We in America claim we are the world’s best from our economic system to our space program. We love to chant,” We’re number one!”. We want to be best.
Why not our police?
This discussion is for those of us who live in a democracy — a free society. In these societies, the mission of the police is quite different from those who serve as police in a totalitarian or non-democratic society. Police in these societies carry out the orders of those who rule — police in a democracy carry out the will of the people.
What would be considered world-class democratic policing? How would they act? What would be their focus and mission? How would we recognize them?
When I think about the exciting idea of being world-class, I find myself dreaming. Dreams are good because they often have the ability to lift us out of the ruts we frequently find ourselves. Some police organizations don’t even know they are in a rut, or a locked-in way of thinking, because they are closed, isolated, and have little interest in their community. That’s why that more than ever we need police who can dream and think creatively about the path ahead.
World-class police departments in a democracy are different and can be measured on the following characteristics.
A world-class police organization:
- Is focused on and works to develop the support of every person in their community.
- Is respectful to everyone they encounter.
- Helps community members grow and become better citizens.
- Seeks and practices the very “best known methods” of contemporary policing.
- Is connected with a college or university in research and clinical practice.
- Works with other governmental and community agencies in solving problems and builds networks.
- Is a learning organization, continuously seeking improvement in all that they do.
- Is a teaching organization; from what is learned, they share with others in the field of policing.
- Is highly trained and controlled in their use of force; especially deadly force.
- Is committed to working closely with citizens to define, respond to, and solve community problems by working “upstream.”
- Is trust-worthy and seeks support from community members.
- Hires officers who are smart, educated, diverse, honest, controlled in their use of force, honest, and able to work closely with community members.
- Develops leaders who are mature, competent, collaborative, open, respectful, and creative.
- Is able to deeply listen and be transparent and highly accountable to the community.
- Is committed to maintain the mental, physical and spiritual health of employees throughout their careers.
This type of police and their organization should be the goal of every community. This is the goal you should work for. This is what you should demand.
For more see, “On This We Stand.”