In this work, Dorothy Guyot asks: What makes a good police department? In analyzing the transformation of the police department in Troy, New York. she explains a set of standards by which the quality of police service can be judged and illustrates a way to improve services over the long run. Throughout her case study and analysis, Guyot asks penetrating questions about the performance of police departments. She maintains that when police officers are treated as professionals by their department, they will act professionally toward citizens. This examination of fifteen years of policymaking within a single department looks at policing as a complex social service in an urban environment.
Rather than accepting the traditional "chain of command" authoritarian model of police administration, Guyot draws an analogy to hospital organization and suggests that the practitioner, whether a physician or a cop on the beat, performs the service with a tremendous amount of discretion. It follows that better management tactics at the police chief level as well as better employment policies will result in more responsible and dedicated policing by officers. The author demonstrates how, under the leadership of George W. O’Connor, the Troy P.D. changed from a backward department to one that promotes competence, as well as concern for citizens, among its individual officers.
The book is organized by issues and provides a full picture of how upgrading can be achieved through clear and specific goals. Throughout this case study, Guyot provides many examples of the behavior of police officers on the street, to illustrate the differences made by restructuring the department.