In the first essays to be published, San Bernardino (CA) PD Chief Jarrod Burguan and San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon discuss the December 2015 terror attack and offer lessons on how other law enforcement practitioners can prepare for similar events.
Under the best of circumstances, many times the knowledge gained from experiences such as San Bernardino and other less high-profile policing situations remains local in that jurisdiction. It can be diluted with the passage of time unless captured in a meaningful way. Rarely does anyone intentionally capture what police chiefs and other officers learned during their careers. The Police Foundation aims to change this situation through this essay series so all – especially those separated by mitigating factors of time and distance – can benefit from both lessons learned and critical discussion about a variety of policing issues.
To read and take part in On Policing, click here or visit www.onpolicing.org.
As police practitioners advance through their careers, they gain invaluable knowledge about controlling crime and disorder, organizational life, and human nature. While they are still “on-the-job”, they are able to convey what they’ve learned to their co-workers or others through meetings or conferences. But when they retire, most of them lose these knowledge-sharing connections and any future links to what they learned over the course of their careers. Under the best of circumstances, almost all of this diffusion of knowledge remains local and can be diluted with time. Rarely are we able to capture what we came to learn during our careers in a way that others can benefit from—especially those separated from us by distance or time.
Historians use “oral histories” to capture the experiences and knowledge of our elders before they are lost. Similarly, the Police Foundation is committed to now widely capturing the knowledge and wisdom of veteran practitioners, policy makers, researchers and involved community members about the constantly changing world of policing. It is our belief that this wisdom will advance our noble profession and help the public understand the complicated and challenging nature of protecting our communities from crime, disorder, and terrorism.
The topics discussed in On Policing are intended to be as diverse as policing is itself. Read More & Share
If you have been in the business of law enforcement for a significant time, there’s no doubt you have had to deal with some extraordinary circumstances and incidents. I have been the Sheriff of San Bernardino County, California, for three years, and I have definitely seen my share of high-profile cases.
Within the first six weeks of being sworn in as the Sheriff, I found myself and my department in the middle of an intense situation involving Christopher Dorner, a deranged ex-cop who terrorized Southern California during a ten-day killing spree that ended in a massive manhunt in my county. Hundreds of news cameras and reporters from throughout the world descended on the scene, and the event became the top national news story for five straight days.
Tragically, three officers and one civilian lost their lives, and many more were seriously injured as a result of Dorner’s domestic terrorist activities. One of my own deputies was killed and another was critically wounded during this event.
As you can imagine, this was one hell of a test in leadership for a brand new Sheriff. And as I expected, more tests were to come. Read More & Share
The day of Dec. 2, 2015 will be etched into my memory for the rest of my life. I’ve spent the better part of my career watching other communities experience mass shooting events at schools, workplaces, churches; the list goes on. On Dec. 2, it was San Bernardino’s turn. It became one of those days that, as a chief, you think about and you run scenarios through your head wondering how you might respond if it ever happens in your city.
Some have said they thought the response from our department and our regional partners that day was textbook. Some have heaped a great deal of praise on the response and the leadership on display that day. I’ll readily admit that it’s nice to hear the compliments, and it feels good to play a part in showing the honorable side of our profession, especially in light of what our profession has been through in recent years.
But inside our department, we know it was organized chaos. It was not flawless and it was not textbook since there are no textbooks that can possibly prepare you for handling these types of dynamic incidents. One person does not make it all happen. This case was brought to a successful ending and was solved because officers not only did their jobs—they showed exceptional skill and intelligence, and they worked together in what will likely be the most complex multijurisdictional event most of them will experience in their careers. Read More & Share
Race continues to influence how people of African descent in the United States are treated by law enforcement. Racism has been a systematic feature of American society and all of its institutions since this nation’s inception. Acknowledgement of the role implicit and overt biases have historically played in creating disparate law enforcement practices and the resulting frictions between African Americans and the police is a reality that should be immediately addressed.
The assignment of Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian and even African American police officers to police poor, predominantly black neighborhoods who have had little or no social contact with members of this group or specific training in how to effectively interact in such environments is an ongoing recipe for disaster. Police officers from each of the aforementioned groups sometimes bring negative attitudes and or stereotypes to these communities that can adversely affect their decisions and the fairness of their enforcement actions.
Some police forces in this nation have historically played critical roles in maintaining positional power for whites. This has created a very difficult chasm to overcome when police departments attempt to implement community policing initiatives. Read More & Share
One of the greatest public policy failures of modern times is the dismantling of our nation’s state mental health systems and the failure to replace them with any meaningful treatment options. The elimination of the mental health hospital system was as disastrous as it was well intentioned.
In the 1970’s, when I was a young police officer, the stated plan was to replace the state hospitals with neighborhood mental health clinics. Officers could take people they encountered in difficult but not criminal situations to these clinics for an assessment and treatment if required. For those persons who didn’t qualify to be held for 72 hours, they did get counseling, medication or just a place to sit quietly. It was an incredible resource for police officers. Sadly, funding for the program was eliminated. Worse, nothing came along to replace it.
What is left is a system that all too often consigns people to the street and eventually the correctional system, usually the county jail. Our jail and prison facilities have unfortunately replaced the mental health care system. Read More & Share
As he named Interim Chief Stawinski to the position of Chief, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said, “He is a 23 year veteran of the department and has served admirably as Deputy Chief under Chief Magaw. He is commander of the Bureau of Patrol, PGPD’s chief crime data analyst, director of PGPD’s community policing, public relations, and communications efforts. In addition, Deputy Chief Stawinski has served as the top liaison for the police department and public safety for our Transforming Neighborhoods initiative.”
Chief Stawinski joined the Prince George’s County Police Department in 1992, following in the footsteps of his father who also served in the department. The Police Foundation congratulates Chief Stawinski on his appointment and looks forward to working closely with him in the future.
Police use of force is governed by a complex set of laws, legal precedents, and policies. While a topic of considerable concern to the community, it is not well understood. Today, the Police Foundation adds to the discussion by releasing an infographic intended to educate the public by visually describing the complex considerations that determine when police use of force is lawful, even when it may appear otherwise.
The infographic, entitled When Can the Police Use Force – and What Happens When They Do?, points out that use-of-force is governed by laws at the federal and local levels, and its justification is dependent on the reasonable perspective of the involved officers at the very moment force was used—not on thoughtful, retrospective examination and questioning. Articulating and explaining this information to the public is critical because these incidents bring challenging and complex considerations that are often not apparent to the public. With this infographic, the public can be better informed about when the police can use force and how police are held accountable for use-of-force situations. The infographic is available here.
With more than 27 years in law enforcement, including service with the Sacramento Police Department and the Menlo Park (CA) Police Department, Chief Moir brings a wealth of law enforcement and leadership experience to her new position in Tempe. The Police Foundation is very excited for Chief Moir and for the citizens of Tempe on her selection. We look forward to the positive impact she will have in partnership with the citizens of Tempe. To read local news coverage of her selection, please click here.