The Future: Part I

future 3In 2012, the COPS Office in the U.S. Department of Justice published a series of essays on the future of policing edited by Debra R. Cohen McCullough and Deborah L. Spence.

I don’t know how many of our nation’s police officers have read this document. But they should.

During the next few weeks I will be publishing excerpts from twenty or more of these essays with the hope of generating some discussion on what these police leaders and academics have to say about the future of our men and women in blue.

Enjoy and please comment!

To read the full report, CLICK HERE.


Future of Policing Essays: American Policing in 2022

Part I

“Despite national reductions in violent crime, the perception of crime and safety in many communities remains unchanged, and police departments struggle in a public relations arena to maintain a balance between people’s perception of crime versus the reality.

“Residents no longer feel any level of attachment to the police officers working within their neighborhoods, and the gap between police officers and the people they serve is rapidly widening. The combination of all of these dynamics has brought policing in the United States to a critical crossroads.

“The future success of American policing lies in the ability to recognize these important conditions and develop strategies that focus on redefining the relationship between police officers and the community (my emphasis). These strategies need to go well beyond implementing a single program or assigning a small group of officers to work on community-related affairs. The development of these strategies must address the re­birth of the fundamental philosophy of police-community partnership.

“The foundation of this philosophy must be incorporated into all levels of training within police agencies. Interpersonal communication skills, problem solving techniques, and strategies to build positive community relationships must become the cornerstones of police training programs (my emphasis). New officers should be indoctrinated in these programs during their time in the police academy, and then the programs should be continually reinforced during annual in-service sessions.”

[John P. Skinner, deputy police commissioner, Baltimore, Maryland.]


“Historically, police departments have done much bet­ter in training their officers on the technical aspects of the job than in preparing them for evolving futures. Investigative or procedural techniques are much more likely to be part of police training curricula than the theoretical underpinnings of cultural literacy, police legitimacy, or evidence-based policing. While an increasing number of thoughtful police leaders are introducing their personnel to these forward-thinking ideas, the majority of organizational development in police departments is framed around slow, incremental change. This would be reasonable if the world was evolving at a slow, incremental pace, but, as we know, that is not the case.

“Police leaders are obligated to help their followers understand not just ‘what’ to think, but ‘how’ to think about the world ahead of them (my emphasis). And the ‘how’ may be radically different from the way contemporary leaders themselves were taught to think about policing. The following principles will help leaders effect meaningful, future-oriented organizational change.

Principle 1: Be value-driven.

Principle 2: Be a catalyst for change.

Principle 3: Be legitimate to those whom you serve.

Principle 4: Be a learning organization.

“In the future, the police will have to think differently about their relationship with their community, their role in society, and the manner in which they craft responses to crime. Police leaders will have to sharpen their focus on preparing their organizations for volatile, uncertain futures. With this in mind, we can apply to the control of crime and disorder Albert Einstein’s view that ‘the world we created today…has problems which cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them’ (my emphasis). By acting in accordance with the guiding principles laid out here, police leaders can effectively prepare their organizations to better serve the public now and in the future.”

[Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation and former chief of police, Redlands, California.]