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.

 
 
 

Study Tries to Disrupt Burglary Pattern

image1By Cmdr. Chris Catren
Redlands Police Department

If a burglary has occurred near your house within the week, your home is at an elevated risk for crime.

This is a phenomenon known as Near Repeat, and policing and research experts recently collaborated on a program to prevent it.

The consequent study just won the Redlands Police Department the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Award.

Dr. Travis Taniguchi was a research criminologist with the RPD when he and Dr. Liz Groff (Temple University) had the idea in 2012.

They had been talking about Near Repeats, and how, at least in the United States, there had not been good implementation of crime prevention around the area of burglarized homes.

Research indicates, that, once that burglary happens, homes in the area surrounding the crime are at higher risk of being burglarized in future, and yet there were no plans to use that information to prevent it. Read more

Harm Reduction and 21st Century Policing

Tim-Hegarty-photo-2-1By Capt. Tim Hegarty
Riley County (KS) Police Department

In their recent paper titled Reinventing American Policing, Cynthia Lum and Daniel Nagan lay out a blueprint for transforming 21st century policing in a way that makes the profession more effective in providing safety and security for the public while maintaining trust in the police by the public.

Their plan is based upon two guiding principles.

First, crime prevention should take priority over arrests, and second, how citizens perceive police efforts at crime prevention should be considered independently from the results of those efforts.

The paper itself is a must read for any police executive, but a critical point made by the authors about the evolution of policing might be easily overlooked. Read more

Cures Act is Step in Right Direction

tammy mccoy arballo mugBy Tammy McCoy-Arballo
Counseling Team International Clinical Psychologist

Well, it is about time.

This needed to happen.

For too long we have required our law enforcement officers to respond to incidents involving people experiencing symptoms of mental illness and not given all of our officers the needed training.

The many law enforcement officers I know are incredibly talented and skilled at a great many things. They have tremendous communication skills and are able to master the moment when they are faced with the unexpected.

However, it is simply unfair to send any of law enforcement officer to those calls without training and education about the aspects of various mental illnesses. Read more

Community Evacuation: What Works and What Hurts

Sheriff-Mike-WilliamsBy Sheriff Mike Williams
Jacksonville (FL) Sheriff’s Office

When a storm like the recent Hurricane Matthew is headed our way, we need to persuade residents to evacuate, which can be a challenge.

If you’ve lived in Florida any amount of time, you become your own hurricane expert. You’re always going to have people who think, “It didn’t happen last time, so we’re not going to abide by an evacuation order.”

In terms of a catastrophic storm, like an Andrew Category 4 or 5, I think you would have more cooperation from people.

I have been through these storms — named storms where we activate — maybe two or three a year for about 10 years, and I, just like they do, remember so many times a big storm didn’t materialize.

This was one of those that was potentially borderline. The issue with these storms is that they’re all different. Weather is dynamic. Not every Category 2 is the same. This had potential for storm surge. We were going to have more water than in the past and that can cause big issues for everybody and be life threatening. Read more

A Little Whimsy Helps the Warn-and-Scold

Tony Zerwas picBy Officer Tony Zerwas

“Don’t speed.”

“Wear your seatbelt.”

“Don’t drink and drive.”

Have you heard this before? Traditional messages similar to these are posted on law enforcement social media pages on a daily basis throughout the country. The messages are well intended, but have been repeated so much that they often fall on deaf ears. As law enforcement agencies, we must find a way to adapt and share these messages in a more effective manner. How do you accomplish this? Easier said than done, right?

Wrong.

It’s really simple.

Read more

The Importance of Shop with a Cop

seanthuilliezBy Chief Sean Thuilliez
Beaumont (Ca.) Police Department

My family and I had just driven 9-year-old Indicta from our police station to the local Walmart for our annual Shop with a Cop.

We climbed out of my unmarked vehicle, preparing to join with the other 39 cop-and-child combos to go and find perfect holiday gifts for all of the kids, who come from low-income families. But Indicta’s mother approached us first and raised some concerns.

She explained that Indicta’s father, before leaving for a self-described 30-day camping trip that he never returned from, told Indicta to always behave while he was gone or “the men in blue” would come to take her away. The comment apparently had a powerful impact on the child, and a negative one at that.

The mother then said she was concerned that Indicta would not get a true understanding of police officers because my family was accompanying me. She also did not understand why we were in an unmarked car and not a cruiser with lights and sirens.

At first, her concerns caught me by surprise. But I listened to her, making sure I understood the issues, and then first explained that we were in an unmarked car because it’s my assigned vehicle.

And then I tackled what for me was the more important issue – why my family (my wife, daughter age 20 and son who is 11) had come along. Read more

Deadly Force Encounters and Difficult Conversations

Tim Hegarty photo 2By Capt. Tim Hegarty
Riley County (KS) Police Department

With each new police deadly force encounter, regardless of the circumstances, the opposing sides are becoming more polarized, as if some critical mass is building in the space between.

One of the primary forces behind this mass is the concept of blame.

Stone, Patton and Heen explain in their book “Difficult Conversations” that blame accomplishes three things. First, it assigns the responsibility for the problem to one person or group. Second, it judges the actions of that one person or group to be wrong. Third, as the person or group who caused the problem was wrong, blame calls for that person or group to be punished.

The authors note that blame directs the focus backward, on the past, and consequently an emphasis on blame will never create a path forward to a solution.

Moving away from blame first requires that we acknowledge both sides have been engaged in its practice. Read more

Pre-Arrest Diversion Programs: The Future of Policing

bob-gualtieri-02By Sheriff Bob Gualtieri
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Florida

People make mistakes. They do stupid things. Sometimes they make bad choices because they are down on their luck and don’t feel they have another option.

But it is important to realize there is a big difference between bad people who do bad things that hurt people and good people who make an error in judgment because they are young and immature or just find themselves in a bad spot.

Here in Pinellas County, Florida, time and again we see people making these mistakes, getting convicted, serving time or paying large fines and ultimately, leaving themselves with criminal records that will often haunt them for much or all of their lives. Given how information today is so readily available, that statement really is true. There are even websites now where anyone can locate a person’s mugshot for what in some cases is really just a petty offense.

After a lot of talking and planning, we have decided that in our county, just because people do something wrong doesn’t mean they all should be saddled with an undue weight for the remainder of their days. In October, we started an Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion program aimed at preventing these sorts of errors from keeping people from getting a job or stable housing. Read more

It’s Not Weak to Feel Psychological Trauma – It’s Human

tammy-mccoy-picBy Tammy McCoy-Arballo
Counseling Team International Clinical Psychologist

Being courageous does not mean you are not afraid. Courageous people are afraid, but fear does not stop them from confronting danger. I have been thinking about courage and danger a great deal as the first anniversary of the San Bernardino terrorist attack neared. We saw a tremendous amount of courage from the men and women in law enforcement who responded to the Inland Regional Center a year ago today.

As the anniversary of the San Bernardino terrorist attack dawns, it seems only natural to ask: “What would I do in that situation?” and “How would I react to the emotional strain caused by an event like that?”

A husband and wife tandem fired off hundreds of rounds during the Dec. 2, 2015 attack, killing 14 people and seriously injuring 22 others – all civilians. The pair was killed hours later during a firefight with officers, some who were injured during the exchange of gunfire.

Of course all law enforcement officials hope such circumstances never repeat themselves, but it would be normal for all who carry a badge and gun to look inward and ponder how they would respond if they faced the same situation or some sort of active-shooter event. Media reports describe a broad range of emotions from responding officers, from anxiety to excitement. Read more

Raising Our Standards Above Criminal Culpability

FLYNNEdwardABy Chief Edward A. Flynn
Milwaukee Chief of Police

These days, there cannot be many more difficult jobs than being a cop in the United States. It’s reached such a point that in many ways, I can liken it to being a member of the military, serving overseas in a hot zone.

I say that because much like in the military, we in the law enforcement community are in the business of making critical decisions that impact people’s lives, and yet have to make those tough decisions with insufficient information. We are going to make mistakes. We can’t not make them.

We are encountering criminals with high-capacity firearms who are becoming more sophisticated at being criminals every day. They are cold, calculating and clearly have no problem killing people, particularly people in our inner cities. We also deal on a daily basis with more mental health issues than mental health professionals. Read more

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