The Mooresville Police Department is about to get a makeover.
Ron Campurciani spent his first month as interim police chief observing and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the MPD and has determined that the department would best benefit from a “flat” (as opposed to its current “tall”) organizational structure.
The current structure at the department – laid out like a pyramid, with a chief on top – is frequently used in large, complex organizations, including police departments and the military. But a “flat” organizational structure – which MPD will soon become – flattens the pyramid, putting more emphasis on spreading out decision-making authority, explained Campurciani.
On Monday, the town board approved the creation of three assistant chief positions that, once filled, will replace the current positions of deputy chief and two majors. If current Deputy Chief Gerald Childress and Majors Eric Henderson and Ron Chilton wish to pursue one of the assistant chief positions, they will need to apply like anyone else who may be interested.
Internal applications are being accepted through July 25. Campurciani said he expects the hiring process to be complete by mid-August.
“I wouldn’t change (the structure) here if decisions were being made, but stuff was moving up the chain of command, and decisions weren’t being made – good or bad,” he said. “This place isn’t big enough for a tall hierarchy. It slows down communication. Having an extra layer before the chief’s position here creates a bottleneck, and things just don’t get done. And not everything has to get done, but the point is that nothing was getting done.”
Conversely, flat organizational structures empower lower-ranking officials by giving them more decision-making authority. One downside: it increases the leadership positions’ responsibilities. “People’s workloads will increase, including mine,” Campurciani said.
Currently, only three employees – the deputy chief and two majors – report to the chief. The new structure will have seven employees reporting to him, including the three assistant chiefs. “Right now, some people who should be directly reporting to me are going through three people before getting to me,” Campurciani said. “It’s ineffective, and it slows down communication.”
“By flattening out and decentralizing decision-making, you’re passing it down to the lower levels – sergeants and corporals,” he added. “And that helps them because now, when they are looking to be promoted, they will at least have some sense of making decisions that they otherwise wouldn’t have.
“It’s positive for everyone.”
One of the highest priorities in a flat organizational structure is ensuring that leadership roles are filled with ethical people who are good at decision-making and will not micromanage their direct reports, Campurciani said. “They should also be people who are well-respected by the other officers because they have to lead people. If we have micromanagers in those positions, we will be back in the same position again: the bottleneck. There are way too many decisions to make that wouldn’t be made in a timely manner.”
The goal of fostering and supporting employee independence and autonomy, Campurciani said, is to grow trust and confidence in employees who want to advance their careers. Creating qualified candidates for internal promotions is one of the interim chief’s primary goals. “Then you don’t have to go outside (for promotions),” Campurciani said. “Instead, you’re putting people in positions that will easily be able to take over the police department when a police chief leaves.”