What Does Effective Police Organizational Change Look Like?

ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE takes Persistence, Patience, and Passion – and not just from the top leader.

When a significant number (25%) of the organization’s leadership and rank and file agree that improvement is needed, change will begin.

The following is a snapshot of what went on within the Madison department beginning in 1981 and continued for more than a decade. Many of these changes continue today.

MADISON’S TRANSFORMATIONAL TIMELINE

 

 YEAR ONE thru THREE

  • An elected Officers’ Advisory Council (OAC) is created.

YEAR FOUR

  • Committee on the Future of the Department is formed.

YEAR FIVE

  • Committee on the Future of the Department issues its report and the chief acts on the report’s recommendations.

YEAR SIX

  • Neighborhood Service Officers are created in six city districts.
  • A mission statement is developed by the management team and shared with the department.
  • Experimental Police District (EPD) planning team is created.
  • The EPD begins to survey internal and external customers as to their needs.
  • The city begins a quality and productivity (QP) improvement program.
  • Twelve principles of Quality Leadership (QL) are developed for police leaders.
  • Employee information sessions are held on the transformation, why it is needed, how it will take place, and what it will look like when it is in place — every department member attends, sworn and non-sworn employees, and the chief personally teaches each session demonstrating the importance of this and his commitment.
  • Team leader/facilitator training begins within the department.

YEAR SEVEN

  • All department leaders are trained in Quality Leadership.
  • A customer survey form is developed, pretested, and sent out to randomly- selected citizen-customers who have had police contact.
  • The first department transformational coordinator is appointed by the chief.
  • A Quality Leadership Council (QLC) is formed consisting of “champions” throughout the department who have committed themselves to help the chief keep the transformational improvements going and support the 12 Principles of Quality Leadership. The QLC begins work on and solve the number-one problem identified by police officers: the existing promotional system.
  • The OAC given final decision-making authority on the selection of patrol vehicles and personal weapons.

YEAR EIGHT

  • An experimental police district is established in South Madison. The first step in achieving the vision of a decentralized, citizen-focused police police service.
  • A three-day training program is held on Quality Leadership, the system of transformation, and the bold vision the department is pursuing.
  • The reorganization—top staff and bureaus of the department are organized into functional working teams.
  • The chief holds progress checks and listening sessions with all leaders during one-day sessions – the vision, Quality Leadership, and systems of improvement are topics.

YEAR NINE

  • The Four-Way (360 degree) check is expanded and requires all leaders to solicit input from subordinates, peers, the chief, and then to do a self-assessment as to how they are contributing to the transformation.
  • Leaders’ “check-ins” with the chief continue.
  • As part of the implementation of the Committee on the Future of the Department, planning for the Quality Leadership academy begins (which is part of the new promotional process).
  • The chief continues to highlight, inside and outside the department, what the department has so far learned and achieved.
  • The police union president joins the chief’s management team as a full voting member.

YEAR TEN

  • The leadership academy begins for all aspirants for promotion and is one of the recommendations from the OAC.
  • Field operations are decentralized into four areas of the city – central, south, east, north and west. At this point, only the EPD has a separate building.
  • The chief continues to stress teamwork, Quality Leadership, and use of improvement methods to continue the process of transformation.

YEAR ELEVEN

  • The department focusses more intently on who their customers are.
  • The department begins city-wide customer surveying.
  • The chief begins check-ins with detectives regarding decentralization and how their work can be improved.
  • The number of neighborhood foot patrol officers is increased.

YEAR TWELVE

  • A leadership workbook is published describing what the department has learned during the transformational process. Other departments call for and purchase the workbook. Others send members to look on-site at what the department is doing.
  • More neighborhood foot patrol officers are added increasing their number. They staff independent, foot patrol assignments in key areas of the city.
  • A citywide cross-functional team is begun with other city departments as to how we can work together and learn from one another. Trained facilitators are shared with other city departments.
  • A neighborhood intervention task force is created to address growing gang and drug problems within the city.
  • Information from the Customer Surveys is broken down by neighborhood districts and shared with them.

YEAR THIRTEEN

  • The detective team is broken down into four districts with a central support team.
  • The National Institute of Justice Report, Community Policing in Madison: Quality from the Inside, Out: An Evaluation of Implementation and Impact, is released. The findings support that a transformation took place within the organization.

THE FUTURE ENVISIONED

Continuously improve.

Achieve excellence.

“Customers” are highly satisfied.

Quality Leadership is the norm.


THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS THAT NEED TO BE ASKED CONTINUOUSLY:

  • WHAT IS THE BUSINESS OF POLICING?

 The care of people; specifically, meeting their safety and protection needs which contribute to the overall quality of life in our city.

  • WHAT IS THE GOAL OF POLICING?

 To create a feeling of comfort and security within the city for all people; to achieve this goal within the rule of law and U.S. Constitution.

  • HOW WILL IT BE ACCOMPLISHED?

 By being a visible interactive police presence in city neighborhoods through:

  • Citizen involvement and mobilization.
  • Determination of citizen-identified problems.
  • Investigation and resolution of those problems.
  • Preventing those problems whenever possible by working with others.
  • Managing conflict.
  • Identifying and sanctioning offenders.
  • Coordinating services with other criminal justice and social service agencies, and
  • Operating the department based on the Principles of Quality Leadership.

 

  • WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO BECOME?

A community oriented, decentralized, highly interactive, diverse police department staffed by members who share organizational values, are well trained, committed, sensitive and courteous and who can make critical customer service decisions consistent with our mission at the frontline of the organization.

An organization that is noted for its high-level community confidence, intense level of support, the respect and trust it shows its members and for high degrees of teamwork, openness and continuous improvement; that is, the best city police department in America.


[More information on the change/transformation process can be found in:

The Quality Leadership Workbook, 2nd Edition, Couper and Lobitz (2017) on Amazon.com.

Community Policing in Madison: Quality From the Inside, Out. An Evaluation of Implementation and Impact. Technical Report. Wycoff, Mary Ann and Wesley G. Skogan. 1993. Washington, D.C.: Police Foundation.

“The role of leadership is sustaining change: The Role of Leadership in Creating and Sustaining a Problem-Solving Approach to Policing: The History of Organizational Transformation in the Madison Police Department” – Capt. Kristin Roman

 

]