Police Relations Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

police forces are run, and Thibault et al. take examine some of the important issues that have prompted these changes. Their work on police management, and the research that they have pursued on the ways in which police departments are constituted, have helped to created the kinds of community-based, progressive forms of policing that are becoming more and more widely used - even if they are still in the minority overall in this country.

In the preface to their work, the authors argue for three elements to be included in every progressive police department:

First, we believe that sound management is management based on a combination of theory and practice. Practice without analysis will cause us to repeat the mistakes of history, so our theoretical analysis must be directed toward the practical for implementation into the day-to-day rigors of operating a police department.

Second, we reject complete adherence to the authoritarian as well as to purely participatory styles of management. In the authoritarian model, which indeed dominates most police organizations, important elements of planning and communications are eliminated or lost, whereas in the full participatory model, response to emergency and life-threatening situations will be hampered if too many people are involved; one person often has to be in charge -- subordinates must respond to others.

Third, we rely, to a great extent, on the consultative style of management. As will be shown, the consultative style leaves room for change and "doors open" throughout all elements of the police organization. It can be an efficient and dynamic style of management, provided that the necessary elements of a well-run law enforcement agency are met. Consultation also includes discussions with the community on law enforcement and safety problems. It is one of the key ingredients for community-oriented and problem-oriented policing, which are being publicly advanced by police and community leaders.

Such changes in management have tended to produce a client orientation (in which the "client" is the entire community) and an increasing emphasis on the idea of community empowerment. As this idea of client-orientation and proactive policing have become more and more important in police departments, American police forces are becoming more sensitive to the needs of their local communities, needs that quite often include sensitivity to the racial dynamics of those communities.

If police have at times been insensitive to the issue of race (or even overtly hostile to those of other races), this must not be seen as a problem inherent in policing or one that arises from something about the structure of police departments. Rather, the racism that has marked police departments in the past (and the racism that continues to mark some of them) must be seen as an extensive of attitudes prevalent in American society at large.

Even as Americans believe that we should all join together (especially at such a difficult moment in American history), we also tend to create - and struggle to maintain boundaries around different racial groups, determining by a person's skin color who is "us" and who is "them," and seeking to contain the dangerousness (which is to say the differentness) of other groups through any means necessary. Thus we see any number of examples of racial animosity between groups in the United States, even between groups that are both discriminated against.

Community-based policing and client empowerment have been able to solve many of the problems that arise in a society that is, like American society, torn by class and racial differences and exacerbated by departments in which - as Thibault etal found - there is a far greater degree of loyalty among police than to the community itself or even…

Sources Used in Document:


Block, R. (1971). "Fear of Crime and Fear of the Police." Social Problems 19: 91-100.

Davis, M. (1998). Community policing: How to get started. Denver: Anderson Publishing.

Harris, D. (1997). "Driving While Black' and All Other Offenses: The Supreme Court and Pretextual Traffic Stops." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 87: 544-582.

Thibault, E., Lynch, L. & McBride, B. (2000). Proactive Police Management. (5th ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.

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