Topledere i politiet: En Master afhandling om profession og topledelse i politiet efter politireformen i 2007

Michael Ask

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


In 2007 the Danish police went through a reform that merged 54 police districts in to 12 districts. One of the aims of the reform was to modernize the management structure of the police in accordance with New Public Management (NPM) tendencies and demands. Previously, it was required that the commissioner of a police district and his deputy held a Master’s degree in Law. This requirement was lifted with the reform, since general management skills were regarded more important in the coming structure than legal competencies. Nevertheless, in 2015 all commissioners and deputies (now titled: chiefs of staff) all still hold a Master’s degree in Law.1 This Master’s Thesis investigates, why lawyers are so dominant when it comes to the top management positions within the Danish police, whereas police officers educated from the Police Academy, and other professions, are only represented in small numbers. The police and the court of justice were reformed at the same time, reducing the number of top management posts severely. When the new positions as commissioners and chiefs of staff were advertised in 2007, the applicants were primarily lawyers from within the system of the Ministry of Justice. These circumstances made it more legitimate for the Ministry of Justice and the National Police to neglect the demand for more general management skills and, deliberately or not, protect the profession of lawyers in a professional project, and thereby maintain control, power and influence. Furthermore, it is a conventional wisdom amongst lawyers in the police that it still is an important asset to have a Master’s degree in Law for the sake of control of legality and “knowledge of the organization”. 6 out of 12 commissioners have been replaced for various reasons since 2007, but the analysis shows that the professional background profile is still the same. It also shows in the fact that the management board of the Danish police consists of The National commissioner, his 4 directors, the prosecutor general, the head of the Security and Intelligence Service (PET) and the 12 district commissioners. Out of these 19 board members, 17 are lawyers by profession, and no educated police officers have a seat in the board. This fact supports one of the findings in this Thesis namely, that there exists a high degree of institutional isomorphism between the police and the Ministry of Justice. The principles of management within the Danish Police are based on the so called “Leadership Pipeline” program. This is a hierarchical divided constructed system, which rather distinct outlines which competencies are needed on each managerial level. These principles still support a classical bureaucratic organization managed by civil servants as defined my Max Weber, which speaks in favor of a lawyer as the most natural choice for the top positions of the organization. However, against this speaks the fact that one of the important skills is to develop the organization, which by nature probably is not the most dominant characteristic for a lawyer. The Danish police can be divided into three professions: lawyers, police officers and other professions, mainly administrative staff. This Thesis also conducted an analysis in a culture theoretical perspective to investigate, whether the relationship internally and between the groups of professions could give answers 1 The Prosecutor’s service is an integrated part of the Danish police, and therefore the judicial work is, together with traditional police work, one of the cornerstones within the work of the police. to the dominant managerial role of the lawyers. The result showed that the traditional tripartition between the “fashionable” lawyers with an academic degree, the “craftsman like” police officer and the administrative supporter have loosened up. This is mainly due to the fact that the police increasingly work with at “two-hand organization”: The well known bureaucratic form, but also a more horizontal matrix-like organization form for projects etc., where the managerial role is not dependent on the profession. Furthermore, a lawyer cannot no more expect more or less automatically to reach a top managerial position within the police due to lesser available positions. This fact has created a new group of “soldier lawyers”, who no longer feel so attached to the bigger group of lawyers in the police. A new profession group has emerged within the police over the last couple of years. To meet the demands related to NPM, personal has been recruited with different academic backgrounds such as within business, economics, analysis, HRM etc. A clear coalition can be noticed between this group and the lawyers on top positions. The former is new to the organization and needs to be protected by the persons in power, and the later needs the competencies that these new professions posses in order to stay in power. The profession as a police officer is by far the largest within the police with approx. 11.000 out of a total of 15.000 employees. The police reform created a structure in each police district with a top management consisting of the commissioner, the chief of staff, the chief prosecutor and the chief police officer (deputy commissioner). This construction gave for the first time the police officer profession a place within strategic management in the police districts. The analysis has revealed that this newly achieved role has not significantly moved the police officer profession closer to obtain a top position as commissioner. The chief police officers will therefore have a tendency to leave the group of police officers and instead, in a cultural sociological perspective, seek towards the group of lawyers in order to be accepted, and thereby gain influence and power. The institutional pressure towards the police to have diversity in the top management is increasing. New organizational forms help to that, but also cases in the media about poor management have exposed the need for more focus on general management skills. New professions have entered the police and many police officers on managerial level are studying a Master’s degree in Governance or similar. These facts have put more pressure on the Lawyers also to enhance their educational level regarding management. The Thesis concludes that the day has come closer, when a police commissioner will have a “non-lawyer” background. The coalition between the lawyers on top positions and personal with a different academic background speaks in favor of such a profile for some of the coming police commissioners, whereas the police officers seem still to have a long way to go in that perspective.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages64