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A Quantitative Investigation of Law Enforcement Officers’ Self-Reported Leadership Practices, Trust, and Personality Traits
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Contemporary policing has progressed from reactive to proactive strategies and leadership has shifted from executives at the top to front line law enforcement officers. Law enforcement officers’ leadership discretionary activities can make a difference in terms of community-oriented policing. Nevertheless, law enforcement officers’ leadership is challenged by role ambiguity, stress factors that source from their organizational and occupational culture. The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate the self-reported leadership practices and trust of law enforcement officers grouped according to selected demographic characteristics and personality traits in three different law enforcement departments in a City of the Western United States. Traditional univariate and multivariate statistical techniques such as Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA), Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and Pearson’s correlation coefficient were utilized. The findings indicated that there were significant statistical differences in self-reported leadership practices of ranked and unranked law enforcement officers and that the personality traits Agreeableness and Openness were both correlated and produced statistically significant differences with self-reported leadership practices and trust. In contrast, the personality trait of Extraversion was correlated with all the subscales of the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), but not with trust. Salient findings focused on three areas: (a) demographics and leadership practices; (b) merit-based promotion methods; (c) trust and leadership practices; and (d) personality and leadership practices. This exploratory study aimed to expand the field of the current literature on law enforcement officers and bridge the knowledge gap between self-reported leadership practices, trust and possible relationships to personality traits within law enforcement.