Organization of Police Departments

There are many reasons as to why the effectiveness of the organization of the police departments are important. In my opinion, if there was no organization of the police departments then there would not be much done with in the field. The most important things that are involved in the organization of police departments are the area, time and purpose.

The organizing by area is a very interesting topic. The police departments must be organized not only with regard to personnel but also with the regard to the geographic area they serve and protect. Every single officer with in a police department must always be responsible for a specific area in which the officer is assigned to patrol and protect. There are a few different ways the areas are split up. There are the beats or posts which is defined as the smallest geographic area that a single patrol unit, one or two people in a car or on foot, can patrol effectively. There are the sectors or zones which is the number of individual beats that are grouped together. Precincts which is defined as the entire collection of beats and sectors in a given geographic area. Research also states that in a smaller police department, only one precinct serves as the administrative headquarters for the entire police department. According to the assigned text for Axia College, The Long Island Police Department in Nassau County, New York, patrols a city of 35,000 people with only 70 actual police officers has just one precinct. Also, the New York City police department which serves over eight million people with near 40,000 police officers, has a total of seven precincts places thorough out the entire county. When it comes down to the larger precincts or station houses, the main focus is the desk.

In addition to the police departments being organized by area, a police department must also be organized by its use of time. The three tour system is very important when being organized by time. According to the text, common sense states that police officers as well as other workers, can only work are specific number of hours in a day before fatigue starts to completely set in and the police officers lose their effectiveness. The shifts of the police officers are usually always separated by each day or 24 hour period of time into three shifts. A midnight or night shift which usually falls between the hours of 12 midnight and 8 a.m. A day shift usually falls between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and the evening shift which falls between the hours of 4 p.m. and 12 midnight. Usually the police officers that are working the day shift can tell if they are working or if they are off for any day in the year. It has been stated in the text that police officers have been allocated evenly during the three tours or shifts. The school text also states that the academic studies of the police beginning in the 1960’s discovered that crime and other police problems do not fit neatly into the three tour system. Steady fixed tours can be defined as where a police officer can work the same shifts. Meaning that one week they are working the over night shift and the next week they are working the day shift.

Organizing by function or purpose with in a police department is also an important factor. The text explains that the best way to organize a police department in this way is to place similar functions performed by the police officers into similar units. In other words, all members of a police department that are doing normal patrol duties are places into a patrol division whereas all the other police officers that are assigned to perform detective duties are to be placed into a detective division. Line and staff functions are considered to be a big part in organization in a police department. Police departments must be organized by a function or purpose. The most simple grouping of units or division of a police department is between the line functions and the staff functions. Line functions are defined as the tasks that are directly facilitated by the accomplishment of organizational goals, whereas staff functions are those tasks that supplement the line units in their task performance. Police department units are described as 30 tasks or duties that the police officers must perform to have an effective police department. There are a few different units within the police departments. There is the operational unit which is where the operations are activities that are performed in direct assistance to the public. The operational units consist of the patrol, traffic, criminal investigation, vice, organized crime, juvenile services, community services, crime prevention and community relations. Also within a police department there is the administrative units. Administration in a police department can be defined as those activities performed not in the direct assistance to the public but for the benefit of the organization as a whole. The administrative unit is usually open between the hours 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The administrative unit consists personnel, training, planning and analysis, budget and finance, legal assistance, public information, clerical, inspections, internal affairs and intelligence.

As stated above are the facts behind the organization of any given police department. It is explained the area the time and the purpose for having a police department running in an organized and proper manner.