The Future: Part V

future 3Future of Policing Essays: American Policing in 2022

Part V

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!

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“Everyone has heard the saying that the best predictor of the future is the past. I don’t recall who said this, but it makes a lot of sense. Thus, one approach is to look at recent history and use that to develop a picture of what the next 10 years might bring for policing…

“Four areas are of particular importance to the future of policing—human resources, technology, communication strategies, and collaboration. Other important areas—the economy and public policy in areas such as education and immigration—will also influence how policing will look in 2022. Although the police can influence public policy, they have less ability to control the outcomes, and their impact on the economy comes primarily from the reduction of losses associated with crime and traffic crashes and perhaps their contribution to a sense of safety…

Human Resources

“Police salaries and benefits have been a key focus for balancing budgets over the past few years. Pension benefits have been reduced for many new officers, and salary freezes have mitigated cost increases. But the only way to manage personnel expenses that represent 85 percent or more of the budget is to cut the numbers or change the mix to more lower-cost employees….

Technology

“Advances in technology have made important contributions to improving police effectiveness over the past couple of decades. The police are in a much better position to identify and respond to crime problems. Predicting crime events is becoming a reality and by 2022 will contribute to overall community safety. Though policing is dangerous work, improvements in equipment have contributed to reduced injury and death rates. And we have seen advances in the use of technology as a deterrent to crime, such as cameras in neighborhoods and businesses…

Communication Strategies

“Changes in the news media over the past 20 years have been amazing. Newspapers have downsized as readers have shifted to the Internet and left them with a business model that no longer fits today’s world. Television news competes with both the Internet and cable, providing hundreds of choices for news and in­ formation. The police have historically relied on the traditional news media to reach their communities but are now in a position where that strategy is not sufficient to keep pace.

“Effective policing in 2022 will require communication strategies that are in tune with the manner in which people obtain information. How that might look in 2022 is impossible to tell—Facebook with 900 million subscribers began in 2004, and Twitter and YouTube were launched in 2006 (my emphasis)

Collaboration

“Collaboration has always been a key component of community problem-oriented policing. Stakeholders partnering with the police to take the steps required to minimize opportunities to commit crime—this is an essential aspect of crime prevention efforts…

“Community policing has taught the police about the importance of working with the community and other government agencies to create safe neighborhoods. In fact, the future will require a greater investment in collaboration by the police; it will require them to embrace the role of fostering collaboration between government agencies, the private sector (including security professionals), community groups, and individuals.

“An image of policing in 2022 is difficult to construct even though it is only a decade away. To be sure, the police will have to be even less independent and more focused on collaboration to remain relevant. As crime changes, the reliance on police presence and retrospective criminal investigations will have to give way to greater emphasis on influencing the public and the private sector to take the steps that only they can take to ensure their safety. Clearly the future will bring both opportunity and challenges for policing as technology gets better and understanding the causes of crime improves.”

[Darrel W. Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and earlier was the chief of police of Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina).]

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“Much more effort needs to be directed at the prevention of crime (my emphasis). With noticeably less police officers on the street in many cities but undiminished public expectations, it’s high time for local governments to realize that crime is not just a policing problem. It also feeds off a municipality’s weakness to exert discipline upon itself. Cleaning up the blight of abandoned buildings and junked cars, lighting up dark corners, and enforcing code violations on after-hours food and liquor establishments that become hideouts and hangouts restrict opportunities for crime.

“Following in the footsteps of CompStat, Baltimore, Buffalo, and more than a dozen other cities and states use management accountability and risk management programs such as CitiStat and StateStat to partner all the assets of state and local government to fight crime and create other operational efficiencies.

“There have been many advances in policing in the last 50 years, most of which have given police executives an ample toolbox and brought fresh perspectives and approaches to public safety. Now, after more than 10 years of state, local, and federal financial support in the name of homeland security leading to unprecedented levels of community collaboration, technology improvements, and information-sharing initiatives…”

[Joseph R. “Rick” Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.]