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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Lessons for policing from Moneyball: the views of police managers - a research note
Article Type: Perspectives on policing From: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, Volume 37, Issue 1.
Anthony G. Vito and Gennaro F. Vito
American Journal of Criminal Justice
In Moneyball (2003), Michael Lewis outlines how Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane rejected the common beliefs held within baseball on the proper method to build and operate a successful team. In the current study, the authors propose that police managers, much like Beane, have to challenge the status quo and think beyond the traditional operations of police organizations in order to be effective at combating crime. It is noted that many practices within law enforcement are continued due to tradition without questioning whether they are still relevant to the times or even if a better, more efficient method may be available. Encouraging creativity should be encouraged according to the authors as well as the development of tolerance of trial and error learning. The authors note that these tactics will not only challenge the status quo but also cause the agency to be more responsive to the increased roles and difficulties confronting agencies and officers today. The purpose of this study is to examine whether the management methods demonstrated by Beane could be utilized in police organizations.
The project utilized data collected from law enforcement leaders in attendance in an Administrative Officer's Course (AOC) at the Southern Police Institute (SPI). The participants held the rank of sergeant and above, with most officers serving in US departments across the southern states. Each individual was asked to respond to whether they believed Beane's management methods could be applied to police management and administration.
Findings from this study illustrated that the top three responses were using statistical analysis to guide operations (68 percent), challenging the status quo (35 percent), and doing more with less (21 percent). The use of statistical analysis encourages agencies to modify their operations based on empirical evidence and to allocate resources where they are most needed. Through this procedure, the process of challenging long held assumptions of police work may be encountered. The authors note that through tradition, we often participate in organizational practices that are counterproductive to goal or mission attainment. Lastly, most every agency has been faced with financial constraints that have prevented expansion in terms of physical resources and/or officers. The findings in this study suggest that agencies can still be viable in these tough economic times through job enrichment and by empowering officers. This process would encourage officers to think "outside the box" in how they respond to criminal acts while also holding them accountable for their decisions. Likewise, management should expect and anticipate failures or problems to arise but it is through this type of innovative activity, according to the authors, that police organizations will be able to break away from the status quo and become more efficient and effective agencies.
RAND (2011), "RAND recruitment and retention clearinghouse", available at: www.rand.org/ise/centers/quality_policing/cops.html (accessed May 16, 2011)
About the Reviewer
Dr Roger McIntyre received his Doctoral Degree in Public Administration from the Valdosta State University in 2011. Prior to joining the Valdosta State University faculty in August 2012, Dr McIntyre ran a successful criminal justice program at a local community college for several years. He has also served in the capacity of detention officer and police officer at the local law enforcement level with a vast majority of his experience coming from the position of probation officer with the Georgia Department of Corrections. Dr McIntyre's probation caseload consisted of violent, sexual, and substance abusing offenders. The highlight of his law enforcement career was being involved in the development of a successful day reporting center in Southern Georgia that serves chronic substances abusing offenders. His research interests generally involve program evaluations, policy analysis, and alternative sanctions for sexual and substance abusing offenders. He is also interested in matters of police-community relations and the application of justice in rural settings. Dr Roger McIntyre can be contacted at: mailto:email@example.com