The law enforcement agencies of the country are on the front line for many reasons, particularly the police. From being the first point of law enforcing contact for the masses to the protection of lives and properties, amongst other responsibilities, the Police force are at the fore of domestic enforcement of peace and order in the society.
Being in the limelight makes the police (and other Law enforcement agencies and bodies) vulnerable to hindrances, challenges, setbacks and whatnot. However, constant challenges in law enforcement bodies call for immediate reforms to improve law enforcement.
And any reform or change has to start from the head for primary effectiveness. If the leadership is held back in any way, the entire body will suffer. In the same vein, the leadership of law enforcement should be the first point of contact with any institutional review, reform and improvement of law enforcement bodies.
Let us take a run through some reoccurring challenges with law enforcement leadership and ways to improve law enforcement in the country.
Challenges of Leadership in Law Enforcement
The major challenges of law enforcement leadership professions are centered around the five strongholds of organizational success, to wit:
Discipline in any law enforcement agency starts from the self-discipline of the leaders and flows to keeping and maintaining disciplined officers. This may be an issue as bribery and corruption remain a menace to law enforcement.
It takes a level of commitment to the god curse and discipline to overcome the corrupt tendencies, and practices officers are vulnerable to indulge in.
While there are certainly good officers, it doesn’t negate the fact that there are a few rotten eggs in the mix, which often overshadow the good cops out there, creating a bad name for an entire department or agency. The responsibility falls on the executives to ensure that their department is not known for indiscipline, insubordination and the likes.
Regular training, lectures and other related activities are important for the work of agents and officers. Organizing relevant training falls under the jurisdiction of law enforcement leaders following the authorizations of those up the chain of authority. It could pose a challenge carrying out such training with little to no funding or having the majority of the force unwilling to participate (especially for training slated as optional).
Supervising humans may prove a herculean task. This is because many things come into play – ethics, respect, authority, teamwork, leadership and whatnot. It is the work of leaders to supervise their staff which often results in conflict and other negative relational outcomes. Also, the bad behavior or corrupt officers may be blamed on poor supervision by the leaders in the agencies, culminating in the responsibilities of law enforcement chiefs and heads.
People as a key issue of law enforcement spans across internal relations amongst staff and external relations between police and the public. The issue of distrust between police and the public community is rampant.
Fostering a cordial relationship between law enforcement agents and the masses poses a great challenge to police executives and agency leaders in general. With constant incidents of brutality, abuse, racism, unnecessary force and the likes, it is most unlikely that the majority of the public would come to trust the police without some measures taken to ensure a good police-community relationship.
Being a governmental institution, law enforcement agencies are subject to regular policy reviews, some of which may not favor varying departments in an agency. For instance, a policy may be made to cut salaries and reduce workers in a department, a decision that may be beyond the department’s leaders to influence or change. In such an instance, the department head or chief will bear the burden of seeing that such policy is reverted or containing subordinates to ensure unfavorable decisions do not lead to resignations en masse.
Ways to Improve Law Enforcement Leadership
- Promote transparency
Transparency in any organization or workforce is not only for employees or subordinates but also for employers and superiors. Leaders in law enforcement should also be held accountable and promote transparency in the agency as a whole as well as in leadership positions.
- Progressive human rights education
Training, seminars and lectures shouldn’t be for junior officers or a department void of the leaders alone. Police executives should also have their specific forums and seminars as well as participate in general agency training and lectures on crucial concepts like human rights and the use of force.
- Strict consequences for wrongs
There should be strict rules and consequences for defaults in the force, especially on issues like discrimination, abuse, harassment, trigger happiness, undue force, brutality and other vices. Officers should comply strictly with all policies put in place and measures taken to duly punish community interactions that go against the standards and the spirit of the force as well as internal relational issues.
- Be informed
Executives in various levels of law enforcement bear the brunt for the excesses of their colleagues and junior officers. As a law enforcement leader, you can stay abreast of the dos and don’ts of leadership in the force and tackle challenges that beset leadership by taking verifiable courses on such topics, like the LLRMI seminar course on leadership challenges of law enforcement.
Effectively navigating law enforcement as an officer comes with knowing the two sides of the coin of law enforcement. Besides regular governmental and political reforms and reviews, to excel as a law enforcement officer, you ought to arm yourself with the necessary knowledge in order to make informed choices and decisions.
This is true, especially for law enforcement leaders. We see police chiefs and others resigning and retiring early. Nonetheless, regular departmental and bodily training, courses, seminars and evaluations are key ways to curbing challenges in law enforcement leadership and law enforcement as a whole.