Democratic Policing - Management and Organizational Issues


States (nations) are obligated to create a structural and managerial environment that will enable the police to effectively and efficiently implement the provisions of the rule of law, domestic and international law, and accepted human rights standards. There must be an independent police structure that can operate without interference from other agencies. This does not mean that there is no type of outside oversight, as that is needed. What you do not want is a police agency that becomes a private army for a minister or other similar department head.

The Rights of Police Personnel.

One of the key issues that needs to be addressed through laws and policies are the rights of police personnel. Yes, the police personnel need their rights protected, and one of the best methods is a clear code of criminal procedure and a well structured and organized standard operating procedure (police policies). Police need to know what their rights are and under what authority they operate. They also need internal assurances through policy that they will not be subject to autocratic rule and arbitrary decisions made by the police leadership. That type of operation which is more like a dictatorship, only has the police "walking on eggshells" and in fear of their own police command structure. While that may result in obedient police, they will definitely be an ineffective force that is not likely to have any innovation or any type of true initiative.

Chain of Command.

One of the key elements in police policies and laws is the chain of command. Every police working within the agency should be given a clear cut picture of what the chain of command is. Autocratic leaders from non-democratic policing agencies do not understand the chain of command. They tend to want to give orders directly to the lowest level officer strait from the police leadership. They do not realize that chain of command is a two way structure, and the directives and orders need to follow the chain downwards to the officer. They tend to by-pass all the middle level supervisors, and then later chastise them for not knowing about the orders. It is important to instill that the chain of command works both ways and one of the main purposes of the chain of command is to protect the basic police officer. If the chain of command is not clear or not followed it can only make the police agency weaker and inefficient.

Operating Procedures (SOP) on supervision

Along with chain of command, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on supervision should be clear-cut. All leaders at all levels need to know what they are authorized to do, and what decisions they can make. All police should be clear on the procedure to clarify orders, and how to challenge possible unlawful orders properly. They all should also know who can make what decisions. Just because someone is a supervisor in one section of the police it does not mean that he or she can give orders just because of rank. They should not be able to give orders or directives to those outside or their respective section.

Proper Logistical Support

A police agency cannot operate without proper logistical support. This means that the government needs to provide all of the necessary vehicles, equipment and uniforms for the police to perform their duties. If they expect the police to work in all sorts of weather conditions, then the proper type of uniforms need to be provided (like raincoats and parkas). The police should not have to make personal purchases to do their job.

Along these lines there must be an accountability system for police equipment and supplies for the police agency. This type of system is common throughout the world and there should be a system already developed somewhere that can be adopted. This is to ensure that the police do not squander their resources and to prevent corruption involving logistical issues.