Demonstrating the Platform for Policing Research: Supervisors

A host of books have been written about leadership in various industries, including policing. But little hard research data are available about the role of supervisors and the impact they have on officers and organizations.

Becoming a supervisor is a turning point in one's life and a perfect opportunity to measure changes in attitudes and behaviors with respect to other employees, the organization, the role of supervisor and the external environment.

Ultimately, the project seeks to identify what supervisors do, define "good supervision" and identify the organizational and contextual factors that facilitate its emergence.

Collecting data from supervisors. The policing platform project will collect data on new supervisors, including data related to the life course of supervisors (from the time they become supervisors until they leave the force).

The project will learn about sergeants and the sergeants' life courses in the following ways:

  • Surveys of sergeants at four points in time — the first day of the sergeants' training, the last day of training, and after six and 18 months of field experience.
  • Online journals like those completed by the recruits. (See a description of the online journal on the page about recruits.)
  • Surveys of the sergeants' subordinates at two points in time — after six and 18 months of field experience.
  • Department records on the performance of the unit for which the sergeant is responsible (e.g., arrests, calls, sick leave and other measures).
  • Department records on how the sergeant has evaluated subordinates.
  • Department records on the evaluation that the sergeant receives from his or her superiors (at intervals used by the agency).

Training for supervisors. Research about the impact of supervisory training in police work has been sorely lacking. Most training teaches officers about how to follow standard operating procedures and how to fill out forms. Less attention is given to interpersonal communication, mentoring and supervisory skills.

The platform for policing research project places a major emphasis on understanding the ability of supervisors to effectively manage and lead their subordinates to produce quality policing. The researchers and agency participants will collaborate to explore the development, implementation and evaluation of training for new supervisors. The evaluation of training will provide an opportunity to construct and validate new supervisory measures for the platform.

Date Created: March 16, 2010