teams dedicated to a more skilled and
knowledgeable response to this vulnerable population.
Video Link: Mental Health: Crisis in North Carolina, pt. 2
In major U.S. cities, such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, jails have become de facto
mental institutions, because there are so many people with mental illness on the streets.14 Their
acting-out behavior often lands them behind bars, where the options for treatment are few and the
conditions of confinement are far from therapeutic. In fact, jail or prison conditions often make
mental conditions worse.
The Problem and Promise of Diversity
Many other subgroups in our complex society have characteristics that can make it hard for the
police to understand and respond effectively. There are differences of age, culture, religion, geography,
sexual orientation, and gender status. It would be an enormous task for anyone to completely
understand the customs and norms of every subgroup of U.S. society. Partly for this reason, the police
must rely on community partnerships and a positive public image to become more effective in
communities that are more opaque to them.
Policing in Practice Video: Community Relations Specialist
The millions of day-to-day encounters involving the police and the public that take place are the
foundation of human relations, good or bad. These encounters do not occur in a vacuum. Most
people have preconceived notions and deep misconceptions about members of different racial,
religious, age, or ethnic groups. The public also has preconceived notions about police officers. Such
stereotypes may be based on prior experience, rumor, and media images. These notions may be
partially accurate or entirely inaccurate. Either way, stereotypes influence the nature of the interaction.
This is most problematic when the assumptions are completely erroneous.
The misunderstanding and prejudice between the police and social subgroups lead to avoidable
strife and spiraling polarization. The consequences of this disconnect are many and significant. Police
morale suffers under the weight of public outrage and scorn; the public mistrusts the police to do their
job in a professional and just manner. A reluctance to call for help makes it more difficult for the

police to gather information from reliable community sources, which, in turn, creates barriers to
preventing or solving crime and protecting victims, especially in the roughest neighborhoods.
In a diverse society, these problems are perhaps inevitable to some extent, as we divide the world
into us and them groups, interact with and tend to support members of the us group, and distrust
members of the them group. In addition, as the global nature of crime and policing continues to
expand, the importance of understanding and operating in multicultural and multiethnic settings
becomes increasingly significant.
Police–Community Conflict
Conflict between the police and other citizens continues to widen the gap that separates the police
from other citizens. Police are often referred to as if they are not part of society, but, of course, they
are citizens too—legally, historically, and traditionally.
In many respects, the police are viewed as adversaries not only by those involved in criminal
activities, but also by basically law-abiding citizens who occasionally violate speed limits, or drive when
they have had one too many drinks, or fail to go through proper channels to obtain a permit.
Residents of the ghetto or barrio may perceive the presence of the patrol car as police harassment,
while the police may believe they are acting in the best interests of these minority groups by providing
as many personnel as possible in those areas where citizens are most likely to commit or be victims of
crime. Police may regard the slang, dress, and behavior of Black and Latino youth as a challenge to
their personal and professional authority.
Imagine an encounter between a uniformed police officer and another citizen. The officer is easily
identifiable because of the uniform, badge, nightstick, handcuffs, and gun; and all of these help
identify his or her role in the encounter. The officer’s trappings indicate power and authority and that
the officer’s definition of the situation will be the prevailing one—that is, that the officer is in control
or will gain control.
The other side of the equation is that the other party will defer to the officer’s authority, treat the
officer with some degree of respect, and comply with directions. To do otherwise is to challenge the
officer’s authority and risk provoking the officer to more drastic actions. Some officers are extremely
sensitive to such challenges and to losing face and so may feel compelled to respond quickly and
forcefully to maintain control. This kind of spiraling encounter is even more likely when negative or
erroneous stereotypical assumptions are at play. When the police or the other parties are primed for a
negative confrontation, reason suggests that it is more likely to occur than not occur.
Although most encounters with police are civil and are characterized by some degree of mutual
concern, understanding, and respect,15 there is no denying that some are likely to be more
problematic than others, depending on a number of factors. These include the impressions brought to
the encounter, the setting in which the encounter occurs (private or public, familiar or unfamiliar), the
number and types of participants involved, the degree of control exercised by the participants, and
what actually happens during the encounter. For example, the mere sight of a police officer puts some
people on guard. They drive more slowly and more carefully; if they are involved in illegal activities,
they may try to appear innocent, and they may treat other persons more civilly. For their part, police
officers are trained to be suspicious of everyone, especially when past experience or present knowledge
leads them to believe an offense may be involved.
In every situation, police officers have to make sense out of all sorts of information, sometimes
with split-second timing. When they have the wrong idea about the meaning of behavior or language
or signals from a person whose culture they do not understand, it is that much more difficult to
analyze and react appropriately, and conflicts often arise.

Police–Minority Encounters
Because of history, stereotypes, and cultural illiteracy, police encounters with minority individuals
are emotionally charged beyond the position of authority the police already hold. One of the most
controversial areas of police–community relations is encompassed by these encounters, particularly
those with Blacks and Hispanics, but also with other racial and ethnic minorities, and more recently
with Middle Easterners.
Negative impressions also often exist when the police are called into a domestic violence situation
in which they regard the offender with suspicion, and the offender believes that police intervention
into his home and into an essentially private matter is improper. This may be doubly true when there
are also cultural prohibitions against involving outsiders in intimate family matters, making the
officer’s intervention even more problematic. This may be especially pronounced in domestic
situations that involve individuals from Latin American countries or from the Middle East, for
Sadly, our country has a long history of conflict between the police and minority communities.
Certainly, for the African American community, slavery, segregation, and discriminatory laws have
shaped the troubled relationship with both the police and Blacks. Segregation and sexual orientation
laws in the United States were long enforced by the police, who treated Blacks, Native Americans,
gays and lesbians, and others as second-class citizens (in terms of existing laws, they were). Morally
and ethically objectionable as these laws were, police officers were legally obligated to obey them.
Officers who agreed with the laws may have done so with pleasure. When the laws changed as a result
of civil rights activism, some police were slow to adapt, and community members were slow to believe
the police could change, even if the law had.
Just in the last six decades, patterns of heightened tensions between minority communities and the
police have flared and subsided. To touch on the subject, during the 1960s, five years of riots involved
Blacks and the police.
In the 1990s, the highly publicized Rodney King beating by Los Angeles police officers ignited
serious clashes and waves of violent protest, especially in major urban areas. More recently, a number
of police shootings of young, unarmed Black men has focused attention on what appears to many
both inside and outside the African American community to be a tragic and troubling pattern of
police behavior. These and countless similar incidents are some of the reasons that members of
minority groups that are based on race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation are hostile or wary of the
Although minority group members often regard the numbers of police in their neighborhoods as
excessive and as a form of harassment, the police argue that minority neighborhoods typically have
high crime rates and therefore require police presence. In fact, some have argued that race is totally
irrelevant to the police in most high-crime neighborhoods because nearly all of the residents are
Some may argue that police presence contributes to high crime rates (the more police, the more
crimes they discover); however, it is equally true that the number of victims and offenders found in
such neighborhoods compels the police to respond. Regardless, there is no justification for the use of
discriminatory tactics in minority neighborhoods.
Stereotypes: Preconceived notions based on prior encounters, word of mouth/rumor/gossip, and information
provided by the media
You Decide 12.1
Citizens in the community are generally not criminal justice majors. They get the majority of their knowledge in three

ways—through their own experiences, by hearing the experiences of others, and from the media. Because many citizens have
limited personal contact with police officers, their perceptions are largely dependent on what they hear and not what they
witness. When citizens do witness police actions, their interpretation of the incident is subject to personal bias that may
substantially be based on the opinion of others and media exposure.
In 2012, Scottsdale, Arizona, officer James Peters shot and killed a suspect, his sixth in 12 years on the job, which was
more individuals than any other officer had killed in the history of Arizona Law Enforcement. The initial media coverage
didn’t mention that he was on SWAT, and that his prior five shootings were deemed justified. Although that information
came out later, there was no guarantee that observers of the early media coverage received that important update.
1. Do you feel that the media is partially responsible for violent community reactions, such as looting and attacks on
2. Do you already have biases that will influence your opinion from what you hear (or see) about police shootings?
Suggestions for addressing these questions can be found on the Student Study Site:
Exhibit 12.1
Prejudice and Discrimination
There is a difference between prejudice (a feeling about a person or persons based on faulty generalizations) and
discrimination (which involves behavior that, in its negative form, excludes all members of a certain group from some rights,
opportunities, or privileges).17 We all have prejudices that may or may not result in discrimination. Prejudice undoubtedly
exists among police officers (as it does among all other occupational groups), and though race relations have advanced (changes
in civil rights legislation, hiring practices of police agencies, the election of a African American president, the appointment of
Black and Hispanic Supreme Court justices, and the appointment of numerous minorities to cabinet-level and other
important governmental positions), there is still a long way to go.
There are few ways to measure the existence of prejudice except to ask police officers and other citizens about their
feelings.18 Further, whatever these feelings may be, they are not themselves illegal. However, when these feelings carry over
into behavior (discrimination), serious problems may result, and community relations suffer.
Prejudice and discrimination are not limited to the police, and therefore, the police alone cannot ensure good community
Peer Pressure
Many police officers who might not otherwise be involved in discriminatory practices fall victim
to occupational discrimination. That is, even though an individual officer may not believe in acting
in a discriminatory fashion, his colleagues may exhibit such behavior. To be included as a part of the
subculture described earlier, the officer may emulate the behavior of his peers, thus harassing or
abusing minority group members—not because he believes it is right, but because he wishes to be
perceived as a member of the “in-group.”
Forms of Discrimination
The most common form of discrimination is psychological harassment such as the use of racial
slurs and other attempts to embarrass or humiliate people. Failure to use proper forms of address (e.g.,
use of first name rather than Mr. or Ms. and last name) has been and remains a major complaint of
minority group members.19
Verbal abuse by police officers continues to be one of the most common complaints about the
police expressed by citizens. Racial or ethnic slurs not only demean citizens but also deny them equal
treatment. They, too, may respond by harassing and verbally abusing the police for assumed or
perceived injustices. In general, in an atmosphere of mistrust, situations that might be defused with
cooler heads often escalate and end up requiring the use of force.
Failure to respond rapidly to calls in ghetto or barrio areas has also been an issue. And
unreasonable use of stop-and-question and stop-and-frisk tactics alarms minority group members.
Further, the relatively infrequent but totally unacceptable use of excessive force on the part of the

police in dealing with members of minorities (or, for that matter, the dominant group) is of major
concern.20 Such incidents become legend in minority neighborhoods and further damage the already
negative image of the police. (See Chapter 11.)
Occupational Discrimination: Discrimination that results, in part at least, from being a member of a particular
work group
Psychological Harassment: Harassment based on the use of racial slurs and other attempts to embarrass or
humiliate members of the minority group
Minority group members believe that the police single them out for harassment and abuse.
Minorities are arrested, stopped and questioned and shot and killed by the police out of
all proportion to their representation in the population. . . . The police play a far more
visible role in minority group neighborhoods compared with white neighborhoods. . . . An
African-American or Hispanic American is much more likely than a white American to see
or have personal contact with a police officer.21
Human relations problems involving the police and minority group members persist.
One national study found that more than half of all black men report they have been
victims of racial profiling by law enforcement. Overall, roughly 4 in 10 blacks and 3 in 10
Hispanics believe they have been unfairly stopped by the police simply because of their race
or ethnicity.22
And, in 2012, the issue of targeting minorities remained a major concern for at least some citizens
of New York City who claim that “stop and frisk” policies continue to target minorities.23
Elected officials in New York City have challenged the New York Police Department’s (NYPD)
policies related to “stop and frisk,” which allow the police to target racial and ethnic minorities.24
“The policy is either accidentally, incidentally, or purposely racist, however you slice it,” according to
Councilman Jumaane Williams.25 Former mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD commissioner Ray
Kelly argue that the program prevents crime and saves lives. The issue here is whether NYPD officers
apply the policies ethically (as well as legally).
Profiling the Muslim Community
Following the events of 9/11, federal agents swept through Arab, Muslim, and South Asian
neighborhoods throughout the country, apprehending men on the street, as well as from their homes,
workplaces, and mosques.29 “It soon became clear that most, if not all, of the several thousand
detainees picked up by federal agents in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 were guilty of little more
than being Arab, Muslim, or South Asian and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. . . . Of the
thousands of men who were detained and questioned, not one has been publicly charged with
It was not surprising that law enforcement agents focused on men of Middle Eastern origin, given
the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks were of Middle Eastern origin. However, lengthy
incarceration of innocent individuals, coupled with verbal and physical abuse, did little to encourage

the cooperation of the Middle Eastern community in preventing future acts of terrorism.31 In fact, if
police authorities want the intelligence that can only be provided by members of the Middle Eastern
community, they must first treat that community with respect while protecting their civil rights and
dignity. A controversy over this in the NYPD centered on a group of New Jersey residents, mosques,
and organizations who “filed a federal lawsuit against the City of New York, accusing the NYPD of
violating their constitutional rights by targeting them for surveillance on the basis of their religion—
outside of mosques, in Muslim student group meetings, and at religious schools. The lawsuit could
help define how far investigators can go in the name of national security.”32 The NYPD responded
that their actions are necessary to safeguard against future terrorism.
Exhibit 12.2
Arrest Rates by Race, by Crime
Police us