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Taking Over Without Going Overboard

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 51 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2003 Pages: 82,84,87
Wayne Daniels; Lynnette Spratley
Date Published
October 2003
5 pages
Early in his/her tenure, a new police supervisor should focus on the three elements essential for good leadership, i.e., information, trust, and communication.
It is crucial that a person hired from outside a police organization to lead it obtain information about the organization even before assuming the leadership position. The chairman of the public safety committee can provide information on the department's reputation regarding corruption, brutality, or bias. The lead agent in the local FBI office will have information on the department's civil rights record. Contacts with members of the business community can yield information on perceptions of crime in the community and the effectiveness of the police in addressing it. Conversations with a representative of the police association can provide perspectives on labor issues in the department, and crime statistics can show trends in crimes known to police over time. Various representatives of community organizations can provide perspective on how the concerned citizen views the performance of the police department. Communication is what happens when a leader listens to the members of the department with the same attentiveness he expects when he speaks to them. Communication is particularly important when department-wide change is an issue. Those who will be responsible for implementing the change must be involved in communicating their feelings and ideas in forging the design for change. Communication is at the heart of this process. Trust is also an important resource for effective leadership. A new supervisor from outside the department must build trust through integrity, which involves setting and following high ideals for the organization and its employees, making and keeping promises about improvement in working conditions, and manifesting concern and responsiveness to employees' problems and ideas.