Free Effective Police Supervision Research Paper Sample

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Leadership, Crime, Police, Leader, Skills, Law, Social Issues, Community

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2021/02/24


Leadership is important in every situation however when it comes to policing leadership skills are required. Having the ability to successfully lead is necessary because this skill can be the determining factor in a police department’s ability to succeed internally and externally. Leadership skills can be found throughout the police department from the police officers who are setting an example for the community to the supervisor or chief of the department that is in charge of all of the officers below him or her. To understand what it takes to possess the correct leadership qualities it is important to have the knowledge of what a leader is or the definition. There are many ways that one can define the word leader or term leadership. Leadership has so many different meanings to different people making it difficult to determine the correct use of the word. Perhaps Professor Warren G. Bennis stated it best when he said “Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right”. The definition for leadership is a person who possesses the qualities to effectively create and inspire a vision of the future, motivates others using that idea, manages the delivery of the vision and is able to teach others to achieve this goal (Mantektlow & Carlson, 2015).
The police departments often have specific definitions in place that help define leadership qualities expected of specific persons in the department. Lieutenant Michael Waters of the Florida police department defined leadership as different traits depending on the supervising individual. The chief of command staff in the department are the officers in charge of the department’s future goals and operations. To do this they possess leadership qualities that are often not as straight forward and noticed as others because they are responsible for activities in the police department that are not normally performed by other personnel. Some of these leadership qualities include defining the values and mission of the department as well as exercising and setting the moral expectations. The middle managers whom are also known as the captains and lieutenants also have a crucial leadership role in the police department. They are responsible for leading others through the objectives which were set by the chief command staff at the department. These officers usually only work in the department and do not patrol however they are responsible for leading the officers who are out in the community patrolling for crimes. First line supervisors have a lot of duty and interact with the officers who are on the street which means they need to be great leaders and set an example worth following. These leaders are known as sergeants and there leadership skills are able to directly impact the community they work in. The sergeant is responsible for leading the officers to be helpful to the community they serve as well as reprimand any actions that are not within the departments core goals and values. The leadership skills that are required in supervisory positions filter through the different ranks in the department however all of them are equally important to ensure that the police department complies with the needs of the people while upholding there goals, morals and values(Waters, 2015).

Past Practices

The police departments have gone through many changes that were necessary for them to evolve into the working systems that we see and rely on today. It is important to learn from the past so that people can evolve rather than repeat mistakes over and again and it is many of these lessons that have shaped the leaders that police departments have today. Police practices as we know them today were formed in the year 1829 which was over 166 years ago in London. A man named Sir Robert Peel is attributed with forming a new age of police officers that differed from the archaic forms that have been around since the beginning of crime. There were many reasons that Peel was propelled by to form a change including the fact that crime rates were rising rapidly. Sir Robert Peel is considered the very first chief of the London police and the officers he employed were referred to as Bobbies. Peel was a strong leader that introduced many new principles into the police agency. One of the principals that peel introduced which is important even today was to use data like the current crime rates to see how effective the current police force was. He also established the importance of recruiting the right officers for the job as well as the need for departments that were located in a central location according to the city or town. In the past police officers were called after a crime was committed and only then would the job begin? This was useful for protecting citizens to a certain point however there was no way to prevent crime from happening in the first place (Patterson, 2015).
It is noted that one of Peels more useful ideas was implemented to address the issue of preventing crimes when he proposed that beats or areas were assigned for officers to patrol. This changed things dramatically because there was no way to catch criminals in the commission of a crime before this way of policing was introduced. The reason that Peel found it necessary to assign officers to these areas of patrol known as beats was that he had the idea that the community would develop a relationship with the officers that they see all of the time and therefore be more likely to share valuable information with the officers. This information could be used to catch criminals as well as suppress crime rates because more criminals would be caught and punished for their crimes. In the United States police officers followed a very similar structure. They wore uniforms and patrolled certain areas in search of information and criminal activities. The main difference between the patrol units in America and in London was that in America the officers carried guns to enforce the law. Rather than being commanded by one person these officers were divided up between different leaders (captains) depending on the department they worked for. This began the era of officers being assigned to captains and leaders that they would report to and look up to for specific assignments and requirements that go along with being a police officer. Professionalism was the way that the leaders thought crime would be averted and over the next few years this was demonstrated in police academies, colleges, and all of the departments of criminal justice as an attempt to reduce the rising crime rates (Patterson, 2015).
A noted problem with the changes in policing that was not anticipated was the divide that happened within the department as a result of officers who viewed things differently than the old school views of policing. New officers came into the departments with more education than the existing officers which created a split police agency scenario as the new officers did not always agree with traditional policing views. As a result the officers and the community were separated instead of able to form a connection. The professionalism that was being preached through traditional policing was in question as many now educated officers did not feel that the merit systems that were in place awarded the officers who had been on patrol for a long time and did not base the promotions on educational experience which many critics of the system saw as unproductive and therefor they opposed the system that was in place. Over the next 30 years the rise in crime and loss of communications between society and police officers raised many questions about the effectiveness of the traditional system that was focused on professionalism as a means of deterring crime. As a result new ideas formed about effective policing strategies. These ideas incorporated theories that suggested community policing which would use problem solving strategies to effectively fight the growing crime rates and separation between police and society. As a result of many mistakes community policing has evolved and undergone many changes some of these mistakes include:

A lack of planning which caused issues when distributing needed funds to departments

Problems establishing a clear mission
Smaller units that specialize in certain areas alienate residents in the community as well as other officers causing a divide
Performance evaluations and award or promotion systems have caused many problems as they focused on the traditional experience system
Budget issues make it difficult to employ the number of officers needed to effectively patrol areas which raises efficiency issues
Community policing can lead to corruption as officers are subject to attachment to certain affiliates and persons
Last community policing has not been scientifically proven to work it is only being incorporated because the theory sounds effective
Although policing has undergone many changes throughout time there is still a long list of issues with the current policing practices and systems. This suggests that the leadership skills that are needed to effectively police the nation are lacking. The fact is that throughout all of the changes in history so far to attempt to create a system that emphasizes leadership skills through professionalism there has not been much change in the crime rates or the citizens views on feeling safe from crime in their communities since the new era of policing was put into place. One suggestion is that affective leaders will rise from the lessons that can be learned from the history of policing rather than pushing policies that seem to be reliable however show no evidence of working (Patterson, 2015).

What it takes to be an effective leader in the policing community today

Police officers and the supervisors in police departments are tasked with effectively complex environmental changes that they must be able to navigate sufficiently to be successful. They encounter many daily social, political and organizational challenges that require their attention and careful navigation. Technologies advance every day and crimes change just as rapidly and these are only two of the many challenges that officers and police departments face. One of the most important qualities that the police organization can possess to help them meet the constant changes and demands is leadership. To effectively perform the needed tasks it is important for officers and personnel to understand the many qualities it takes to be an effective leader. The skills that a leader must possess to do the job effectively include communication skills, effective role modeling, quick thinking and decision making. These require that officers employ a variety of different attributes to effectively police the communities they serve which can be very demanding. Communication helps the officers maintain a relationship with the community as well as the other officers that they work with. Being a role model is a leadership skill that the entire force must be able to display from the supervisors in the department that are in charge of the officers to the police that need to be a positive role model for the community. Quick thinking and decision making skills can mean the difference in the safety of the community as well as the safety of the officer and his/her coworkers as well as the ability to solve crimes quickly and correctly (Goff & Herrington, 2015).
There are six traits which are known as the six c’s that have been identified as necessary traits that a leader must possess. The traits are considered necessary because without all of them the person attempting to lead is expected to fail. These traits are considered applicable in a cyclic design meaning they repeat or are usable as a pattern. The first trait that a leader must possess is the ability to be caring. A successful leader will display the ability to care for a team effort as well as the ability to get others who look up to them or follow them to genuinely care about the effort as well. The second trait is competency which is essential because in many cases a person will get promoted because of the time they have been with the company however if they do not understand the position they will not be able to do the job effectively. Therefore a quality leader is a competent leader. Being able to manage or understand management is important when promoted to a position where you are responsible for others however a strong leader will understand the difference between leadership and management. The third trait an effective leader will possess is credibility. Credibility is established when a person is able to tell the truth and take responsibility for their mistakes. People are also seen as credible when they stick to the rules and are fair in their decision making. A credible leader will be able to care for the people they are in charge of as well as protect their cause. Communication is a necessary trait for any successful leader. Communication allows the leader to effectively take charge of things and get others to notice the importance of the goal at hand. If a leader cannot communicate effectively it is likely that nobody will follow his lead which would in effect make the ability to lead successfully a failed attempt. In policing the trait of being courageous is very important especially when these officers and supervisors are faced with corruption. If the person is a strong leader the ability to be courage’s will allow him/her to stand up against what is wrong and effectively encourage others to do so as well. If a leader possesses all of the earlier traits courage is more likely to be a trait that is easier to have and share with others that the person is leading. The sixth and final trait a great leader must possess is the ability to collaborate with others which is a skill that is needed for success. The ability to gain others that will partner up to support your goals shows that a leader possesses all of the necessary traits to be successful. It shows that a person is able to demonstrate with success to others how their goals are worthy and their abilities can be trusted which are some of the traits defined in the skills that a leader must have (Ellis, 2014).

Mentoring and Coaching

Mentoring and coaching programs allow the law enforcement agencies to have a plan for which the leaders of tomorrow will be that will replace the leaders of today. The definition of mentor is a person who can be trusted to guide, counsel and coach another. There are two types of mentoring which are referred to as formal and informal. Informal mentoring occurs when a person picks out another person who is a leader or authority figure and models their own behavior after the person. This type of mentoring can also occur in the reverse where a mentor will assist a person in developing the skills they need to advance their own career. Formal mentoring is more structured and based on a program bases where a mentor will coach a person on how they will develop the traits that are needed to succeed. Formal mentoring often requires both the mentor and student to evaluate each other on performance during different times of the process. The ability to learn from an experienced mentor is a valuable tool for the agencies because it ensures that the people who are leaders will pass down valuable traits to their future successors. It ensures that everything is done the right was when a person is promoted and that the leadership qualities that are not inherited can be passed down to a new generation of officers. Experience is much more valuable and applicable to the needs of the department than training is and the ability to rely on a mentor when gaining this experience helps cut down on the amount of time that is needed to train successors. When an officer begins there career they start out at an academy where the people that are training them are leaders and the first mentor that the officer will encounter. These are formal mentors who know there job is to make sure that the officers being trained will be successful leaders one day and the journey starts with the important tools that the leaders at the academy have to offer the new recruits. From the bottom to the top every person in the police force has a mentor or someone they can look up to and model their behavior after so that one day they may become a leader and mentor that will help to coach others(Clark, 2002).


Discipline is often thought of as the negative reaction or set of consequences that follows a person’s bad choices. However there is another form of discipline which is very valuable and possessed by successful leaders. In this instance discipline is the ability to maintain self-control and obedience in a situation that would test this. This form of discipline is referred to as positive discipline and requires that a person have strong morals and ethics. The actual word discipline is derived from another word disciple which is defined as a person who follows and mimics the teachings of a leader therefore it takes a person who is disciplined to learn the necessary traits to become a leader. Police officers are trusted to enforce the law even though they are constantly subjected to temptations. They are exposed to the criminal life and may be tempted to lose control at times and accept a bribe or cave to the pressures of blackmail however they must rely on their discipline to maintain their integrity. In the past police officers were required to follow a basic predetermined set of rules when conducting themselves. However these rules were not applicable in various situations and therefore it was necessary for them to base their discipline on certain ethics which were formed based on society’s standards as well as the rules and regulations. Keeping in mind that there is a need for these rules to be known by all officers before they make a mistake there is necessity to make sure that the rules are readily available to all officers in the form of a handbook which they can refer to when in doubt. This is one way that officers can have the information they need to become a strong leader that values his/her morals and ethics system. Discipline can be maintained through the regular reminder of the necessary rules that are required as well as a basic understanding of the other leadership traits (Gourley, 1950).


Police officers are expected to uphold and enforce the laws while protecting and serving the citizens of the United States. They are bound by rules codes and ethics however they do not learn to be successful from these rules. They are taught by people who were police officers before they were people considered to be strong leaders. These leaders teach the new generations of police officers all of the important rules and procedures so that one day the officers will also become leaders of a new generation of law enforcement. There are many different things that make up a leader including their ability to display the necessary skills and traits that define the character of a leader that other people will want to learn from and model themselves after. Leaders are important in police agencies because they are the first line of defense against police becoming politically and or criminally corrupt which would harm innocent people rather than protect them. As a result there are many officers who will serve their entire career without being promoted to a higher rank and being able to lead others unless they can learn from the coaches and mentors that are available and exhibit the necessary skills to effectively lead the people under them in a positive and reliable direction. Not everyone can be a leader but possessing and mastering any of the necessary skills and characteristics will definitely define them as a better and more dependable police officer for the officers and community that depend on them. The people who do become leaders are able to rise above the normal standards that are expected of police officers and exhibit the necessary characteristics that will define and shape others in a beneficial way for everyone. Leadership is not inherited from birth it is studied, learned and mastered to ensure the perseverance of the future generations.


Clark, L. (2002). The impact of formal leadership programs on mentoring competency (1st ed., pp. 1-11). Sacremento: fontana Police Department. Retrieved from
Ellis, G. (2014). A Self-Assessment for Law Enforcement Leadership Improvement: The 6 Traits of a Successful Police Leader | Law Enforcement Today. Retrieved 16 April 2015, from
Goff, M., & Herrington, V. (2015). Retrieved 15 April 2015, from
Gourley, G. (1950). Police Discipline. Journal Of Criminal Law And Criminology (1931-1951), 41(1), 85-87. doi:10.2307/1138407
Mantektlow, J., & Carlson, A. (2015). What is Leadership?. Retrieved 15 April 2015, from
Patterson, J. (2015). Community Policing: Learning the Lessons of History. Retrieved 15 April 2015, from
Waters, M. (2015). Clearwater Police - Published Articles. Retrieved 15 April 2015, from

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