Theories and Administrative Thought on Modern Day Police Departments

Various sociological theories and administrative thought show that modern police department is a combination of a hierarchical and quasi-military bureaucracy. In accordance with the fundamental rationality of Weber’s theory of bureaucracy, the modern police department is wrought with red tape and other unfortunate side-effects of bureaucratic organizations. On the other hand, as Weber suggested, many large-scale organizations, especially those linked to the government, must be bureaucratic if they are to be most effectively and rationally run. The modern police department, although it has adopted theories of modern sociologists and administrative thinkers, continues to resemble traditional hierarchical and bureaucratic systems.

The modern police department resembles least Fayol’s theories of management, in which red tape detracts from the effectiveness and in which horizontal communication is widely practiced. At the same time, many police departments use Fayol’s theories of horizontal communication when seeking accountability and attempting to eliminate corruption within the force.

Also in accordance with the theories of Luther Gulick, the theories of Fayol show how within large organizations like police departments, specialization of tasks can lead to effectiveness. Therefore, the modern police department in many ways reflects old-school sociology and administrative theories in that at each rung of the hierarchy, an individual is assigned highly specific tasks and reports to specific individuals in positions of immediate authority. The hierarchy entails that individuals usually report to the person who is ranked immediately above them, similar to a military bureaucracy. The titles and ranks underscore the connections between the modern police department and military organizations.

At the same time, police departments are trying to incorporate the more open systems of modern theorists.

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