Malfunction Junction Case Study

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Chapter 3 Police Organization and Operation

  1. Malfunction Junction

Junction City, a rapidly growing community of 150,000 residents, is an agriculturally based area located in the center of the state, about 20 miles from the ocean. The city gains a population of 10,000 to 20,000 visitors a day during the summer months, when ocean recreation is a popular activity. Owing to local growth in the meat-packing industry, the city’s demographics are changing rapidly, especially its blue-collar population. The downtown area of the city has slowly deteriorated over the past few years, resulting in increased crime and disorder. A property tax cap has resulted in reduced revenues to local jurisdictions, and the recent recession has taken a substantial toll on the city’s budget; the result has been significant reductions in staffing. The police department now has 100 sworn and 35 nonsworn personnel, and has experienced its share of budget cuts and staff reductions. The chief of police of 10 years’ duration retired recently, leaving an agency that is still very traditional in nature and has a growing number of desk-bound administrative personnel and degree of rank structure (corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy chief, commander, and chief). The morale of the department is poor because of the increases in workload resulting from tourism and agricultural expansion. You have been hired as the new police chief. As a result of the current situation, the city manager and council are calling for an emergency meeting with you to discuss the future of the department. They explain that at a recent council retreat, they heard a consultant’s presentation on the implementation and operation of community policing and problem solving. They are now seeking your views on this strategy, its potential for Junction City, and how you might approach its implementation. (Note: They emphasize that you have to explain how you might reorganize the police department to move away from its current traditional organization, with only one police facility and its administration-and rank-laden status.)

Questions for Discussion

1. Do you envision any problems with traditional-thinking officers and supervisors still working in the organization? If so, how will you handle their concerns?


2. Using the seven elements of police organizational structure described in this chapter, where does it appear that you would need to reorganize the agency, especially to accommodate Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS)?


3. Would you anticipate that the officers’ workload would be reduced or increased under the COPPS strategy?


4. What types of information would you use to evaluate the progress of your community policing initiative?

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