Design of Police and Sheriff’s Departments

The police department has a set of rules that explain the responsibilities of each employee and how that duty is to be carried out. The use of excessive force, the conduct of police operations, and the wearing of police uniforms within police stations are all restricted by particular standards. When it comes to promotions and appointments within the police force, objective criteria are used. Promotions and appointments in the police force are based on experience. Due to this system, the police agency may only employ police officers with the requisite education and experience. Institutions like the police are built on one-sided interactions, so they exist. As a result of the organization’s structure, policy decisions are made without regard for human feelings. It is not suitable to utilize this structure, built on official and informal ties between officials, to make decisions for the agency. Therefore, this paper will focus on the current structure and design and challenges of the police and sheriff departments and recommend a good organizational structure that will best suit the respective departments. With organizational function structure, it is possible to avoid such issues as a lack of adaptability and a disregard for the requirements of the public and to solve issues properly.

The current structure and design of most police and sheriff’s departments

The police and sheriff departments have got a bureaucratic structure. This organizational structure of the police department is defined by specialized roles, objective criteria for employment, rule and regulation compliance, and a hierarchical structure of power. All of the officers’ responsibilities are divided among themselves in line with their respective areas of competence. The police department’s work is divided into many areas, including patrol, criminal investigation, and administration. Most law enforcement organizations have a power structure that includes a senior commander who manages all lower-level officers, often known as supervisors, in the agency. Every law enforcement agency in the United States has a department devoted to employing managers and supervisors to supervise the work of its lower-level staff. The police department’s leadership structure makes it simpler to maintain communication lines open and information flowing freely.

An example of a police department using this type of design

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is a law enforcement organization in the United States of America that reports to the Department of Justice. According to the FBI’s official website, its objective is to preserve and enforce the United States Constitution. Its vision is to stay one step ahead of any potential threats constantly. The FBI department of this police force, which strictly adheres to the division of labor, is assigning about 35,000 of the force’s police personnel (FBI, 2017a). The FBI’s team comprises secret service operatives, intelligence analysts, linguists, scientists, and computer professionals. This demonstrates how seriously the police consider the separation of duties. The FBI director is the highest-ranking officer in a well-defined hierarchy among the bureau’s workforce. Two deputy directors and the head of staff help the director in their tasks, and all are accountable for career progression.

The organization is designed such that the director, deputy director, and assistant deputy director supervise the several departments that comprise the FBI. The director and chief staffs comprise this organization. As a result of the laws that it has created and the fundamental principles that govern its activities, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can efficiently carry out its purpose. FBI leaders and members must adhere to all basic principles to promote a positive working environment. Trustworthiness, openness, innovation, cultural diversity, empathy, impartiality, and commitment to the law and the Constitution are some of the FBI’s most significant characteristics.

The current FBI Director was selected for that post based on their prior accomplishments, which resulted in their promotion. Christopher Wray started his legal career as an assistant attorney in 1997 (FBI, 2017b). In 2001, he was promoted to attorney after successfully prosecuting several criminal cases. Wray was elevated to the most senior position because of his exceptional track record of pursuing government wrongdoing, drug charges, gun trafficking, and financial fraud. The FBI’s headquarters are in Washington, District of Columbia, and are designed for non-personal interaction. Over 56 regional offices, 350 field offices, and 60 foreign officers are part of the headquarters. (FBI, 2017c) Relationships are not considered throughout their tasks; therefore, one officer might be moved to any of the other officers.

The major problems with this type of design

The bureaucratic organizational structure’s major challenges include a lack of adaptability, a disregard for the requirements of the public, and numerous regulations that prevent handling problems effectively. The fact that management officers and street cops do not share the same organizational aim is the department’s most difficult obstacle. In contrast to superiors who wish to restrict the officers’ independence and street cops who want to extend it, the officers’ peers are the most dependable supporters. Street cops may find themselves in a hostile working relationship with their superiors since their main purpose is to finish the mission. In contrast, their superiors are more concerned about achieving that goal. As a result of the organization of the police force, it has become increasingly difficult to satisfy the requirements of the people. Resources are continually in short supply for the police force, and as additional resources are made available, they are depleted. When more patrol vehicles are obtained, the demands imposed on the police department are not satisfied due to increased fuel consumption and the number of officers assigned to patrol.

A police organization’s structure and design make it more difficult to fulfill objectives. Consequently, establishing what constitutes good policing is difficult since determining the goal of the police organization is challenging (Jurek et al., 2017). It is difficult for a firm to track its progress toward its goals with vague objectives. Every police department in the nation has its own set of responsibilities, and this is true across the board. Due to the repetitious nature of their activities, it is difficult to assess how well each department is doing in terms of overall performance. In law enforcement, discretion is a common problem. This freedom of expression may be misused by the police, who have the authority to make their conclusions concerning suspects. If their supervisors and superiors fail to clean up after them, subordinate officers who have been exposed to bleach may be held liable for their acts.

Organizational design for a police agency

The organizational function structure is, in my opinion, the most successful organizational structure for the police department, and I would propose that it be applied there. Big organizations, such as the police department, benefit most from a functional structure. Individuals are evaluated in the functional organizational hierarchy from top to bottom (Schafer & Varano, 2017). The police force’s ranks are structured to facilitate effective communication and command execution. For example, the FBI’s departments and ranks may be reorganized to improve communication among its multiple divisions. The organizational structure comprises a new agent trainee, case officer, supervisory secret service agent, assistant secret service agent in charge, and intelligence officer in command.

Since personnel is placed according to their areas of skill, the police agency’s functional organizational structure will help the agency be more effective. Since police officers are separated into distinct sections, specialization will allow them to concentrate on their tasks better. Each department’s leaders have to ensure that their separate departments operate effectively as a whole. Department chiefs and other support personnel are responsible for directing the operations of a police department’s many divisions, such as criminal investigations, patrol, and administration. When there is little outside influence in this organizational structure, they feel empowered to carry out their goal (Schafer & Varano, 2017). This promotes departmental loyalty, making it easier for officers to get along with one another and boosting overall morale and productivity. This kind of organizational structure encourages workers to stay with the company by giving options for advancement inside departments.

An efficient organizational structure also makes it easier to train new police officers. As a result, labor specialization makes it easier for a person to focus on one’s specialty. Officers will have more confidence in their skills to accomplish their duties after seeing the finest of the best in their industry. However, it is essential to emphasize that the concept of organizational structure will have a detrimental impact on the police agency since it prevents interdepartmental communication, which is critical for forging the future and dealing with challenges that the whole agency may face. The functional organizational structure of a police agency may result in the establishment of silos. This may result in misaligning opportunity priorities between the police department and agency leadership, failing to provide crucial information.


FBI. (2017a). How many people work for the FBI? | Federal Bureau of Investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

FBI. (2017b). Christopher Wray, August 2, 2017 – Present | Federal Bureau of Investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

FBI. (2017c). Mission & Priorities | Federal Bureau of Investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Jurek, A. L., Matusiak, M. C., & Matusiak, R. E. (2017). Structural elaboration in police organizations: an exploration | Emerald Insight. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 40(2), 351–365. Web.

Schafer, J. A., & Varano, S. P. (2017). Change in Police Organizations: Perceptions, Experiences, and the Failure to Launch. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 33(4), 392–410.

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1. LawBirdie. "Design of Police and Sheriff’s Departments." May 21, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Design of Police and Sheriff’s Departments." May 21, 2023.