POLICING IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE: Comparing Firsthand Knowledge with Experience from the West,
© 1996 College of Police and Security Studies, Slovenia


Rainer Schulte

Police responsibilities and the way they are performed should always be viewed in the political context, under societal and economic circumstances and developments. Any changes in these areas are very much likely to lead to subsequent changes in the general framework for the police service and police work. The police service as an organization needs to react to that. This paper deals with the challenges that the future holds for police managers.


I am not as ambitious as to give you a complete overview or to deliver a systematic classification of the situation. I will, however, do my best to write about a few aspects of change and give you a number of key issues. The focal point of my considerations is the Federal Republic of Germany, I think, however, that these views may also be applicable to other countries.

One major key element of our society is the movement toward a service-providing society, a trend which will have a substantial impact on jobs, working times and working conditions. Partly, the consequences are already known to us, many of them may not have be assessed so far. Scientific and technological progress, economic progress, the political stabilization of a democratic state, increasing public welfare, changing structures in the educational sector-just to mention a few of them. All these elements interact with one another, they affect both the lives of individual people in society and society in general. Key words as 'pluralism of lifestyles', 'decline of norms acceptance', 'growing pressure for justification', 'changing structures of political involvement', 'unconventional patterns of' behavior', 'media democracy', 'changing worklife expectations', 'refusal of paternalistic authorities' they may stand for a change in values, even though enlisting them in such a way has of course of very demonstrative character.

One further aspect deals with the responsibilities and function of the public sector. Without going into too many details of the discussion it has turned out that the modern public sector has an increasing awareness of being a service providing agency which is finally acting to the community's benefit. Even in those areas where the public sector is exerting functions of state sovereignty it does not act for its own sake or on the basis of an abstract understanding of the state or of public administration. It always exerts its function to the benefit of the community it serves. 1

The understanding of the police service to be a 'friend and helper' to the general public is one major example for this changing attitudes and values. One might as well refer to the police as 'Service Provider for the Maintenance of Public Safety and Order'. Furthermore, we are facing a changing attitude of the people toward their working environment. Work stands for making sense, people wish to be involved in decision making processes which affect their spheres of action. They request transparency and have substantial communication needs. They long for their work being appreciated.2 Such are the challenges which are to be met by a cooperative leadership style, by delegation of responsibilities, goal definition and partnership.

The obligation to handle public financial resources efficiently leads to innovate forms of public administration, such as budget setting/financial management, devolved financial responsibility, goal definition, cost effectiveness (value for money), controlling, lean management and privatization of public sector responsibilities. One further important aspect in the whole scenario is the political evolution in Europe: Europe is on the way to integration. On one hand, I should like to mention the integration of Western European states in the 'European Union' which should not only be viewed as an economic and political process, but also as a community of shared values. Besides, Europe increasingly determines our way of thinking and acting. The removal of border controls, the acknowledgment of educational backgrounds and diplomas, the liberal labor market-although partly only in theory so far-these are just a few core elements of the whole evolution. Central and Eastern Europe have witnessed the disintegration of the Communist ideology and the resulting democratization process including all societal facets of life. Such a process does not get along without friction and this is true in many respects. Without support from the established democracies in Western Europe the political, economic and social stabilization process in the young emerging democracies in Eastern Europe will only develop very slowly. As a result, Western Europe will represent an extremely attractive alternative for many people. Besides, those characteristics which have resulted from the removal of the Iron Curtain and that are very welcome and should be promoted, there will also be extremely unwelcome and out-of- order structures as a result. Experience made so far have confirmed this view. Any evolution of such a dimension may not be coped with by the efforts of just one single state. International cooperation and shared responsibilities are the answer.


The police being integrated into society are also involved in this process of change. Changes affect police responsibilities, police organizational structure, qualification requirements and police identity and understanding. In other words: challenges and expectations regarding the way in which the police should perform their duties, the general circumstances under which police work is done, the regulatory framework for acting and police performance measurement have become more demanding than before. They are more complex and carry-without any doubt-an increased conflict potential. This is not only true for external duties, but also for the police internal organization (organizational and leadership culture). 3 Police work (the professional responsibility of the police) may be referred to as covering a broad range of various functions with a variety of different responsibilities. It comes under daily routine work, e.g., to possibly interfere with somebody else's rights-this may even include methods of restraint-or to act as a service provider. Besides, police responsibilities are increasingly performed against a judicial background. Furthermore, police work is more thoroughly viewed under aspects of legitimacy. There are close links between this kind of requirements and high 'expectations from the public whose police service-both the whole organization and the individual officer-should have a problem-oriented approach, act in accordance with the situation, in an anticipative, competent way and with a sense of social responsibility." 4

If such requirements are to be met then there is a need of having specific qualifications. Both is needed, professional police know-how and skills that are essential for planning and conducting operational duties. A thorough legal expertise is essential as is the knowledge of psychological and social processes, a sound knowledge of societal and political evolution. In addition to intellectual and mere cognitive skills it is essential to be equipped with a high standard of interpersonal skills and personal awareness.


If such is the standard for all members of the police organization, it is particularly true for those officers acting as police managers. In view of the increasing complexity and the broader range of police operational situations a high standard of interpersonal and communication skills are being expected from him/her, combined with the capability of utilizing problem-solving techniques that are in line with the constitution. The police manager is facing more demanding expectations on both quality and rapidness of his/her performance as a manager and is exposed to constantly more intricate and comprehensive policing situations. This includes information technology, such as data recording and evaluation, and research work on the basic legal fundaments before the decision-making process is started.5 In view of the deeper European and international cooperation there is a particular need to have legal and political/institutional know-how and interpersonal skills.

The primary factor of each leadership activity is a sound professional leadership competence. The police manager must have obtained the professional know-how which is appropriate to his/her career level and must be able to professionally solve problems typically arising on that particular level. He needs no in-depth or special skills such as the workforce at intermediate organizational level normally have. Instead, the police manager should be able to activate the know-how of the members of his organization, One further element of leadership skills is to be familiar with various techniques, such as problem solving and leadership techniques. Therefore the handling of methodology is included in the leadership function. Police managers should have a managerial qualification to organize the force or the district they are responsible for. Somebody being partly in charge of a police organization must be able to manage himself as well. Efficient time management, e.g., is an essential key element.6 Representative skills require the capability of acting convincingly both in the internal organization and externally.

Besides these more general requirements one further key element of the successful leadership function is pro-active visionary planning.7 Our society is indeed faced with an explosion of knowledge. At modern times, the half-life period of knowledge is not more than between 4 and 6 years. It is important that the police take these circumstances into consideration and be prepared to the possible outcomes.8

New challenges and new phenomena should be identified in time and should be analyzed, whether there are new forms of crime, changing security needs of the general public, coping with new societal trends, migration or changes in the internal organization. The outcomes of such developments should be identified and should be incorporated in future strategies.9 Such a visionary thinking is a permanent challenge. It may only be performed if the police understand themselves as a 'learning system'.10 Police managers therefore should keep on learning to be able to work in an anticipative, conceptual and innovative way. At the same time they should support their staff members' willingness to learn and should enable them to take part in training courses. This includes the need of permanent life-long re-training for all. One excellent example of this learning process is the current discussion in the Federal Republic of Germany about the so-called 'Innovative financial management approach in the police service'. One core element of this model is the more flexible approach to financial budgeting which has been rather rigid so far. The major characteristic is the extensive removal of the overcome state economical financial management by introducing what we call 'Budgetierung' which stands for devolved financial management to the decision-making operational bodies. This is all part of a complete re-thinking process.

It means for the police manager that he or she will have to think additionally in commercial terms like a business executive, in the future. The trend to work along economic management principles in the police service is probably irreversible. Last but not least the focal point is cost effectiveness ('value for money'), the efficient and effective deployment of human and material resources without putting the traditional police responsibilities at risk. This recent devolved financial management along business principles will change the image of the police manager. It will incorporate leadership skills and know-how to have a sound background in business management and in cost management. A challenge not only in the sector of police training and further training but also for the individual senior officer who will have to make himself/herself familiar with this innovative way of thinking in police management and who will have to take leadership decisions accordingly.

Part of the learning process on all hierarchical levels is furthermore the technological evolution. Information and communication technology will keep on influencing police work even more in the future and will contribute increasing efficiency and effectiveness, Electronic data processing as a police information tool (Inpol), or as a communication tool (electronic mail) and electronic support when handling cases will also come under leadership know-how. Only those who know how to handle the opportunities which technological systems provide may benefit from them in the decision making process as police managers. Such is-at the same time-the general answer to the question what a police manager has to perform, We are in need of the manager acting professionally, having obtained in depth leadership and professional skills, acting with creativity and flexibility and being able to formulate visions and then implement them into strategies.


When thinking about the profile which a police manager in the future should have then his/her leadership and professional skills may not be considered in isolation from other values. Those who aim at implementing objectives, plans, or responsibilities internally or with the support of the organization have to make sure that the members of this organization actually follow them. An outstanding performance may only be achieved if staff members feel satisfied and if they are positively motivated. It is essential to practice a leadership culture which comes up to modern societal needs. In this sense, leadership should mainly include:

Open-minded and honest interpersonal dealings are essential for putting these requirements into practice. It means to accept individual patterns of other human beings, and to tolerate values and behavior even when these do not match with our own ones. Furthermore, it means to appreciate the members of the organization as individuals and the work they are performing, and to deal with them irrespectively of their hierarchical status. It is only then that a leadership culture of mutual respect and dignity, confidence and partnership in the cooperation will flourish. Team spirit and the awareness of giving one's best to achieve shared goals and visions are the expressions of such an administrative culture. Restraint, patronage and distrust are not compatible with such a culture.11

On the opposite side, a loss of motivation is costly. A recent study on absenteeism in the public sector has come to the conclusion that the volume of the public budget in the Federal Republic of Germany (Federal level, Federal states level and community level taken together) may be discharged by 2,5 billion German Marks if we succeeded in reducing the average sickness rate in the public administrative sector with a total of 6.3 million employees by not more than one single day per year. In the study's view this is a realistic objective and could be achieved by promoting motivation. As this study has revealed, sickness rates and daily absenteeism increase accordingly to shrinking responsibility and reduced self-realization opportunities.

The questions of what the sense of existence and of work makes out is therefore one core element to successful leadership. If this question is not at all answered to a member of the organization or if the answer appears unsatisfactory, then dissatisfaction and frustration are the outcomes. The existing potential of creativity and the people's motivation are wasted by the atmosphere. If private thrives and hopes for a meaningful life and the vocational impartation of sensefulness do not match then a gap of motivation will be the result. This is identifiable by an attitude hoping to be spared during working time and putting energy into leisure activities. Frequently, the 'fictitious notice to quit' (not really handed over to the employer, the individual is physically there and his mind is absent) is the consequence. The sense of life is then found externally, out of the organization/administration. So, the capability and readiness to show performance are shifted from vocational to private life, correspondingly the value of being an active member of working life sinks for the individual concerned.12

The sinking readiness for performance, however, is not the only outcome of the fictitious notice to quit. Besides, the individual concerned assumes a 'don't bother me' attitude and this basic attitude may become contagious in his working environment. The atmosphere is poisoned and others are affected. Frustration and boredom frequently promote mobbing at the workplace. 13

What we are in need of are police managers who appreciate the members of their organization as partners and who are able to establish a shared consensus. We need people who do not polarize but integrate, who do not exclude but include, who implement instead of enforcing.14 The core element is the fundamental internal attitude of the manager, not only perceiving the functioning value of the staff working for him/her but appreciating the dignity of the human being as an individual. Such an outlook on human beings requires leadership skills which are very much rooted in the personality. Core elements are: preparedness for understanding, fairness and honesty (this does not mean that all personality traits must have been polished!), tolerance and open-mindedness, a strong ego and self-confidence on one hand and interpersonal skills, conflict handling capabilities and frustration tolerance on the other. A maximum of personal involvement is a pre-condition for such ambitious expectations. In the end it is every individual's daily work with himself or herself and furthermore-let me once again repeat that-a lifelong development process.

In that context, we have found one further essential answer to the question of which requirements the police as a 'training provider' should rely on when it comes to police managers: Police managers not only have a broad range of professional skills. It is a key element of their qualification to have qualified social and interpersonal skills which enable them to conduct leadership processes in a humane and confident way.


Police educational work may not neglect such transformation processes but integrate them. For both, training and further training, there are a number of conclusions to be drawn as far as content, methodology. didactics and the organization of learning are concerned. Basically, the principle of lifelong learning, which has been valid in the past already, will even gain in importance. It does not only affect the learning process of an individual, but the whole organization as a 'learning organization'. Key elements of police work such as planning, briefing, conducting and de-briefing, in other words practical policing, should be understood and utilized more than ever as an object, location and medium of learning. Traditional methods of educational work must obtain a maximum degree of efficiency.

Conclusions regarding the content should be such that the mentioned requirements be reflected in the curricula. The idea of key qualifications which should primarily be imparted and supported in police training is essential. Concerning the workforce, these correspond to the already mentioned requirements of responsibilities. A working group in our country bringing together representatives from the Federation and the Federal states who are attempting to harmonize intermediate police training provided at special high schools, have mentioned the following key qualifications: independence, sense of responsibility, communication skills, conflict handling, stress handling, working in teams, decisiveness and enforcement, organizational talent, handling modern working techniques, innovation, stress tolerance.15 According to the various functions in an organization those core qualifications may be assessed as being more or less decisive,

Now as ever, the particular professional know-how is a must; according to the various professional functions its structure should vary. It makes sense, however, to take some burden from basic police training concerning that kind of knowledge that is not essential for the basic employment of a police officer. It is much more useful to train later according to the officer's needs and according to the latest standard. This could be done by providing further training methods or by training on the job. Such a concept requires very close links and harmonization initiatives between basic and further training, which has not been done to such an extent so far. Further police training should be deepened, as well. Under these circumstances one may, as a consequence, consider to cut basic training periods,

Consequences in the sector of methodology and didactics should be drawn since the qualifications mentioned in this context may not be obtained by any given method. The traditional and prevailing form of classroom teaching is not very appropriate to develop students' interpersonal skills. Such a receptive way of learning is almost not suitable to develop a certain independence, and theoretical know-how from book reading does not lead to behavioral self-assurance. In this context, the basic principle of active and student-involved learning should be given higher priority. A high proportion of workshops, training and scenarios stands for an action-related study approach. Conducting short courses develops the officers' individual and scientifically proved analytical skills of crucial policing areas. It is essential to support the students' own activities by utilizing appropriate teaching techniques. This does not mean, however, that the cognitive teaching approach will be discontinued in the future, but it is indeed important to balance out in how far the existing didactical and methodological instruments and tools should be utilized.


  1. Leitbild der Landesverwaltung, Baden-Württemberg, February 1996.

  2. Uhlendorff, 'Das Anforderungsprofil der polizeilichen Führungskraft der Zukunft", Bereitschaftspolizei heute, 1993, 21.

  3. see Kokoska/Murck; Kniesel/Kube/Murck (Hg.): Handbuch für Führungskräfte der Polizei, Lübeck 1996.

  4. Kokoska/Murck, a.a.O., p. 1320.

  5. vgl. Forderungen der Gewerkschaft der Polizei (GdP) zur Zukunft des höheren Polizeivollzugsdienstes, Hilden 1996.

  6. Uhlendorff a.a.O.

  7. Prestel, Polizeien im Jahr 2000, Kriminalistik 1992, p. 589.

  8. Godehard, a.a.O.

  9. Prestel, a.a.O.

  10. Godehard, a.a.O.

  11. see 'Grundsätze für Zusammenarbeit und Führung des Landes NW' 1994, p. 6.

  12. Bicmann/Schad. Integriertes Management, Beke-Verlag Munich, 1995, p. 57.

  13. Bickmann/Schad, a.a.O.

  14. Sprenger, Mythos Motivation, a.a.O., p. 159.

  15. quoted acc. Kokoska/Murck, a.a.O., p. 1327.

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