Essential Questions for 21st Century Police

Having served as a police officer and leader during the last half of the 20th century I have some questions that I would like to present to today’s police officers. Questions that will hopefully help them craft their role in this new century.

I suggest that discussing these questions and grappling with them could be very beneficial to their future and to the future of this nation.

  1. What are your core values? Do you know, respect and adhere to them? Are you recruiting and selecting practices, assignments, and promotions which are tied to your core values? In short, who are you as person and an organization?
  2. How are you responding to the fact that national surveys regarding trust among the poor and people of color (with whom police have the most dealings) is poor and needs improvement? What specific actions are you implementing and are they measurable? How are you sharing with these communities what you are doing and your results?
  3. How are you working to reduce your use of deadly force especially with persons who are NOT armed with a firearm? How has your training, policy, and methods changed? Have you shared what you are doing to reduced deadly force with your various communities? (There are 29 posts on this blog with regard to this subject – search “deadly force.”)
  4. How are your leader being trained and supported? Is the objective of your agency to field leaders who listen to the good ideas of those whom they are privileged to lead? Is the mission of a leader in your organization to “grow” subordinate officers? Do your leaders see themselves as servant leaders? Do they respect you? (See Principles of Quality Leadership.)
  5. Are you listening to those whom you serve? What methods are you using to listen and stay in touch with the citizens you serve? Are community forums designed to deeply listen to community members and act on their input? Do you have data to indicate that community members feel that you listen to them and show them respect? Do you actively survey (ask for feedback); especially from those who have been ticketed or jailed?

Police Offices Must Be Professional

Professionals ask questions. And they listen, deeply listen. They review their practices in order to continuously improve all that they do. This involves self-assessment, self-awareness, empathy, generous listening skills, and the desire to grow.

Professionals adhere and contribute to an agreed-upon body of knowledge — best known practices. They learn from their mistakes, share that learning, and sanction those who do not follow the rules of good practice, are dishonest, or lack integrity.

Professionals are life-long learners committed to continuous improvement and high customer/client satisfaction.

Police must be those members of government who have the goal of “service above self;” who contribute to and reinforce the values of the society in which they serve; in short, they are the first-line protectors of our Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

Therefore, police are vital to our free and democratic society. They matter!