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Rethinking Organizational Change in Policing

NCJ Number
Date Published
118 pages
Publication Series
This report describes the efforts and presents the findings from the continuation of the APD-UNM (Albuquerque Police Department-University of New Mexico) research partnership's ethnographic study of the transformation of organizational culture as the APD pursued department-wide implementation of community policing.
The initial study found that the APD had experienced only limited success in building a police culture guided by community policing over a 4 year period. Some significant changes had occurred in specific areas, but transformations in overall police culture were limited. The second phase of the study, which is profiled in the current report, continued tracking departmental efforts to embed community policing more deeply into the organization. In this effort, the APD-UNM research partnership contributed insights from the initial study as well as findings from academic research on policing nationwide, so as to contribute to informed decision making by police management and police leaders at all levels. The study assessed how this input from the research partnership influenced the ongoing implementation of community policing and the development of organizational culture. The format for these efforts involved focus groups at supervisory and management levels, so as to foster a culture of organizational learning guided by structured reflection on desirable policing models and current research on what works in policing. Objectives of this effort were to foment much greater civilian/sworn collaboration built on mutual respect and to foster the consolidation with APD of a "strong culture of policing" that combines the most effective elements of all the current subcultures into a coherent organizational culture of policing. The assessment did not find the depth of fundamental departmental transformation to which the objectives aspired. The input by the research partners did not deeply transform the way APD personnel experienced their jobs or managed the department. Police culture in Albuquerque continues to represent a fragmented agglomeration of remnant and partial subcultures of traditional policing, paramilitary policing, community policing, police administration, etc., and it remains to be seen whether a strong organizational culture will emerge out of this fragmentation. This report advises that police leaders may have to reorient their focus toward the slow cultivation of new officers from their initial training through years of career development. This can be done by inserting community policing orientations into the key institutions that reproduce police culture over the long term. An 84-item bibliography and appended feedback reports on 8 topics

Date Published: January 1, 2002