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WHAT THEY TEACH IN MANAGEMENT SCHOO

Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?law/manage05.law

August 1991                                                       

                                                                          
           WHAT THEY DIDN'T TEACH IN MANAGEMENT SCHOOL                       

                              By  

                   James D. Sewell, Ph.D.                            
                          Director
           Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute
                    Tallahassee, Florida                           

                                                                  
     Contemporary criminal justice management courses emphasize
a number of relevant topics, such as resource management, labor
administration and organizational change.  However, in the
classroom, the approach most commonly taken is on the macro
level and only deals with theory and academic research.  And,
nformation learned in the classroom to the job often leaves
much to be desired.  Oftentimes, a newly appointed chief of
there are many things they did not teach in management school.

     As a result, the administration of a police department,
large or small, becomes a continuing education for a police
chief.  The lessons a recently appointed police chief learns are
many and cannot be discussed in a single article.  However, some
of the most important lessons, specific to managing a small

     *  Command hurts;                                               

     *  Change is difficult to implement and often not desired;

     *  Politics are everywhere;                                     

     *  The police chief is a public figure;                         

     *  It is easy and probably a good idea to develop a "my
        town" attitude;

     *  In a small department, the workload can be especially
        heavy;

     *  The job can still be fun.                                    

COMMAND HURTS                                                     

     In the paramilitary world of law enforcement, there can 
ultimately be only one boss.  And, in small police departments,
administrators for tactical and strategic problems and
operational decisions.  As a result, many police chiefs find
that making life-or-death decisions is easier than initiating

     In addition to this "people pain" that a police chief can
experience, command can also hurt when a police chief's motives
or values are misinterpreted.  Some employees may assume that
convictions, someone may assume that a chief has, at some point,
compromised integrity in order to become chief.  And, especially
as a result of personnel-related decisions, the chief's actions
may be viewed as wrong.  Some employees may believe that the
not punished equally.

CHANGE IS DIFFICULT                                               

     Most enlightened administrators believe that one of their
s to act as agents of change.  It must, however, be noted that
change within an organization is always difficult, and in most
circumstances, there will be employees who do not, or will not,
adapt well.  Change requires adjustment, and adjustment is
be wise to first keep in mind that:

     *  Adult behavior is difficult to change.                       

     *  Goals detailing change should not be set too high and
        should be based on employee abilities and not on an
        administrator's personal desires and/or motives.  

     *  Until a police chief can assess employees, it is better
        to "walk softly and carry a big stick."  It is far
        easier to soften one's management style than to tighten
        it at a later date.  This is particularly true for law
        enforcement departments where sensitivity, interest, and
        professionalism on the part of the chief could be
        mistaken for personal weakness.

     *  It is only natural that a police chief sometimes
        believes that management could be wonderful if it
        weren't for the employees.

     In addition, the difficult nature of organizational change
s not limited to employee-related problems.  Outside governing
agencies often have an entirely different vision of if and when
change is necessary.  They may also lack a complete
understanding of the professional needs, roles, and direction of
a contemporary law enforcement agency.  Consequently, it is not
uncommon for a chief's desires to conflict directly with these
outside agencies.  For the police chief, this resulting
frustration is particularly intense when the conflict centers
around improved professionalization and the education of

     Darrell Stephens, Executive Director of the Police
Executive Research Forum and a former police chief, captured the
essence of this issue when he said:

     "Under the best circumstances, it is a struggle for any
     police chief to successfully develop and sustain the kind
     of support needed from the community, city manager, city
     council, and the officers themselves.  Even Herculean
     efforts are doomed to fail when there is a mandate for
     change, but no agreement among these groups about what
     should be done or the best way to go about it." (1)

     A corollary to the issue of fear of change in a department
s that not all employees want enlightened, progressive
managers.  Many may prefer the status quo, and still others may
either case, such employees may act as stumbling blocks to
change and may resist the personal interest and involvement

     On the bright side, meaningful change can often occur more
quickly in a small department.  With strong leadership from the
bureaucracy, efforts at change are distorted less.  As a result,
change can be achieved on a more timely basis.


     Many law enforcement leaders pride themselves on their
order for police chiefs to keep their jobs, they must respect,
understand, and successfully deal with the political nature of
law enforcement.

     In small departments, politics may often play an even
more quick to provide direct feedback concerning the department
to its governing council or commission.  Where council members
and special interest groups encourage attendance at public
meetings, this feedback may become even stronger.  And, in
closeknit communities, direct involvement in law enforcement
could possibly secure their reelection.

THE POLICE CHIEF IS A PUBLIC FIGURE                               

     In many communities, citizens are looking for public
officials who care about local problems, who will take time to
listen, and who fit their image of a public leader.
ndeed, a public figure.  Whether an elected sheriff or an
appointed chief of police, the chief law enforcement executive
occupies a position of power, influence, and respect.  However,
accountability than many other public officials, and certainly
to a higher standard of integrity.

DEVELOPING A "MY TOWN" ATTITUDE                                 

     In small communities, most police chiefs are well-known, and 
As a result, many police chiefs develop a sense of personal
a sense of personal ownership.  With such a positive attitude
and outlook on the community, policing the local citizens
becomes a personal obligation.

SMALL DEPARTMENT/HEAVY WORKLOAD

     Because small law enforcement departments may lack the
budget, personnel resources, and equipment of their counterparts
n large communities, it may be far more difficult to serve as a
chief of police of a small agency.  Large agencies allow for
more management and supervisory strata, for more staff support
n areas such as planning and budgeting, and for alternative

     In small agencies, police chiefs are expected to fill a
variety of roles.  Routinely, and with limited staff, chiefs may
equipment acquisition officers, and principal policy
managerial skills and a seemingly endless supply of time,
effort, and energy.

THE JOB CAN STILL BE FUN                                          

     It is not uncommon to hear law enforcement executives
officers or detective supervisors early in their careers.  This
s especially true in large departments, because as officers
excitement and rewards of hands-on law enforcement and more

     In small departments, however, managers, including police
chiefs, often find themselves performing patrol and
nvestigative functions.  It is not uncommon, for example, for
the chief to do double-duty during times of patrol personnel
cases.  In such departments, chiefs can still enjoy the daily
activities of a patrol officer without, as one municipal chief
noted, "the pain of having to do the reports."  In addition, the
opportunity to perform patrol or investigative functions
occasionally, even for short periods, can also serve to relieve

CONCLUSION                                                        

     Although criminal justice management courses and
administration textbooks discuss the science of management,
becoming a successful law enforcement executive is a process
that involves an on-going education.  And, despite difficult
and a heavy workload, being the chief of police in a small
community has numerous rewards.  Most importantly, it is a
valued position of public trust that continually provides police
chiefs of small communities with flexibility and new
experiences.


FOOTNOTE                                                          

     (1) "Subject to Debate," Police Executive Research Forum
newsletter, vol. 4, No. 5, 1990, p. 3.



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