An exploration of the juxtaposition of professional and political accountability in local law enforcement management

International Journal of Police Science & Management, Vol. 12, p. 90-118.

 By Casey LaFrance and Jennifer M Allen

This study focuses on one arena of public administration in which the balancing act between various accountability considerations is especially visible: local law enforcement management, and one of the many accountability conflicts that law enforcement CEOs face: the intersection of political and professional accountability streams. There are two guiding questions in this study. First, when faced with a choice between political and professional accountability, how do county sheriffs and municipal police chiefs act? Next, what factors do these managers believe to be crucial in the development of their officers' use of professional discretion? This study provides a preliminary glimpse of local law enforcement managers' responses to these questions. Consistent with the literature on officer discretion, these managers' responses cite five factors that affect the development of discretion for new recruits: (1) experience, (2) formal training, (3) community norms, (4) external systemic actors, and (5) peer influence and mentorship conducted in the context of the informal organisation. Analysis of these managers' responses indicates that, in the aggregate, professional autonomy is more highly prized than political deference in each type of department. These findings question the conventional wisdom that suggests sheriffs are less professionally accountable than their police chief counterparts.

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(Something interesting I found)Posted: Thursday, January 07, 2010 by cait
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