- Turning the Ship
Read the scenario below and answer the questions that follow using APA style formatting where appropriate:
You are the new chief of the Greenfield Police Department. After 30 years of iron-fisted control, Chief Slaughter has retired. Slaughter believed in the military model of police management and a traditional crime-fighting policing strategy. He was fully entrenched in the war on crime and ran his department like an army unit. His book of rules and regulations was a foot thick, and he demanded absolute compliance. Decisions were made in the chief’s office and passed down to the officers through layers of captains, lieutenants, and sergeants. At Chief Slaughter’s retirement ceremony, the mayor slaps you on the back and says, “You’ve got some big shoes to fill, son. That guy knew how to fight crime, and his officers never stepped out of line. Our crime rate was below the national average every year he was here.” The City Council presents Slaughter the Meritorious Service Award for 30 years of crime fighting. As a student of police history you realize that most police departments battle complex social problems and seldom march off to war. You know that crime rates are minimally influenced by crime fighting and are a poor indication of policing success. You also know that traditional organizational structures and policing strategies are slow to change and often are out of sync with one another. Most of your questions to the captains about department operations have generated the same response: “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
You decide to visit with members of the community. A homeowner tells you that Chief Slaughter’s officers do a great job of patrolling her neighborhood, but she’s worried about the future impact of the deteriorating apartment complex across the street. She realizes it’s not a police problem. The manager of a senior citizens’ residence tells you that there hasn’t been a crime reported in their neighborhood in over a year, but the residents are afraid to go out at night. He thinks it’s the rumors that spread from crime reports on the television news. The business owners in the shopping center complain that customers are being driven away by kids skateboarding in the parking lot. They understand that the police have more urgent crime problems to fight. The high school principal praises the police department’s stringent traffic enforcement before and after school. He wishes he could resolve the growing truancy problem as efficiently as the police handle traffic. None of the people you talk to is personally acquainted with a Greenfield police officer. It appears the Greenfield Police Department is trapped in the reform era. They rely on preventive patrolling and rapid response as their primary policing strategies and seldom interact with the community. You review their mission statement and find it emphasizes the professional model of crime fighting.
- Suggest a mission statement that emphasizes the community era rather than the reform era.
- What process would you use to develop a new mission statement? Who would you include in the process? Is it wise to order officers to accept a mission statement?
- What changes would you introduce in policing strategies?
- What changes would you make in the organizational structure to enable the new strategy?
- Identify some quality-of-life issues that are not being addressed by the crime- fighting strategy of Chief Slaughter.
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