On Policing

Welcome to the On Policing series.

PF On Policing logo final versionOn Policing captures the thoughts of some of the country’s most important voices on contemporary policing. It is intended to stimulate debate about the state of policing and the myriad of challenges involved in controlling crime, disorder, and terrorism in a democracy like ours. The opinions are the authors’ own and may not represent the official position of the Police Foundation. All comments are welcome – especially contrarian ones. We reserve the right to remove hateful or profane posts.

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Please refer to the essay entitled “An Introduction to On Policing” for an in-depth introduction to the series by the Police Foundation’s president, Jim Bueermann. If you would like to contribute to the On Policing series, please send your 500-1000 word essay to onpolicing@policefoundation.org.

 
 
 

Community-Led Policing

Tim Hegarty photo 2By Tim Hegarty
Captain of the Support Services Division
Riley County Police Department

Current models of civilian oversight explicitly separate the roles of the community and the police in the decision-making process. In fact, most civilian oversight exists to address the consequences of decisions already made by the police. The Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing reinforces this separation by recommending “some form of civilian oversight in order to strengthen trust with the community,” and yet it acknowledges there is no evidence to support this recommendation. The President’s Task Force rightly calls for more research into the efficacy of civilian oversight, but there is another model that may be better suited to address the police legitimacy concerns fueling the demand for civilian oversight. Read more

Chief Flynn Discusses Race and Law Enforcement During Presidential Town Hall

FLYNNEdwardAMilwaukee Police Chief and Police Foundation Executive Fellow Edward Flynn took part in the nationally televised town hall forum with President Obama on Thursday, July 14, 2016. The forum tackled race relations and law enforcement, two issues that have been at the forefront of the nation in recent weeks. Chief Flynn addressed both the issues of minorities’ mistrust of law enforcement and the easy availability of high-powered weapons. Read more

If We Open Our Ears and Our Minds, We Can Reconnect with Our Communities

Higgins-Photo-originalBy Ronnell Higgins
Chief of the Yale University Police Department

In the business of policing, we often talk about lessons learned.

Let me tell you something, from my perspective as chief of the university police, we sure have had ample opportunities to learn some lessons here at Yale University over the past year.

Last January, my department came under fire after one of my officers drew his weapon while stopping a young black male who matched the description of an intruder seen at another nearby college where there had been a series of burglaries. It turned out the young man was not the intruder—he was a Yale student. It also turned out the student was the son of a New York Times columnist who took us to task at a time when policing in America, especially in communities of color, was under intense scrutiny. Read more

Taking Emergency Medicine in the Field to a SMART Level

Dr. Neeki and three medics pose for photos at the Colton inpound area. By Dr. Michael Neeki
Associate Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine
Arrowhead Regional Medical Center 

I left Iran more than three decades ago to escape fanatical religious extremism. As one can imagine, I was greatly disheartened upon seeing such zealotry in my home of the United States that fateful day of December 2nd, when the San Bernardino terrorist attack occurred.

I am greatly honored to have been part of the Inland Valley SWAT team, supporting the brave members of the San Bernardino city police and fire department during that tragic event. However, this experience was profoundly sad and devastating due to the loss of life to 14 innocent people, all of whom simply went to work that morning. The work of the first responders to the terrorist attack prevented further loss of life that day. Read more

Orlando Tragedy Spurs Memories for San Bernardino Police Chief

Burguan_JarrodBy Chief Jarrod Burguan
San Bernardino Police Department

With a very heavy heart, I watched the tragic news unfold out of Orlando this past weekend.

It was painful for me to hear of the unconscionable loss of life. It made me proud to see law enforcement responding forcefully and effectively to prevent more people from being slaughtered.

But it was also an odd situation for me, being on the other side of things. It was just seven months ago that I found myself front and center after my city of San Bernardino fell victim to a terrorist attack from a husband and wife who shot and killed 14 innocent people. Read more

Identifying and Developing Latent Diversity in Policing

Johnson ID photoBy Jeremiah Johnson, Ph.D.
Patrol Sergeant
Darien, CT, Police Department

The present crisis in policing has gathered the winds of reform, generating important conversations about what policing should look like in the 21st century.  A clear consensus is often hard to achieve given the constituencies involved, yet there is almost universal agreement that our profession can begin to turn the ship around through improved hiring practices.  This avenue of reform is typically framed within the context of racial and ethnic diversity, the ideal being that a police agency should reflect the face of the community.  This is indeed an important end that can enhance police legitimacy.  The call to increase the number of women in policing is less pronounced, but no less important.  In fact, increasing female representation is arguably one of the most effective ways to reduce the rate of extralegal force.  We would be remiss, however, to straighten our rudder upon reaching some semblance of diversity on these fronts alone. Read more

Tracking Data is Key After a State Legalizes Marijuana

CHIEF Marco Vasquez_croppedBy Chief Marco Vasquez
Chief of Police in Erie, Colorado

My home state of Colorado recently released its first study of the consequences of legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

What surprised me the most is how much we still do not know after six years of commercial marijuana legalization. The study examined as much data as could be found. But therein lies the problem: No one had been effectively tracking marijuana statistics prior to 2010 when Colorado legalized the drug to allow for commercial, medical, and then, in 2012, for recreational use.

It’s why I am here to tell you something important: If your state has not legalized marijuana, you can expect that there is a pretty good chance that will change in the future. What I see across the country is that law enforcement leaders are generally in denial that it will happen in their state. And if it does, the reaction is, “Hell no, we are going to resist it at all cost.”

That was the thinking of Colorado law enforcement leading up to the vote. We simply did not think it would happen, and then when it did, the reaction was: Holy cow, what do we do now? Read more

Law Enforcement Leaders Can Learn from Their Rank-and-File

Frank Tona picBy Sergeant Frank P. Tona
Police Foundation Policing Fellow

Across the United States today, police departments are dealing with increased public scrutiny as a number of highly publicized events have impacted the law enforcement profession. I have read the various reports completed by a multitude of think tanks, working groups, and task forces outlining ways the police can build trust in the communities they serve while performing their jobs in a professional and safe manner.

Absent many of these groups are the perspectives and opinions of current rank-and-file police officers. Many of the contributors are distinguished police commanders, chiefs, and sheriffs focused on finding solutions in their communities while effectively managing their organizations.

I believe many of these agencies have rank-and-file officers who have the knowledge, education, and experience to offer different viewpoints on the issues affecting their communities and profession. The officers, many rank-and-file or mid-level supervisors, not only possess the practical aspects of policing, but also have educational and training backgrounds to qualify their opinions. Unfortunately, police departments are not taking advantage of these types of officers who possess these unique skill sets. Read more

California PD Discusses Relationship with Community in New YouTube Video

vallejo PD seal

By the Vallejo (CA) Police Department
Introduction By Police Foundation
Staff

The Vallejo Police Department has commissioned a promotional video of the California city that it serves and protects. The eight-minute video examines the department’s relationship with the community, both the good and the bad, and addresses the need to reconnect to its roots, hence the name of the video — “Reconnecting” — which can be viewed below and on YouTube.

What’s particularly interesting about this effort is that while VPD paid for the video, it gave complete editorial control of the final product to the local company that recorded, edited and produced it. VPD did not give input or influence to the video. The reason for this was VPD wanted an honest, documentary-styled review of its relationship with the people of Vallejo, which has a population of nearly 120,000. Read more

Lessons Learned from Stockton, CA

Eric Jones photoBy Chief Eric Jones
Stockton, CA, Police Department

Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones knows all about trial by fire. Jones has spent his entire career in the Stockton, CA, department, working his way up the ranks until he became appointed as chief on March 1, 2012, shortly before the city had to file for bankruptcy, which led many of his experienced officers to leave.

Stockton has been considered a crime-heavy city for years, even ranking as Forbes’ eighth most dangerous city in the nation in 2012. And in July 2014, Jones faced one of the hardest, most stressful events any chief has had to face: three armed men stormed a Bank of the West branch, took three hostages, and led police on an hour-long chase, firing more than 100 rounds at the officers with an AK-47 and disabling a dozen police vehicles, including their armored vehicle. The event concluded with a dramatic shootout in which officers fired more than 600 rounds that left one hostage dead, killed by bullets fired by police officers. Jones was lauded for his handling of the traumatic event. None were really surprised because the chief has been praised throughout his tenure for showing how effective true leadership can be. Read more

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