Criminal Justice Workplace Observation

The criminal justice system has a variety of different entities that is important to society. Throughout the United States justice system the climate of criminal justice agencies has adapted and changed over the years. The department’s structure and organization is constantly improving and these improvements brought a positive and negative influence on the communities and the employees of that agency. This paper will examine the organizational climate of a criminal justice agency, policing and behavior factors that have a significant influence on leadership, culture, systems, laws and influential stakeholders.

The United States Coast Guard is an important agency that many people don’t realize is a part of the criminal justice agency and on the front line of defense for terrorism and law enforcement. This agency works jointly with different criminal justice agencies like: DEA, U.S. Customs and Border protection and local police departments.

The culture of U.S. Coast Guard has changed throughout the years from department of transportation to department of homeland security. The culture of this agency developed and improved leadership, laws, systems and outside influential stakeholders. The U.S. Coast Guard is changing and gearing toward law enforcement rather than military. Its main focus is counterterrorism and human trafficking rather than social services and public relations.

An important aspect of any agency is leadership and leadership may be taught or learned through life experiences. It is the agencies goal to help mold lower management into a leader that the new climate supports. The U.S. Coast Guard has classes that are taught and implemented to 2nd Class Petty Officers called “leadership and management school” (LAMS). This course teaches people the fundamentals of management and leadership.

Once a 2nd class Petty Officer advances to 1st Class Petty Officer, than they are no longer the bottom employee but the supervisor. This responsibility influences all personnel with a lower rank and either it can be positive or negative. A negative aspect that may happen is that the upper management becomes disconnected from the lower ranks and this creates low morale and a lack of respect for commanding officers.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s internal system has gone through a variety of procedural changes throughout the years and this was not popular with lower or upper ranks. This procedural change affected petty officers who were on vessel patrol because it changed their ability to perform the job. This change resulted from a media point of view and other outside groups that demanded law enforcement to be more gentle and kind. The decisions that officers made were being questioned if it’s within policy or not and had to be approved by a supervisor before acting.

The laws have changed and are making it more difficult for law enforcement such as the Coast Guard to perform search and seizures. There are cases that the Supreme Court has sided with defendants Fourth Amendment rights throwing out any evidence obtained by illegal searches. When a law changes, than the department’s policy and procedure will change as well to adapt.

Police officers who contact citizens on vessel stops or near any waterway are being mandated to record their stop. This is to review and ensure that the stop was in compliance with policy, state and federal laws. Petty Officers are put under more stress when their contacts are reviewed for any violation of policy. Any violation of policy will lead to the punishment of that officer rather than to the criminal who will most likely be released.

The stakeholders are the community activist groups that play a large role in influencing the criminal justice agencies. Community groups and organizations such as PETA have brought influence to Coast Guard. PETA will actively protest against fisheries and sometimes put the Coast Guard in a position of enforcing action. Due to the outcry of some organizations for groups that have concerns of whales, dolphins and other types of sea mammals they will do anything to deter these fishery companies. Coast Guard started to train on how to contact these types of people and how to look for any bombs, threats, or vandalism. Also “Use of Force” classes are constantly being taught to ensure that all officers are following policy because deadly force is likely to be viewed as negative in the public’s eye.

All Coast Guard personnel are mandated to take these classes and update their certifications yearly. This course helps officers understand real life scenarios and train them to respond to terrorist threats, suicide calls, and people with a mental disability. The classes help officers understand their different options for use of force when put in a situation which benefits the community and local businesses. These stakeholders have brought a positive influence to maritime law enforcement by keeping the officers trained so they make the right decision in an event.

Overall, the changes over the last decade within the U.S. Coast Guard have been both positive and negative. Some of the members hate change and some members can easily grasp the concept for a better law enforcement. Leadership can be taught but the leader must understand that being a good leader is also being a good follower. Coast Guard’s ranking policy has been approved by Admiral Papp and sometimes it’s hard to find true leaders to improve the organization climate. Although policy and procedural change may affect rank and file through the discipline measures, it is necessary for management to emphasize recognition of good conduct.

By rewarding officers of their hard work and the difference they make shows positive recognition which would spread throughout the organization. The organization is unable to do anything about the laws imposed on society except to enforce them. Law enforcement agencies must be able to adapt and change when a law changes. Education and training help law enforcement personnel gain compliance from the public. When courtesy is shown to people who violate the law then the same courtesy should be given to those who enforce the law. Leadership and management must bring a positive influence on the organization in order to improve organizational climate.

References Cygnus Business Media (2010) “Current Threats to Police Morale” retrieved on January 14, 2013 from http://www.officer.com/article/10232318/ The Kennedy Group (N.A) “Culture and Climate” retrieved on January 14, 2013 from http://thekennedygroup.com/_pdfs/culture_vs_climate.pdf U.S. Department of Homeland Security (N.A) “LAMS training” retrieved on January 14, 2013 from http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg1/cg133/courses/civilian_lams.asp