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Effects of Supervisory Styles on Patrol Officer Behavior

NCJ Number
Police Quarterly Volume: 3 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2000 Pages: 262-293
Date Published
September 2000
32 pages

This article examines the effects of supervisory styles on patrol officer behavior.


The article is based on data from the Project on Policing Neighborhoods, a systematic observational study of patrol officers and first-line supervisors in two metropolitan police departments in 1996 and 1997. Using four distinct supervisory styles created through factor analysis of attitudinal constructs identified in the management and policing literatures, it assesses the influence of different supervisory styles on patrol officer behaviors -- arrest, use of force, and issuing citations. At least one supervisory style has a significant influence over the likelihood that officers will use force against suspects. In addition, the presence of a supervisor (regardless of supervisory style) significantly increases the likelihood that officers will arrest. Officers with active supervisors spend significantly more time per shift engaging in police-initiated activities and problem-solving/community policing activities. The article concludes that an active supervisory style does have an impact on the aggressive behavior of patrol officers vis-a-vis citizens. Consequently, if the ultimate goal in the community policing era is to develop subordinates by emphasizing problem-solving skills and sound judgment, practitioners and researchers need to further examine the attitudes and behaviors of first-line supervisors. Tables, appendix, notes, references

Date Published: September 1, 2000