Researchers use three organizational theories to understand and explain the organizational structures and operational strategies of policing. These theories are (1) the contingency theory, (2) the institutional theory, and (3) the resource dependency theory. The contingency theory believes that organizations are created and structured to achieve specific goals, such as crime control. The institutional theory holds that police organizations are social institutions that operate in relation to their external social and political environments. Finally, the resource dependency theory recognizes that organizations must obtain resources to survive, and to obtain resources, they must engage in exchanges with other organizations in their environment (Walker & Katz, 2008).
Policing organizations operate according to one of the three organizational theories; each policing organization’s established theory will dictate its operations. In a contingent organization, operations are contingent upon the community’s circumstances. If gang activity is a prevalent problem in the community, the police organization would form a specialized gang unit. In an institutional police organization, operations are dictated by sovereigns within the community. These sovereigns include the mayor, city council, or citizens. Institutional policing organizations are formed according to the views of community sovereigns. Resource dependent police departments operate on available resources. If a recourse dependent department achieves funding for preventing gang-related activities, they may use this funding to form a gang unit. However, not all resource dependent departments are awarded funding for their community issues; departments that struggle with gang-related problems may not have the resources to form a special gang unit. Each theory can explain the structures and operational strategies of most police organizations, but they cannot provide solutions to the... [continues]
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