The Future: Part VIII

future 3Future of Policing Essays: American Policing in 2022


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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“I am concerned that the art of policing will not improve as rapidly as the science of policing—only because those technological innovations are coming so rapidly. We know that better tools used inappropriately or wrongly can be dangerous. Electronic control weapons are a good example. Used appropriately, these devices can help us arrest combatants more quickly and safely. Do they take the place of lower level use of force? No. Do they eliminate officers having to put hands on resistant arrestees? No. Should they be used on any physically resistant arrestee? No. Are there crystal clear guidelines of when we should or should not use force? No. We need officers to use their best discretion of when and when not to use certain types of force…

“So, how do we ensure we are improving the art of policing with the advances of technology? I believe that education plays a major role. By education, I do not necessarily mean training. Training is teaching someone how to use a tool. Education is what helps an officer use a tool wisely. We need to make sure that our officers are well-educated and are people of strong ethical character” (my emphasis).

[Tim J. Dolan, chief of the Minneapolis (MN) Police Department.]


“What is possible for our profession is ultimately dependent on the men and women who will become the leaders of our police departments in the future. If we don’t create our own future, others will. We cannot lose sight of the fact that without talented, bold, and innovative people willing to put themselves in the highest positions in our agencies, our profession will languish and be trapped on the sidelines of our own evolution (my emphasis).

“Developing leadership competencies in the private sector and military is a highly valued enterprise. Our nation’s best business schools and military academies all have robust programs, including executive education, on the subject of leadership. Leadership is an area in which many of our corporate, government, and educational institutions invest significant resources. Our profession must do the same…

“At the center of effective leadership are competencies that are not typically found in any one discipline or taught by a subject matter expert. It is incumbent upon this generation of leaders, however, to articulate and impart these core leadership competencies to the next generation. Leaders must possess self-awareness, maintain a broad and interdisciplinary perspective, be comfortable as the focal point of a complex system, balance constant public scrutiny, develop a successful senior team, manage relentless stress, and cultivate a command presence. We must partner with premier leaders in business, government, the military, and the non-profit sector and work with our colleagues from around the world in delivering a leadership program that tackles these issues. We also need to tap into the body of knowledge from current leaders in policing and other industries to bring their experiences to life through candid and contemporary case studies.

“More often than not in our  profession,  we  cultivate leadership by accident, or good fortune, not by design. We have the opportunity, and I believe the responsibility, to help ensure the success of the next generation of men and women who will carry this profession into the future. We need leaders who will possess the technical, psychological, and emotional strengths to bring the right people together, at the right time, doing the right things for the greater good (my emphasis). The end result when all the individual pieces are moving in synchrony can be powerful. This is a complex process, made even more complex because of the world in which we live…

“Leading in this complex and high-risk world requires more than just an understanding of complexity; it requires a strong sense of how to thrive within it…

“We cannot rely on the status quo or on chance to produce the leaders of the future. Let us take the first bold and visionary step now to create the future we want for our profession and ourselves” (my emphasis).

[Charles H. Ramsey, police commissioner of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania).]