Research on Police Officers and their Job
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The knowledge about job satisfaction in the police force has been limited to enquiries based on police officers’ education level, ethnicity, age, rank and year of service. This research evaluates effects of the environment on satisfaction of police officers on their job in addition to demographic variables.
Several theories prove useful in explaining job satisfaction, in the police force. Chan (2009) states that two factor theory of motivation were constructed according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It provides a useful framework for assessing police officer job satisfaction. The two factor theory argues that the job satisfaction is largely determined by employees immediate work environment. This means that the management should lay more emphasis on the environment as a primary way of increasing workers’ job satisfaction and motivation.
Key characteristics are meaningfulness of work which is a product of skill variety, responsibility of the job and the extent the worker has information about his or her performance. Little research exists to verify or refute the claims of Herzberg. Review of published research reveals that the job satisfaction among law enforcement officers is related to officers’ demographic factors like ethnicity, education level, rank or year of service and gender as key variables that are associated with officers’ orientation towards the police work (Chan, 2009).
Research on police officers satisfaction with their job is newer than similar research on other professions. There are few published articles treating police officers’ job satisfaction as the dependent variable. To date, research in this area is limited to explanation power of workers’ demographic characteristics. Four demographic variables are tested. The first one is officers’ education background. Lester (2010) found out that officers’ education level is associated with job satisfaction. He argued that an officer with master’s degree demonstrated a low level of job satisfaction. Ethnicity and gender are other variables studied.
Minority and female officers are discriminated during police recruitment drive and during promotions. This makes the group least satisfied with their job. The fourth variable identified is the rank or length of service of an officer. Officers’ rank or length of service is related negatively to officer’s view of the job. Officer’ seniority leads to low job satisfaction. Due to lack of sufficient research on job satisfaction in relation to the environment, it is useful to examine it as an explanatory model. Research on the work environment proves timely considering the increased enthusiasm for community policing (Lester, 2010).
The information used in this research is collected using several methods. Qualitative methods are used because the research wanted to look at variables in their natural setting. Research was carried out based on knowledge that qualitative research methods produce a more comprehensive and in depth information. It also ensures corroboration.
A written questionnaire was developed to be filled by participants. Its purpose was to evaluate the police officers attitude towards their working environment. The research ensured that an informed consent was maintained. The purpose of the research was explained fully to the participant. Respondents were also informed about their rights to participate or refuse to participate. They were also made aware to understand the level of confidentiality that would be maintained.
Survey was built around the question that required participants to rate the effect of environment on their job satisfaction. The second question required them to rate the effect of environment on they’re desire to quit the police force.
Structured interview was used to collect data because it ensures that participants are asked the same set of questions. This reduces bias or overlooking areas that are important. It was also used because it prevents the interviewer from asking questions that could be seen as discriminatory in areas as age, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or marital status. Face to face interview was used in order to avoid significant time delay between questions and answers. It also ensures respondents give answers spontaneously without extended reflection. The questions asked relates to task identity, task significance, skill variety, autonomy and feedback. Police officers were asked to identify their ethnic affiliation. The categories given for them choose were Whites, Hispanic, Native Americans or Africa Americans. They were also asked to tell their level of education in the following categories: high School diploma, undergraduate degree, master’s degree or Ph.D.
Job satisfaction is intrinsic to police officers’ work environment. Results of the research strongly suggest that officers’ work environment contribute in making work enjoyable. Employees’ satisfaction with the job is a result of different variables. For example, it was found out that police officer’s job satisfaction is positively related to their perception on the importance and significance of the job, recognition received autonomy and capability to do the job. In comparison, one’s satisfaction with his or her supervisors is related to job autonomy and the feedback he or she gets from supervisors. This reveals that feedback is important in predicting and determining satisfaction with the supervisors. Two way communications are critical in enhancing police officers working environment.
The research emphasized the importance of autonomy on the job importance. Police officers’ like working in an environment where they can enjoy the freedom to decide on what they will do. Initially, traditional model of policing emphasized on control and maintaining close supervision as a way increasing officer’s predictability and conformity. However, this is at odds with the popular participative management styles. Further, the importance of work environment especially feedback and autonomy is consistent with premises of the behavioral school of management theory (Danktzker, 2008).
Importance of work environment on police officers’ satisfaction with their jobs cannot be overemphasized. Effective communication between police offers and their supervisors should be enhanced. It is also clear that the autonomy in the workplace should be encouraged. More research on the relationship between police officers and their job satisfaction should be encouraged.
Chan, J., & Doran, S. (2009). Staying in the Job: Job Satisfaction among Mid-Career Police Officers. Policing , 3(1), 66-77.
Dantzker, M. L., & Surrette, M. A. (2008). The perceived levels of job satisfaction among police officers: A descriptive review. Journal of police and criminal psychology , 11(2), 7-12.
Lester, D. (2008). Cynicism Of Police And Job Satisfaction. Psychological Reports, 54(2), 558-558