The police force in the US is one of the most controversial departments of the criminal justice. The nature of duties assigned to the police requires high sense of responsibility, discipline, integrity and openness. As law enforcers, police are supposed to adhere to a strict code of ethics which spells the do’s and don’ts for police officers in the course of executing their duties and their general conduct especially with the public, victims and offenders.
This paper discusses leadership issues affecting police in an effort to analyze how leadership of the police affects job performance for the police officers.
Barbuto, (1997) defines leadership as the offering of guidance and motivation to subordinates in an effort to get things done. Leadership is very central to the performance of an organization as it is viewed as the engine of an organization. Good leadership leads to increase in job performance due to highly motivated staff. In addition, good leadership creates an environment ideal for a team spirit to thrive something which eventually leads to achievement of organizational or group goals (Bass, 1999).
On the contrary, poor leadership brings about low morale in the team as well as low job performance compared to the situation whereby a good leadership results into a synergetic effect which is lacks when subordinates lack a sense of direction and therefore end up pulling in different directions (Sparrowe, Soetjipto, & Kraimer, 2006). A job as a law enforcement requires team spirit because of the fact that most missions call for execution by teams.
To be able to achieve the desired results, team members have to connect well, resolve conflicts in a positive manner and adhere to the stipulated code of ethics (Cothern, 2006). Law enforcers are required to particularly function in accordance to the code of ethics, given the fact they are subjected to a lot of scrutiny by the media, and watch bodies, such as human rights bodies. On top of the above, police officers are expected to demonstrate high public relations and communication skills.
This guidance is supposed to come from the top leadership. How communication is done in the law enforcement department can have a bearing in the performance of the law enforcers especially those dealing with K-12 level students where a lot of scrutiny is directed at by concerned parents who constantly want to be assured of their children’s safety. Poor leadership leads to low moral in the work force something which results in poor job performance hence poor service delivery to the public (Neider, & Schriesheim, 1996). This has both direct and indirect associated costs to the citizens given the fact that, the law enforcers are responsible for maintaining security, law and order in the society.
Therefore, a less motivated workforce has implications on rate of crime as well as rise in insecurity. In an increasingly free market economy, law enforcers who may feel uncomfortable with poor leadership are likely to quit job and join private companies or other government departments of their choice. There is a need for good leadership inorder to avoid the high officer turnover which is very costly to the government given the high cost of training officers which is usually borne by the government.
Poor leadership in the law enforcement department results in poor team spirit and therefore defragmentation. This is risky especially in this post 9/11 era whereby the police force must remain as intact as possible to avoid infiltration. Competency, unity and commonness of purpose is what is highly required in the police force. Several measures can be taken to ensure the above is achieved.
Such measures include motivation of officers through introduction of incentives such as pay-for-performance, career growth and development opportunities, protection from victimization, provision of an enabling job environment such as modern crime control equipment as well as improving the quality of life of officers through pay increases. All the above are only possible if the police department is going to embrace good leadership strategies by adopting hybrid leadership methods and perhaps depart from the rigid and conservationist bureaucratic leadership which is highly centralized.
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