After over a quarter of a century leading police and the last two decades commenting on them, permit me to be so bold as to recommend what needs to happen to save a profession of which I have the highest hope and regard.
Since Ferguson, I have argued for preventative community action(s) on the part of our police leaders. I have said this because a preventative, community-oriented, collaborative style of policing is necessary in a free society not only to preserve and protect the rights of all citizens, but also to assure police become more effective as they connect with and serve the community. Officer safety? This is the way to do it!
However, it seems to me that few police leaders have done this; that many of them have taken to “hunkering-down;” laying low, hoping the crisis will pass. It won’t.
Today’s crisis demands immediate action from our police.
It is time for citizens, especially citizens of color, to demand that their elected sheriffs and chiefs of police report to them on how they are responding to the problem of eroding trust and their position on the use of deadly force.
In that “state of the city and county” report, the following needs to be specifically addressed:
- How the department leadership views the current crisis affecting police throughout the nation.
- The current state of current police relations with the community; focusing especially on those of color. (It would be nice to have some recent community polling date here to support what is being said.)
- What is being done to improve those police-citizen relationships; how broken trust is being restored.
- How “unconditional respect” toward citizens is being taught and implemented into day-to-day police practices.
- A commitment to fully implement community-oriented policing as the primary way in which police services will be delivered.
- A commitment to hold to on-going meetings with community leaders to listen, and learn.
- Improve the department’s policy and attitudes in order to reduce the use of deadly force (especially with regard to mentally ill and disturbed persons.) And make a strong commitment to protect and safeguard lives and respect the dignity and worth of all people.
- Steps the department is making to diversify its ranks; becoming a police department that is reflective of those whom they serve and/or have primary contact.
- Steps taken to make the department more accountable and transparent.
- Steps being taken to attract and hire the “best and brightest” citizens.
- Specifically address each one of the recommendations of the “President’s 21st Century Task Force on Policing” that apply to local units of government (some of which may be already addressed in the above topics).
— Wouldn’t at heartfelt and honest report on the above topics be a breath of fresh air in our cities?
— Wouldn’t it generate the needed and on-going conversation people need to have with their police and law enforcement officials?