Police evaluation is a sticky topic as it can be incredibly difficult to measure success for line officers and for the entirety of the police organization. I’m a little bit radical in my approach to evaluation as I believe there should be some element of self goal setting for individual employees. Managers need to assist employees in setting goals that will meet overall organizational objectives.

Police Evaluation

As Cordner and Scarborough (2007) point out, the criminal justice system has historically had difficulty in evaluating officers as well as services due in most part to the nature of the work and the pervading dilemma of what measure would actually indicate effectiveness. Traditionally the simplest data to gather has been utilized to indicate effectiveness and efficiency; unfortunately, this data is inherently flawed (Cordner & Scarborough, 2007).

As I pointed out last week, police departments should optimally have a vision and mission, the essence of which being the safety, freedom, and well being of citizens. Peel was very much correct in his belief that success is indicated by a lack of crime; however, I believe we do need to expand his measure of success somewhat via the use of what Cordner and Scarborough (2007) coined “politics with a lower case p” while concurrently utilizing participatory management methods.

In designing and implementing performance evaluation systems, Michael Kramer (1998) indicated that after having full executive commitment, the process needs to begin with the creation of a committee to ascertain important factors to measure as well as design the actual evaluation processes. Where I believe that Kramer has fallen short is that he makes no mention of including members of the community; however, we must factor the thoughts of David C. Couper that citizens have a right and an obligation to evaluate their local police department (Cordner & Scarborough, 2007). To rectify this deficiency I recommend a committee composed of citizens, line officers, supervisors, and police executives.

While the committee should create evaluation procedures for projects, programs, and staff, I believe that a portion of goal setting should rest within individual organizational systems within the department as well as with officers themselves. David F. Elloy (2008) points out that goal setting amongst employees and amongst groups of employees is just as effective if, not more so, as traditional evaluation. The added benefit here being that offering officers and work groups to set goals is more in line with the responsibility level already vested in officers by nature of their enforcement powers.

I am not proposing that police executives neglect their own duties, but simply that they need to guide those under them into setting goals that accomplish vision and mission. This is simplified when the vision and mission are clear to the entire organization.

I would also point out that in order to close the feedback loop for police supervisors that line personnel also evaluate their superiors. In this way supervisors can improve their EQ which Cordner and Scarborough (2007) point out as being a vital indicator of successful leadership.

In response to the question as to whether or not I have worked in an organization which prefers quantity over quality I must answer both yes and no. As an officer I was assigned to a downtown bicycle patrol which police executives considered to be community relations and fear reduction position first and enforcement position second. I was quite fortunate as I had the opportunity to become involved in many community oriented policing opportunities; however, also had a fair share of enforcement opportunities due to the busy nature of the downtown area with it’s plethora of tourists.

While it was common for officers in vehicles to have sergeants and lieutenants that demanded to see quantifiable results in arrests and tickets, we on the downtown bicycle patrol had no such need for the statistics. This resulted in an unwritten officer code: when an officer in a vehicle backs officers on the downtown bicycle patrol, anything the officer in the vehicle could enforce was handed over to him or her so they could have the stats.

I am of the opinion that such procedures sprout from flawed attempts at employee evaluation that had we not innovated would have caused officers to lose some degree of discretion in other situations.


Cordner, G.W., & Scarborough, K.E. (2007). Police administration. Newark, NJ: Lexis Nexis.

Elloy, D.F. (2008). The Relationship between self-leadership behaviors and organization variable in a self-managed work team environment. Management Research News, 31(11), Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/pqdweb?index=6&did=1634859511&SrchMode=2&sid=3&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1273907862&clientId=62546 doi: 10.1108/01409170810913015

Kramer, M. (1998). Designing an individualized performance evaluation system. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 1998(March), Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2194/is_n3_v67/ai_20576395/?tag=content;col1