Organizational Behavior in Law Enforcement – Case Study : Officer Robert Barton

The term group dynamics can be used in the definition of an interaction that takes place between who partake of a conversation between themselves within their group settings. A group dynamic does takes place any time there are more than two people who come together or make interactions with one another. The same thing does take place in the scenario that is given in the excerpt where Barton had to change his beliefs and behavior patterns to fit that of a police officer. At first, Barton had to move from a set-up where he had been brought up in his entire life where they lived in a small town with no much exposure to certain issues. He was then later assigned to work in a big metropolitan city where there were a lot of people with diverse backgrounds. His initial lifestyle was known to be quite different from the one had to live in the city. He had no otherwise but to conform to the type of lifestyle.

In most cases, group dynamics can be acquired or learned through making observations of what the other party does and them most probably repeat what one sees. For instance, one will always learn the groups’ dynamics through observing certain behavioral patterns and changes that occur in a group. When Barton left his home town to join the police force, he had to be taken through a training process together with his new teammates. Within the training facilities, there obviously were instructors like senior sergeants who took lead of the training process. Barton, together with his team mates had the obligation of following the instructions of the instructors. The instructions were most probably given through practical demonstrations and the rest had to follow on the practical shown to them.

Apart from that, the recruits were obviously divided into many groups where they were expected to have various types of conversations between themselves. For instance, the teams could have been given a task of coming up with a strategic plan of decreasing the level of crime within the city. In such a case, the teammates deliberate within themselves on the set procedures they can use in such a scenario. The conversation takes place between the members where they get a leader who steers the entire process. Moreover, in a group dynamic, there would always be that single person who seems non-interested in the activities of the group throughout such processes. In this case the person who might have seemed not bothered with the groups activities was Barton.

When he first got posted to a new team after training he found a sub culture of his new team that demanded all the officers to adopt the spirit de corps and solidarity. The officers primarily identified themselves as members of the thin blue line. Barton even though was a member of this group seemed to have been quite un-interested in such spirits and the solidarity thing. The primary objective of Officer Barton was just to become a good cop who performs his duties without caring so much about the solidarity issue of the other police officers. Moreover, he felt that his duty should just lie within preservation of peace and protecting the society around from criminal activities of the gangs. His dreams were however cut short since he found it impossible to operate with such type of mentality. The social status that he wanted to attain within the group, coupled with the reality on the streets forced him to adopt the norms of the teams he worked with to secure the streets.

In a group setting there is always that single person who will always strive to make sure that everyone feels welcome and comfortable within the group. At times such people assume such roles without even having a second thought about it when they are in a group setting. The same case applies for the case of Barton who wanted to ensure that all members of the society were treated equally irrespective of their social status in the society. For instance, he seemed unhappy with the sting operations that were conducted by his investigative team. The team could take a random patrol in the street and capture anyone that had no relation to gang activities. Additionally, the team was fond of conducting a number of illegal searches that were against the law, all in a bid to reduce the crime rates in the streets. On a number of occasions, they would also arrest the gang members, book them but later set them free without pressing charges. Barton seemed to have been quite unhappy with such moves since he wanted to maintain his principles despite what was expected from him as an officer.  Barton constantly struggled with his desire to be identified as the stand-up guy while at the same time his team needed him to conform to the norms of the team. Obviously he had to find a balance between the two and he eventually had to give in to the demands and the norms of the police force team.

A group that works together with the partnership of the members can remain strong and determined for a long period up to a period such cohesiveness becomes pathological. The cohesiveness of the team becomes weakened at the point where team members begin to create a rebellion. For instance, if a group is subjected to conducting certain operations that are contradictory to the law, some members will begin to feel disgruntled. Once it reaches such a point then the team members will begin to rebel against such activities of the team. It is normally said that a wrong does not become a right because many people are doing it. On the other hand, a right does not become a wrong simply because few people are conforming to it. It is therefore important that all the team members conform to the norms of the group without any form of deviations from the norms.

Police subcultures are always in existence in every police department, it is therefore quite impossible for new entrants to escape the cultures. It is normally expected that any new member who joins that team should be ready to conform to the subcultures so as to live to the objectives of such teams. For example, there are scenarios where police officers can find strong evidence against their relatives or friends who are engaged in criminal activities. In such cases, the officers may want to hide the criminal but the law does not allow that to happen.

In order to ensure that no one goes against the norms and values or subcultures of the police cultures, I would make such moves to be punishable by the department. Any officer who goes against the subcultures will therefore be bound to face punishment that can even amount to suspension from the service.

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