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Police Leadership Challenges in a Changing World

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2012
24 pages

This paper - one in a series of papers that will be published from the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety - builds on the discussion of forces for change in police organizations.


The paper's central thesis is that policing, like other industries, faces an urgent need for a new way of managing and leading police. This need is being driven by two interdependent shifts in the world of work: the rise of a "new generation" of police officers, as well as significant opportunities and challenges in the availability of new technology. These two factors are linked to other changes within the broader context of policing, such as globalization, heightened budget concerns, the changing nature of crime, and the other forces that bear on the work of policing. In focusing on these two key related changes in the work and management of policing, the paper first reviews the rise of the traditional police organizational model, followed by a profile of the new generation of "contemporary employees" and the related use of emerging technology that is integral to the lives of this new generation. The impact of these forces on multigenerational police organizations are examined. The topics discussed are the growing irrelevance of traditional organizational models, the management of the drivers of change in a multigenerational workforce, and rethinking police organizations and accommodating drivers of change. Lessons learned from private industry are applied to the organization of policing. Promising practices from police executives are summarized. The skills needed for police leaders are outlined. These skills include a global perspective; creativity; change management; comfort in the midst of independence; strong oral and written communication; mastering technological trends; architect of change; an understanding of research methods; and striking a balance in the integration of strategy, culture, and political influences. 32 references

Date Published: July 1, 2012