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COPPS and Traditional Policing

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An Analysis of COPPS and Traditional Policing Tactics and Procedures

Albert Amos

LEA 201 Introduction to Law Enforcement Administration

An Analysis of COPPS and Traditional Policing Tactics and Procedures

The Effectiveness of Incorporation of the Service-Oriented and Action-Oriented Models of COPPS and Traditional Policing Tactics for Crime-Fighting and Problem-Solving Procedures of the Crime Issues with Predictable and Unpredictable Patterns

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From the perspectives of police strategies and management, the similarity between the traditional policing and community-oriented policing tactics and procedures is associated with the crime-control, crime-assessment and crime-treatment efforts at the places that have disorderly, violent or crime-related patterns of behavior (Scheider, Chapman & Schapiro, 2009). It follows that the differences between these two policing tactics are associated with the autocratic and democratic cultures of the centralized and decentralized command structures, whereby the rank-based authority and supportive partnership development promote zero tolerance policing model and analytical preventive model of traditional policing and COPPS respectively (Murray, 2005, p. 354).

While the adoption of the situational crime-prevention strategies of COPPS instead of order maintenance interventions of traditional policing did not have qualitative evidence regarding its attribute to violent crime drop, the incorporation of SARA model, CompSat model and CPTED design helped to increase public trust, transparency and police accountability (Braga & Bond, 2008). Pertinent to this statement, a proactive approach of COPPS that incorporates line-officers priority to decision-making at broader array of responsibility where the partnership development with the federal, state and local governments and police service users help to bring long-term solutions to such local crimes as possible terrorist activities still proves to be ineffective for such misdemeanors as multiple home robberies throughout middle class neighborhood (p. 588). In this respect, the dimensions of crime-prevention strategies of COPPS may be effectively integrated with the assessment of issues of causation consistent with the traditional tactics if performance measurement systems, and situational interventions of COPPS would be imposed through the traditional routine police strategies to the surrounding areas of the crime-related environment (Lum, Koper & Telep, 2011).

The Philosophies of Traditional Policing and COPPS Tactics

The studies in police practice and research state that the philosophy of the traditional policing tactics promotes strict order maintenance through centralized downward rigid superior-subordinate relationships where authority for the decision-making process belongs to senior officers and middle managers with the based and punitive discipline (Murray, 2005, p. 351). Therefore, the major dimensions of crime-control and crime-fighting measures within the established regulations of these policing tactics are associated with routine patrolling, rapid call responses, follow-up investigations, and aggressive order maintenance interventions through arrests and stop and frisks performance on suspicious persons (Braga & Bond, 2008, p. 581). In this respect, reactive approach of the traditional policing is subjected to the formal corporate values and subculture of front-line policing, whereby the procedural due process is based on the crime-fighting efforts within the set actions and standards (Peak, Gaines & Glensor, 2010, p. 92).

Unlike the action-oriented style of traditional policing, COPPS service-oriented style is based on the problem-solving strategies that proactively address disorderly and crime-related conditions with the help of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) and situational crime prevention approaches (Braga & Bond, 2008, p. 579). Consistent with code inspections and arbitrary patrol interventions pertinent to traditional policing, the initial informational in-depth analysis, long-term partnerships of officers, service users and other involved agencies include the perspectives of Scanning-Analysis-Response-Assessment model (SARA) as the basic of crime-routine activity in COPPS (Schneider, Chapman & Schapiro, 2009). Unlike rank-based authority of managers and supervisors within traditional policing, COPPS is focused on the encouragement of the service-line officers with the decision-making ability and taking initiative in identifying and responding to the crime-related problems within the community (Murray, 2005). In this respect, decentralized organizational structure within COPPS promotes a problem-oriented philosophy with the environmental focus where the incorporation of the specialist vs generalist approach, call dispatch prioritization and handling, and partnership development with the community and other agencies are facilitated with the performance-management initiative (Peak, Gaines & Glensor, 2010, p. 96). In addition, this initiative is consistent with the adoption of CompSat model that encourages effective management structures and provides continuous learning with the help of additional human resources and computerized mapping, analyzing and reporting of the crime-related patterns (McElvain, Kposowa & Gray, 2013).

Leadership Traits and their Effect on Subordinate-Supervisor Relations

Consistent with hierarchical paramilitary structure within the traditional policing tactics, police middle managers and senior officers, being the authority figures within the organizational culture, are competent and straightforward regarding their actions and sound judgment to decision-making (Scheider, Chapman & Schapiro, 2009). In the sense of these characteristics, supervisors expect from their subordinates to adhere to the chain-of-command relationships and respect crime suppression mandate while applying sanctioned force (Murray, 2005, p. 353).

It follows that practical fundamental aspects of street level policing of COPPS require supervisors, as well as service-line officers to be forward looking, imaginative and broad-minded to provide long-term solutions to the persistent community problems and create a sense of community through the organizational transformation (Peak, Gaines & Glensor, 2010, p. 92). In this respect, the first-line supervisors expect their employees to re-orient their problem-identification efforts, analysis and responses initiatives from incidents to problems consistent with the developed mission statement that conforms the objectives of the proactive policing (Schnaider, Chapman & Schapiro, 2009).

Unlike the traditional service-line officers quantitative conformance with the number of arrests and completed reports, motivated and rewarded line-officers within the COPPS police plan are expected to replace crime-fighting strategies with qualitative problem-solving initiatives through situational interventions, social service, as well as the procedural due process of routine order maintenance (Braga & Bond, 2008). In this sense, while dealing with the disorderly conditions, line officers should perform routine code inspections and repeat car patrolling but take into consideration the qualitative information regarding the dynamics and physical characteristics of the territorial unit of analysis (p. 580). Therefore, the analytical preventive approach within the service-oriented model of COPPS requires these officers to be able to exercise quick and decisive authority through the social service strategies that are set to improve police-community-agencies partnership development and increase public trust, transparency and police accountability (Scheider, Chapman & Schapiro, 2009, p. 707).

Practical Application of the Tactics Leadership and Motivational Theories

Given the knowledge that situational leadership theories and drive motivational theories imply that leaders choose the best situationally-conditioned action to reduce the persistent tension, within the context of traditional policing tactics, these theories exist in the framework of the paramilitary organizational culture from the perspectives of authoritarian leadership style (Lum, Koper & Telep, 2011). In the practice of police work, these theories are applied within the working personality of the law enforcement organization, which is characterized by the separate functional commands of each department and conservatism of the crime-control and post-incident management and investigation strategies (Murray, 2005).

Within the context of COPPS, situational leadership theories and drive motivational theories represent democratic leadership style that requires service-line officers to have the required skills in order be able to create expertise in data analysis and become a member of the multi-unit team of the Pattern Identification Module (Vito, Walsh & Kunselman, 2005, p. 190). In this respect, the officers are able to develop the required intelligence for the long-term problem-solving efforts with the help of supervisors encouragement to more discretion and decision-making ability (Peak, Gaines & Glensor, 2010).

In addition, the role of supervision and systems of rewards and punishments in the context of transactional leadership theories and incentive motivational theory of traditional policing tactics is presented in the practice of substantive due process, which presupposes disciplinary and administrative sanctions for these officers who neglect or derelict their positional duties (Swanson, Territo & Taylor, 2012). In the context of COPPS, these theories presuppose stretch goals of the recognition of the officers performance known as strategic intent of the contingency reinforcement efforts (Vito, Walsh & Kunselman, 2005, p. 192).

Similarity and Difference of Leadership, Management, and Supervision

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The majority of authoritarian, centrally controlled concepts assess leadership tactics in traditional policing through the lens of paramilitary style or boot-camp style of leadership as the one that maintains immediate and absolute obedience of line officers to strict uniformity and discipline without question (Scheider, Chapman & Schapiro, 2009, p. 706). Unlike in COPPS, employees within the traditional policing participate in the operational and tactical procedures without the direct decision-making authority; nevertheless, the concept of the leader-commander is represented with the sole individual who is responsible for the teamwork creation and operational environment, which is focused on success (Clarke, 2006). The difference of the democratic leaders role in COPPS from traditional policing is that his/her task is concerned with integration of the problem-solving function within the rest of the department when his/her knowledge-based experience encourages decision-making initiatives on behalf of independent and audacious power dynamics of the organization (Braga & Bond, 2008). The similarity in the leadership styles of the two policing tactics is associated with the supervisors responsibility to increase organizational performance by improving combined actions of independent and qualified members of the teams (Docobo, 2005).

It follows, therefore, the application of the governmental sanctioned forces, and maintenance of a continuum of force options are consistent with the autonomous tactical management of traditional policing that is set out to achieve the divisional priorities of the mandatory established police plan (Clarke, 2006, p. 7). On the one hand, COPPS deploys computerized strategic management process, which integrates crime control model and strategic operational projects that require a greater level of accountability from service-line officers and conformance of their outcome-based activities with the vision, values and mission statement of these policing tactics (Willis, Mastrofski & Weisburd, 2007, p. 152). The similarity of the managerial perspectives of both policing tactics is associated with the patrol workload analysis that requires line officers to perform routine operational procedures with the help of reactive and proactive means in order to achieve organizational mission towards crime-fighting and crime-prevention efforts (Docobo, 2005, p. 8).

In addition, the supervision perspectives of traditional policing are based on the administrative rule-making that reflects common practices of the officers conduct in the field operations, maintains the integrity and impartiality of the investigatory process, and implements supervisory reviews of its conformance (Clarke, 2006, p. 5). Unlike the enforcement-oriented approach of war on crime rhetoric of this policing, supervision perspectives of COPPS deploy environmental design within its analytical preventive approach, which includes supervisors assistance in target handling, territorial reinforcement, and training of existing personnel within the crime pattern identification (Docobo, 2005, p. 5).

The Effectiveness of Policing Tactics against Possible Terrorist Cells and Multiple Home Robberies

The studies in homeland security affairs suggest that crime-mapping and GIS systems, data collection and analysis protocols, and intelligence-gathering technological platforms can be effective resources to terrorism deterrence and prevention (Docobo, 2005, p. 2). Furthermore, these studies suggest that chain-of-command structure impedes quick and decisive response to a possible terrorist event when community partnership efforts and interconnection of law enforcement agencies with state and federal agencies provides the necessary intelligence regarding the nature, dynamics and operations of internal terrorist groups (Docobo, 2005). In this respect, the implementation of COPPS tactics towards the achievement of the homeland security against terrorism is considered to be more effective than traditional tactics because its proactive strategies increase local community education and promote its confidence regarding the unpredictable patterns of terrorist behavior.

Although post-incident management and investigation are common practices within the line officers counter-terrorism role, crime-prevention efforts are immune to the diffusion of crime-control disadvantages to the surrounding areas (Braga & Bond, 2008). In this respect, the deterrence and prevention of such crime issues as multiple home robberies in the middle class neighborhoods require situational, social service, and routine police interventions to exercise a problem-analysis triangle within the treatment place of analysis (Braga & Bond, 2008). Considering that middle class societies have predictable patterns of disorderly behavior, code inspections, repeat radio patrols and arbitrary interventions, and follow-up investigations may increase reliability and validity of onset observations if performance measurement strategies would presuppose intervention of more patrolling units to smaller analyzed crime-related areas.

The Practicability and Effectiveness of Tactics in Todays Police Operations

Qualitative and randomized controlled studies suggest that COPPS is more effective than traditional tactics regarding the performance measurement perspectives of the procedural due process of law enforcement agencies (Braga & Bond, 2008; Murray, 2005; Scheider, Chapman & Schapiro, 2009). These studies state that practicability of COPPS is associated with the incorporation of technological innovations, integration of partnership development and promotion of intelligence improvements regarding the environmental and situational factors of the crime-related areas and conditions.

However, there is evidence regarding the importance of the primary traditional police dimensions of rapid responses, random patrolling and reactive investigations that presume that the integration of these aspects persistent with the problem-orientation focus rather than crime-fighting would increase the effectiveness of the main principles of COPPS (Scheider, Chapman & Schapiro, 2009). In addition, such incorporation is believed to create more redemptive approach to personnel management and promote cohesive disciplinary system within the decentralized organizational culture of law enforcement agencies (Peak, Gaines & Glensor, 2010).

Successful Leadership and Supervision with the Implementation of Action- and Service-Oriented Styles

Considering that approaches of both tactics are focused on the peacekeeping, life saving, and promotion of humanitarian relief, their dimensions concentrated on the comprehensive problem reduction, community outreach perspectives, call for service match expectations, and calls for full time investigations. In this respect, the modifications of traditional tactics should be implemented from the perspectives of public education efforts within smaller environmental areas where individual officers take additional incident reports to promote problem-solving efforts and continuous learning, and increase police accountability in crime-reducing initiatives (Scheider, Chapman & Schapiro, 2009). Furthermore, the implementation of alternative reporting methods and encouragement of a wider variety of responses that limit crime gathering features of particular territorial places would facilitate the implementation of SARA model, increase public trust, and improve power dynamics from the extended partnership development (Scheider, Chapman & Schapiro, 2009).


Both paramilitary rank structure of traditional tactics and supportive problem-reorientation of COPPS emphasize the importance of routine police activities in responding to the crime-related issues and maintenance of valid public safety needs. Regardless of the deployment of the authoritarian, democratic or situational leadership styles within the procedural due processes of crime-fighting and problem-solving strategies of these tactics, performance-measurement, accountability and teamwork creation remain imperative for action- and service-oriented styles, which are set out to accomplish the established organizational mission.

However, the investigative approaches to the predictable and unpredictable crime incidents vary within the dynamics, physical and social characteristics of the unit of analysis. In this sense, the reliability and validity of these approaches may benefit from reactive strategies rather than proactive initiatives and vice versa. It follows that the modification of these policing tactics may be effective and practicable for todays working efficiencies of the law enforcement organizations if the promotion of public education initiatives as the community outreach perspective is supported with the alternative reporting methods and additional data collection procedures in accordance with the situational exigencies.


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