Police Task Force Report: “Now Is the Time!

 

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I just received the Task Force report and find it both challenging and satisfying.

“President Barack Obama said Monday the deaths of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York show that law enforcement needs to change practices to build trust in minority communities, as a White House task force called for independent, outside investigations when police use deadly force.

“The president said last year’s deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and Eric Garner in New York City exposed ‘deep rooted frustration in many communities of color around the need for fair and just law enforcement’…

“‘The moment is now for us to make these changes,’ Obama said… We have a great opportunity coming out of some great conflict and tragedy to really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations so that everybody feels safer and our law enforcement officers feel — rather than being embattled — feel fully supported. We need to seize that opportunity.'”

[To read the entire article by NEDRA PICKLER and ERIC TUCKER of the Associated Press in the St Louis Post-Dispatch, click HERE.]

Interim Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing

NOTE: I am pretty impressed by the interim report. Now, of course, the work begins. And the work is to IMPLEMENT and make part of the police culture these improvement. The following recommendations and actions have either been directly or indirectly addressed on this blogsite or in my book “Arrested Development”: 

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1. BUILDING TRUST AND LEGITIMACY

1.1 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement culture should embrace a guardian mindset to build public trust and legitimacy. Toward that end, police and sheriffs’ departments should adopt procedural justice as the guiding principle for internal and external policies and practices to guide their interactions with the citizens they serve.

1.2 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should acknowledge the role of policing in past and present injustice and discrimination and how it is a hurdle to the promotion of community trust.

1.2.1 ACTION ITEM: The U.S. Department of Justice should develop and disseminate case studies that provide examples where past injustices were publically acknowledged by law enforcement agencies in a manner to help build community trust.

1.3 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should establish a culture of transparency and accountability in order to build public trust and legitimacy. This will help ensure decision making is understood and in accord with stated policy.

1.3.2 ACTION ITEM: When serious incidents occur, including those involving alleged police misconduct, agencies should communicate with citizens and the media swiftly, openly, and neutrally, respecting areas where the law requires confidentiality.

1.4 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should promote legitimacy internally within the organization by applying the principles of procedural justice.

1.4.1 ACTION ITEM: In order to achieve internal legitimacy, law enforcement agencies should involve employees in the process of developing policies and procedures. 

1.4.2 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agency leadership should examine opportunities to incorporate procedural justice into the internal discipline process, placing additional importance on values adherence rather than adherence to rules. Union leadership should be partners in this process.

1.5.1 ACTION ITEM: In order to achieve external legitimacy, law enforcement agencies should involve the community in the process of developing and evaluating policies and procedures.

1.5.3 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should create opportunities in schools and communities for positive, nonenforcement interactions with police. Agencies should also publicize the beneficial outcomes and images of positive, trust-building partnerships and initiatives.

1.5.4 ACTION ITEM: Use of physical control equipment and techniques against vulnerable populations—including children, elderly persons, pregnant women, people with physical and mental disabilities, limited English proficiency, and others—can undermine public trust and should be used as a last resort. Law enforcement agencies should carefully consider and review their policies towards these populations and adopt policies if none are in place.

1.6.1 ACTION ITEM: Research conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of crime fighting strategies should specifically look at the potential for collateral damage of any given strategy on community trust and legitimacy.

1.7 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should track the level of trust in police by their communities just as they measure changes in crime. Annual community surveys, ideally standardized across jurisdictions and with accepted sampling protocols, can measure how policing in that community affects public trust.

1.8 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should strive to create a workforce that contains a broad range of diversity including race, gender, language, life experience, and cultural background to improve understanding and effectiveness in dealing with all communities.

1.8.2 ACTION ITEM: The department overseeing this initiative should help localities learn best practices for recruitment, training, and outreach to improve the diversity as well as the cultural and linguistic responsiveness of law enforcement agencies.

1.9 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should build relationships based on trust with immigrant communities. This is central to overall public safety.

1.9.1 ACTION ITEM: Decouple federal immigration enforcement from routine local policing for civil enforcement and nonserious crime.

2. POLICY AND OVERSIGHT

2.1 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should collaborate with community members to develop policies and strategies in communities and neighborhoods disproportionately affected by crime for deploying resources that aim to reduce crime by improving relationships, greater community engagement, and cooperation.

2.2 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should have comprehensive policies on the use of force that include training, investigations, prosecutions, data collection, and information sharing. These policies must be clear, concise, and openly available for public inspection.

2.2.1 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agency policies for training on use of force should emphasize de-escalation and alternatives to arrest or summons in situations where appropriate.

2.2.2 ACTION ITEM: These policies should also mandate external and independent criminal investigations in cases of police use of force resulting in death, officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, or in-custody deaths.

2.2.3 ACTION ITEM: The task force encourages policies that mandate the use of external and independent prosecutors in cases of police use of force resulting in death, officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, or in-custody deaths.

2.2.6 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should establish a Serious Incident Review Board comprising sworn staff and community members to review cases involving officer involved shootings and other serious incidents that have the potential to damage community trust or confidence in the agency. The purpose of this board should be to identify any administrative, supervisory, training, tactical, or policy issues that need to be addressed.

2.3 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to implement nonpunitive peer review of critical incidents separate from criminal and administrative investigations.

2.7 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should create policies and procedures for policing mass demonstrations that employ a continuum of managed tactical resources that are designed to minimize the appearance of a military operation and avoid using provocative tactics and equipment that undermine civilian trust.

2.7.1. ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agency policies should address procedures for implementing a layered response to mass demonstrations that prioritize de-escalation and a guardian mindset.

2.9 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies and municipalities should refrain from practices requiring officers to issue a predetermined number of tickets, citations, arrests, or summonses, or to initiate investigative contacts with citizens for reasons not directly related to improving public safety, such as generating revenue.

2.12 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should adopt and enforce policies prohibiting profiling and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, housing status, occupation, and/or language fluency.

2.12.3 ACTION ITEM: The U.S. Department of Justice should promote and disseminate guidance to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies on documenting, preventing, and addressing sexual harassment and misconduct by local law enforcement agents, consistent with the recommendations of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

3. TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL MEDIA

3.2.1 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should encourage public engagement and collaboration, including the use of community advisory bodies, when developing a policy for the use of a new technology.

3.3.1 ACTION ITEM: As part of the process for developing best practices, the U.S. Department of Justice should consult with civil rights and civil liberties organizations, as well as law enforcement research groups and other experts, concerning the constitutional issues that can arise as a result of the use of new technologies. 

3.6 RECOMMENDATION: The Federal Government should support the development of new “less than lethal” technology to help control combative suspects.

4. COMMUNITY POLICING AND CRIME REDUCTION

4.1.1 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should consider adopting preferences for seeking “least harm” resolutions, such as diversion programs or warnings and citations in lieu of arrest for minor infractions.

4.2 RECOMMENDATION: Community policing should be infused throughout the culture and organizational structure of law enforcement agencies.

4.2.1 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should evaluate officers on their efforts to engage members of the community and the partnerships they build. Making this part of the performance evaluation process places an increased value on developing partnerships.

4.2.2 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should evaluate their patrol deployment practices to allow sufficient time for patrol officers to participate in problem solving and community engagement activities.

4.3 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should engage in multidisciplinary, community team approaches for planning, implementing, and responding to crisis situations with complex causal factors.

4.3.3 ACTION ITEM: Communities should look to involve peer support counselors as part of multidisciplinary teams when appropriate. Persons who have experienced the same trauma can provide both insight to the first responders and immediate support to individuals in crisis.

4.4 RECOMMENDATION: Communities should support a culture and practice of policing that reflects the values of protection and promotion of the dignity of all, especially the most vulnerable.

4.4.1 ACTION ITEM: Because offensive or harsh language can escalate a minor situation, law enforcement agencies should underscore the importance of language used and adopt policies directing officers to speak to individuals with respect.

4.4.1 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should develop programs that create opportunities for patrol officers to regularly interact with neighborhood residents, faith leaders, and business leaders.

4.5 RECOMMENDATION: Community policing emphasizes working with neighborhood residents to co- produce public safety. Law enforcement agencies should work with community residents to identify problems and collaborate on implementing solutions that produce meaningful results for the community.

4.5.1 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should schedule regular forums and meetings where all community members can interact with police and help influence programs and policy.

4.5.3. ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should establish formal community/citizen advisory committees to assist in developing crime prevention strategies and agency policies as well as provide input on policing issues.

4.6 RECOMMENDATION: Communities should adopt policies and programs that address the needs of children and youth most at risk for crime or violence and reduce aggressive law enforcement tactics that stigmatize youth and marginalize their participation in schools and communities.

4.7.1 ACTION ITEM: Communities and law enforcement agencies should restore and build trust between youth and police by creating programs and projects for positive, consistent, and persistent interaction between youth and police. 

 5. TRAINING AND EDUCATION

5.1 RECOMMENDATION: The Federal Government should support the development of partnerships with training facilities across the country to promote consistent standards for high quality training and establish training innovation hubs.

5.1.1 ACTION ITEM: The training innovation hubs should develop replicable model programs that use adult-based learning and scenario based training in a training environment modeled less like boot camp. Through these programs the hubs would influence nationwide curricula, as well as instructional methodology.

5.2 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should engage community members in the training process.

5.3 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should provide leadership training to all personnel throughout their careers.

5.3.2 ACTION ITEM: The Federal Government should encourage and support partnerships between law enforcement and academic institutions to support a culture that values ongoing education and the integration of current research into the development of training, policies, and practices.

5.4 RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. Department of Justice should develop, in partnership with institutions of higher education, a national postgraduate institute of policing for senior executives with a standardized curriculum preparing them to lead agencies in the 21st century

5.6 RECOMMENDATION: POSTs should make Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) a part of both basic recruit and in-service officer training.

5.7 RECOMMENDATION: POSTs should ensure that basic officer training includes lessons to improve social interaction as well as tactical skills.

5.9 RECOMMENDATION: POSTs should ensure both basic recruit and in-service training incorporates content around recognizing and confronting implicit bias and cultural responsiveness.

5.9.1 ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agencies should implement ongoing, top down training for all officers in cultural diversity and related topics that can build trust and legitimacy in diverse communities. This should be accomplished with the assistance of advocacy groups that represent the viewpoints of communities that have traditionally had adversarial relationships with law enforcement.

5.10 RECOMMENDATION: POSTs should require both basic recruit and in-service training on policing in a democratic society.

5.11 RECOMMENDATION: The Federal Government, as well as state and local agencies, should encourage and incentivize higher education for law enforcement officers.

5.11.1 ACTION ITEM: The Federal Government should create a loan repayment and forgiveness incentive program specifically for policing.

5.13.1 ACTION ITEM: The U.S. Department of Justice should support the development of broad Field Training Program standards and training strategies that address changing police culture and organizational procedural justice issues that agencies can adopt and customize to local needs.

6. OFFICER WELLNESS AND SAFETY

6.1.3 ACTION ITEM: The Federal Government should support the continuing research into the ,efficacy of an annual mental health check for officers as well as fitness, resilience, and nutrition.

6.2.1 ACTION ITEM: Though the Federal Government can support many of the programs and best practices identified by the U.S. Department of Justice initiative described in recommendation 6.1, the ultimate responsibility lies with each agency.

6.6 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should adopt policies that require officers to wear seat belts and bullet-proof vests and provide training to raise awareness of the consequences of failure to do so.

6.7 RECOMMENDATION: Congress should develop and enact peer review error management legislation.

7. IMPLEMENTATION

7.1 RECOMMENDATION: The President should direct all federal law enforcement agencies to review the recommendations made by the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and, to the extent practicable, to adopt those that can be implemented at the federal level. 

7.2 RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. Department of Justice should explore public-private partnership opportunities, starting by convening a meeting with local, regional, and national foundations to discuss the proposals for reform described in this report and seeking their engagement and support in advancing implementation of these recommendations.

[You can read the full interim report and all 63 recommendations HERE.]

Now it’s been officially said. NOW is the time!