Supervisors’ Role in Criminal Justice Agencies


Criminal Justice Agencies, like most other organizations, have supervisors whose main agenda is to maintain good order within as well as without the agency. These supervisors manage their subordinates, ensuring they follow work ethics and perform their duties effectively. Agencies use different methods of supervision, which, according to research, may or may not affect the behavior of the officers as well as impact maintenance of good order (“How Police supervisory styles influence patrol officer behavior”, 2015). In this essay, we are going to analyze two case scenarios and determine whether the supervisors played their roles in order to maintain good order.

Bad Behavior

In the first scenario given, Sergeant Steven encountered a case whereby two officers who were making sexually explicit jokes in the hallway yet within an ear’s reach, was one of the female dispatchers. The sergeant’s action was to bluntly ignore this immediate situation and walk right past the officers, and later on, reported it to the shift Lieutenant. Although the sergeant’s action to report the matter would have helped in the maintenance of good order by ensuring such a situation did not arise ever again, his immediate action to ignore the situation does not. The female dispatcher close to the officers may have confronted the officers who could have made the situation escalate, causing disruptions within the agency. The sergeant could have done better by dealing with the situation first hand before reporting it to the Lieutenant. He could have told the male officers not to tell those offensive jokes and to be mindful of their co-worker and also respect the workplace. To ensure good order within the agency, the sergeant should perform his role of managing the staff well through discouraging such offensive behavior and being a role model himself regarding this matter.

In a study, Johnson (2015) examined the effect a supervisor’s role modeling had any impact on his subordinate officers. In his study, he specifically sampled field supervisors and whether their roles in proactive stops and checks influenced other officers to be proactive in the stops and checks as a way to maintain good order. The study revealed that if the supervisors themselves were involved in performing the duties proactively, then the patrol officer’s efforts would have doubled. The fact that the supervisors themselves are engaged in the activities that they expect their subordinates to perform reassures their subordinates, thus fosters high chances of the following suit. In the end, the order is maintained within the agency and within the general public since officers perform their duties.

The National Institute of Justice (2015), in their research to determine how police supervisory styles influence patrol officer behavior, revealed that active supervisors who lead by example are more effective in the maintenance of good order. They found that 95% of active supervisors voluntarily involve themselves with their officers’ cases which reassure officers and urge them to continue with their good work. Both of the above-mentioned studies reveal that the best way for supervisors to maintain good order is for them to begin maintaining the good order themselves, then the officers will gladly follow suit. If the sergeant in the case scenario would have been a good role model in not engaging in such explicit jokes or tolerate such jokes, then the officers would have also probably followed suit. In the end, the order would have been maintained within the agency.

The Difficult Employee

In this case study, Officer Smith, who is a brilliant and effective officer, exudes uncalled for behavior by being sarcastic when new policy changes, orders, or directives are given to him or the group he is in charge of. Despite this behavior, he is a productive officer who is well-liked and respected by his colleagues. However, due to his ill behaviors, the sergeant in charge took action and brought disciplinary charges against him, which resulted in his suspension. The sergeant’s actions were quite effective in maintaining order during roll calls as no more sarcastic comments were being thrown at him.

While it is true that the sergeant’s action proved fruitful in generally maintaining the order during roll call, in the end, the disciplinary action made Officer Smith less productive. Officer’s Smith less productivity meant that the agency was not operating at its capacity, thus generally implying good order was not being maintained. The sergeant would have done better by perhaps imposing a lighter punishment to Officer Smith, such as a warning letter rather than the immediate suspension, thereby avoiding the less productivity effect. It is the sergeant’s role in such a case to evaluate the situation and respond accordingly, being careful not to influence the productivity of the officer.

The National Institute of Justice’s (2015) research also proves that depending on the supervisory style the supervisors impose, their actions may cause officer’s behavior which may impact the maintenance of good order. The study showed that traditional supervisors who do not mind the relationship with their subordinates are more likely to impose harsh punishments on their subordinates who are found in the wrong in their effort to maintain good order. While it may seem that they are simply doing their jobs, their actions may cause more harm than good as severely punished officers most often do not come back the same. Often, they come back less motivated to perform well and only manage to do the bare minimum.

In the research by Ingram and Lee (2015) to determine the effect supervision has on the overall job satisfaction of officers, several supervision methods were tried and tested to determine which supervision method ensured subordinates were satisfied with. The study revealed that the person-supervisor method was the most satisfying to subordinate officers as it yielded optimal results. The study showed that the person-supervisor style ensured the supervisor knew the officer well enough to offer advice accordingly and give appropriate punishment where necessary. The articles provided above both agree that in a supervisor’s attempt to maintain good order by punishing wrongdoers within the organization, consideration is key in ensuring that the punishment given does not affect the performance of the officers.


In conclusion, it is evident that supervisors play a huge role in maintaining good order within criminal justice agencies. They are mandated to ensure that the staff is well managed, whether in the office workplace or in the field, and offer punishment to officers caught in the wrong as well. The supervisors ought to lead by example in the maintenance of good order as well as be considerate while dealing with officer disciplinary actions.


National Institute of Justice. (2015). How Police supervisory styles influence patrol officer behavior. Web.

Ingram, J. R., & Lee, S. U. (2015). The effect of first-line supervision on patrol officer job satisfaction. Police Quarterly, 18(2), 193-219. Web.

Johnson, R. R. (2015). Leading by example: Supervisor modeling and officer-initiated activities. Police Quarterly, 18(3), 223-243. Web.

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