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NCJ Number: 192849 Find in a Library
Title: Street Cops as Problem Solvers: A Tale of Three Cities
Journal: Police Forum  Volume:11  Issue:2  Dated:April 2001  Pages:8-19
Author(s): Dilip K. Das; Arvind Verma
Date Published: April 2001
Page Count: 12
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article focuses on the organizational structure, leadership and supervision, community relations, and training in the Chicago, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh police departments.
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to understand how police organizations responded to commonly known problems. In each of the 3 cities, 15 patrol officers and the chief of police were interviewed. The problems presented by the officers were based on their fears, perceptions, and experiences. The initial data was gathered in 1988. The data was updated to the year 1999 in each city. No efforts were made to verify and/or substantiate the officers’ remarks, except to gather some statistics from official sources regarding crime. According to the Chicago officers, the 2nd and 11th Districts were most challenging because of the nature and number of calls for service, the appearance of the neighborhood, cases of use of force by the police, assaults on officers, and officers’ attitudes and opinions. Gangs and drug use problems were characteristic of the areas. The 911 calls mostly related to theft. Problems in San Francisco related to drug and alcohol, gangs, activities of gay and lesbian groups, and a mixture of ethnic groups. One unique problem was homeless people sleeping in cars. In Pittsburgh, controlling street prostitution and drug activity was a major problem, as well as drive-by shootings, loitering, and domestic disturbances. The degree of centralization, militarism, and lack of flexibility hindered organizational capacity and limited officer empowerment. All the cities were composed of centrally located bureaus for directing and controlling principal activities, including patrol, investigation, and management of personnel. None of the departments mentioned any evidence of leadership innovation except within exempt ranks. There were attempts by the police to improve relations with some members of the public, such as San Francisco’s SAFE program. Police recruit training instilled militaristic values and discipline, making recruits incapable of taking initiative or working to help solve problems in the community. However, some of the community policing projects being initiated in these cities embraced progressive values, giving more flexibility and initiative to patrol officers. 50 references
Main Term(s): Police attitudes; Police management
Index Term(s): Police chiefs; Police community relations; Police department surveys; Police organizational structure; Police training evaluation; Police training innovations; Police work attitudes
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