Police executives, often known as a Police Chief or Sheriff generally fits into three main roles, which are 1) Interpersonal Role; 2) Informational role; and/or 3) Decision-maker role.
The interpersonal role is compromised of three components the figurehead role, leadership , and liaison duties. This just like the Colonel in a military command, or the Mayor of a City who has equal voting power of Commissioners or Council Members. This role could mix slightly with the information role, but the interpersonal aspect is a deeper bond then just doing a quick nighttime video with the local news station on locking car doors during the day.
The Information role is composed of three smaller duties relating to monitoring/inspecting, distributing and spokesperson duties. It is similar to the other high level officials such the President, a CEO of a company, or local City Manager or Mayor. When something good or bad happens, they are normally the first person to be awarded or disciplined. The executive officer is generally the face of a department, even though they may have personnel specifically assigned to handle smaller media related inquiries, also known as a spokesperson. When the top level officer has a positive and trusting standing in the local community, it benefits community policing and overall respect an agency receives.
The third role of a police executive is the decision making role. How much authority a police executive has will vary depending on two major components 1) Were the elected by the people of the community or 2) Were they hired by a City Manager or Elected Officials. Generally a Police Chief can be hired and fired at will by a City Manager, Mayor or other Elected Officials, and we all know how politics and money can play a role into what people get. When a sheriff is elected, he or she represents the people in the community, they do not answer to the City Manager or Mayor. In this role police executives are often looked to for advice by City Managers and Mayors; they may have an idea for a policy but they should ask the Police Chief if it is feasible.
Overall, the police executives should be able to utilize their experience and skills to progress the department and community . A negative aspect of the top level officers are, that even though they are the ones responsible for the officers below them, they do not have the final say in their employment. Police unions and boards are generally stronger then the police executive alone
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