The Bureaucratic Process and the Use of Force at the Austin Police Department
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Graham Allison revolutionized the study of organizational theory with his book Essence of Decision. In Essence he develops three models that attempt to explain the bureaucratic processes and decision-making in government. Those models are termed the rational actor, organizational process, and bureaucratic politics models. Allison uses these models to explain President John F. Kennedy’s actions and decision-making during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That crisis began when the United States discovered that Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, had placed missiles in Cuba. The Soviet strategy brought the United States and Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. Allison’s models have been tested by scholars in the context of presidential decision-making, international relations, and federal government bureaucracy.
This paper applies Allison’s bureaucratic politics model to the Austin Police Department’s decision-making process. Specifically, the bureaucratic politics model is used to analyze the decision process surrounding the suspension from duty of Officer Scott Glasgow for shooting and killing Jesse Lee Owens, a 20- year-old African American male.
This research does not focus on the shooting incident, but the bureaucratic processes used by the Austin Police Department in deciding to discipline Glasgow. For the most part Allison’s models have been used to analyze international events. This is its first use in a local criminal justice decision.