POLICE Magazine

SEP 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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t 50 POLICE SEPTEMBER 2018 Traditionally, police departments are hierarchical, task-oriented organizations, where leaders with a di- rective style of management are perceived as effec- tive managers. But is that true? Our research shows that a different leadership style, one that empowers subordinates, is, in general, better. Policing has be- come increasingly difficult, not in the least because of two very conflicting trends. One trend concerns the public's trust in policing. Trust in the police has been declining in response to frequent, often erroneous, reports of police officers using excessive force against minorities. is has prompted calls for reducing police discretion and increased monitoring of officers and agencies. Many of these uses of force are later proven to be justified. However, we should not overestimate reports about declining trust in police. A 2015 Gallup poll indicated that people generally have more faith in the police than in most other social institu- tions. Still, 64% of people in 2003 expressed trust in the police, declining to 52% in 2015. So there is some decline, and it is most pronounced among African Americans. Only 30% of blacks surveyed in the 2015 Gallup poll expressed trust in policing. e second trend is an effort to reform by empowering subordinates through de- centralizing authority and increasing work autonomy. An example of empowerment would be when police officers are asked to provide input in decision making. Research that we have done suggests that empower- ment is an important vehicle for improv- ing service delivery and performance. Em- powerment has a positive influence on task performance, conscientiousness, and effec- tiveness of work and it has been shown to improve job satisfaction, commitment, and intention to continue working in the agency, and leadership development in general. Mid-level police officers—those in the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, and captain— play a pivotal role in balancing the demands of task-oriented leadership on the one hand and empowering leadership on the other. Our research shows that an empowering leadership style has, in general, a clear and positive effect upon employees, work unit, and manager performance. More specifi- cally, police officers in leadership positions who embody and apply empowering mana- gerial practices will find that such behavior trickles down in the organization. OUR METHODOLOGY Since 2013, the John Glenn College of Pub- lic Affairs at e Ohio State University in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio State Highway Patrol has run the Public Safety Leadership Academy (PSLA). is is an 11-week, resi- dential program of intensive education and training for mid-level law enforcement officers. Each cohort has about 35 participants who are perceived as having the potential to rise further in the ranks. e program includes a smorgasbord of topics relevant to police leaders as well as various aspects of leadership such as leadership styles, followership, types of com- munication, cultural competencies, conflict resolution, social media strategies, and citizen engagement. As part of this pro- gram, we have conducted a leadership survey in each of the co- PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES ACADEMIC RESEARCH SAYS IF YOU REALLY WANT YOUR COPS TO DO A GREAT JOB, GIVE THEM THE DISCRETION TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT HOW TO DO IT. How Police Leaders Can Get the BEST WORK from Their Officers RUSSELL HASSAN, JONGSOO PARK, JOS C.N. RAADSCHELDERS

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