The most important trait of a 21st century police department is that it is pro-active in solving problems.
San Jose (Calif.) police leaders are making precisely the kind of response citizens should expect from a modern police department. They are taking improvement steps BEFORE problems arise – this is the mark of a 21st century police department and what professionals do — continuously improve.
The following article appeared in the Bay Area News by Robert Salonga.
“SAN JOSE — As law enforcement agencies across the country face increasing scrutiny about how they police and protect minority communities, San Jose police are launching a multipronged effort to increase training, better understand how bias affects their work and better analyze arrest data.
“The department is packing in a slew of progressive training initiatives for its officers during the next year that it hopes will put it at the forefront of big-city law-enforcement agencies in adapting to the post-Ferguson era of policing. Changes include bringing in an expert who challenges the way police view racial and gender bias and requiring all officers to learn how to better deal with mentally ill people.
“Among its big-city brethren, San Jose has generally avoided high-profile policing scandals, but the city has not been completely immune from controversy and potentially troubling instances, like a decadelong peak of 12 officer-involved shootings in 2015. That same year, the department also for the first time in its history corroborated a bias complaint lodged by a citizen, though that complaint was not race-related but involved a perception of mental illness. And an arbitrator ordered the department to reverse the firing of a police officer who brought national scorn on the department when he violently antagonized the Black Lives Matter movement on social media…
“Chief Eddie Garcia, who took the helm of the police force earlier this year, said he hopes to increase transparency by opening up the department’s doors, and some of its books, to community overseers because he sees this movement is already on its way nationally.
“’The community has had fears about law enforcement, and we should alleviate concerns as opposed to raising them,’ Garcia said. ‘We’ve come a long way to understand this is a phenomenon that exists.’
“Walter Katz, who as the new police auditor serves as the city’s chief police watchdog, said he is heartened by the proactive efforts. ‘We’re happy to see this progress,’ Katz said. ‘This is about recognizing the events that have taken place in the country the past two years. There’s been a real indication that policing is perceived as being biased by a lot of members of the community…’
“Last week, the police force announced department-wide mandatory Crisis Intervention Team training, specialized instruction for de-escalating encounters with people who are either mentally ill or experiencing mental-health crises. Such calls account for a rising number of emergency calls, as well as clashes that lead to officer-involved shootings…
“Police brass have also been unusually swift in accepting a major recommendation by the city’s Independent Police Auditor to restart wide release of annual use-of-force statistics in a gesture of public transparency. ‘We’re not being told to do this. It’s not something we’re nervous about or dreading,’ Garcia said. ‘There’s more credibility with the community when we do this outside of crisis. I’d like to see more agencies take these trainings and not wait for a crisis…’
“Releasing statistics ‘helps the public understand how much force is being used, and where and when it is being used by officers,’ he said. ‘How many complaints are filed in not necessarily a good indicator of the amount of force being used, or if it’s appropriate… ‘We want to get ahead of the curve,’ he said.
“That spirit permeates the effort to give officers implicit-bias training… The overarching message: Officers are humans, and all humans have biases. The training revolves around acknowledging and working around it to literally be as fair as humanly possible…”
Read the full article HERE.
- What preventative policing steps do you need to take In your community?
- What kinds of data, like use of force incidents and levels of community satisfaction, will help rebuild lost trust and support?
- Does your community think you are doing a good job?
- How do you know?