Polcie Organizational Structure and Police Performance



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Police play a pivotal, visible role in American society and operate within a complex matrix of environments that influences how they are structured. Police scholars understand how various external elements shape organizational structure, but little is known about how structure effects police output. This paucity of literature is troubling as police departments need to understand whether their very structural design is influencing the effectiveness and efficiency of their work. To this point, few studies explain how organizational structure effect police performance and fewer still use correctly operationalized and empirically sound structural variables. Therefore, this study examines whether various elements of organizational structure, such as structural complexity, play a role in predicting police performance. The primary goal of this study is to understand the impact that organizational structural factors have on police output. The secondary goal is to determine if the organizational effect is tempered by the addition of community factors such as concentrated disadvantage and racial heterogeneity. By accomplishing these tasks, the study hopes to expand the police organizational literature. Data were collected from 357 large police departments located across the United States. Results indicate that police organizational structure does not play a significant role in police performance, especially when included with community factors. Certain demographic elements of a police department do seem to decrease crime rate and increase clearance rate but they are not consistent. Findings, policy implications, and directions for future research are discussed.



Police, Police organization, Organizational theory, Police performance