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Targeting Discretion: An Exploration of Organisational Communication Between Rank Level in a Medium-Sized Southern US Police Department

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume: 13 Issue: 2 Dated: Summer 2011 Pages: 158-171
T. Casey LaFrance
Date Published
14 pages
This study examined the need for discretion and effective communication at all levels of a police organization.
As part of an ongoing research agenda exploring police discretion and accountability, the author devised a diagnostic tool, the target model of discretion, aimed at comparing the discretionary priorities of top managers with the priorities of frontline workers. To test the efficacy of the target model as an organization development tool, the author conducted an analysis of intra-organizational communication between frontline officers and command staff members in a medium-sized Southern municipal police organization. Specifically, top managers and frontline officers were asked to rate the amount of influence each of eight variables had on their use of discretion. This study is premised on the notion that effective communication within an agency would lead to reasonable similarities between the responses of those at the top and bottom of the organization's hierarchy. The opposite proposition is also assumed. That is, in organizations with poor communication between levels, one would expect to see statistically significant differences in the responses of frontline officers and command staff members. The author presented findings and recommendations for the case at hand. The author concludes by discussing the potential utility of the target model for organization development in other public sector organizations. (Published Abstract)