Criminal Justice Faculty Publications and Presentations

Police executive leadership: An empirical and theoretical exploration of police chief performance

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To date, most studies of police leadership have focused on lower and mid-level police managers, with few scholars having studied the leadership performance of police chiefs. This study contributes to the literature with an empirical assessment and theoretical consideration of leadership at the top executive level of police departments. Police chiefs who attended professional training programs at the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas evaluated the prior police chief's performance of multiple duties such as directing the work of employees, initiating changes in the department and working with other agencies. Factor analyses of the data indicate the measures load onto three clusters, the composition of which are incompatible with any single theory of leadership. These findings indicate the executive leadership of a police department may be distinct from the leadership of other types of organizations. Incorporating insights from skill-based and situational leadership theories, it is suggested that police executive leadership may be conceptualized as an amalgam of conceptual, managerial and political skills that are shaped by and tailored to the audience and situation.


© The Author(s) 2022.

Publication Title

International Journal of Police Science & Management