Making the Case for Objective Selection Criteria in Police Leadership Promotional Systems




Corley, Aryn

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


Police agencies have employed a paramilitary rank-and-file structure of leadership. Traditionally those positions have been filled using a system of personal interviews in front of a selection panel chosen by the elite few who hold higher leadership positions. Police agencies of the 21st century must move past subjective forms of selecting their leaders and opt for practices that are rooted in objectivity and incorporate decisions that are supported by data. Research has shown traditional methods of candidate promotion are often perceived as “unfair”. The practice of promoting individuals to supervisory positions without using objective criteria for selecting leaders creates a lack of confidence in the promotional process and a lack of trust in the agency’s leadership personnel. Many otherwise qualified candidates may be discouraged from applying because of the perception of a “good ‘ol boy” club method of choosing leaders. Sadly, the relationship between cronyism and corruption is symbiotic. Sadly, the news is bountiful with the fruits of such a poisonous tree. It is important for the process to be fair to all concerned. It needs to be in order to preserve the integrity of the organization. Leaders who are chosen objectively can be defended against accusations of bias and impropriety. Furthermore, the selection of police leadership should be transparent, and its merits stand in the face of scrutiny. It is incumbent upon all law enforcement agencies to use objective selection criteria when choosing leaders to fill its leadership ranks.



Promotion, Police--Personnel Management, Career Development