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Identifying Characteristics of Exemplary Baltimore Police Department First Line Supervisors, Final Technical Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
173 pages
The purpose of this research was to identify distinguishing characteristics of exemplary first-line supervisors in the Baltimore Police Department (Maryland), to experiment with ease of measurement, and to examine whether data that identified superior performers was evident in personnel records.
This 1995 study addressed three research questions: What are the characteristics of exemplary sergeants that distinguish them from their less effective peers? Are the characteristics easily measured and how? Is there extant police personnel data that would correlate with measurable characteristics? The research team developed a set of characteristics of exemplary sergeants by using focus groups of commanders, supervisors, and police officers. The focus group identified 42 characteristics that were subsequently clustered and reduced to the following: character and integrity, knowledge of the job, management skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, ability to develop entry-level officers, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, effectiveness as a disciplinarian, effectiveness as a role model, and ability to be proactive. The peer nomination process resulted in the identification of 24 exemplary sergeants and 26 controls. Originally the study team expected to identify clear and unequivocal categories, e.g., exemplary vs. average and/or below average; however, the final sample resulted in exemplary vs. average and above-average sergeants. A series of formal tests was administered; an extensive personal interview was conducted; and data were collected from police personnel files. Although the research findings were compromised due to methodological limitations, the preliminary results were significant for the development of further research. Essentially, the research found that there were profound differences among high and average to above average performers at the rank of sergeant in the area of cognitive and/or moral reasoning abilities. A test of moral reasoning detected this difference. Further research is required to validate the results, determine which is the core difference related to moral reasoning, and determine how or why certain individuals have this ability. This research should be followed by the development of an easy-to-administer measurement instrument; a determination of whether or not this skill can be taught to adults; and development of law enforcement processes to provide corroborating data to predict high performers. 19 tables, appended research instruments and detailed analyses and findings, and a 35-item bibliography

Date Published: January 1, 2001