The Besttown Police Department: A Proposal and Plan of Formation, Function and Organization of A Municipal Police Department

Abstract

This paper will examine the formation, function and organization of a municipal police department. It will analyze the differing positions and ranks of officers in a police organization. With real-world examples, the paper will show why police departments are necessary, how they operate, and how they uphold the laws of our society. Additionally, the paper will also show how demographics influence policing and how to adjust law enforcement management to meet the needs of an increasingly multicultural nation. This information will be presented under the guise of a proposal for the creation of a new police department for the fictional “Besttown, USA.” The paper aims to explore the functions of law enforcement in American society and how to ensure humane and effective operation of a police department.

Introduction

The city of Besttown is a highly diverse and vibrant metropolis with a minority-majority population, a youthful demographic profile and a strong sense of community. The city has a population of 75,000, 44 percent of whom are non-Hispanic whites, 34 percent of whom are black/African-American, and 14 percent are Hispanic. A full quarter of Besttown’s residents are minors under the age of eighteen, and only a tenth of the city’s population is over the age of sixty-five. Add all this up and it translates into a serious potential for issues with crime in the city.

Besttown has primarily been governed under the belief that less government is better government. The city is governed by a mayor-council system which includes the mayor and six council members from separate wards, and up until now, the city has relied on the county police to provide law enforcement services. However, the limitations of this approach are starting to have an impact on Besttown’s quality of life. Not only have response times to emergency calls been on the increase for years now, county policing does not take into account the needs of Besttown’s multicultural population. By enforcing a one-size-fits-all method of policing on the city, the county is worsening inter-community relations and eroding Besttown’s sense of common culture.

As a result, this paper will propose the creation of a full-time police department for Besttown, funded and managed by the city itself. This police department will assume all duties currently performed by county police, including but not limited to investigation and apprehension of criminals, enforcement of zoning regulations, traffic safety enforcement, assistance to hospital personnel during medical emergencies, and protecting the community from predation. The mission statement of the proposed Besttown Police Department will be to maintain the quality of life in the city by ensuring the safety of its citizens from criminal acts. It is the hope that a local police department will provide more effective law enforcement than county police by both being more responsive to emergency calls in general as well as understanding the Besttown community better and providing more sensitive and appropriate policing as a result.

Organizational Structure

The proposed Besttown Police Department will be a full-time department with 150 officers sworn to duty. Both the mayor and the council anticipate that at least thirty civilian employees will be needed to handle administrative and related tasks for the Besttown police. The police department will be fully independent of the county police, though the former may lean on the latter in severe emergencies when its own manpower is insufficient for a particular job. As a result, the Besttown police will need a diverse array of personnel to perform all the functions necessary to protect the city, including a police chief, a patrol division, a special operations division, and an administrative division.

The patrol division of the Besttown police will be the most important division, comprising at least 70 dedicated officers. The patrol division is directly responsible for maintaining law and order on the streets of the city through its traffic, communications and crash units. These officers will be the ones actively policing the city, interfacing with the general public and responding to crimes and calls. The special operations division will be responsible for handling criminal investigations directly, investigating and building evidence against potential lawbreakers. It will incorporate an emergency response unit, criminal investigation unit, K-9 unit and narcotics task force unit. Due to the specific nature of the special operations division’s purpose, it will not employ a specific number of officers, but will expand or contract as necessary. Finally, the administrative division would be responsible for public relations and performing secretarial tasks, ensuring that the budget is balanced and other behind-the-scenes issues are dealt with. This will be the smallest section of the department’s workforce. The police chief will be responsible for determining the exact numbers of personnel required to staff the latter two sections of the force.

Due to the nature of crimes committed within Besttown’s borders, the police department will be oriented around preventing those particular types of crimes. According to statistics, murder and rape are relatively rare in Besttown, with larceny and burglary being the most prevalent crimes in the city. Therefore, city policing will have to emphasis dealing with those crimes first and foremost. Police officers will be trained to restrict their use of violent force to only those situations where it is necessary and to be sensitive to the needs of Besttown residents. Due to the lack of violent crime, highly specialized units for riot and crime control will not be necessary.

Ranks and Sworn Officers

The Besttown Police Department’s primary purpose is to serve and protect the citizens of the city against crime and predation. To emphasize the police’s role as protectors and servants of Besttown’s citizens, officers in the patrol division will be specifically trained in how to interface with the public. These officers will be shown how to interact with civilians, how to understand their plights and concerns, and most importantly, how to remain culturally sensitive at all times. Given the diversity of Besttown’s population, a one-size-fits-all approach to policing will not work as it will engender resentment in sectors of the population that feel excluded and/or treated unfairly. All officers should be required to undergo sensitivity training in order to understand the needs of each individual community within Besttown. Only by treating everyone with fairness and dignity will the Besttown Police Department be able to fulfill its mission of protecting the community and strengthening its cultural commonalities.

Each unit of the police department’s patrol division will be headed up by a lieutenant who is responsible for coordinating that unit’s operations. Underneath each lieutenant will be sergeants who have jurisdiction over individual squads within that unit. Sergeants will be responsible for managing patrol officers directly, ensuring that they complete their jobs and disciplining them for miscarriages of justice. The separate units of the special operations division will be headed up by lieutenants, but may not necessarily have sergeants as the individual units may be too small to justify that deep of a chain of command. Ranks will be determined both by years of experience as well as educational level, though the former will be weighed more heavily to ensure that only the most qualified officers enter into positions of prestige and authority.

The police chief himself will hold the rank of colonel and will be directly appointed by the mayor, albeit requiring approval from a majority of the city council. The chief will also be allowed to appoint a captain to assist him or her in day-to-day operations. Said captain will also serve as acting chief in the actual chief’s absence, and upon the resignation or firing of the police chief, will automatically become the chief until the next mayoral election. Below the captain are the lieutenants of the various units, and underneath those lieutenants are sergeants. Finally, at the bottom of the chain of command, the sworn officers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the department. Each officer hired by the department will be required to go through an 18-month probationary period before they become a full officer. During this period, their activities will be scrutinized more heavily and they will have fewer recourses if their superiors find them to be slacking on the job. This system will ensure that only those officers who fulfill their duties as earnestly and competently as possible will be retained on the force.

The Role of Civilians

The Besttown Police Department will be in need of civilian staffers not only to fulfill administrative tasks, but to assume roles in the law enforcement units that cannot be performed by sworn officers or would otherwise detract from their job performance. For example, civilians can be employed in the special operations unit as analysts, responsible for collecting evidence, gathering data and determining how crimes have unfolded. Civilian investigators can assume the role of investigating minor crimes such as theft, car collisions and traffic violations. Finally, civilians are also required to serve as dispatchers, informing patrolling officers of emergency calls and crimes that need to be responded to.

One additional role that the police department can use civilians in is as volunteers. By reaching out to the Besttown community and showing that the police are a part of the community and not just simply cops, the department can build trust among Besttown residents and become a pillar of the city’s culture. Volunteers can assist in this process by helping with fundraising, paperwork and other essential tasks that the officers and employees can’t do on their own. This process will separate Besttown’s police from the county police, who typically have little to no connection with the city itself. The Besttown Police Department should view itself as more than just a law enforcement agency: it’s also an institution, one responsible for upholding civic virtue and bolstering community spirit.

Salaries and Budgeting

Funding a new police department will not be easy for the city of Besttown. The department will require a yearly budget of $100 million at the bare minimum, and most likely more. Funding will be allocated according to the number of personnel in each unit as well as the necessity of that unit’s function. 40 percent of funding will go to the patrol division, 35 percent to the special operations division, and the remainder to administration. This funding will be used to not only pay salaries, but to purchase vehicles, firearms and other equipment as well as maintain police facilities. The city will be divided into three separate patrol districts, each served by their own precinct. High crime areas will receive the lion’s share of funding.

Salaries will be determined by rank, position, hours worked and division. At a base level, officers and civilians will be paid for forty hours worth of work per week. Officers will receive additional overtime pay if they are required to appear in court and the like. Employees who work on federal and state holidays will receive time-and-a-half: their base rate of pay plus fifty percent. Officers will also be entitled to a certain number of paid vacation days per year, the exact number to be determined by rank and years of experience. Finally, officers will also receive a certain number of paid sick days per year.

All of the costs associated with being a sworn officer will be assumed by the police department, including weapons, uniforms and equipment. Officers will also be provided with full health insurance benefits to ensure that any injuries they sustain in the line of duty can be healed at minimal cost to them personally. Additionally, officers will also receive retirement benefits based on experience and number of years worked, as well as life insurance to assist their families and loved ones in the event of the unthinkable. Sworn officers will be allowed to choose which days of the week they will complete their 12-hour shifts, which will inject fresh blood into the community and allow for shift rotations.

Finally, while Besttown police officers will not be required to live in the city itself, those that do will be given a small bonus to their paychecks. This will incentivize officers to become part of the community, experience it the way that its citizens do, and become more sensitive to their plight. Ensuring that officers understand the citizens they protect on a fundamental level is a necessary element of effective law enforcement.

Technology and the Police Department

Technology is both an amazing asset and a possible hindrance to the police. New advances in forensics, computers, cameras and other tools make law enforcement an almost entirely different beast then it was even ten years ago. Because the frontiers of technology are constantly being expanded, police departments need to be keeping up with the times. Therefore, the Besttown Police Department will need a flexible and comprehensive approach to acquiring new technology and integrating it into its day-to-day operations.

One example of a technology that can help the department and cut costs is CCTV cameras. Mounting cameras at high-risk intersections and having personnel monitoring the camera feeds twenty-four hours a day will not only reduce the number of officers required to do physical patrols, but will also help to keep officers out of harm’s way. Cameras can also keep a visual record of suspects and criminals, which will assist police in locating and apprehending them. Traffic light cameras can also be used at major intersections to catch speeders, motorists who run red lights, and other petty traffic criminals. Additionally, there are now software programs that allow police departments to map crimes to specific neighborhoods, allowing them to determine which crimes are occurring where and allocate resources as appropriate.

These and other technologies should be embraced by the Besttown Police Department in order for its policing to remain top notch. Additionally, technological advances can serve as a means for the department to reduce its annual costs of operation. Given the reality of economic recession and financial ruin, the department needs to allocate every penny it receives wisely. Utilizing technology to reduce budgetary costs is a simple way to make the department’s funding go as far as possible.

Conclusion

It is clear from both the lengthy wait times that Besttown residents suffer for emergency calls as well as the strained relations that county police have with our citizens that the current state of affairs is not working. In order to reduce crime and solidify its nature as a united city, Besttown needs its own police department, one that is uniquely tuned to its needs as a diverse metropolis.

In the year 2014, one-size-fits-all policing by state or county departments is no longer adequate to serve the needs of a changing America. As our nation becomes more multicultural and pluralistic, new methods of policing will be needed in order for these otherwise marginalized groups to feel welcome. In order to provide these methods of policing for Besttown, creating a new police department is paramount. It is hoped that by returning law enforcement duties to a local agency that not only will the quality of life in Besttown be improved, but the city itself grow in its sense of community and brotherhood. Police are a necessary institution of civic virtue; only through the creation of a Besttown Police Department can the city truly achieve all that it was meant to be.

References

Dunham, R.G.; Alpert, G.P.; Stroshine, M.S.; Bennett, K. (2005). Transforming citizens into     suspects: factors that influence the formation of police suspicion. Police Quarterly, 8(3),            pp. 366-393. doi: 10.1177/1098611105274539.

Escobar, E.J. (1993). The dialectics of repression: the Los Angeles Police Department and the            Chicano movement, 1968-1971. The Journal of American History, 79(4), pp. 1483-1514.             Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org.

Greene, J.R.; Decker, S.H. (1989). Police and community perceptions of the community role in      policing: the Philadelphia experience. The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 28(2), pp.    105-123. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2311.1989.tb00641.x.

Kraska, P.B.; Kappeler, V.E. (1997). Militarizing American police: the rise and normalization of         paramilitary units. Social Problems, 44(1), pp. 1-18. doi: 10.1525/sp.1997.44.1.03x0209a.

Regoli, R.M.; Crank, J.P.; Culbertson, R.G. (1989). Police cynicism, job satisfaction, and work         relations of police chiefs: an assessment of the influence of department size. Sociological Focus, 22(3), pp. 161-171. doi: 10.1080/00380237.1989.10570540.

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