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Organizational culture is the pattern of values, norms, rituals and beliefs held by members of an organization and the management of culture. It affects all members of the organization and defines the employee and who they need to be to be accepted (Champoux, 2006). The law enforcement culture has a huge pattern of heroes and criminals as well that their culture is based upon. Culture contains two major factors the first being that culture is the key to organizational performance. Second, culture is perceived as an alternative method of control (Driscoll and Morris, 2001).
All organizations base their culture largely on its history, experiences, structure, and leadership style. One of the things we perceive about most law enforcement agencies is their culture. They work in very stressful environments where their every decision they make may have a life-or-death consequence. Officers are subjected to intense scrutiny, major law suites, political drama, as well as interdepartmental drama (O’Malley, 1997).
Culture has longstanding features, but can be manipulated to ensure that employees are enthusiastic and committed to organizational objectives (Driscoll and Morris, 2001). To create the desired organizational culture a department needs to select recruits, train and evaluate them, promotes or reward them, and discipline them (O’Malley, 1997). Agencies should include a field training program and updated annual training for any changes that need to be made (Delattre, 2006). Good communication is also a strong factor in the success in creating, maintaining, or even changing an organizational culture. Changes can easily be made with communication and training on its levels of culture.
There are three levels of organizational culture that include its physical characteristics, its personal values, and its basic assumptions (Champoux, 2006). The way an officer behaves and their uniform are all a part of the physical characteristics that define them and their culture. This may also include their patches, awards, squad car, and badges. Their values are what tell the public and other members what they should do. Honor, integrity, commitment, competence, and teamwork. Knowing your job well and achieving success as a team, are great values to help maintain an organizational culture. The last level or organizational culture is its basic assumptions. These deal with behavior and relationships and they develop over time (Champoux, 2006).
To really understand the all the ethics, character, and expectations of a law enforcement officer that make up its culture one must know the difference between excellence and bad character (Delattre, 2006). Officers must live every second of their shift with an ends-justifies-the-means mentality (O’Malley, 1997). Organizations base their culture largely on history, officer experiences, organizational structure, leadership style, and past methods of handling change (Driscoll and Morris, 2001). To truly understand how to create, maintain, and change the law enforcement organizational culture we must understand that it is an intangible culture that commands rather than demands the respect of others.