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Chapter 5

SOC 3750 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Jargon, Interpol, Peter Principle

Course Code
SOC 3750
Michelle Dumas

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Policing and Society Chapter 5: Police Bureaucracy 01/14/2013
o Goal-oriented organizations specifically designed to abide by rational
principles so that the effective attainment of their goals is achieved as
efficiently as possible
Formal organizations
o Larger groups whose short-term and long-term activities are planned to
achieve certain objectives
Relationships we have in our lives can be classified into two categories:
o Primary group
Relationships among members have strength, emotional investment,
and relative permanence (with family members) attached to them
o Secondary group
Interactions and relationships are generally impersonal, transitory and
merely temporary (sales clerk who serves us at grocery store)
*These often take place within formal organizations
o primary groups tend to exercise informal control over our behaviour, while
formal control is the province of secondary groups (official agencies such as
o modern day society increasingly relies on and emphasizes these large
specialized secondary groups or formal organizations over primary groups
Characteristics of formal organizations
almost all formal organizations in the criminal justice field operate as
bureaucracies, and this became widespread during the Industrial Revolution
we owe many of the original insights regarding bureaucracy to Max Weber
o focused on rationalization:
the increasing trend toward explicitly orienting goals and procedures
for achieving them without regard to emotional involvement or
leaders need to be “emotionally detached, and hence rigorously
‘professional’ expert”
once established, Weber saw these org.’s as virtually indestructible
he believed that the young needed to be educated in order to tackle the
current issues and conditions in the world, and as a solution, mass
schooling and an accompanying educational bureaucracy was
6 characteristics of typical bureaucracy
o Hierarchy of authority: information moves up chain of command, policy
decisions moving downwards
Police- chief or directorcommanders, captains, lieutenants,
sergeants, corporals, line officers
case info flows upward, overall direction flows downward from top
o Impersonality: operate on the basis of impersonal rules that clearly state
the duties and responsibilities of various office holders, standardized
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Policing and Society Chapter 5: Police Bureaucracy 01/14/2013
procedures applicable to all cases, and the conduct of office holders with
regard to issues that come before the org.
Officers carry out duties with no regard for who offender may be or
their position in society
o Written rules of conduct: all duties, obligations, and responsibilities of
police officers are specified rather exhaustively, and generally, in writing
Detailed job descriptions educate officers on the range of their specific
o Promotion based on achievement: selections and appointments made to
bureaucratic offices are made according to specialized (often technical)
qualifications rather than other, more personal, criteria
Police departments use many different tests and occupational
qualifications to make their decisions in hiring
o Specialized division of labour: areas of responsibility are clearly specified
and officers are highly specialized in what they deal with
Distinctions made in polic departments with regard to those who are
defined as patrol officers and those who are deemed to be investigators
Overall goal of police agency in terms of crime fighting is achieved
through the efforts of smaller specialized units
o Separation of the personal from the official: clear separation made
between property, tools, and rights that adhere to a particular bureaucratic
position and the person who occupies that position
These things belong to the position and not to the person
Advantages, disadvantages and alternatives to police bureaucracy
o Advantages
Hierarchy makes it clear who is in charges and designates appropriate
roles for appropriate positions in organization
It is a good idea to expect officers to treat members of the public who
come into contact with police professionally, correctly, and equally as
Written rules of conduct allow both officers and members of the public
to know what is acceptable and unacceptable in terms of police
behaviour= increased accountability, uniform behaviour
Designated areas of specialization allow for all aspects of an agency’s
mission to be covered and completed
Compartmentalization of the personal and the professional is
appropriate in that mixing the two makes the particular individual
seem larger than the position
o Disadvantages
Rigidity of complex system of rules stifles creativity and flexibility
while speedier and more efficient responses are sacrificed
If officers are required to fully document contact with citizens, which
can be very time consuming, in order to evaluate officers and ensure
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