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Gathering Research Data

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Gathering Research Data Gathering research within the criminal justice field can take time in regards to how certain information must be obtained and measured. When conducting research concerning police officers and their jobs, obtain statistics based on job satisfaction or job hazards can require an approach while using different ways to do so. So far, the quantitative approach can be used, but the qualitative approach must be used to gain a clear answer to this type of research. As of now, based on this type of criminal justice research and specifically in regards to what research method is appropriate, there could be different ways to complete this research.
Goal or Purpose behind Proposed Research
Today, the goal of research is to gather information concerning police officers and their jobs in regards to job satisfaction or job hazards. For the purpose of this research, job hazards for police officers are already known, but what about their job satisfaction? Obtaining research on these findings will be important because if police officers are not satisfied with their jobs, they will not have complete motivation to get things done or operate properly, which will affect their ability to work effectively. Now, if police officers can’t work effectively due to limited satisfaction, other issues can arise because of that issue alone. The issues that arise include affected work relationships, and mistakes made while on duty due to confidence levels, which will cause bad relations within the community or other public trust issues. This will then cause a domino effect causing overall disorder because the citizens will not feel safe or important.

Questions to Ask Based on research, there is a great way to measure job satisfaction concerning police officers. Research conducted through the work of Davis (2009) which consists of “police effectiveness, professionalism, fairness, and management”, can also be used. When creating surveys, certain questions can be asked to discuss those measures, which most likely affect job satisfaction and performance.
How long have you been with this department? It is important to separate certain police officers from others because time in service will make a difference concerning job satisfaction. Officers that decide to hang in there for years and years will probably have more satisfaction than others. Those officers that have signed up might not like their new job because it’s a new career. Mainly, because those officers will still be learning the ropes, which means there is less confidence between them and veteran officers.

What is your current income level?
Income when dealing with most jobs will affect job satisfaction, especially when discussing those officers with college degrees. Although police officers should be aware of how the promotion system works, being placed in a certain position for too long will probably create less job satisfaction. Also, research suggests that most police officers don’t join the department for pay, but as stated in research conducted through Grogen (2008), “if police officers perceive that their pay does not compare well to other local agencies then pay does become a problem”.

Do you currently agree with the department’s standard operating procedures? Having proper standard operating procedures is usually not a concern for law enforcement agencies, but some veteran officers may notice thing being conducted differently or not by the book. If officer don’t agree with what the agency is doing besides following the agencies written standard operating procedures, conflicts can occur between officer and their managers or supervisors.

Compared to other law enforcement agencies, what rating do you give this department based on training received?

Law enforcement agencies rely on training to increase the success rate of police operations and daily policing. All training received will provide better learning for law enforcement officers to operate appropriately. Ethics training will keep officers from doing the wrong thing or acting unethically based on the situation. Now, asking officers how training received from their department based on those from the past is important. The current department in question may actually lack training compared to their old department, which might cause some officer to feel as if their leadership doesn’t care about police officers or the citizens of the community.

Does your department create opportunities for growth and promotions based on experience and knowledge? In comparison to how police officers might feel about income, their answers for growth and promotion may be the same. For instance, police detectives, parole officers, and probation officers are required to have a Bachelor’s Degree in order to be considered for their positions. Also, experience in law enforcement is required before being considered to be a police detective, parole officer, or probation officer. Therefore, this question targets those officers that have experience and education for promotion consideration.

Concerning professionalism, do you get along with your colleagues? In law enforcement, police officers must get along to effectively work together. Team work is better in law enforcement than working alone. Fewer mistakes could be made when working in a team because if one officer lacks knowledge in an area, the other officer might have excellent knowledge in that area. Those officers can help each other turn their weaknesses into strengths in the long run. So professionalism is important because it could make or break work relationship. Professionalism could also affect how the community reacts to police officers through interaction.

Distinct Advantages of a Qualitative Data-Gathering Strategy There are distinct advantages when using qualitative data gathering strategies in this type of research. Based on research gathered through Northeastern University, some of these advantages include participant observation, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. For job satisfaction information on police officers, participant observation and in-depth interviews would be best to use because more data can be gathered. Especially for when using in-depth interview because of face to face interaction. According to Northeastern University (n.d), “In-depth interviews are optimal for collecting data on individuals’ personal histories, perspectives, and experiences, particularly when sensitive topics are being explored”. This will allow researchers to gather appropriate information for job satisfaction research.

How Important is Informed Consent and Confidentiality? Informed consent and confidentiality is important because subject should know the intentions of research, and know they might be at risk privacy violations without confidentiality. Some individuals should be made aware of certain forms because they may not fully understand what is being asked of them. Others that do understand might not be the best individuals for research based on what they do in life. According to Hagan (2010), While all people may be worthy of the same respect as human beings, it does not necessarily follow that their activities merit the same degree of protection and respect”. Therefore, understanding consent and confidentiality will allow individuals to make the best decisions concerning research.

References
Davis, Robert (2009). Measuring the Performance of the Dallas Police Department, RAND Corporation, http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2009/RAND_TR730.pdf

Grogan, William (2008). Job Satisfaction at the Marietta Police Department: A Comparative Analysis, Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects, Kennesaw State University, http://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1016&context=etd

Hagan, Frank (2010). Chapter 2: Ethics in Criminal Justice Research, Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition.

Hagan, Frank (2010). Chapter 6: Survey Research: Interviews and Telephone Surveys, Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition.

Northeastern University (n.d). Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide, Family Health International. Retrieved from http://www.ccs.neu.edu/course/is4800sp12/resources/qualmethods.pdf

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