“Learning From 9-11”: Changes in Police Departments

Every department within a criminal justice organization may be required to change for a variety of reasons. Although changes are initiated for good reasons, they are usually met with resistance. During such tough situations, the ability of a department to be successful in implementing change depends on its leaders. In this paper, an article focusing on community policing is reviewed to identify changes in the organization after the 9/11 attacks. The article selected is Learning From 9/11: Organizational Change in the New York City and Arlington County Police Departments (Holden, 2009). Gwen Holden wrote the article. As such, the article asserts that the 9/11 attacks changed how community policing is conducted in the US. The article highlights many changes that have been initiated in New York City and Arlington County police departments after the 9/11 attacks.

The 9/11 attacks on the United States infrastructures demonstrated the extent to which terrorism can cause damage to the economy of a country and mass murder of innocent individuals (Holden, 2009). The attacks were a big blow for the Americans. Before, it was believed that only the federal and state agencies were required to handle terror issues (Holden, 2009). After the attacks, it was widely acknowledged that community policing could play a big role in preventing the occurrence of such attacks in the future. To achieve this, the relationship between the police and the community has been revamped. As such, law enforcement agencies have changed how they are supposed to do their searches while ensuring that they are not profiling any race or ethnicity as far as terror investigations are concerned. Similarly, law enforcement agencies have been reformed to enhance community policing. Through this, law enforcement agencies have come up with a new counterterrorism presence in the division. Before the changes in the division, its members were required to protect the American dignitaries. However, after the attacks, their roles shifted to detecting and preventing terrorist attacks. Apart from the above changes, law enforcement agencies have been required to increase community involvement in matters of policing and how criminal activities are reported. Police officers are now required to be more vigilant to keep citizens safe from terrorist activities.

Like other departments, the law enforcement officers accepted the above changes with resistance (Robbins & Judge, 2010). As such, the challenges that faced the change implementers were discouraging. The police departments have always been resistant to reform and secretive. Initially, they were resistant to reforms because many responsibilities were allocated to them while their remuneration was not increased. This became a major challenge to the change implemented. In New York City and Arlington County’s community policing departments, resistance was recognized earlier. Therefore, the departments had to educate their members on the importance of changes to the law enforcers and the community. Intelligence and law enforcement experts were brought in to help the departments deal with the resistance and create awareness. It was made clear that terrorism was a threat to the United States citizens and economy. In this regard, the police departments were informed that society looked upon them to provide adequate security (Holden, 2009).

To enhance the officers’ welfare and motivation, teams were formed to address issues related to officers’ working conditions and remunerations (Penn, 2008). The promise of better working terms and staff training helped leaders to overcome the lack of motivation among officers. Ever since then, the departments’ working conditions and remunerations have been enhanced, unlike it was before the 9/11 attacks. It should be noted that ultimately the implementation of the changes was successful.

Based on the above illustrations, it is apparent that several factors motivated the officers. Workshops and awareness programs organized by top command made the officers acknowledge why community policing had to undergo an overhaul in the wake of terror threats. Equally, the need to serve their country and ensure that citizens were secure wherever they were partly motivated employees in this study to change. In addition, improvements in their welfares and working conditions motivated them to accept change. The management had the power to effect changes and this acted as the main source of change in the entire process (Holden, 2009).

The type of change that was experienced in these departments was a transitional one. As such, the officers’ roles and responsibilities changed drastically after the attacks. Similarly, the systems that were in place before the attacks were replaced with new ones. Based on these changes, it is apparent that the resistance to reforms during the transition period was enormous. However, despite the challenges, the leaders managed to effect the required changes. These leaders were successful because they portrayed an authoritarian type of leadership. Considering that the police department falls under the discipline units, the authoritarian type of leader was the only one suited to enhance the changes’ success.

During the transition process, the police commissioners of the two cities were in power of the whole process (Holden, 2009). The second in command was the chief of staff. Under the command of the chief of staff were the deputy commissioners of intelligence in both cities. The success of the changes is attributed to the above leaders. Their commands and advice ensured the success of the changes.


Holden, G. (2009). Learning from 9/11: organizational change in the New York City and Arlington County, Va., police departments. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.

Penn, E. B. (2008). Homeland security and criminal justice: five years after 9/11. London: Routledge.

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. A. (2010). Organizational behaviour (15th ed.). Harlow : Prentice Hall.

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DemoEssays. "“Learning From 9-11”: Changes in Police Departments." December 31, 2022. https://demoessays.com/learning-from-9-11-changes-in-police-departments/.