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The Chicago Police Department Essay

The organizational situation that will be the focus of this paper is the recent appointment of a civilian Superintendent of Police at the Chicago Police Department. It has been over fifty years since a civilian was appointed as “top cop’ in the City of Chicago. Unfortunately, three of the last four police superintendents have left their position under scrutiny or an ensuing scandal. In 2006, the mayor of the City of Chicago Richard M. Daley publicly announced that a nationwide search for the next Chicago Police Superintendent will be conducted.

After a seven month search, the front runner was a 35 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Mayor Daley’s decision to re-evaluate the participants and continue the nationwide search for the position of superintendent proved to be a major blow to police morale. Ultimately, the mayor appointed retired FBI Director Jody Weis as Superintendent of Police. The Superintendent is the commanding officer for the CPD. Under the direction of the Superintendent, the CPD is organized into the First Deputy’s Office and five bureaus each commanded by a Deputy Superintendent.

The five bureaus are Investigative Services, Patrol Division, Strategic Deployment, Crime Strategy and Accountability and Administrative Services. Within each of these major operating units are patrol officers, investigative staff, support staff and administrative staff. There are approximately 120 subunits which work under these six operating units. There are approximately 13,400 sworn personnel and 1,850 civilians employed by the CPD (Chicago Police. org n. d).

The Chicago Police Department’s patrol and investigative geographical area are broken down into five Investigative Areas (1-5) and each area is broken down into 25 local police districts (1-25). Each district is broken down into beats numbering anywhere from 12-15 beats per district. The CPD is entering a new era of police administration and will undergo major restructuring as a result of police corruption and misconduct, political pressures, and a loss of community trust.

According to Bolman and Deal (2003), “restructuring is a challenging process that consumes time and resources with no guarantee of success” (p. 83). Organizations usually embark on a path to change when they feel compelled to respond to major problems or opportunities (Bolman & Deal, 2003). Unfortunately in the case of the CPD, major problems are the cause for change. Reorganization is often the first step a new leader makes to leave his stamp on the organization. The CPD is an old fashioned public bureaucracy that has remained stagnant in its operation for over fifty years of “insider” control.

Promotion from within the ranks is expected. The appointment of an “outsider” is an effort by the mayor to shake things up with a focus of weeding out misconduct and corruption. Holloway (2002), defined police corruption “as the abuse of police authority for personal or organizational gain” (p. 1). The CPD has had its fair share of corruption and official misconduct. Externally, acts of police misconduct can be reported by those affected to a civilian investigative organization or to an internal police unit known as Internal Affairs.

Internally, acts of police misconduct and corruption may be dramatically under-reported if reported at all. According to Ivkovic (2003, when a police administrator engages in reform and invests resources for the purposes of corruption control without having all the necessary information regarding the extent and nature of the corruption, the administrator will most likely be fighting a “losing battle” (p. 594). This losing battle in fighting corruption is the main issue that Jody Weis will encounter in his new position.

Weis is seen as an “outsider” and even worse, an ex-federal employee. When a police officer is accused of committing acts of misconduct or corruption, the officer is likely to face federal charges and placed under arrest by a Federal Agent. Weis is considered an enemy, and unless he is part of the inside police culture, he will never have full access to internal police information on the existence of misconduct or corruption. The complex phenomenon of police corruption needs to be addressed from an ethical and moral standpoint.

To truly address the problem, it is necessary to work not only with the officers and the community, but also with professional policing organizations” (Johnson & Cox, 2004 p. 67). The lack of community trust is a major factor in restructuring the CPD. Community policing was the first major step in forming a collaborative partnership with the community. It allowed the police and community to work side by side to help each other to save neighborhoods from crime and disorder. Ethics, morals, and professionalism are just a few ways in which the communities trust can be gained.

Johnson and Cox (2004), defined “ethics as the moral behavior of an individual or group in its surrounding” (p. 69). Northouse (2007) further added that “ethics concerns itself with the morals and values that the society or an individual finds appropriate” (p. 342). A 1996 study by Delattre, (as cited in Johnson & Cox, 2004) contends that those who maintain a position of public authority and trust should prescribe to a higher level of moral standards than civilians. The community deserves the right to feel safe and protected.

The community is a powerful force that can organize and demand change by putting pressure on the elected officials. Political pressure is the last of the four factors that affected the change needed in the CPD. The appointment of the Superintendent of Police was orchestrated by the mayor of the City of Chicago. The mayor stated that the CPD was in desperate need of a “change agent. ” The mayor was looking for someone that was going to restore the communities trust in the CPD and institute organizational change. The “politicos” were not happy with an “insider” being promoted to Superintendent of Police.

Political pressures dictated that the search for a Superintendent of Police continue. Following the appointment of Jody Weis, major organizational and personnel changes were instituted. One of the most critical factors that affected the actual implementation of the change was the change of personnel. After approximately two months of being on the job, Weis removed and appointed 21 of 25 new District Commanders and replaced numerous exempt rank Deputies and Chiefs of units. Never in the history of the CPD had anyone made such drastic and unpopular changes.

The changes in personnel were made by use of the Chicago Police Department’s meritorious promotion system. This system had for a long time been associated with political clout and nepotism rather than true merit. According to Boseman (2008), leaders are given the opportunity to lead not because they are merely appointed by managers, but because they are seen as leaders. On the contrary, Leonard (2003) contends that many employees select future leadership primarily for their technical skills rather than their interpersonal or people leadership skills.

Faced with the current status of the CPD, change was inevitable. With change comes resistance to change. The leader must have a plan to institute change and remedies to quell the fears of change (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). Conclusion A basic assumption throughout this analysis has been that the CPD is in need of major policy, procedures, programs, and organizational change. A strong argument in favor of this point is the low police morale and community distrust of the CPD.

Adhering to the basic principles of the police code of ethics and moral values, police can create a service based on consent and participation. Overall, the transformational leader must create a vision, get subordinates to buy in, and manifest honesty and integrity. The problems that affect the CPD are not situations that can be easily fixed. Over time, hard work and a dedicated collaborative effort between an enthusiastic leader and the community can bring about change. Further research is needed in the area of the complex phenomenon of police corruption. Change can be a good thing.


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