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.

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.

 

 

 

Getting Ready for the NIBRS Transition

By Sheriff Anthony Wickersham (Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan) and Col. Edwin Roessler (Chief of Police, Fairfax County, VA)

On January 1, 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will retire the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s Summary Reporting System (SRS). After then, the FBI will only collect crime statistics through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). We should understand why this is an important move and prepare for it.

Why NIBRS matters

NIBRS is more comprehensive and detailed than SRS.  Although SRS has served our nation for many decades, NIBRS is a more modern system with a number of advantages: Read More & Share

Community Policing and Public Transportation

By Lieutenant Allen Schubert
Los Angeles Police Department

On July 1, 2017, the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) newly-formed Transit Services Bureau (TSB) and Transit Services Division (TSD) entered into a five-year contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) with the promise to provide safe and effective conveyance for all 1.5 million Angelenos who commute daily along the 95 miles of rail lines and 1,700 bus routes. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has made it very clear that there are no caveats when it states, “all Angelenos.” In the past, several entities have tried to fulfill this commitment, but fell just short of METRO’s expectations. The biggest problem: they were using traditional policing models to handle radio calls. Specifically, calls for service on the rails and buses were just added onto the heavy call load of an already-established division. Officers would respond by patrol vehicle from their normally-patrolled jurisdiction, handle the issue, and quickly dart back to their field duties. This resulted in poor response times and a disconnect between the rail/bus commuters and officers. In addition, officers never gained a fundamental working knowledge of the quality-of-life issues plaguing the transportation riders. Read More & Share

Technology and police operations

By Nola M. Joyce
Former Deputy Commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department

Policing technology has moved out of the backrooms of the administration building to the core of police operations.

Today police departments are using surveillance cameras, gunshot detection systems, automated license plate readers, facial recognition software, body cameras, drones, and numerous databases to prevent, respond and investigate crimes.

The near future holds even more possibilities, such as driverless patrol cars with heads-up screens, delivering information as the car patrols the streets. Augmented reality and artificial intelligence will eventually find its way into policing.  Smart police uniforms could monitor and report on officers’ stress levels and the surrounding environmental conditions and provide situational awareness to supervisors about their officers.

The question is not whether this technology exists, but rather, should police use it when it becomes available to them? And, if so, how should it be used? Read More & Share

The school shootings that don’t happen

By Chief Dean Esserman (Ret.)
Police Foundation Senior Counselor

Every single school shooting is a tragedy steeped in pain and loss. 

But for every school attack, there are many more that are prevented. Typically, attacks are averted because someone warned law enforcement or school officials. That can be a potential shooter’s family member, a friend, classmate, staff at school or just someone who saw enough of something to say something. 

We know this has happened because we have been tracking averted attacks for almost two years . We also believe there are many attacks that have been prevented that we don’t know about. Yet.  Read More & Share

The missing link in policing

By Chief Cameron S. McLay (ret.)

Leading from the front, the New York Police Department has begun exploring mechanisms to incorporate sentiment analysis — data about public perceptions —  as a component of its flagship performance management system.

They are on to something important. The NYPD knows that it matters how members of the public feel about police services.

Police are dependent upon the support and cooperation of the public to be effective, and communities are likewise dependent upon the police to help create safe communities.

If you ask most police officers, they will tell you their role is simply to respond to police calls for service, fight crime, and arrest violators of the law as the intake process for the criminal justice system. Read More & Share

The top 5 policing essays of 2017

From community connections to body cameras to training technology to use of force — from looking back at lessons from a deadly attack to looking ahead to needed policy — leaders in policing furthered discussions nationwide on important industry topics.

As we head into 2018, we at the Police Foundation are taking the opportunity to revisit the top five most read and talked about essays from 2017, because they (and the others) are worth another look. Read More & Share

Tactical lessons from San Bernardino attack

By Chief Travis Walker
Cathedral City (CA) Police Department

Two years ago, on Dec. 2, I was the tactical commander for the San Bernardino Police Department during a terror attack that claimed the lives of 14 people and injured 22 others.

Saturday’s anniversary brought back a lot of memories. I am reminded of the first responders who endured the unimaginable sights, sounds and smells while suppressing personal feelings as they carried out a very unpredictable mission.

Serving as the overall tactical commander responding to this tragedy, I was also reminded of the teamwork, tenacity and courage of law enforcement officers from several agencies that ultimately stopped the two terrorists, whose names won’t be repeated here because they deserve no recognition, no glory, for their cowardly act against the innocent.

Since then, I was fortunate to become the chief of the Cathedral City Police Department in Southern California. It’s been interesting to me how many people have asked what I learned from that horrific event and what changes I brought to the department when I came on board in September 2016. Read More & Share

A Hippocratic Oath for policing

Sgt. Jeremiah P. Johnson
Darien (CT) Police Department

The recent spotlight on deadly use-of-force encounters has led John Jay College of Criminal Justice Professor David Kennedy to ruminate whether the field of policing should have its own Hippocratic Oath.  

The Hippocratic Oath is commonly encapsulated as “do no harm.” Medicine’s Hippocratic Oath has changed form since the days of ancient Greece, but its spirit lives on among physicians.

Police are society’s physicians, the kind that still make house calls.

It is the physician’s job to examine the patient, diagnose the underlying condition and prescribe an effective course of treatment. A doctor that only attends to visible symptoms, provides ineffective medicine, or treats in a manner that is ultimately harmful has failed the patient. Read More & Share

When did ‘community’ get dropped from policing?

By Chief Don Shinnamon
Retired

When did we lose sight of our responsibility to engage the community in crime fighting?  I would argue it occurred when our sole focus became rapid deployment of resources in response to crime data.

Call it what you will, Compstat, Hot Spot Policing, Predictive Modeling, some communities feel, right or wrong, that the police have become an oppressive occupying force.   

This essay is meant to be provocative.   It is not a scholarly document, rather the observations of someone who has raised the flag of concern about police becoming an occupying force in communities before most current police executives graduated from the police academy. Read More & Share

Body Cameras Work – Just Not in the Way You Think

By Dan Honig
and Jayme Johnson

Much has been written in the past few days about a recent study of 2,600 police officers in Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, which concluded that body cameras have no statistically significant
impact on police officers’ use of force.

This is perhaps less surprising a finding than some commentators suggest.

A body camera might prevent the odd swear word or inappropriate comment when an officer is relaxed while conscious of the device attached to their ballistic vest. But in a heated situation where force becomes necessary, it is instinct rather than careful consideration that takes over, with more deeply ingrained behaviors coming to the fore. If the instinct to use force is deeply ingrained, it doesn’t matter whether a camera is rolling.

That said, cameras are not useless. They just serve a different purpose: rather than changing ingrained behaviors, they illuminate them for police and public scrutiny. Read More & Share

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