Changing Law Enforcement Organizational Structure by Reducing Barriers of Command and Information




Marmolejo, Andre

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



Police departments tend to operate within an archaic and overly redundant system of organizational structure that inhibits their ability to perform the expectations of the communities they serve. This is further compounded as these systems of organization prevent command staff from making the best use of their line officers. Tenets of community policing, and newer generations of officers, require that departments transition from compartmentalization of specialized tasks towards geographic based command and increased latitude for front line officers. The duties and powers given to a police officer by the state are vast. In classic models, agencies curtail duties by creating silos of responsibility to make them more manageable. A problem that was created from this process was the assignment of officers away from patrol and community problems. Often, patrol divisions are staffed at levels necessary to handle emergencies, but not sufficient enough to give officers time to form beneficial relationships and knowledge of the area they are responsible for. By compartmentalizing assignments or areas of responsibility, departments unintentionally encourage negative attitudes and a lack of empathy towards the problems others in separate divisions are experiencing. Lastly, these types of models may have been well-suited to the Baby Boomer and Generation X populations but are incompatible and frustrating with the Generation Y officers who are entering the profession of law enforcement. By moving towards geographic based command and responsibilities, eliminating unnecessary divisions, reinforcing patrol division staffing, and increasing the latitude given to front line officers, agencies can increase their ability to retain quality personnel and effectively combat the problems specific to the communities they serve.


Police Administration, Police--Supervison of Police Patrol