Improving Public Relations Between the Police Department and the Citizens Essay

Total Length: 5895 words ( 20 double-spaced pages)

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Abstract



In the wake of numerous public complaints as well as allegations within the last two years that point towards excessive use of force by police officers in the apprehension of suspects within the city, there is need to develop a brief that explores the various measures that could be adopted in seeking to enhance our officers’ relations with the community while at the same time attempting to minimize instances of unnecessary aggression and use of force. In essence, in seeking to effect arrests, officers should utilize force that is not only commensurate with the risk posed, but also objectively reasonable. The relevance of formulating blueprints and implementing strategies meant to address the use of force as well as promote or advance the de-escalation of scenarios that turn violent cannot be overstated. In seeking to comprehensively address the issue raised by members of the public regarding the use of force by police officers during the apprehension of suspects, I will not only develop a use-of-force policy, but also outline accountability procedures and effect systems that could help in the early detection of problematic behaviors.

Introduction



Use of force does not have a universal definition. This effectively means that over time, many definitions of the term have been presented. Terrill (as cited in MacVean and Neyroud, 2012) defines use of force as “acts that threaten or inflict physical harm on citizens, or which could be measured according to the severity of harm it imposes on a citizen from least to most harmful” (p. 73) Force has also been defined as “the amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling suspect” (The International Association of Chiefs of Police – IACP, 2017). In this text, the use of force definition to be adopted is that of The International Association of Chiefs of Police. It is important to note that the U.S. does not have in place a definite standard that governs the use of force by police officers. This effectively means that police departments across the nation do not have national or federal sanctioned guidelines to rely on, and are not required by law to adopt any of the international standards that address use of force such as the best practice guidelines formulated by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. However, it should be noted that in seeking to arbitrage this issue, the Graham v. Connor (1989) case has extensively been cited. According to Hess and Orthmann (2011), the court determined that police have a right to make an investigatory stop or effect an arrest, and in so doing, they also have the right to make use of physical coercion or force to an extent that could be regarded appropriate. The court, as Hess and Orthmann (2011) further observe held that “The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments – in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving – about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation” (p. 336).



There is, however, a legal recourse in place to ensure that police officers do not go overboard while effecting arrests or pursuing criminals. The use of force, according to Greene (2007), is captured under the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, any excessive act of aggression by a police officer during the arrest of a suspect would be in violation of the Fourth Amendment. It is also important to note that as Greene (2007) observes, civil lawsuits can also be brought against police departments in those instances where persons feel that police went overboard during the apprehension of a suspect.



Due to the lack of uniform guidelines relating to the use of force, there are a variety of policies that have been implemented by police departments in the past on the issue. Some of the agencies that have in place well defined and comprehensive policies on this front include, but they are not limited to the Chicago Police Department. The Chicago Police Department use of force policy will be used as a reference point in the development of my department’s policy. With such policies in place, law enforcement agencies not only have the mandate to limit the use of excessive force, but also have a clear framework to refer to in the execution of their duties. It is important to note that to some extent, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994) has also prompted a number agencies to implement action plans aimed at ending the use of excessive force against citizens.

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In essence, this particular act permits the AG to institute legal proceedings against local as well as state governments found to be in constant and perennial violation of appropriate policing standards in a manner that could be considered to be contemptuous to the U.S. Constitution or any other applicable law. Failure to address the numerous public complaints that have been leveled against the police department of this particular city could lead to the establishment of consent decrees against our police department by the Department of Justice. In an attempt to improve the relations between the police department and the citizens of this great city, I will be seeking to initiate far-reaching changes in a variety of areas including, but not limited to training and oversight. Various strategies will be adopted in an attempt to motivate officers towards acceptable behaviors and further enhance their understanding of the problem.

Discussion



Question 1

What leadership style(s) would you use in your new position to accomplish these special assignments?

The leadership style I will be adopting on this front is transformational leadership. In basic terms, leadership has got to do with influencing individuals or groups of individuals to accomplish set objectives (Northhouse, 2012). According to the author, the definition of leadership that regards leadership as a process does not favor the view of leadership through the character or trait lens. Rather, in the author’s words, leadership is seen as a “transactional event that occurs between the leader and the followers. It is this same view of leadership that will be adopted in this endeavor” (Northhouse, 2012, p. 5)

Why?



In the words of Gaines and Worrall (2011), “transformational leadership can be an effective method to transform a stagnant police agency into a more effective department (p. 174)” As the authors further point out, this approach to leadership comes in handy when there is need for the implementation of new programs. In this case, there is a clear need to improve public relations between my officers and members of the public especially given that several complaints have been made to the effect that officers in this department may not be conducting themselves in a manner that could be seen as being professional. There is a clear need to not only transform the behavior of my officers but also implement measures to change the attitudes of members of the public towards officers. Some of the qualities that I possess and that could come in handy in this endeavor include but they are not limited to charisma and vision. Gaines and Worrall (2011) define vision as the ability to have a clear mental image of the ‘destination’ and what needs to be done to reach the said destination, and the ability to communicate this to others to win their enthusiasm. The ‘destination’ in this case has got to do with the improvement of relations between police officers and members of the public whereby each will view the other as a partner in the war against crime and other social vices. Charisma on the other hand could be defined as the “ability to interact with subordinates and inspire them toward organizational objectives” (Gaines and Worrall, 2011, p. 174). In addition to being a good communicator, I am also an avid listener. This enables me to not only put my message through in an effective way but also take into consideration the views of others. I have in the past learnt that incorporating other people’s views often makes them feel appreciated and such a move is likely to motivate them towards the betterment of their abilities. To see the agenda through, I will need the support of all the stakeholders – from my officers to members of the community to the city leadership as well as the state and federal government. I believe my charisma will come in handy on this front.



It is important to note that to succeed in this endeavor; I will need the unequivocal cooperation of my officers. In the words of Shelton (2012), “transformational leaders do not feel that they have to do it personally in order to get it done right; they are eager to share responsibility as a teaching opportunity for their followers benefit and growth” (5). I intend to ensure that the change in attitudes of my officers when dealing with citizens is voluntary and not forced. It is for this….....

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References

Blanchard, P. N., & Thacker, J. W. (2008). Effective Training Systems, Strategies, and Practices (3th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson Education

Cordner, G.W. (2016). Police Administration (9th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Fortenbery, M.J.A. (2015). Improving Motivation and Productivity of Police Officers. Retrieved from https://leb.fbi.gov/articles/featured-articles/improving-motivation-and-productivity-of-police-officers

Greene, J.R. (Ed.). (2007). The Encyclopedia of Police Science (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.

Gaines, L.K. & Worrall, J.L. (2011). Police Administration (3rd ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning

Hagan, F.E. (2010). Essentials of Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Prentice Hall

Herzberg, F. (1976). One More Time: How do you Motivate Employees? Harvard Business Review, 65(5), 109-120. .

Hess, M.M. & Orthmann, C.H. (2011). Management and Supervision in Law Enforcement (6th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning

Institute of Leadership and Management. (2013). Managing Performance. New York, NY: Routledge

Johnson, C.E. (2015). Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach (3rd). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Kleiman, L. (2012). Human Resource Management: A Managerial Tool for Competitive Advantage (6th ed.). Mason, OH: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Levine, D.R. & Harris, P.R. (2004). Multicultural Law Enforcement: Strategies for Peacekeeping in a Diverse Society. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall

MacVean, A. & Neyroud, P. (2012). Police Ethics and Values. Washington, DC: SAGE

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