Organization of the Police Department
Running a police department and preventing crime can be a complex task.Every individual within the police department including patrol officers, detectives, and clerical staff are vital in maintaining smooth order within the department and community.The organization of the police department is only effective when the officers know his or her roll and can fulfill the assigned duties based on the area, time, and purpose of the mission.
The organization of the police department is what ensures an easy flowing and effective department.
The organization does not just include the chain of command, but it includes how each officer will maintain order in the community by working different shifts and locations. Police officers can patrol the community in different areas known as beats or posts, zones, and precincts. A beat or post is generally a small area in which one or two officers can patrol by either squad car or on foot. The beat or post officers should be familiar with the people and businesses within the area, and also be aware of the risks and concerns in which officers may need to seek additional assistance.
However, the beat or post area should be large enough to prevent boredom, but small enough to maintain with limited manpower (Dempsey & Frost, 2005). Next, a zone area within a community is when “a number of individual beats are grouped together” (Dempsey & Frost, 2005, p. 72). The purpose of zonal policing is to implement community policing, while providing a fast response time, performing visible patrols, and providing localized service to the community based on its needs (City of Windhoek, 2010).
Finally, a precinct is an entire group of beats or posts in a specific area within a community. A precinct is used in larger communities with more officer manpower than a traditional small town. This keeps officers in assigned areas to ensure rapid response time and organization (Dempsey & Frost, 2005). Every police department across the world has to make good use of time and manpower to avoid stress and fatigue, and to ensure that more officers are on shift during the highest times of call volume.
Police departments run on shifts that ensure that there are officers on duty 24-hours a day. Some departments may operate the three-tour system, whereas other departments may use fixed tours. The three-tour system uses three shifts a day that operates on either 8 or 12 hours per officer. Sometimes the shifts may overlap which can be used for additional manpower to patrol the community or used for training purposes. However, the numbers of officers may vary per shift due to the typical call volume every day.
Some cities may experience a higher call volume at night; therefore, there is a need for a higher percentage of officers on the graveyard shift compared to the morning or afternoon shift. Additionally, the stress of the three-tour system can affect the personal life of the police officer and cause additional stress because the officer may work rotating shifts. Rotating shifts is when an officer may work all nights for an entire week, then the next week the officer may work the morning or afternoon shift to accommodate the three-tour system.
The other type of shift, which is a fixed shift, is when officers are assigned to mornings, afternoons, or nights and usually maintain the same schedule. This option for the shift can be based on seniority; however, it does ensure that each officer gets adequate time for personal and social time (Dempsey & Frost, 2005). Another way to organize a police department is to place particular functions into separate groups to ensure a continuous flow throughout the department, as well as to prevent any confusion inside the department.
The best way to keep the department organized is by grouping each job title together and keeping them separate from the rest. For instance, patrol officers should be grouped in the same unit, detectives should be grouped in another unit, and administration should be kept separate from these two groups. However, those are not the only groups within the department that should be kept separated.
There are other positions such as juvenile, evidence, and communications that need to be secluded from other groups (City of Iowa City, Iowa, 2011). The purpose of each police department, however, is to ensure citizen safety by maintaining order within the community, enforcing state and local laws, as well as providing service to each member of the community (Dempsey & Frost, 2011). Although the tasks of the police department seem to be vast and complex, in reality each department is setup to provide organized service to the ommunity through careful planning of area, time, and purpose. Additionally, the way each police department is setup, it provides better service by ensuring that each area of the community is covered and that each officer has sufficient time to be relieved from duties for essential sleep, socializing, exercise, and family time. The planning and organizing of each department is as important as the protection and services that the department provides for each community.