The Canadian Review of Policing Research (2004)

ISSN: 1710 6915


Curtis Clarke, Associate Editor, Ph.D.

Policy analysts currently emphasize the need to reorganize police administration and operational strategies so that they may reflect practices and language drawn from private-sector management. Others would suggest that policing already reflects “the ascendance of neo-liberal political rationalities and related social technology of new managerialism”1 . In a similar manner Chris Murphy argues that the previously insular culture of Canadian policing “is being increasingly colonized by business concepts, values and terminology”2 . Inherent in all these critiques is a common recognition that the manner in which policing is operationalized is in need of reassessment. From an operational perspective, the shift requires a rapid adaptation from a service model which “until relatively recently, still bore many of the structural characteristics of its organizational (and operational) origins in the nineteenth century”3 .

In keeping with such trends, police policymakers and strategists have begun to build on the foundational practices of community-based policing and problem-solving in an effort to achieve greater levels of efficiency and effectiveness. Many of these operational strategies have frequently been aligned with the conceptual framework of proactive policing wherein an increased emphasis is placed upon “the strategic deployment of resources”4 . In this context, police managers have been required to relinquish traditional police practices and methodologies and embrace the belief that operations can and should be driven by intelligence; to act rather than to react5 .

While there are indeed political, economic, legal and social drivers guiding current shifts in the operational strategies of Canadian policing, they are not occurring without some concerns and problems. As with most change, there are numerous questions, inconsistencies and stumbling blocks that must be confronted. Nor can we expect that by merely indicating there is a need for change that the pieces will fall effortlessly into place or be void of consequences. As the following review articles indicate, the imposition of change can have profound financial implications for police services, or it can become a lynch pin for broad organizational and operational reengineering. These articles also draw our attention to the reality that the issues of accountability, performance measurement and ongoing program development take on renewed importance in the current realignment of police operations. They highlight the reality that police services must look beyond their own practices and jurisdictional boundaries for best practices and examples of operational models.


1. Pat O’Malley, “Risk, Power and Crime Prevention”, Economy and Society, 1996, vol. 21, No. 3, p. 10.

2. Christopher Murphy, “Policing Postmodern Canada”, published, June 1998, p. 10.

3. Stephen Savage and Sarah Chapman, “Managing Change”, eds. Frank Leishman, Barry Loveday and Stephen Savage, Core Issues in Policing, Essex: 1996, Longman Group Limited, p. 39.

4. J. E. Stockdale, et al, Applying Economic Evaluation to Policing Activity, Police Research Series paper 103, Home Office, London, 1999, p. 5.

5. Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Criminal Intelligence Program, 2000,