– Executive Summary –

This thesis seeks to explore the current calls for police reform, police professionalization and legitimacy, and the role that policy, budget, and technology have on these efforts. The literature suggests that professionalization of an industry results from specialization and autonomy, and once achieved, the industry achieves legitimacy from those that it serves.

Researchers differ regarding how legitimacy is achieved. According to Jann and Wegrich, specialization in public service and administration is gained through experiences and direct involvement in the issues in their domain more than formal education.[1] Whereas, Eric James supports specialization through dedicated study, agreed upon by Erik Dane who believes that experts have greater understanding of the complexities in their role, which supports better decision-making related to the details.[2] Once specialization is accomplished, whether through education and/or experience, the professional is offered the opportunity to work autonomously. However, those in bureaucratic professions are afforded less personal autonomy than those in other industries.[3] At such time that an industry is specialized and granted the authority to operate at some level autonomously from others, legitimacy is achieved. Iztok Rakor states, “authority is justified—that is, legitimate—if it is an expression of the will of the people,” defined as “ex ante, or input legitimacy.”[4]

This thesis is the synthesis of literature related to professionalization, as well as the processes related to the foundations of administrative processes, specifically in the armed forces. More specifically, the literature identifies how the functions of policy, budget, and technology, which will be referred to as the administrative trinity, are applied in the security sector and its applicability to policing. Interviews were conducted with nine executive leaders from local government administration in Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona, and asked about the roles of policy, budget, and technology in their police departments as they relate to perceptions of professionalism.

Through this body of literature and the analysis of interview responses, it was determined that the processes of policy, budget, and technology are the mechanisms in which an organization adopts, implements, and evaluates their values. The organization first adopts their values through their creation and enacting of policy. Next, the organization implements the budget that allows the organization to carry out the policy directives adopted through day-to-day operations as designated by the organizational values. Lastly, the organization procures technology that will support these operations, which in turn creates data that is used to evaluate the operational mission and ultimately evaluate if the values were effective as originally established in policy. If the values are not incorporated through these means, or the values reflected are not in alignment with those of the organizations or the community, reorganization is required.[5]

This body of work provided understanding of the detailed process of the administration in the armed forces, but also highlighted three significant gaps as the process relates to law enforcement:

  1. failure to connect reform with the trinity,
  2. alignment of values with the trinity, and
  3. lack of research in policing administration.

As such, recommendations moving forward from this work include:

  1. public education and stakeholder engagement,
  2. departmental scans and assessments, and
  3. data collection and research.

This body of research provides a value-centric solution to police reform in the United States. With continued calls for reform to policing, the time has come to reexamine organizational values through the explicit lens of policy, budget, and technology. Do policies, budget, and technologies accurately and thoroughly reflect the expressed values of the community and the established values of the organization?

[1] Werner Jann and Kai Wegrich, “Generalists and Specialists in Executive Politics: Why Ambitious Meta‐Policies so Often Fail,” Public Administration 97, no. 4 (December 2019): 845–60, https://doi.org/10.1111/padm.12614.

[2] Eric James, “The Professional Humanitarian and the Downsides of Professionalisation,” Disasters 40, no. 2 (2016): 35, https://doi.org/10.1111/disa.12140; Erik Dane, “Reconsidering the Trade-Off between Expertise and Flexibility: A Cognitive Entrenchment Perspective,” Academy of Management Review 35, no. 4 (October 2010): 581–82, https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.35.4.zok579.

[3] Harold L. Wilensky, “The Professionalization of Everyone?,” American Journal of Sociology 70, no. 2 (1964): 137–58, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2775206; and Richard H. Hall, “Professionalization and Bureaucratization,” American Sociological Review 33, no. 1 (1968): 92–104, https://doi.org/10.2307/2092242.

[4] Iztok Rakar, “Public Participation and Democratic Legitimacy of Rulemaking – A Comparative Analysis,” Danube: Law, Economics and Social Issues Review 8, no. 2 (2017): 60, https://doi.org/10.1515/danb-2017-0005.

[5] Bruce Buchanan and Jeff Millstone, “Public Organizations: A Value-Conflict View,” International Journal of Public Administration 1, no. 3 (January 1979): 261–305, https://doi.org/10.1080/01900697908524362.

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