Analysts commend police department for span of control

The first of only a couple commendations, compared to more than three dozen recommendations, makes an appearance in chapter four of the 131-page performance and management review of the Sunnyside Police Department.

Chapter four is an analysis of the PD's patrol operations. The commendation cites the local police department for developing an efficient and effective organizational structure, in terms of span of control and layers of management.

Span of control is defined as the number of subordinates who report to one supervisory employee. The authors of the study, commissioned at a cost of about $50,000, say the average span of control for an organization is the ratio of all employees, including all supervisors, to supervisory staff.

In Sunnyside's case, the police department's overall span of control is 1:6, based on 54 total employees. The department's patrol unit, the analysts continue, has a span of control ratio of 1:3.5.

General, preferred standards for patrol officers per sergeant range from 1:7 to as high as 1:15. The Sunnyside PD's current ratio of 1:3.5 is far below industry standards. But, say the study's authors, that is typical of small departments.

The analysts go on to explain that "layers of management," another useful concept, indicate the number of steps (supervisors) between a frontline employee and the chief executive.

"These factors determine the way an organization communicates with and delegates duties to its units and individual employees.

The analysts conclude that the Sunnyside Police Department is appropriately flat with only three levels separating the chief from frontline staff. Too often, they added, police agencies impose multiple management ranks...such as corporals, captains and majors...which serve only to provide opportunities for promotions and have little or no functional or organizational purpose.

The Sunnyside PD's extremely low span of control, the analysts added, typically indicates an inefficient and top heavy organization, "...but in this case is an appropriate ratio of supervisors to staff given the size of the department and its numerous and diverse functions."


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