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should be tailored to the development
needs of individual officers, which
requires HR and supervising officers
to work together to track individuals’
on-the-job performance. Appropriate
procedures must be developed to
record both strengths and weaknesses
of every officer on the force.
Ongoing training should occur at least
once a year and therefore can be a
significant cost factor. It should include
two major components. The first should
be a refresher on critically important
yet rarely used skills required for day-to-day police work, such as firearms
training, de-escalation techniques,
and so on. The second component
should be geared to the specific
needs of individual officers, including
instruction to address weaknesses
revealed throughout the evaluation
as well as guidance geared to helping
them achieve their career aspirations.
For supervisory officers, i.e., ranks of
sergeant and above, training should
include observational techniques,
coaching, and mentoring. Supervisory
officers are the first line of defense
against misconduct. They must be
trained to recognize early warning
signs and take appropriate corrective
action, up to and including dismissal
of an individual. It is in this area
that restructuring can potentially
encounter significant roadblocks.
For example, in the case of another
northeastern U.S. suburban police
department, the chief had been in
office a relatively short time and
had attempted to restructure his
organization, which had a tense
relationship with the community. By
the time the turnaround professional
became involved with the department,
the chief had already dismissed, against
union objections, several supervisory-level officers who had significant
performance issues, including citizen
complaints filed against them.
The remaining supervisors could be
easily divided into two camps. One
group included more-progressive
officers who recognized the need
for change within the department.
Some of these individuals already
had the requisite supervisory
competencies, and others were willing
to undergo appropriate training.
The second group consisted of a
small number of senior officers who
were fiercely resistant to change
and had strongly confrontational
attitudes toward the general public.
The officers in the second camp clearly
had little, if any, potential to improve.
They endangered restructuring efforts
not only because of their own negative
attitudes but also because they passed
down their hostile viewpoints to those
they supervised, which threatened
to create an entire new generation of
underperforming officers. It was agreed
that the most effective course of action
for dealing with the problem was to
work with the police union to push
these officers to retire, because the more
appropriate action, dismissal, was not
an option under the union’s contract.
This example highlights the most
critical issues in restructuring police
agencies. The performance of officers
on the street depends in large part on
the qualifications of their supervisors.
Even the most well-meaning recruits
are not likely to become effective officers
unless they are supervised, trained,
mentored, and coached appropriately.
However, in most underperforming
police agencies, including the one
Student Case Competition
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and analyze real-world scenarios and discuss their findings with
practitioners at the industry’s top conference, The TMA Annual.
Please inform your alma mater and former professors
about this great opportunity for their students.
Entry deadline is June 6.
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