The Virtual Police Department

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Introduction

In this report, the author focuses on strategies that can be implemented by police to reform the virtual departments. In the report, the author will apply several theories learnt in class to inform formulation of the strategies recommended. The author provides suggestions to similar agencies that are willing to reform their service delivery systems. The report focuses on a medium-sized police department in the country. The police department in this case is operating within a suburban area in Maryland. Owing to demands from members of the public for reforms in the policing sector, the author found it prudent to rely on one such police department in compiling the report. Focusing on one department will help in providing in-depth information about the phenomenon.

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The report examines the operations of the Virtual Police Department. The aforementioned agency is a medium-sized police department in the United States of America. The author examines several issues that affect the efficiency of this police department. To appreciate the challenges that affect the agency, the author investigates the history of the Virtual Police Department. To this effect, the report will describe how the history of the aforementioned agency has contributed to most of the challenges it is currently grappling with.

In this report, the author highlights on various aspects of the organization. The various aspects highlighted in the report include the firm’s organizational structure, demographic disparities in the firm, and crime statistics within the jurisdiction of the virtual department. The author makes recommendations meant to address the challenges faced by the department and raised in the report. The overall objective of the report is to provide a roadmap for reforms needed in the Virtual Police Department. The reforms recommended here are meant to enhance the efficiency of the department in service delivery.

The information and recommendations made in the report are targeted at various groups in the society. The groups are identified as the potential beneficiaries of the report. Some of the groups include students keen on understanding effective policing measures. In addition, the report targets researchers in the field of criminal law and administration of justice. In addition, the author intends to benefit individuals in police leadership with the information provided in the report. The target individuals are those who intend to acquire more knowledge on effective and efficient policing methods.

The Virtual Police Department: An Overview

In this section, the author provides a brief background on the Virtual Police Department. The aim of this background information is to provide the reader with an idea of what The Virtual Police Department is all about.

The department was created in 1952 with a few police officers and a police chief. The initial members of staff were farmers by trade. The agency is relatively young and largely unprofessional. In spite of its relative young age and unprofessional nature, the police department has emerged as the primary policing agency within the county. For more than 2 decades, the agency has continuously fought with the state police department. The fights revolve around control of the law enforcement machinery in the country. The department has overcome most of these challenges. As a result, the Virtual Police Department has since become a modern agency with more than 400 officers engaged on a full-time basis. In addition, the department has about 170 civilian support staff.

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The agency is small size. It is not as huge as other police departments. It has two commands and several divisions and units, which help it in carrying out its mandated in the region. The entities are some of the features that make this organization a modern police agency. As far as personnel are concerned, the department is described as relatively stable. The rate of employee turnover is relatively lower compared to that in other similar police departments. However, the original officers retired from active duty after more than two decades of service. The officers in this case are those who started serving during the formative years of the organization. Most of them were in command or supervisory positions at the time of their retirement. The exit of these members hailed the end of an ambitious recruitment drive initiated in the early 1980s. Termination of the recruitment has its own disadvantages to the operations of the police department. For example, the development has deprived the department of the wisdom and experience of the older members of staff. The officers left behind have little or no experience in the running of police affairs. The veterans were the ones knowledgeable in police work given their roles as commanders and supervisors.

The agency has experienced several challenges over the years. It is not different from other administrative organizations that have experienced challenges in their growth. For example, the early recruitment drive was criticized as biased by most people. Members of the county council hired their own friends and made them part of the agency. Such a recruitment drive created a sense of cronyism that permeated the rank and file of the police department. The results negatively impacted on the overall performance of the police department. The cronyism and biased recruitment drive notwithstanding, the department has never faced cases of corruption. The observation has captured the interest of many scholars and researchers interested in police administration. The lack of corruption is unusual. The agency was formed when police corruption was rife. Its proximity to urban centers also posed a threat to integrity of officers. In the urban centers, corruption among the law administration personnel was widespread. Many people have made efforts to explain the lack of corruption in the department. Some put it down to the management practiced in the organization, while others explain it using the experience of the police officers who have no background in the armed forces.

For many years, education for employees was not part of the agency’s strategic plans. In fact, such suggestions were thwarted by the commanders and other officials in the department. However, between1980 and 1990, things changed for the better. Education for officers and other employees was embraced. The aim was to try and ‘professionalize’ the department by increasing the skills of the officers. Currently, majority of the officers and other members of staff serving at the department have more than two years of college training. In addition, the department has put in place policies highlighting minimum educational requirements. Today, commanders should have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree.

Apart from low levels of education, there are other negative issues that affect the department. One of them is the habit adopted by the leaders of not hiring outside the department. The bias in recruitment is evident when one analyzes the profile of the chiefs who have served in the department. For example, very few chiefs in the history of the agency were sourced from the outside. The terms of the senior officers hired from without the department was short-lived. They lasted for a period of only four years. They have led the agency for a total of 18 years. Such a trend (of hiring strictly from within) has contributed to the lack of dynamism required of a police department. Hiring from within the department means that the agency does not benefit from fresh skills and ideas brought by outsiders.

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The Virtual Police Department: Demography

The Virtual Police Department has a jurisdiction that is diverse in terms of race and gender. The jurisdiction of this police department is comparable to that of other police departments operating in urban and peri-urban areas. However, as statistics show, there is little reflection of the said diversity in the agency. While the community within which the department operates is heterogeneous, the composition of officers and support staff appears largely homogenous. For example, most of the employees in the department are drawn from the white and male subgroups. Blacks and other people of color, as well as females, are under-represented in the department. Such a composition is very biased. It fails to reflect the diversity of the community the department is required to serve. For example, the management does not reflect the needs of the minorities in the society. In this case, minorities mean the blacks and such other groups. Furthermore, the diversity is not evident in the composition of the county heads and administrators affiliated to the agency. The statistical discrepancies are highlighted in the table below:

Table 1: Demographic Overview

DEMOGRAPHIC OVERVIEW
Estimated Population 282,169
Estimated Households 104,739
Estimated Persons Per Household 2.76
Estimated Average Household Income* $118,688
Estimated Median Household Income* $101,672
Estimated Per Capita Income* $43,133
POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS
Population by Sex
Female 50.9%
Male 49.1%
Population by Race
White 67.1%
Black or African American 16.7%
Asian 11.4%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0.2%
Some other race 1.7%
Two or more races 2.9%
Foreign Born Population 16.2%
Median Age (Years) 37.9

Table 2: Population Projections

POPULATION PROJECTIONS
2010 287,720
2015 301,838
2025 318,352
2035 327,635
HOUSEHOLD PROJECTIONS
2010 109,550
2015 118,387
2025 130,347
2035 134,542
EMPLOYMENT PROJECTIONS
2010 196,382
2015 214,854
2025 247,358
2035 264,539

Ortmeire & Meier (2009, p. 58) argue that an effective security agency is one that does not appear alien to the community within which it is operating from. To this end, the scholars propose that a police department should at all times reflect the society under its jurisdiction. As a result of this, the report recommends a 50-50 recruitment criterion for the department. The report relies on the statistical data obtained. From the data, it is evident that, as far as population is concerned, there are few disparities in the population based on gender. To be more racially representative, the report recommends affirmative action (Ortmeire & Meier, 2009, p. 63).

Organization of the Department

The agency has two tier command structure that comprises of operations and administration departments. Each of the two arms of the agency is under the stewardship of who Pollock (2011) calls a deputy chief. The size of the two arms varies. For example, the operations arm is larger than the other. The size poses a challenge in the distribution of work and responsibilities. There are various reasons why the size of the operations arm poses a challenge. For example, the components of this sector are naturally operational. As such, they do not augur with those of the administration sector. Further, there are respective bureaus, which are subordinate to the two commands. The sub-sectors are under the stewardship of captains.

It is important to point out that it is important to re-organize the police department as proposed by Thibault, Lynch & McBride (2010, p. 73). To this end, the report recommends the county executive to fund a reorganization program. That way, there will be effective distribution of the work load, as well as a more efficient and effective operation structure. For the reorganization program to succeed, the report recommends an increase in the number of personnel in the operations department as described by Thibault et al. (2010, p. 86). The report proposes a team of personnel composed of civilians who are experts on matters relating to administration of justice. For instance, the operations department should have such professionals as software analysts and forensic auditors. Having such professionals in the operations department will greatly improve the efficiency of that arm of the agency. The reasoning behind such a proposal lies on the fact that professionals always live up to the expectations of their career. The report also agitates for a merger between divisions that have similar responsibilities. Such a move will greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization in the execution of its mandate.

The Agency’s Cultural Structure

Whereas most elements of police culture are universal, each agency has its own unique personal and distinctive organizational culture. The public demands high standards of integrity on all professions. The police department has an even higher threshold of integrity to meet owing to the services rendered (Swanson, Territo & Taylor 2011, p. 116). It is important for police officers to meet the high standards expected of them. A historical analysis of the agency will reveal that integrity is part and parcel of its mission.

Within the last ten years, several senior officers have retired from the agency. The management has promoted junior officers to plug the gap. The exit of the senior members of staff has led to loss of skills and experience in the entity. Most of the leaders in the agency are young. Their experience in the industry for most of them is less than 15 years. The department has also faced challenges related to a reduction in its budget. As such, it has become really hard to train the new members of staff.

Lack of professionalism outlined has led to an increase in the number of unresolved cases. In most cases, the young officers find it hard to conduct credible and conclusive investigations. Such challenges are one of the reasons behind the high number of unresolved cases. Swanson et al. (2011, p. 121) argue that police training should be a continuous process that keeps up with the dynamism of crime. To this end, the stakeholders involved in the running of the Virtual Police Department should come up with a comprehensive training program. The training program, according to this author, should be all encompassing.

The report found that the culture of cronyism is a major impediment to the agency’s efficiency. To address this problem, the author recommends for a new and independent recruitment body. Furthermore, the county executive should not be involved directly in the selection of candidates to fill senior positions within the agency. Involving the executive compromises the authenticity and autonomy of the recruitment drive. According to this author, the role of the executive should be that of oversight. Periodic recruitment of officers is also recommended to avoid cases of inexperienced staff as a result of retirement.

Crime Statistics

Statistics are crucial to any police department. The Virtual County Police Department adheres to the national standards when compiling and using the data. The standards are provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (herein referred to as UCR) Program. It is a nationwide drive that brings together a large number of law enforcement agencies. The agencies are required to make reports with regard to the number of incidences they have dealt with in their jurisdiction.

The UCR divides offences into different categories. The agency classifies the crimes reported to it using the criteria provided by the organization. A record of these crimes is indicated in the table below.

Table 3: Classification of Crimes

UCR Part 1 Offenses 2005 2006 2007 2008
Homicide 4 4 5 4
Rape 42 42 36 38
Robbery 262 277 244 257
Aggravated Assault 301 292 295 394
Burglary 1225 1323 1242 1671
Motor Vehicle Theft 536 632 528 512
Theft 5385 5170 5423 6317
UCR Part II Offenses
Vandalism 2854 3010 3458 3847
Prostitution 13 41 68 95
Drug Violations 702 795 891 1037
Disorderly Conduct 244 438 591 741
Arrests
Adult Part 1 Offenses 1159 1015 971 829
Adult Part II Offenses 4379 4553 4385 3961
Juvenile Part 1 Offenses 716 711 640 567
Juvenile Part II Offenses 1320 1261 1100 1035
Complaints against Personnel
Performance 20 22 25 32
Conduct 24 33 38 55
Use of Force 12 17 23 33
Conformance to Laws 2 4 5 11

The information above indicates a rise in levels of crime. The trend is worrying to the authorities. The increase in crime can be attributed to Pollock’s (2011, p. 117) idea of disregard for the rule of law. The author argues that there is an increased tendency among citizens to violate the law just for the sake of it. The report proposes a reform in the public relations of the agency.

The report suggests that the officers need to be trained on public relation skills. With such skills, the officers are better positioned to sensitize the populace on, among other things, the need to remain law abiding. The report invites stakeholders to borrow Thibault et al.’s (2006, p. 91) ideas. The scholars advocate for the use of modern technology. According to Thibault et al. (2006, p. 91), such measures as improved gadgetry are necessary to deal with the high crime rates. The reason behind this is the similar technological advancement in crime.

To trace suspects in a timely manner, the department should introduce facial recognition software and make part of their digital database. The software can detect faces of people from street cameras. As a result, it will be easier to track down suspects. In addition, the said program will provide employment opportunities to other professionals within the county. Such a mechanism will go a long way in bringing to a closure most of the pending cases, especially in instances where suspects have skipped bail.

Conclusion

In the report, the author highlighted several issues affecting the Virtual Police Department and possible solutions to the challenges. The main intention was to provide a model through which several security agencies can reform their organizations. In the report, the author described the policing profession as one that requires high standards of integrity. To this end, the report identified several issues that need to be addressed by those concerned.

The report found that the organization is largely unprofessional. Even more worrying is the trend of cronyism exhibited in recruitment drives carried out during the department’s formative years. The two factors are the major source of inefficiencies in the police department. To curb the worrying trend, the report recommends the stakeholders to embrace professionalism in running the police department. The report proposes that all recruits should be holders of at least a Bachelor’s degree certificate. Furthermore, the report recommends for a continuous training of all the officers. Such measures will curb unprofessionalism in the agency.

The report found that there are significant disparities in the representation of members of staff in the department. To tackle the challenge, the report makes recommendations on how recruitments should be carried out. The report emphasizes on the need to have the police department reflect the cultural diversity in the society within which it is operating. With regard to organizational management, the report identified issues to do with understaffing of one of the command structures. To improve the efficiency of the police department, the author recommends the management to put in place a restructuring program.

The report also examined the trends in crime and the statistics of the same over the years. The author pointed out the alarming rate of rise in crime. To curb the rise, the report recommends for a two- pronged approach. One area involves the adoption of new technology and gadgetry appropriate to the department. The author argues that since crime advancing technologically, the law enforcement agencies should, as well, embrace technology. It is the only way the police department can fight such criminal activities as cyber crime, which are perpetrated using technologically advanced devices. The overall purpose of the report was to address the need to reform policing within Maryland and, by extension, within the whole country.

References

Ortmeire, P. J., & Meier, E. (2009). Leadership, ethics, and policing: Challenges of the 21st century. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Pollock, M. J. (2011). Ethical dilemmas and decisions in criminal justice. Memphis: Wordsworth Publishing.

Swanson, R. C., Territo, J. L., & Taylor, W. R. (2011). Police administration: Structures, policy and behavior. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Thibault, A. E., Lynch, M. L., & McBride, B. R. (2010). Proactive police management. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

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DemoEssays. "The Virtual Police Department." April 21, 2022. https://demoessays.com/the-virtual-police-department/.