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