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NCJ Number: 69580 Find in a Library
Title: Peer Accountability as a Primary Control Mechanism in Police Agencies
Journal: Criminal Justice Review  Volume:4  Issue:2  Dated:(Fall 1979)  Pages:113-120
Author(s): W A Kerstetter
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Proposals to modify the organizational structure of police agencies, to increase police responsiveness to the community, and to enhance jobs for increasingly well-educated police officers must be met with caution.
Abstract: The increase in the number of educated officers has led to a concern about providing an organizational atmosphere for them which more fully utilizes their talents and more adequately satisfies their career aspirations. Several proposals have focused on eliminating the hierarchical police order and replacing it with more horizontal structures where supervisory authority is episodically shifted from individual to individual depending on the situation. These proposals also submit a notion of peer accountability, with emphasis on peer pressures and positive incentives. Officers would be motivated to perform effectively because they would not wish to lose status in the eyes of their colleagues and because they would take pride in a job well done. Yet, this presumption assumes that college education for police officers is improving policing. Available evidence, however, indicates that the attitudes and performance required for a shift to the control mechanism of peer accountability are better reinforced by job experience than by college. Thus the shift away from hierarchical supervisory structures seems unwarranted. Factors working against it are the strength of traditional norms in the police subculture, the reinforcing effect of street experience on those norms (which promote police solidarity regardless of misconduct), the apparent inability of college education by itself to offset the effect of job experience, the discouraging reluctance of other professional groups to discipline their own members (e.g., the medical professions), and the reinforcement of group solidarity by the financial and organizational muscle of the unions. Four notes and 23 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Higher education; Police attitudes; Police education; Police internal organizations; Police management; Police reform; Professional in-service education
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