OnPolicing Blog

Welcome to the OnPolicing series.

PF On Policing logo final versionOnPolicing 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 National 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 OnPolicing for an in-depth introduction to the series by the National Police Foundation’s former president and founder of the OnPolicing blog, Jim Bueermann. If you would like to contribute to the OnPolicing series, please send your 500-1000 word essay to info@policefoundation.org.

 

 

 

Counter-Terrorism After 9/11—An interview with Dr. Frank Straub, Director of the Center for Mass Violence Response Studies at the National Police Foundation

Counter-Terrorism After 9/11—An interview with Dr. Frank Straub, Director of the Center for Mass Violence Response Studies at the National Police Foundation

Reprinted with permission from the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) – The Hague

Twenty years ago, Frank Straub was a first responder on the scene of the attacks in lower Manhattan. Looking back, we go through his experience of the day and his perspective on how counter-terrorism in policing changed after the attacks. Interviewing him is Dr. Joana Cook, an ICCT Senior Project Manager and Editor-in-Chief of the ICCT Journal.

JOANA COOK: Dr. Straub, thanks for joining us today. Can you please introduce yourself to our audience?

FRANK STRAUB: I’m the director of the National Police Foundation’s Center for Mass Violence Response Studies. I joined NPF approximately five and a half years ago, after spending thirty years in federal, state and local law enforcement in the United States. Early in my career, I worked in the counter-terrorism, counter-extremism space with the US State Department, and the US Naval Investigative Service. I left and then joined the US Department of Justice Inspector General’s office with the intent of working on public corruption cases. In 1993, when the first attack on the World Trade Centre happened, I ended up becoming involved in that investigation as a result of an individual that we had arrested on bribery charges.

About two weeks after the 9/11 attack, I joined the NYPD as the Deputy Commissioner of Training. I served in that position for about six months and then I was asked to help stand up the counter-terrorism division in the New York City Police Department. After doing that, I went up to a small community about thirty miles north of New York, where I was the Public Safety Commissioner and was there for about nine years and then left and went out to Indianapolis, Indiana, as the Public Safety Director for the city, and then out to Spokane, Washington, where I was the Police Chief. I then joined the National Police Foundation.

COOK: Where were you on the morning of 9/11? What do you remember from that day?

STRAUB: I was working about six blocks south of the World Trade Centre complex. While I was in the elevator, I felt the building shake. I got down to the ground floor and went outside and everybody was looking at the World Trade Centre. I looked up at it, it was an absolutely crystal clear day, and it was clear that a rather large aircraft had hit the tower. From my perspective, it was impossible that it was an accident for a plane, a commercial aircraft, to hit that building. [Based on] my work in the 1993 case, and my work in the Terrorism Task Force, I concluded pretty quickly that this was an intentional attack.

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Co-Responder Models in Policing: Better Serving Communities

By Dean Esserman
National Police Foundation Senior Counselor

Over the last 30 years, a growing number of agencies have increasingly adopted police-mental health collaboration (PMHC) programs, also known as co-responder models, to provide an enhanced response to victims of crime or people in the throes of an emotional or behavioral health crisis[1]. Utilizing this model, law enforcement and mental health clinicians respond to these calls for service together, providing an improved and immediate response to crisis situations by conducting a more accurate needs assessment on scene for the person in distress, and connecting them and their families to community-based resources. While co-responding is certainly not new, it is an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to working with victims of crimes. The journey of a victim does not end with a simple 9-1-1 call, in fact, it is only the beginning of what may be a long journey toward recovery. As law enforcement and community leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that our efforts are not limited to a law enforcement response but rather includes holistic victim services and support.

My first experience with PMHC programs came in 1992, when I was part of a team that built a partnership between the New Haven Police Department and the Yale Child Study Center that focused on children exposed to violence. This collaboration led to the creation of the Child Development/Community Policing Program, in which law enforcement officers and clinicians established training and orientation sessions for one another and worked to establish and implement joint protocols. Eventually, the partnership evolved into responding together to calls for service. The work we did in New Haven was later recognized by the White House, which designated the Yale Child Study Center as the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence.

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Putting Unity in Comm “unity”: Overview of Community-Oriented Policing

By Lashunda Stateson, MSCJ

“We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.” This is a famous quote from the United States’ 28th President, Woodrow T. Wilson. Yet this quote resonates more so today as we see the division between police and citizens along with the numerous protests in response to police misconduct, and the continuous distrust among citizens. Therefore, the concept of community policing is now the most important concept within criminal justice as it is necessary to help bridge the gaps between communities and law enforcement. Community-oriented policing is “an organization-wide policing philosophy and management approach that promotes community, government, police partnerships, and proactive problem solving to reduce a jurisdiction’s crime and social disorder.”1

Implementing such a concept in every precinct can propel moving our country to a more peaceful partnership between those in blue and citizens. As we ponder about ways to bring the community and police officers together, we must sift out the issues that keep them divided. One main issue that divides police and community members is fear of the unknown—i.e., cultural unknowns. If officers are unaware of the cultural differences and ideals of the citizens in which they are interacting, they may detect “normal” or cultural behavior as threatening behavior. This only instills fear in officers, and distrust and miscommunication for citizens. Because of this, we have seen the Zimmerman-Martin cases, in which a Skittles bag and hoodie were seen as suspicious and threatening. Similarly, in the Ahmaud Arbery case that occurred in Brunswick, GA, an unarmed 25-year-old Black man was pursued and fatally shot while jogging in a neighborhood on a public street.

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Is Your Agency Leading the Charge?

By Lieutenant Allen Schubert
Los Angeles Police Department

By now everyone with an interest in law enforcement and mending the rifts in our fractured society has seen the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Those who have sworn to an Oath of Office realize that what happened that day has never been, is not now, or will ever be the true face of law enforcement. The outrage is justifiable and our profession’s response, depending on which city one patrols, has run the gamut from promises of reform to major budget cutting.

As you read this article, the National Police Foundation (NPF) is working with Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) to conduct an independent assessment of the Los Angeles Police Department’s response to the spontaneous protests resulting from this tragedy. We expect these two professional organizations will develop some objective recommendations to assist all law enforcement in meeting the increased expectations of community policing, race-relations, and proportional responses to uses of force. Our Department humbly acknowledges when we make mistakes, and this NPF report may identify areas where we can improve. We weigh all constructive criticism on the same scale as our accolades.

That said, the LAPD has never been a reactive agency. History has shown that our Department has been one of the most forward-thinking and progressive leaders in law enforcement. Proactive change is an unofficial Core Value since the 1965 Watts Riots.  Reformers unaccustomed with LAPD policy are surprised to learn that the carotid restraint hold has been designated an immediate defense of life force option since 1982.[1] Our Department has the most detailed use of force (UOF) policy in the Nation. Even a simple firm grip of an injured detainee will trigger a review process that goes through (at-minimum) four levels in a Bureau Chain of Command, before submission for additional, exhaustive analysis by the Critical Incident Review Division. If it is a Categorical Use of Force, the entire incident goes through additional analysis by the Office of the Chief of Police and the BOPC.

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Militias and Police Normalization of Domestic Violent Extremists

By Chief (Ret.) Jim Bueermann

It is illegal in all 50 states to form unauthorized private militia groups.[1] However, 36 states allow the open carry of firearms at protests. As a result, groups carrying arms and wearing tactical gear at protests can generate the public impression that they are sanctioned by the government and even perhaps aligned with police agencies. That impression presents unique challenges to public and officer safety, all the more so as it becomes normalized

Background

The modern U.S. militia movement dates to the 1990s. For most of their history, these groups have been anti-government, labeling as tyranny, many legislative or judiciary actions. Despite these early leanings, most of the current “mainstream” paramilitary movements have cast themselves as sympathetic to former President Donald Trump and against what they claim to be “deep state” conspiracies. While the large majority of such groups are on the far right of the political spectrum, 2020 also saw activity from the extreme left, for example, in the Pacific Northwest.

During 2020, unauthorized armed groups protested health lockdowns, opposed racial justice protestors, conspired to abduct a state governor, and kill law enforcement officers, and, in an event indelibly imprinted on the country’s collective psyche as well as on policing and history, participated in the siege of the U.S. Capitol during which five people died.  Complicating the problem is the fact that that allegiances can and do change as groups splinter or attach to new grievances or leaders.

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Understanding Intergroup Communication as a Pathway for Improving Police Legitimacy

By Lt. Shawn L. Hill, Santa Barbara Police Department; Howard Giles,
Distinguished Research Professor of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara; Edward R. Maguire, Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Arizona State University

Internal and external communications are essential to the success of police organizations. In this article, we focus primarily on external communications, reflecting on how a body of theory and research from the study of communication can be used to improve relationships between police and communities.

Police scholars and practitioners have identified communication as a key to successful policing for decades. As Stanford law professor David Alan Sklansky (2011) has written, policing’s “primary technology is verbal.” Likewise, former police chief Darrel Stephens co-authored an entire “tool-kit for police executives” on strategic communication. Scholarship in the fields of social psychology, communication, and sociolinguistics teaches us how communication can reinforce social categorizations, sometimes resulting in stereotyping and bias that can damage police-community relations.

The ideal of community policing inspires police to build cohesive relationships with communities as a means of co-producing public safety. Implementing that ideal has often been difficult, due in part to communication challenges between police and communities. Furthermore, communities are not homogeneous; they consist of different groups that may have very different perspectives on the police. Communication mediates intergroup relationships and can play a powerful role in enhancing or diminishing them (Gallois & Giles, 1998). Thus, an important step in implementing genuine forms of community policing is understanding how communicative processes between groups work. Enter the field of intergroup communication.

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The Danger to Policing in Normalizing Extremism

By Chief (Ret.) Jim Bueermann

The sights and sounds of January 6, 2021, are etched into our minds for the remainder of our lives and will no doubt be studied and read about for decades to come. This was no ordinary Wednesday. It could be classified as one of the worst, if not the worst day yet, in American history.

As we contemplate what went wrong and reflect on the differential response and treatment, we should keep our minds open to the possibility that there isn’t one sole explanation or just one take away from the day’s events and how police responded. It is certainly fair to say that had the gathering been a Black Lives Matter protest, the police response may have been significantly different. I believe it would have been. But there may be many more points of failure, blame and cause for concern, including distractions, cultural influences, or even a profound failure of leadership within the federal agencies and offices involved.

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Developing Evidence in De-Escalation of Potential Use of Force Encounters

By Karen L. Amendola, PhD (Chief Behavioral Scientist, National Police Foundation)

Stories about police use of excessive force continue to appear in local and national news headlines. Community-police relationships continue to be strained by these incidents, many of which have been captured on camera and circulated in media. Witnessed and recorded incidents have reportedly led to a loss of trust in the police1 and for calls to defund local police departments. In a post-2020 era, public protestors are calling for replacing police responses with alternative, non-police emergency service members, such as social workers or mental health professionals, with the intent being better outcomes for all parties involved. The emergence of Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) training is, to a great extent, an outgrowth of this strong sentiment across the country, gaining traction after the shooting of Michael Brown.2

Strengthening Community Policing and Trust

In 2015, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing issued its report with recommendations to strengthen community policing and trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.3The report showcased the disparity between the level of confidence in law enforcement among various communities while including a special emphasis on de-escalation—a technique used to reduce the potential for a conflict to become more volatile or violent.3 Pillar 2 of the report, which focused on Policy & Oversight, Action Item 2.2.1 stated, “Law enforcement agency policies for training on use of force should emphasize de-escalation and alternatives to arrest or summons in situations where appropriate.”3 While the statement is general enough to allow room for interpretation and adaptation to local community preferences and needs, it was the subject of much discussion among police leadership as it was not adequately defined.

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Origins of officer-involved shootings: Analysis of data reported to police via 911 calls reveal opportunities to reduce violent outcomes

By National Police Foundation

November 25, 2020—Through the cooperation of more than 50 of the largest law enforcement agencies across the U.S. and Canada, our research team was granted access to the most detailed dataset ever collected on fatal and non-fatal shootings by officers while on duty. Covering the period from 2015 through 2018, these data cover over 1,000 fatal and nonfatal shooting incidents, including characteristics regarding the reason for and circumstance of the encounter, the location, and the officers and the other individuals involved. While differences in data availability and policies impacted our ability to collect every detail across all agencies and incidents, the data provide important insights on these statistically rare, but massively important, events. In particular, the data shed light on an often overlooked aspect of the events that likely contributes significantly to the problem and yet remains understudied and unaddressed.

Although traditional and social media content may lead some to believe that officer-involved shootings most often begin with encounters involving a traffic or vehicle stop, our data reveal that in the large agencies we worked with and those providing sufficient data to assess the origins of these incidents, over half of these events began with a community member calling 911. Slightly less than half of the encounters began by an officer-initiated activity (e.g. initiating a traffic stop).

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Put Your Mask on First—Prioritizing Self Care for Law Enforcement Executives

By Chief Debora Black
Prescott (AZ) Police Department

Thus far, 2020 has produced indisputable evidence of the perils facing law enforcement in the United States and around the world. A global pandemic has taken more than 200,000 lives in the United States including more than 200 deaths of those serving in law enforcement and corrections services. [1] Adding to that toll are stressors created by natural disasters, peaceful protests, civil unrest, riots, and ambush attacks on officers which, of late, occur on a daily basis. The pressures on law enforcement agencies, and the remarkable men and women who lead them have never been greater, and the list of those leaving their agencies, not of their own volition or timing, continues to grow. As a member of this small group of stalwart leaders, I wonder, when was the last time someone asked, “How you are doing? Chief, who has your back?”

From a physical, emotional, and cognitive perspective, this is much more than a rhetorical question. At a time when so much is expected of law enforcement leadership—from the community, your agency, elected officials, and the media—taking care of yourself is likely to be very low on your priority list. With so many demands for your time and attention, what does your self-care even look like? While you may be able to recognize the impacts of anxiety and distress in others, can you recognize when the same stressors have pulled you off balance? And are you willing to take the necessary steps to restore equilibrium and invest in your physical, mental, and emotional health?

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