Union Influence and Police Expenditures

Garth den Heyer (New Zealand Police, Wellington, New Zealand)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 30 May 2008



den Heyer, G. (2008), "Union Influence and Police Expenditures", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 346-347. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639510810878767



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Laurence Putchinski's book is a study that, examines the impact that law enforcement unions have upon local governments. On many levels this book does not disappoint. This concise in‐depth book squeezes into its relatively thin 239 pages of text an intelligent and explicit discussion of Putchinski's hypotheses, research and subsequent findings.

Union Influence, though it explores an area of interest, is constructed and in places reads as a doctoral thesis. The first chapter is devoted to explaining the purpose of the study, defining the four research questions and finally, the benefit of the proposed research. The four research questions examine different aspects of unionisation on local government and each is investigated through the construction of a separate model. The following chapters explore, through a literature review, the interaction between unions and local governments, the methodology adopted and the resulting findings.

As Putchinski identifies, unions have a place in the labour output of the services of police agencies. This is usually achieved through indirect influence or through the observation that unions provide a “voice” to its members. Such a structure allows individual union members an opportunity to influence their employers' decisions and policies.

Putchinski's book seeks to determine whether or not unionisation increases operating, personnel, capital and total police expenditures. The approach taken, though accepted in researching other areas of policing and crime, is original and innovative in the study of the affect of labour unions on federal or local government budgets. The study is innovative from the fact that it combines both qualitative and quantitative methods.

The quantitative portion of the study is based on data gathered from 257 Florida cities and utilises multiple regression analysis, in the form of four simultaneous equations, to examine what socio‐demographic and economic variables do determine whether or not unionisation impacts police expenditures. The qualitative portion presents the findings from interviews of officials from seven different Florida cities. The selection of these cities, to ensure that there was a mixture, is based on a number of criteria including population size and whether or not they were unionised. The interviews were based exclusively on open‐ended questions that were guided by the results of the quantitative findings of the study.

The explanation of the results of both the quantitative and qualitative approaches is extensive and in detail. The regression results supplied evidence that unions influence operating expenses in a manner different from personal services or capital outlays and it was found that unionisation increases operating expenses by more than a quarter over those experienced in a non‐union environment. These findings were supported by the qualitative interviews where the majority of city managers noted that there is some evidence that unionised police departments experience higher expenses, usually as a result of increased administrative costs associated with unionisation.

In short, Laurence Putchinski has written a superb examination of the influence of unionisation on the budgetary resources of local government police agencies. This is an excellent text for those looking to explore this or associated areas of labour relations; and it also poses enough interesting questions and provides advanced material to be of interest to scholars.

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