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Law Enforcement Leadership

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According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, IACP,  If you take it seriously and commit yourself to being the best leader and most effective follower you can become, leadership development is a lifelong process.  Continue to seek out opportunities to participate in formal leadership training, strive for increased leadership roles and responsibilities, and keep reading!

Leaders from large and small Police Departments, like the Los Angeles Police Department, the New York City Police Department, or the West Covina Police Department, can benefit from personal development and study.

Police Department Leadership is organized according to leadership position


Level One: Service Deliver Providers/Followers


Level Two: Small-Unit Leaders


Level Three: Organizational Leaders


Level Four: Executive Leaders

Articles on Police Department Leadership

Police Department Leadership: Small Unit Leadership - Part I


This series of articles is about small unit leadership.  Not leadership in a wider organization sense, but leadership down in the weeds.  We will be looking at the kind of leadership necessary for employees involved in highly complex problem-solving tasks (tactical situations to interpersonal communication skills).  The primary focus is for those leaders practicing their trade with street cops, small vice or narcotic units, or tactical teams



Police Department Leadership: Small Unit Leadership Part II - The Jump Start


It’s your first day in your assignment.  Perhaps you are a newly appointed leader, or you have been transferred into a new assignment.  How do you establish leadership?  How do you get things moving in the right direction?  You have the positional authority, the stripes or bars or whatever symbol of leadership. The position is only one type of leadership power and for the most part the weakest



Police Department Leadership - Small Unit Leadership: Part III - Morale: Whose job is in anyway?


Karl Von Clausewitz, a Prussian military general and military theorist, identified morale as a fundamental military principle.  Since Clausewitz published On War morale has developed into a concept seen as critical to organizations, including law enforcement.  Unfortunately, morale is difficult to define and in many circles has become somewhat synonymous with motivation.  In this article we will look at a very different definition of morale, its potential effects and how the first line supervisor can affect it.



Police Department Leadership: Small Unit Leadership Part IV: Ethics: How Essential Is It?


Mark Sullivan, PhD, University of Connecticut

Lieutenant Darren Stewart, MBA, Stonington PD


Sergeant Joan Smith arrives for work at her police department fifteen minutes early. She likes working midnights and enjoys working at what she feels is an excellent police department. Most of all, she enjoys the teamwork of her shift, because she has a motivated group of officers working for her. Sergeant Smith is a good employee and does an outstanding job for her police department.




Police forces are government organizations charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order. The word comes via French from Greek πολιτεια, referring to government or administration, from Greek πολις = "city". The word police was coined in France in the 18th century. The police may also be known as a constabulary, after constables, who were an early manifestation of police officers.


A police officer is a person who works for a police force. It usually only refers to those who have been sworn in as law enforcement officers, and does not include civilian support personnel (some of whom may be uniformed and have certain limited enforcement powers).


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Police Department Leadership: Leadership Issues: Managing Change

Managing despite the 3% at 50 rules and changing generations; From Boomers to Nexters What's next?


Rick Michelson


Changes in Latitudes, changes in Attitudes


             Perhaps Jimmy Buffet had it right; ones attitudes will change with ones perspective. Leadership in public safety agencies, particularly police agencies, is at a critical crossroads.  Early retirement incentives have enticed experienced personnel to leave their departments in mass numbers, creating a shortage of experienced supervisors.   In addition, there has been a graying of the department with the majority of the existing leaders in the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1943 and 1960) all reaching retirement age at or about the same time.  A third contributing factor in the leadership crisis is budgetary constraints as a result of less government funding and under-funded pensions, resulting in fewer dollars for training.  The exodus of experienced supervisors has created a unique challenge for law enforcement agencies to fill openings quickly, while continuing to manage the daily operations (both administrative and tactical).  Unfortunately, little has been done to develop the next generational pool of candidates in terms of succession management or career development; many agencies have taken a laissez-faire approach to this growing crisis in public safety.  Without effective oversight from supervisors, police agencies leave themselves vulnerable to liability and lawsuits.



Police Department Leadership: Change in Public Safety Organizations: It’s a Cultural Thing


 Ken Myers, PhD


Being in a public safety organization leadership role, you’re likely aware of the considerable difficulty involved in making significant changes to technology, procedure, administrative rules, etc.  If you have attempted a determined organizational push for some major change, (sometimes even a fairly small one) which met with surprisingly limited success, probably the culture thing got you.



Qualities of Police Leadership

by Inspector Gord Schumacher L.L.B., Winnipeg Police Service

"My name's Friday, the story you are about to see is true."

Most police leaders at the senior and executive levels will remember that phrase recited near daily by Sgt. Jack Webb from the 1950's police show "Dragnet." This show was at the time revered as being as close to the real thing as you could get on television, and may have influenced some of us to become police officers in the first place.



People depend on police officers and detectives to protect their lives and property. Law enforcement officers, some of whom are State or Federal special agents or inspectors, perform these duties in a variety of ways, depending on the size and type of their organization.In most jurisdictions, they are expected to exercise authority when necessary, whether on or off duty.


Uniformed police officers have general law enforcement duties, including maintaining regular patrols and responding to calls for service. They may direct traffic at the scene of an accident, investigate a burglary, or give first aid to an accident victim. In large police departments, officers usually are assigned to a specific type of duty. Many urban police agencies are involved in community policing—a practice in which an officer builds relationships with the citizens of local neighborhoods and mobilizes the public to help fight crime.


Police agencies are usually organized into geographic districts, with uniformed officers assigned to patrol a specific area, such as part of the business district or outlying residential neighborhoods. Officers may work alone, but, in large agencies, they often patrol with a partner. While on patrol, officers attempt to become thoroughly familiar with their patrol area and remain alert for anything unusual. Suspicious circumstances and hazards to public safety are investigated or noted, and officers are dispatched to individual calls for assistance within their district. During their shift, they may identify, pursue, and arrest suspected criminals; resolve problems within the community; and enforce traffic laws.


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