Law Enforcement Management and Leadership

            “What’s wrong with the FBI?” A question I’ve been asked hundreds of times and, since FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972, I’ve always answered the question with another question: “If you were on the board of directors of a global corporation with 35,000 employees and a 9.6 billion dollar budget (like the FBI) and you were tasked with hiring a new CEO, would you choose a frigging lawyer?” Since Hoover’s death, except for a couple of exceptions, all of the FBI Directors have been lawyers or judges and the exceptions have been appointments from within the ranks of the FBI.

            In 1924, J. Edgar Hoover was appointed the acting director of the corrupt, inept Bureau of Investigation. In the next few months Hoover rebuilt the Bureau from top to bottom. He wielded almost dictatorial power over his agents and, since the FBI was not under civil service, there was no appeal to a disciplinary action. New special agents who joined the Bureau during and shortly after World War II had developed a military attitude that remained with them throughout their FBI careers. This attitude influenced the agent recruits who had not had military training as did the mind-set of Agents who had been through the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The FBI Academy is located on the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia where a union has formed between the Corps and the Bureau that has provided the FBI with thousands of highly qualified candidates.

            I will suggest here that the lack of a savvy manager and a disciplinarian like J. Edgar Hoover and a diminished pool of highly qualified candidates resulting from the abolition of the draft, has resulted in a serious decline in the performance and the reputation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

            There are lessons in this scenario that might be applied to an analyzation of the condition of law enforcement in America today. There is also a tremendous amount of information available from the state of affairs in this country in the past few months and media interviews with heads of police agencies, town and city residents and politicians.

            What might we surmise from all of this available information that impacts the police?

            1.         There is a concerted effort among politicians in many municipal, county and state governments to minimize or eliminate the effectiveness of the police.

            2.         Most of these politicians are incompetent, incapable of carrying out their responsibilities and are dangerous to the police and to their constituents.

            3.         Many of the police department heads appear to have been chosen for their leadership roles for attributes other than their ability to fulfill the critical elements of their positions.

            4.         Recognizing that many departments have been restricted in the performance of their riot control duties; it appears that there has been a lack of training and preparation in the tactics and strategies of riot and crowd control. Given the fatalities, the number and severity of injuries, the use of rocks, incendiary devices, bottles and weapons, the destruction of property, arson and looting it is incomprehensible to me that shotguns have not been used by the police to protect  themselves and the citizens and to put an end to the riots – To Serve and Protect!            

I will be posting a Part II on the topic of Law Enforcement Management and Leadership shortly. Comments intended to improve policing, the relationship between law enforcement and the community and with civilians responsible for overseeing the function of law enforcement are welcome.

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