I know that seems pretty negative, but think about it.
If citizens don’t care about their police and are not involved in their hiring, training and review, it is quite easy to say to them, “Well, what did you expect?”
I sense we would have better outcomes with our nation’s police if we demanded excellence. Remember great police departments are the result of caring and involved communities.
Maybe the incident in Ferguson, Mo. will get citizens thinking about their police again.
Years ago, I used a diverse group of citizens to help me screen those who wished to join our department. I wanted them to demand excellence. I remember one group early on asking me what they should look for. I thought about it and then I told what what I told every citizen group since that day.
I asked them to imagine this:
“It’s after midnight. You are at home waiting for your teenage daughter to return from a date. It’s now well past her curfew time. You are thinking about calling the police to report her missing when suddenly she bursts through the front door. She is crying and looks terrible. You notice her blouse has been torn and she has red marks on her face. Your worst fears now have been realized. She has been raped! Now think about the kind of police officer you would like to come into your home and talk with you and your daughter about what happened. That’s the kind of man or woman I would like on our police department.”
But when we really get down to it, we want men and women to serve in our nation’s police departments who come from diverse backgrounds and who are:
- Controlled in their use of force.
- Respectful to all.
- Intimately connected with the community they police.
As citizens, you have a RIGHT to have these kind of police in your town or city.
Let me also say that community-oriented policing is not longer an option for police — it is now mandatory. (Note: There are at least five other posts addressing community-oriented policing on this blogsite.)
It is the way in which a free and democratic society is to be policed.
There are also special requirements for those who lead police, from the chief to first-line supervisors:
- Be a good listener.
- Model integrity.
- “Walk what you talk!”
- Work collaboratively with police officers and citizens
- In short, practice the “Principles of Quality Leadership.”
These are the kind of police you should expect and demand from your elected leaders.
Accepting anything less degrades our society and we all suffer!