One of the biggest challenges facing police leaders in contemporary times is to develop police organizations that can effectively recognize, relate and assimilate the global shifts in culture, technology and information. Their roles involve conceptualizing ever changing community expectations, technology, government policy, policing philosophies and ethical standards in their operating environment, Doerner, W. G. (1999).
This paper sets out to critically examine this conceptualization of police leadership in the context of contemporary policing. The leadership involved is first classified and each type analyzed. Next, changes that have taken place in police leadership are examined followed by identification of the factors bringing about these changes. The next thing is to look at how leaders in the police service cope with these changes in their roles, before drawing a relevant conclusion.
Command and control are oriented towards the old traditional philosophy of police leadership. This kind of leadership was based on a rigid command style in which juniors did not have room to question orders from superiors. It had its glaring limitations in that it led to magnification of poor leadership decisions when thus implemented. It also limited consultation with the community and juniors. However, the main advantage of this type of autocracy is that it made it easy for the commander to take full responsibility for all decisions. Even in the other leadership approaches, the final responsibility for actions taken lies with the leader. It also enabled quick action in emergency situations without wastage of time. This is one aspect of this leadership that remains useful and enduring even today.
The second type of leadership, management, calls for close consultation between the leader and his charges as well as with those in the immediate environment. Orders issued are more broad-based and are implemented by juniors who appreciate the full implications of what they are doing. Conversely, it has the disadvantage of being time consuming in discussions and may thus not be applicable in situations that call for emergency response.
The third type of participatory leadership involves supervision and advice. It is the hands on type, where the leader oversees the implementation of his orders and is readily available for consultation. Its main disadvantage is that it occupies the leader leaving him unavailable for other duties. For instance when the station commander is out in the field with his charges, important matters may go unattended to at the station.
Changes In Police Leadership Roles
Police leadership roles have undergone a lot of changes due to the demands of contemporary times. The transition to participatory management from the traditional rigid style is quite inevitable in at present. The Police Commissioner finds himself left with no choice but to undergo this transition. Contemporary organizations are in a constant empowerment environment in which traditional hierarchical structures of traditional police leadership find no place. Commissioners must therefore work closely with and cooperatively with all levels of the command structure and workforce. For many of them, this power-sharing