Study: Police Are Defensive, Have Low Morale

Police expert John Linder’s study of Cincinnati police concludes that morale of local officers is low, and the department acts in a defensive manner that affects all of its operations. Also, a survey of officers included in the study found that a large majority doesn’t believe that Cincinnati will be any safer five years from now and many would leave the department if they had other job opportunities.

The study was ordered last summer and completed in December. City council members yesterday released hard copies of key findings that had been outlined in Power Point presentations, following repeated inquiries by CityBeat and other local media. (See yesterday’s post “Secret Police Study Finally Goes Public” below.)

A summary of Linder’s study states the police department is suffering from “chronic organizational trauma,” described as “negativity toward department, from mid-1990s through events in 2001 and since, has worn away at department’s sense of self.”

The study adds that the department is “overwhelmed and defensive.” Its operating culture is described as “systematically defensive posture hamstringing operations and affecting all basic systems.”

Under the heading “bottom line,” the report states there’s a “widespread reluctance today to engage in pro-active crime fighting because officers feel not supported by city government, citizens, media and bosses.”

As part of the study, Linder interviewed 63 officers in seven focus groups. Additionally, 1,029 surveys were distributed to officers, with 635 completed.

The results show that 81.8 percent of respondents don’t believe Cincinnati will be a safer place two years from now and 71.7 percent don’t believe Cincinnati will be a safer place five years from now.

Other results show that morale is low, with 31.4 percent saying they would leave the department if they had the opportunity.
A section entitled “conclusion” states that “police see selves (the) way chief sees them, but police believe neither politicians, media, public, nor department, sees them (the) same way.” To address the problem the study recommends “operational and perceptual transformation” that should be accomplished “first internally, then externally.”

Sentiments about feeling embattled and misunderstood aren’t just among rank and file officers but extend up the chain of command to Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. Under a section entitled “What the chief asks,” it states that “media will report the whole truth, not just the negative.”

— Kevin Osborne

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2 Comments on “Study: Police Are Defensive, Have Low Morale”

  1. Gosh, with all of Phil Heimlich and Mike Daly’s “character training,” who’d have thought things could be this bad?

    The fools!

  2. Anonymous Says:


    i filed a complaint 4/15 because hen i called the cpd the desk officier as rude, evasive and gave me outright false information aobut how to file a complaint about his conduct. Last week his supervisor called to intiate the complaint process – 2 months later. I asked him why it took 2 month to get back with me. he said they are swamped with complaints and it just took that long. he objected to my comment that i felt theresponse time was unreasonable. he became rude. when i asked him for his name – he hung up on me. then, his supervisor called me. i asked him to mail to me the complaintprocees required of citizens. he asked if i had the internet – i said yes, and he proceeded to direct me to the website. i interrupted him midstream and to try to tell him that wouldn’t work for me. he became beligerent.
    Now, i’mreally not thin skinned, really.
    I just don’t think that people have to suck up to a public employee in order to get service.
    the officers i have dealt with define “defensive” with a huge chip ontheir shoulders.

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