The Future of Policing
William L. Tafoya, Ph.D.
In August 1982, law enforcement executives gathered in the
FBI Academy auditorium to hear Alvin Toffler speak. In his
continue to ferment and explode unless opportunities were created
to relieve those pressures. (1)
According to Toffler, law enforcement, like society, has two
quo; the second, to facilitate social change. (2) For law
enforcement officers, this means not only protecting civil rights
but also ensuring that all lawful means of dissent and
facilitate an orderly transition into what Toffler has referred
to as a ``third wave'' society. (4)
In support of these ideals, this article addresses major
norm and value shifts, periods of reform in policing, the
organizational change, and the implications for law enforcement
of maintaining the status quo.
Historically, the role of law enforcement has been to
maintain the status quo. However, this does not mean that this is
able to deal with change, law enforcement must understand the
Toffler's comments offer a challenge to law enforcement and
amicable, they will be perceived as adversaries. They must be
viewed as integral to the neighborhood and as indispensable
members of the community, not as an army of occupation.
One need only reflect back two decades to be reminded of how
enforcement has made important and laudatory strides to heal
those wounds, but there is more to be done. Law enforcement
administrators must not allow themselves to be content with past
achievements. If law enforcement stops to congratulate itself for
the progress it has made thus far, it could drift backwards.
In addition, isolated and sometimes tragic events tend to
tolerated while waiting for the hot pursuit and in-progress
calls. In fact, many police officers believe that the service
function should not be part of their responsibilities. This
belief is compounded by the lack of a concerted effort on the
``crime fighter'' to ``social engineer,'' seems appropriate. (5)
If law enforcement administrators do not plan properly
today, they may be forced to reassess the way their agencies
carry out their responsibilities tomorrow. For example,
California's 1978 Proposition Thirteen triggered a decade of
agencies nationwide. Such reappraisals are likely to come about
as a result of the kind of initiatives Toffler has called
``anticipatory democracy.'' (6)
Economizing measures, referenda, and trends, such as social
norm and value shifts, accreditation, education and training, and
consolidation, (7) will bear close scrutiny from now through the
turn of the century. If changes in these areas continue at their
unanticipated changes in both the role and organizational
and most likely to be overlooked by police administrators is the
CHANGES IN SOCIETY
In his 1970 classic, Future Shock, Alvin Toffler discussed
the world's major social norm and value shifts. (8) In 1980, he
followed up with The Third Wave, in which he expanded his views
and drew an analogy between the waves of the ocean and the three
major changes of society: The Agricultural Revolution, the
According to Toffler, the first wave, the Agricultural
Revolution, swept aside 45,000 years of cave dwelling about 8,000
B.C., and mankind shifted from a nomadic existence based on
The second wave, the Industrial Revolution, began about
transition from plough to punch-press was filled with
consternation. In fact, from 1811 to 1816, bands of workmen,
called Luddites, destroyed machinery because they believed their
they feared, would replace manpower. With the exception of a few
Third World countries, the Industrial Revolution provided the
economic base for second wave society.
About 1955, the Technological Revolution began, signifying
the third wave. Since that time, the American work force has
The driving force for this shift is information; the
economic base for third wave societies is the quest for
knowledge. The ubiquitous microcomputer, ushered in just over a
of this micro millennium, a new ``disease'' has been discovered,
cyberphobia fear of computers. Computer phobes today express
Luddites expressed about mechanical devices.
CHANGES IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
A rough correspondence to Toffler's wave analogy can be
the beginning of the ``first wave'' of major law enforcement
brought order and the military model to policing.
A century later, in the 1930s, August Vollmer and O.W. Wilson,
two American police pioneers, advanced the goal of
``professionalizing'' law enforcement. Their efforts ushered in
the ``second wave'' of major law enforcement reform.
Standardization, specialization, synchronization, concentration,
maximization, and centralization dominated law enforcement during
this era. Toffler's ``Breaking the Code,'' in The Third Wave, for
example, is almost a mirror image of the history of modern
The civil unrest of the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s was
the impetus for the advocacy of the ``third wave'' of major law
enforcement reform. Change agents, such as Patrick V. Murphy and
Quinn Tamm, began to question the value of the bureaucracy and
the military model of policing.
Substantial improvements in law enforcement have taken place
fact, law enforcement, being characteristically highly resistant
to change and intolerant of organizational dissent, has been
about as flexible as granite. (13)
There is a vast body of literature in organizational
behavior, (14) management, (15) and innovation (16) that
addresses the issue of resistance to change and reasons why so
many organizations are so unyielding. (17) In general, an
nverse relationship exists in bureaucracies between
organizational size and receptivity to change. The bigger the
organization, the more rigidity and less affinity toward
nnovation there is. (18) As illogical as it may sound, in law
enforcement, it also appears to be the case that the smaller the
agency, the more resistance there is to change. Even though
administrators are unwilling to ``rock the boat.'' (19)
However, a 1983 study revealed that a surprising number of
that typify so much of law enforcement. (20) In effect, the study
concluded that ``the traditional managerial methods are not
to authority. (22) Until about 15 years ago, most police recruits
accustomed to unquestioned response to command. Today, however,
few of the young men and women entering law enforcement have
traditionalist managers, who often believe that people need to
be, coerced, controlled, and threatened. (23)
In a more recent study, a panel of law enforcement
management experts discussed the future of law enforcement. (24)
One of the issues examined was leadership styles and the
enforcement executive, stated, ``The general perception is that
things have worked well as they are and that there is no need to
change.'' Another panelist, who is a criminal justice scholar,
admitted that ``police executives are not risk takers and police
Today, there is ample evidence to indicate that insofar as
Between now and the turn of the century, law enforcement
administrators will continue to be reminded that the
organizational and managerial methods of the past even though
enlightened for their time may no longer work. In the future,
the number of disciplinary cases and the use of annual and sick
leave will increase steadily under traditionalist managers.
Unfortunately, many police administrators will be oblivious to
these signs or will staunchly defend current personnel practices.
However, the astute administrator will recognize these indicators
for what they represent and will adjust accordingly.
What do such findings imply for law enforcement? For
administrators, what one does not want to hear may be precisely
feel trapped and unable to leave; they will become cynics. (27)
Others will leave to join less bureaucratic and militaristic
organizations. The fact that many college graduates leave law
enforcement early because of autocratic management was recognized
over two decades ago. (28) But, the departure of personnel who
college-educated personnel in terms of numbers, but of talent.
The discontinuity of social norms and values, which began
more than two decades ago, (29) is still evident today. (30) And, the
trend will continue over the next 20 years and beyond. As a
as central to our ability to police such a changing society. It
s vital that law enforcement administrators understand that:
* Powerful dynamics are transfiguring virtually every facet of
* The forces that are recasting social institutions will also
alter law enforcement organizations
* As society's values change, so will those of law enforcement
* To deal effectively with diversity, the process of change
must be understood
* The role and goals of policing must be clearly and concisely
If the professionalization of law enforcement is truly
``puncturing the myths and slaughtering the sacred cows'' (32) will
easy for law enforcement.
However, while the methodological rigor of past research
continues to be debated, the Kansas City Preventive Patrol
Experiment (33) represents a giant leap forward for police
question dogma. (34) However, problem-oriented policing (35) and the
Minneapolis domestic violence study, (36) for example, have been
Law enforcement is capable of substantive change, but this
adjust and adapt. (37) Unexamined are a number of visionary ideas
that may have been ahead of their time. One such untested
organizational and decisionmaking decentralization. (38) He argues,
for example, that rigid discipline and authoritarianism fosters,
Regardless of what lies ahead, law enforcement must
anticipate tomorrow in an imaginative, analytical, and
administrators must not be seduced by the tried and true tenets
of the past. When ``experience'' becomes dogma, it can be not
only misleading but also dangerous as well. Administrators
enforcement administrators of today if they are to shape the
course of tomorrow must look ahead.
For 45,000 years, mankind huddled in the darkness of caves,
afraid to take that first step into the light of day. Will
Luddite or luminary? Bold leadership is essential today to
(1) Alvin Toffler, Address before the 130th Session of the FBI
National Academy, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA, August, 5, 1982.
(4) Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave (New York: William Morrow,
(5) James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, ``Broken Windows,''
Atlantic Monthly, March 1982, pp 29-38; James Q. Wilson and
George L. Kelling, ``Making Neighborhoods Safe,'' Atlantic
Monthly, February 1989, pp. 46-52.
(6) Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (New York: Random House,
(7) William L. Tafoya, ``A Delphi Forecast of the Future of
Law Enforcement,'' unpublished doctoral dissertation (Criminal
Justice and Criminology), University of Maryland, December 1986.
(8) Supra note 6.
(9) Supra note 4.
(10) Supra note 4.
(11) Wayne A. Kerstetter, ``The Police in 1984,''Journal of
Criminal Justice, Spring 1979, pp. 1-9.
(12) Charles R. Swanson, Leonard Territo, and Robert W.
Taylor, Police Administration: Structures, Processes, and
Behavior, 2nd ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1988), see especially
``Success and Failure Patterns in Planned Change,'' pp. 545-547.
(13) Dorothy Guyot, ``Bending Granite: Attempts to Change the
Rank Structure of American Police Departments,'' Journal of
(14) Roy R. Roberg and Jack Kuykendall, Police Organization
and Management: Behavior, Theory, and Processes (Pacific Grove,
CA: Brooks/Cole, 1990), see especially ``Resistance to Change,''
Behavior (Chicago, IL: St. Clair, 1977); Chris Argyris,
(Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin, 1962).
(15) Rosabeth Moss Kanter, When Giants Learn to Dance:
Mastering the Challenge of Strategy, Management, and Careers in
the 1990s (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989); Thomas J.
Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies (New York: Warner,
Companies'?,'' Journal of Criminal Justice, vol. 13, No. 4,
Administration: A Behavioral Approach (San Jose, CA: Justice
Systems Development, 1975).
(16) John Sculley, Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple...A Journey of
Adventure, Ideas, and the Future (New York: Harper and Row,
Schuster, 1983); Leonard Territo, ``Planning and Implementing
Organizational Change,'' Journal of Police Science and
Administration, December 1980, pp. 390-398.
(17) Terrence E. Deal and Allan A. Kennedy, Corporate
Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life (Reading, MA:
Addison-Wesley, 1982); Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian
Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s (Los
Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1980); Gerald E. Caiden, Police
Revitalization (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1977); Warren G.
Bennis, ``Beyond Bureaucracy: Will Organization Men Fit the New
Organizations?,'' Tomorrow's Organizations: Challenges and
Strategies, edited by Jon S. Jun and William B. Storm (Glenview,
(18) Anthony Downs, Inside Bureaucracy (Boston, MA: Little,
Brown & Co., 1967).
(19) J. Laverne Coppock, ``Police Management in Transition,''
Effective Police Administration: A Behavioral Approach, 2nd ed.,
edited by Harry W. More, Jr., (St. Paul, MN: West Publishing,
(20) William F. Walsh, ``The Analysis of the Variation in
Officer Arrest Rates: A Study of the Social Organization of
(21) ``Police Officers Won't Tolerate Autocratic Management
Style,'' ACJS Today, January 1984, p.6.
(23) Douglas McGregor, The Human Side of Enterprise (New
York: McGraw-Hill, 1960).
(24) Supra note 7.
(25) Supra note 7.
(26) Donald Sanzotta, The Manager's Guide to Interpersonal
Relations (New York: AMACOM, 1979), see especially ``The
(27) Arthur Niederhoffer, Behind the Shield: The Police in
Urban Society, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967).
(28) Norman Pomrenke, ``Attracting and Retaining the
College-Trained Officer in Law Enforcement,'' remarks made at the
of Police, Miami, FL, October 2-7, 1965, proceedings published in
The Police Yearbook (Washington, DC: IACP, 1966), pp. 99-109.
(29) Peter F. Drucker, The Age of Discontinuity (New York:
Harper & Row, 1968).
(30) Daniel Yankelovich and Sidney Harman, Starting With the
New Post-Industrial State,'' Futures, December 1985, pp.
Self-Fulfillment in a World Turned Upside Down (New York: Random
(31) Gary W. Sykes, ``The Functional Nature of Police Reform:
The `Myth' of Controlling the Police,'' Justice Quarterly, March
(32) Louis A. Mayo, phrase coined as the theme for a 2-year
Criminal Justice Administration of the American Society for
(33) George L. Kelling, et al, ``The Kansas City Preventive
Foundation, October 1974).
(35) Herman Goldstein, ``Improving Policing: A
(36) Lawrence W. Sherman & Richard A. Berk, ``The Minneapolis
Domestic Violence Experiment,'' report (Washington, DC: The
(37) Alvin Toffler, The Adaptive Corporation (New York:
(38) John E. Angell, ``Organizing Police for the Future: An
Update on the Democratic Model,'' Criminal Justice Review, Fall
Organizational Arrangements: A Democratic Model,'' Criminology,
August-November 1971, pp. 185-206.
(39) Carl B. Klockars, Thinking About Police (New York:
About the author:
William L. Tafoya is an FBI Special Agent assigned to the
Behavioral Science Instruction/Research Unit at the FBI
Academy at Quantico, VA.