What Needs to be Done

All that I have blogged over the years can be summed up in the following which addresses what needs to be done – what police need to do, what the public, the “consumer” of police services needs to do! At the end of Arrested Development, I state my vision for a democratic police in America.

“While American police departments are strongly tied to their past, there has, nevertheless, been growth and improvement in the color, gender, and education of American police officers.  But what has been slow to improve are the organizations in which they work.”

And those organizations are like this – hierarchical when they need to be collaborative within their ranks and within the communities they serve. In short, we are in a new age and a new century which has become both global and networked. Hierarchies are not very good at listening outside of themselves and especially to those who work within it. They are even less likely to implement ideas that come from outside their organization or from those in its lower ranks.

More of my vision…

“The future of our great democracy rests on how well local police departments in multi-cultural urban areas develop and sustain close, intimate relationship between police officers and those whom they police.  This means that police officers of the future will, in effect, have to be effective community organizers.”

It is not that police have not undergone improvement, it is that their improvement has been “arrested,” hindered, restrained. I acknowledge this in my book:

“While I have constantly referred to the ‘barriers’ of high quality professional policing being anti-intellectual attitudes, violence, corruption, and discourtesy, it appears that they are no longer the dominant personal and organization characteristics I encountered when I first joined the ranks of the police.”

But for police to keep up with the rapidly changing global, interconnective world in which they now work certain things must happen.

1. Require all police applicants to possess a 4-year college degree – no exceptions.

2. Inculcate professional standards for pre- and in-service training.

3. Establish impeccable ethical standards for police employees regarding rule and law violations, use of force and courteous, civil behavior.

4. Implant a style of leadership that listens to employees, shares information, collaborates both inside and outside the organization, is respectful of others, and strives to improve the systems in which police work.

5. Develop strong, formal clinical ties between police and a local academic institution.

I conclude my vision with this:

“This is the future I have always believed police needed to be and to do. The changes needed to bring about this future are still necessary today. Yes, police have been slow to improve. But improve they can. But to do so will take long-term commitment and leadership on the part of police leaders and citizens.”

The point of this book is that improving police is possible – it’s not easy — but possible! Press on!