National City Police Culture


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This paper details the results of a partnership between Criminal Justice 497 at San Diego State University (SDSU) and the National City Police Department examining questions related to police leadership, culture, transparency, and oversight. Nationwide, police oversight and transparency have been recently called into question after several highly publicized incidents of alleged police misconduct. This study examines the views of National City police employees on transparency, oversight, and police culture within the department by administering a Q–sorting survey. Analyses of these results are discussed in the body of this report. Discussion of these analyses answers questions, such as the following: What is the relationship between the Police Chief’s views on police culture and the views of his subordinates? Is police culture centered around departmental unity or can it be divided by demographic criteria? Does education level play a role in views on transparency and oversight? Is there a perceived difference between transparency and oversight? Would the Police Chief’s self–described leadership style be confirmed by these findings?

The National City Police Chief describes himself as a transformational leader. A transfor-mational leader advocates for group feedback and cooperation from everyone they are working with, regardless of rank. This type of leadership relies on belief in a common goal (shared by both leaders and subordinates). Conformity to the organization’s vision and belief in this common goal is believed to motivate employee performance and pro-ductivity. (Cockcroft, 2014). All employees share their team goals and thus have a voice in organizational culture. This is intended to create a working environment that enhances group cohesiveness and transparency in decision–making. In contrast to this leadership style, a transactional leader is one who leads with authority and rarely uses insight from lower officials. This type of leader makes decisions for the group and expects their staff to follow rules and directions. A transactional leader is also less visible to their workers, and, when they are present, they carry out a disciplinary role (Bass, 1990). Given these descriptions, we would expect a transformational leader to present with views on organi-zational culture that are in agreement with those of his or her subordinates. Conversely, we would expect a transactional leader whose beliefs on organizational culture differ from those of his or her subordinates. The study described in this report is designed to address these questions and assumptions about leadership in the National City Police Department

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

The Sage Project Contact Info
Kristofer Patron
Program Administrator
(619) 594-0103

University Faculty Contact
Joshua Chanin
Criminal Justice

Local Government / Community Contact

Police Department

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