Implementation of Human Resource Management in US Law Enforcement

Law enforcement is a continuously changing field that is involved with the enforcement of the law within a country. HRM as well has evolved concurrently with the labor force over the past fifty years. HRM is no longer just another department in organizations; it has a very crucial role to play in the management of the employees. Organizations can’t remain on their feet if there is no staff dedication. The primary purpose of the HRM department in law enforcement is often to ensure that the agency is fully staffed and that they have the necessary training (Ratcliffe, 2012). Therefore, this paper will evaluate the importance of the implementation of HRM in law enforcement.

In its current state, the law enforcement agencies are in need of a reconstruction. Unlike other organizations, law enforcement often presents the HRM department with very unique challenges. Recent events in the US such as the 2014 Ferguson unrest have evoked the need for a restructuring of the human resource units. The primary cause of this trend is the increase in personnel within law enforcement as well as the adjustment in both reactive and proactive policing. Technology, especially social media, has led to changes in the human resource policies of law enforcement. Further, HRM in this department comes bundled with various challenges and responsibilities (Hunter-Johnson & Closson, 2012).

Historically, even during the early metropolitan police departments the law enforcement department has always adhered to certain standards and management policies. However, unlike today, in the past they hired individuals based on their heritage, sex, and position in the community. Surprisingly, law enforcement is still plagued by some of these issues. Hiring practices of personnel is often the cause of civil litigation and staffing malpractices. All law enforcement agencies have to use a legal and fair procedure during the hiring process. Also, they should ensure that the workplace is comprised of a culturally diverse staff (Metcalfe & Dick, 2001).

Human resource managers in the law enforcement agencies have to deal with the high turnover rate. In fact, this is usually listed as the main problem facing human resource managers in law enforcement. This is because law enforcement is frequently associated with a low pay scale, higher stress levels, and the dangerous nature of the job. According to (Lockwood & Wyant (2013) most police departments are placing an emphasis on effective policing. This means that a lot of attention is placed on the morale of the patrol officers. This might be because the only contact that most members of society have is through the patrol officers. In a rather wrong move, the patrol officers have been the considered and often paraded as the face of the police force. In some cases, the HRM department focuses only on the image that these officers depict (Metcalfe & Dick, 2001).

Law enforcement agencies should adopt a participatory management style. Such a method requires leadership skills, and it will make the individuals feel more involved and as crucial components in the organization (Ratcliffe, 2012). This will lead to increased morale among all officers, and this will be reflected in the effective communal relations. Organizations often view the individuals as their most treasured resource; however, they have to manage this resource with a high level of efficacy. As noted, all departments usually have a large number of positions that have to be filled. Such diversity can be used as an important tool during the recruiting process in a bid to create job satisfaction (Hunter-Johnson & Closson, 2012).

The remarkable diversity that exists in the workplace of a law enforcement agency might prevent the officers from experiencing the usual feeling that is often associated with the workspace. For many years during the past, law enforcement agencies viewed stronger control as the solution to most of their problems. On the other hand there has been a recent trend towards a more cooperative style in place of the command and control method.
Another crucial problem that law enforcement currently faces is the evaluation of practices that officers are involved in. As a case in point, wrongful practice by officers tend to be investigated only when a crisis arises such as; law suits or public pressure to conduct investigations (Ratcliffe, 2012). Integrity and leadership have to be the most important constituents of an organization. Leadership changes are very rare in the police force due to their conformity to past practices. Consequently, ineffectual leadership styles have thrived and are still practiced to this day. Often, police chiefs are evaluated on the basis of political factors instead of meaningful factors such as the crime rate. Unlike in the past when the police chief position was very secure, it is now the most vulnerable. The heads of the organizations have to be secure about their jobs and protected by law from unfair layoffs (Metcalfe & Dick, 2001).

To conclude, HRM within the law enforcement is currently plagued by challenges and numerous responsibilities. Human resource management is unique within law enforcement in that it involves a varied collection of unique components. The various shortcomings and successes within law enforcement can be mapped back to the performance of the HRM department. The leadership structures of these organizations form the pillar on which they are run. Cases of poor leadership are a result of poor training and recruitment. The HR department of law enforcement agencies should benefit from making adjustments to conform to current trends in human resource management.

Hunter-Johnson, Y., & Closson, R. (2012). Learners’ educational orientation as a design tool for human resource development professionals in law enforcement: a Caribbean context. Human Resource Development International15(2), 193-208. doi:10.1080/13678868.2011.647462
Lockwood, B., & Wyant, B. (2013). Who cares who protects us? The relationship between type of police coverage and citizen satisfaction with the police. Police Practice And Research15(6), 461-475. doi:10.1080/15614263.2013.827428
Metcalfe, B., & Dick, G. (2001). Exploring organisation commitment in the police. Policing: An International Journal Of Police Strategies & Management24(3), 399-420. doi:10.1108/eum0000000005854
Ratcliffe, J. H. (2012). Intelligence-led policing. Routledge.