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Dilemmas of Police Administration. James Q. Wilson. Objectives of Police. Order Maintenance Handling Disputes Law Enforcement Applying legal sanctions. Order Maintenance. Lack of agreement about police role Ambiguous laws “Victims” are often less than innocent

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objectives of police
Objectives of Police
  • Order Maintenance
    • Handling Disputes
  • Law Enforcement
    • Applying legal sanctions
order maintenance
Order Maintenance
  • Lack of agreement about police role
  • Ambiguous laws
  • “Victims” are often less than innocent
  • Arrest is not the desired outcome
law enforcement
Law Enforcement
  • Prevent crime
  • Catch criminals
    • How do you measure how much crime the police prevent?
    • Very few “who-dunits” are solved by the police
    • Reduction or Displacement?
    • Suppressing street crime is bad P.R.
inherent dilemmas
Inherent Dilemmas
  • Lack of agreement on what successful order maintenance is in a heterogeneous society
  • Finding a strategy which permits the realization of effective law enforcement without alienating segments of the community
  • Bad men…
  • Police do the wrong things…


  • Put the police under the control of the public
why this wont work
Why This Wont Work:
  • Police are timid about enforcing laws against their “bosses”
  • Involvement in conflict would still have unhappy results
  • Potential for abuse against “outsiders” still exists
  • Conflict due to heterogeneity would still exist & police would be seen as choosing sides
the nature of policing
The Nature of Policing
  • The dilemmas of managing the police arises less from the quality of the officers or the level at which authority is exercised and more from thenature of the police function.
  • Like mental health professionals, the police are given a task they cannot perform, yet they must try to perform it.
why does it work in some places
Why Does it Work in Some Places?
  • Small communities
  • Financially well-off
  • High level of cooperation with police
    • Few incidents of public disorder
    • Few crimes against people (murder, rape, mugging…)
    • Police & community share a common definition of who is “suspicious”
racial complication
Racial Complication
  • The fundamental problem of policing is one of socioeconomic status complicated by race
    • Are cops racist? Is this the problem?
    • Will a diverse force solve the problems police face in the community?
  • Substantial improvement in police-community relations rely on changes in the structure of American society
what should the police do
What Should the Police Do?
  • Recognize order maintenance as their primary function
benefits of order maintenance
Benefits of Order Maintenance
  • Officers judged by ability to keep the peace, not arrests or tickets
  • More options for handling disorder
  • The need for information will lead to local control (decentralization)
  • Strengthening of command
  • Master patrol officers
making the change
Making the Change
  • Police Officers as Craftsmen
    • No written body of knowledge
    • Learning through apprenticeship
    • Respect earned (or not) from coworkers
    • Special skills set the police apart from civilians
  • Organization & Leadership, not policies will lead to change
what about law enforcement
What About Law Enforcement?
  • Often exaggerated
  • Should be organized differently than order maintenance (centralized command)
  • Bad for community relations
  • Shouldn’t expect much crime prevention
  • Look to other agencies for solutions (i.e. Corrections) . . .