Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

James H. Frey

Number of Pages



With the beginning of the twentieth century, police departments throughout the nation, during what has been called the reform movement, changed their organizational structure to that of a bureaucracy. This structural change occurred to deal with the problems of political patronage and corruption in police departments. The result, over time, was the development of municipal police departments into ridged, formalized, and centralized structures that were not responsive to the communities they served. Police officers became professional crime-fighters, who sought little community input; For the past 20 years, pressures from police professionals, local communities and governmental forces have caused police executives to rethink the police mission. Police departments have been told to partner with the community and become community problem solvers, not crime fighters. Police officers have been directed to become innovative general practitioners in the community, who solve problems with community members to reduce both crime and the fear of crime, therefore enhancing quality of life; With this community oriented policing movement, police departments are being told to de-bureaucratize by becoming less complex, less formalized and less centralized in their structural form. This structural change should enhance the police-community partnership, and focus police efforts on problem solving. Due to these pressures, it would be expected that police departments have become isomorphic, or structurally similar, moving away from the Weberian notion of bureaucracy; This study examines measures of central tendency and variability in a sample of twenty municipal police departments throughout the nation, with between 200 and 2000 police officers, considered the leaders in community oriented policing. This sample was compared to a control group of eight municipal police departments that are not considered community oriented police departments; The structural dimensions measured in this study were complexity, formalization, centralization, occupational differentiation, administrative density, and size. This research indicates that successful community oriented police departments are structured differently than their counterparts, and for the most part, have developed a structure that is less complex, less centralized in authority and decision making, more occupationally differentiated, and less administratively dense. These patterns are what the literature has recommended for successful community oriented police departments. As a result of these similar patterns, a structural model has been developed to assist police departments when implementing a community oriented policing philosophy.


Community; Community-oriented Policing; Dimensions; Police; Police Departments

Controlled Subject

Social structure; Criminology

File Format


File Size

3184.64 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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