"Employee Empowerment: Creation of Corporal Positions to Enhance Sector Policing"
W. Michael Phibbs
Employee Empowerment and the Creation of the Corporal Position in the Richmond Police Department.

All businesses and organizations, both private and public, try to evolve their business philosophy and strategic operational functions in order to become more efficient, more profitable, or serve their customers better. On August 22, 2005, The Richmond Police Department made a strategic shift in its operational philosophy from the Lawful Policing model to the Sector Policing model. This shift left all of the platoons administrative and supervisory functions, which traditionally was shared by the platoon Lieutenant and Sergeant, solely in the hands of the Sector Sergeants. An unintended consequence of this shift left open the possibility to utilize the Master Patrolman's vast knowledge, developed through a combination of years experience on the street and of formal educational training, by creating a special rank for them: Corporal. For this paper I have research how other departments develop their lower ranks. I have completed surveys for the attitudes, towards the rand of Corporal, of the officers of the Richmond Police Department. I have completed a job analysis and presented my theories to the Command Staff.

In order to understand the need for this position you need to know how Sector Policing works versus the Lawful Policing model. Paul Ponsaers (2001) describes Lawful Policing "as police organizations where officers are encouraged to handle common place situations as if they were matters of law enforcement as opposed to order maintenance. Officers are under pressure to "produce" arrests and tickets and are expected to 'do their jobs'. The law is used to punish those perceived as deserving".

The organizational strategy in the Lawful Policing model place was to have the Precinct Commander in charge of his entire precinct. They received the latest crime statistics and other information germane to the precinct and then formulated action plans which were then disseminated down to the platoons to act upon. The Platoon Lieutenant was responsible for assigned personnel and the precinct area he/she worked on those days that their assigned platoon worked. They were responsible for daily deployment of the platoon; setting the goals and objectives of the platoon, and administrative record keeping on the officers, e.g. leave records, overtime pay, completed bi- weekly pay roll was submitted, and investigation of complaints. The Platoon Sergeants were responsible for the hands on day-to-day operations of the platoon. They worked hand-in-hand with the officers to make sure goals were accomplished. The Platoon Sergeant's daily administrative tasks were making sure the minimum staffing was filled (a minimal level of officers must work on each shift per day), payroll, reviewing reports, initial investigation of police vehicle accidents and complaints of use of force. The officers were assigned "beats" to patrol but could be moved at any time to other areas within the precinct boundaries to work. Each shift working day and night had the same amount of officers working at all times, even in the middle of the night when there were fewer calls for service. The officers were responsible for only handling calls that they were dispatched.

Sector Policing is a complete strategic shift in how the entire precinct operates. The main principles of sector policing are can be summarized s being: "make the most effective use of resources; 2) work in close co-operation with the local community; 3) "own" and "get ahead" of local problems by identifying and helping to tackle their underlying causes; 4) encourage visible and accessible patrolling by known local officers; 5) deliver a 'better quality service" provided by officers 'enjoying the support and approval 'of local people - policing by consent' ( Dixon and Rauch, 2004).

The City of Richmond is broken up into twelve geographical sectors. Each precinct is assigned three sectors. The sector has one Lieutenant, "Sector Lieutenant," assigned, three Sergeants, "Sector Sergeants" who work day, evening and night shifts, and a certain number of officers depending on the size of the sector area.

The Precinct Captain is now a "Commander" and is responsible for the overall operation of the precinct. The Sector Lieutenants are now responsible for any crime in their assigned geographical area 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Sector Lieutenant partner with the community organizations to engage them in the crime fighting process and to bring about effective crime prevention strategies.

In my opinion, this strategy is proactive instead of reactive; by utilizing the latest crime statistics to predict where crime will occur and having officers in place to prevent the crime or arrest the offenders. The number of officers deployed, at any given time, is in direct relation to the number of calls for service during a 24 hour period. "The creation of these shifts was intended to align the availability of personnel more closely with the demands for police services and by giving officers more time in which to solve problems rather than just responding to calls" (Dixon and Rauch 2004).

In my opinion the new strategy does have a flaw in the effectiveness in supervisor's abilities to do their jobs, but allows for empowerment of senior officers. In the Law Enforcement model the Platoon Lieutenant worked everyday with their platoons. In the Sector Policing model the Day, Evening, or Night shift platoons may go weeks at a time without seeing their Sector Lieutenants. The Day, Evening, and Night Shift Sector Sergeant is now responsible for all the administrative functions, that the Lieutenant once performed e.g. setting the goals of the shift, leave records, payroll, deployment of people based on shift crime trends, overall command of the sector relief, but is still required to complete his/her previously assigned administrative assignments, e.g. line ups, reading reports, initial investigations for police vehicle accidents and use of force complaints, vehicle inspections, approval of leave, evaluations, crime scene supervision, and are still required to be out on the streets supervising the officers. This leaves the Sector Sergeant alone, and in charge of his/her platoon, without any one to help guide them or ask for advice.

The platoons are becoming loyal, not to the sector or the Sector Lieutenant, but to the Sector Sergeant and the Precinct shift as a whole. Without direct supervision or support from a Lieutenant the same problem may arise here as it did in London England when researchers found, a lack of cohesion, "people were doing their own thing", and there was a distinct lack of esprit de corps" (Dixon and Rauch 2004). According to Gomez-Mejia, Balkin, Cardy 2004, "Whenever management changes its business strategy, it should also reassess its organizational structure". In my opinion the restructuring that came from the development of Sector Policing is that it creates opportunities for employee development and empowerment. "Responding to crime problems within the community requires a flexible structure that allows the lowest level officers to make necessary adjustments, on how situations should be handled or officers deployed, both quickly and efficiently. Therefore, law enforcement administrators must work to design an organizational structure that empowers employees at the lowest level" (Johnson 1994).

The creation of Sector Policing has created an avenue for the senior officers to become Dixon and Rauch (2004) Hiam (1999) International Association of Chiefs of Police (2002) directly involved in running the platoons they are assigned. David Geisler ( 2005) stated, "employee determination is the innate capacity of individuals, free from organizational barriers, to grow and develop in a positive manner as employees, through self assurance, self worth and opportunity, maintaining and enhancing their personal power so they may achieve their unique levels of excellence". He added, " to increase individual and organizational effectiveness, organizations do not have to give power; they need to limit the amount of power they take away. As a result of barriers encountered in the organizational culture, powerlessness often eradicates personal power, eroded self- determination and purges employees' desire to achieve their unique level of excellence". It is claimed that empowered employees accept responsibility for their own performance and its improvements ( Jones and Davies, 1991). Inherent skills and talents within the employees will be realized and put to the use of the organization (Ripley and Ripley, 1983). Chay Lee and Norman Bruvold (2003) state, Lee and Bruvold (2003) "Employee development is vital in maintaining and developing the capabilities of both individual employees and the organization. It creates conditions where employees believe that their organizations value their contribution and care about their employability. It facilitates greater obligation by employees towards the organization's effectiveness". Before the senior officers are given the power to help the platoon meet its objectives and develop younger officers they must prove that they have had the training and experience needed to take on this responsibility.

The Richmond Police Department, like most departments in the region, has a career development program in which the top level is reached the status of Master Patrolman. In order to attain the highest level for an officer they must have: 8 years on the department, completed 18 college semester hours, 180 hours of department offered skill development training, and an additional combination of 12 college semester hours or 180 hours of skill development training. These Master Police Officers have developed a vast knowledge of police work through actual job experience and training, however, once at the Master Patrolman level they have no other outlets to "officially" utilize these skills in the formal organizational structure. In my opinion their knowledge could be utilized to positively affect the continued development and operational efficiency of Richmond Police Department.

For the Master Patrolman, they have reached the highest level in career development. They are then motivated by the intrinsic value of the job and not by opportunities they are provide by the organization. "People don't achieve high levels of performance and motivation until they are aligned with the right opportunities, opportunities that permit them to get engaged in challenging, inherently interesting work (Hiam, 1999, page 24). "The street wise manager knows that you must "tap into" employees' self-motivation by giving them motivating opportunities to succeed. When you align your supervisory goals with employee opportunities to succeed, you can achieve exceptional levels of motivation". (Hiam 1999 pages 38 & 39)

In the Richmond Police Department our senior officer rank is the "Master Patrolman". In order to determine how other local departments utilize their senior officers I contacted the other police departments in the region, Chesterfield County, Hanover County, Henrico County, and found no other utilized the intermediate rank of Corporal, for a senior officer. In the other departments they refer to the most senior rank as a "Career Officer" . I spoke to Investigator Watt Russell, with the Chesterfield Police Department, and he stated the Career Officer must have at least 15 years of police service, and like the Richmond Police Department, must have completed a combination of skill development and McFarlin (2006) college course. The Career Officer is trained to complete platoon administrative tasks, vehicle inspections, line ups, roll calls, and report reading. They are not given direct supervisory roles. Investigator Russell stated, the felt the added responsibility gave the Career Officers a chance to take on new challenges and help develop younger officers.

I contacted Lieutenant Scott Jones from Henrico County Police Department Personnel Unit; He stated that the top level for the patrol officer rank in the Henrico Police Department is also referred to as "Career Officer". Like the City of Richmond obtaining the senior ranks only pertains to the amount of compensation the officers receive and has no obligation to any supervisory of administrative duties.

Lastly, I contacted Lieutenant Lecarpentier from the Hanover County Sheriffs Department. He also stated that the highest rank an officer could attain was that of Career Officer. In Hanover Sheriffs Department the Career Officer is in a position to be, "held accountable", for the decision of officers he is on calls with. A further explanation: If a Career Officer is on a call for service with a younger officer the Career Officer is responsible, and "held accountable", to that the call is handled appropriately.

I then began researching how other departments nationwide, when restructuring their department, made room for officer empowerment through increased responsibility. McMinnville, Oregon Police Chief, Wayne McFarland stated "leaders began updating their current supervisory structure by clarifying the role of the sergeant because they realized that once they defined this position, they could design the other ranks to operational unit with responsibilities of setting the direction of the squad, evaluating personnel, and making discipline decisions. Once comfortable with this lynchpin position, agency leaders defined the corporal's job description as an assistant to the sergeant, carefully distinguishing the differences between the ranks. The corporal would provide direction in the field and act as a squad leader in the sergeant's absence" (Mcfarland 2006).

On the International Association of Chiefs of Police website (IACPnet.Org) I was able to find several organizations that utilize corporals in their organizational structure. The organizations either had the corporal rank, just developing, reinstating, or eliminating the rank from their rank structure.

A positive perspective from the IACP was described by Corporal Guy Forberger from the Columbus Airport Police Department, (Columbus, Ohio) stated, "We have had the corporal rank for three years. There are three corporals, one per shift. We perform the duties of a sergeant when the sergeant is off-duty or otherwise unavailable. We assist with performing supervisory functions directed by the shift sergeant. We are under the OPBA labor contract along with police officers, sergeants are separate."

The IACP listed a department that was also in the development phase of creating the corporal position. The Hubert, Ohio Police Department had a management study commissioned by the IACP which suggested they develop the corporal rank as a way to assist the shift Sergeant and to reduce the span of control. Sergeant Rob Schommer stated, "In the absence of the Sergeant an appointed Officer in Charge will fill his/her position.

IACP listed another organization that had eliminated the rank of corporal in its structure but then reinstated the position. Captain Kevin Kirstein of the Ocean City Police Department explained on the website that they had to reinstate the position as part of a collective bargaining agreement. The position was placed between Police Officer First Class and Sergeant.

The IACP noted a negative aspect of the creation of the corporal position. Homewood, Alabama. Chief of Police, Burke Swearingen, stated the department eliminated the rank of corporal because "the problem we had was they were acting as a secondary supervisor on the shifts when the sergeants were not available. In reality, they were doing the same work as a sergeant and were paid less so we put two sgt's on each shift."

Another unforeseen consequence of the corporal position was stated in the I.A.C.P. database in Chadwell, Indiana. Sergeant David Wright, stated, they wanted to eliminate the corporal position because it was used as a semi supervisory position and limited the movement the officers' movement within the different departments.

In my opinion the lack of success for the corporal position in both the Homewood, Alabama and Chadwell, Indiana Police Department's was the lack of a concise job analysis with concrete boundaries which clearly defined and separated the positions of corporal and sergeant. Lastly, I conducted a semi-structured interview with Precinct Commanders, Sector Lieutenants, Sector Sergeants, and Sector Officers about their ideas and concerns of creating a corporals position from the Master Patrolman ranks. I surveyed 42 offices who worked the Day, Evening, and Night shifts. 31 officers either agreed or strongly agreed with the creation of the corporal rank. The seven officers who disagreed or strongly disagreed had various reasons for their positions. Three officers put only threes down the entire survey. Two thought that the rank should be opened up to officers with several years of experience but did not have the prerequisite college to attain the Master Officer rank. Three felt that offices who had already taken on assignments to develop younger officers, such as Field Training Officers, should qualify. One officer stated, the "position should be selected from all officers, because some Master Patrolman are too stupid to make decisions."

The majority of officers and every supervisor I interviewed agreed that the creation of the corporal position would help bridge the gap between administrative duties and direct supervisory responsibilities that has developed since the inception of Sector Policing. Every supervisor I interviewed also agreed that the position must have set boundaries.

The position proposed would encompass only administrative duties on a platoon, and then if the assistance is requested. The administrative duties should be limited to: leading roll call, preparation of line ups, vehicle inspections, roll call training, mentoring younger officers, and in special circumstances, such as multiple crimes scenes, being in charge a crime scene after a Sector Sergeant has already arrived and announced the scene is secure.

The officers and supervisors I spoke to state the corporal position had several positive aspects. The first being it gave more seasoned officer new challenges and would break up the monotony of the job. Second, the position gives them an opportunity to lead without having to take on the full time responsibility of a supervisory position. The Third reason, it helps out the Sector Sergeants and may allow them to spend more time on the street directly supervising the officers. The final reason they stated is the position gives them an opportunity to make some decisions for themselves.

The creation of Sector Policing helped shape a new strategy in which the police department and community can create stronger bonds to affect change in the community. Its design affords more officers to be deployed in areas and at times that they are most needed. An unforeseen consequence was the lack of direct supervision of the street officers the structure created. At the same time a pool of officers with technical training, and college courses, years of experience on the street stand waiting for new challenges. The creation of the corporal rank will allow the Master Patrolman new challenges to be mastered, additionally it will also assist the department, platoons, and Sector Sergeants, be more effective in the day-today operations.


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