This Has Gotta Stop!

I’ve tended to put this blog on the back burner as I age — yet a calling is a calling. It seems that time and time again I find myself having to step back into the fray. The following nationally-reported events have caused me to, again, speak out.

  • The video of a police officer in Richmond, Virginia driving by a group of black middle schooler and upon hearing one of them say, “Fuck the police!” responds, “Wait until your asses turn 18, then you’re mine!” (Unacceptable. This does not build the community trust that is sorely needed today. What would a good police officer do? Get out of the car and respectfully demonstrate through word and action that he/she are there for them. Yes, this takes guts [courage]!)
  • The dispute between the head of the Minneapolis police union and Mayor Jacob Frey about his order to discontinue using “fear-based” training under the guise of “officer safety.” Frey correctly argued, “When you’re conditioned to believe that every person encountered poses a threat to your existence, you simply cannot be expected to build meaningful relationships with those same people.” (This is something I tackled over 30 years ago. I refused to use our training monies for this. The spread of fear-based police training is one of the major causes of poor police field actions – including questionable uses of deadly force. Earlier, I was a Minneapolis cop, and it seems that things haven’t changed much since I left there in 1969. Here’s a good explanation of why this is not good training for our police officers. And, by the way, where is the police chief on this issue?)
  • The report by USA Today concerning what appears to be incredibly poor personnel-selection practices by a number of police departments throughout our nation. “At least 85,000 law enforcement officers across the USA have been investigated or disciplined for misconduct over the past decade… Despite their role as public servants, the men and women who swear an oath to keep communities safe can generally avoid public scrutiny for their misdeeds… Police unions and their political allies have worked to put special protections in place ensuring some records are shielded from public view, or even destroyed.

“Reporters from USA TODAY, its 100-plus affiliated newsrooms and the nonprofit Invisible Institute in Chicago have spent more than a year creating the biggest collection of police misconduct records.

“The records obtained include more than 110,000 internal affairs investigations by hundreds of individual departments and more than 30,000 officers who were decertified by 44 state oversight agencies.”

There also was a specific report concerning police chiefs. It turns out that police officers who committed misconduct not only kept their badges but became police chiefs.Fired for a felony, again for perjury. Meet the new police chief.

  • On top of this, I will add a more positive link; a short piece in “Inc.” about how to tell if your leader is as good as he or she thinks. (You can also see my article on Quality Leadership principles.)  I have turned the five points around and made them positive statements about how every leader should act.
  1. They do not interrupt you in mid-sentence.
  2. They listen more than they speak.
  3. They are open to feedback.
  4. They control their emotions.
  5. They admit their faults.

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What to Do When Bad Stuff Happens?

When I was a chief, whenever I came across national news stories about bad cops and bad policing, I would call a press conference (not Tweet) and talk about what we were doing to prevent such negative events happening in our community.

I would say, “I want you to know that this is not us!” I felt it was important to call out and face these unprofessional actions by fellow officers head on.

If police leaders don’t speak up (because they want to “protect” a fellow officer?), the community will think that maybe that’s what their cops think and do.

Silence by police leaders in these matters is unacceptable.

In the meantime, demand good cops and 21st century police practices in your community. Your life might depend on it!