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How to improve policing and police-community relations in Minnesota

This is a response to MinnPost’s July 13 Community Voices commentary, “A blueprint for better policing in Minnesota,” by James Densley and Jon R. Olson.

Michael W. Quinn

Let me start by saying that I respect both of these authors and their goal of trying to improve policing in Minnesota. My comments are not a criticism of them; their ideas are the result, in my opinion, of their lack of experience in law enforcement. This is not to say that they don’t understand the criminal justice system. I know they do, but they are missing the experience that comes from working in a squad car. The authors call this article a blueprint. It is not a blueprint; if it were it would have concrete actionable items, which it does not. It is what many academics, politicians, activists, and community members are buying into without knowing the ins and outs of what they are proposing. It is done in most cases with all good intentions, but it is not a workable blueprint.

Our police executives are writing and proposing much the same thing. At a recent conference of the Police Executive Research Forum, police executives from across the country got together to discuss what needs to be done to improve police-community relations. Their answer? Our cops have to be more respectful of the people. With that ethereal notion in mind PERF should have turned to Chief Todd Axtell of St. Paul Police Department and Chief Michael Harrison of the New Orleans Police Department and said: “How do we make that happen?” But they didn’t. And therein lies the problem. How do we make that happen? I don’t have all the answers, but with that in mind, I would like to address some of the issues brought up in Densley and Olson’s commentary.

With regard to police instructors: There is no question that there are active-duty and retired cops who should not be police instructors. They can be identified by their emphasis on “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude, enforcement of the law because the law is the law, and their unwillingness to embrace the community as full partners in the system. But, eliminating retired cops from teaching law-enforcement classes is akin to eliminating retired M.D.s from teaching medicine. The authors appear to base this idea on the assumption that cops are only capable of a warrior mentality, and that is not true.

First of all, retired cops are usually better instructors because they have had the time to reflect on their training and experience over the years and reconnect with their communities in ways that were not possible when they were caught up in the everyday business of policing. They tend to bring a more balanced and mature approach to the table.

Guardians by nature; warriors when necessary

Second, it is wrong to assume that we are strictly guardians and not warriors. This analogy has been used a lot lately and it implies many of the wrong ideas. First, cops do have a role as guardians. By way of examples: We patrol areas to show our presence and availability to the community. We issue traffic citations in order to remind people of the dangers inherent in violating traffic laws. We respond to domestics in order to help men and women get the help they need to either get out of their current situation or get help to resolve their differences.

In terms of guarding communities, we cannot and never will be able to protect everyone. We respond to tragedy; we can seldom prevent it. We don’t have control over poverty, the educational system or employment opportunities for people of color. We know these are huge factors in the criminal justice system; but we have no influence or control of them.

We respond to death scenes, many of them tragic. We must attempt to be consolers when we are asked questions that can only be answered by God.

If you want a warrior/guardian analogy use Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s: We are the sheepdogs: directing, guiding, protecting, and serving – but able and willing to put it all on the line when the wolves attack. And when that attack comes we are warriors, laying down our lives if necessary so that others may live. 

Next: I like the idea of a four-year degree because those officers have a little more life experience and often are more “culturally competent.” I led the training of over 300 officers in the Minneapolis police academy and I can tell you that the maturity shown by older recruits was a huge benefit to them, and to the citizens of Minneapolis. Less testosterone-based decision-making and more reflection on their role in policing were evident in role plays and training. I would strongly recommend that an agency only hire men and women over 25 years of age. But mandating a four-year degree for entry into a peace-officer training program only works when the pool of candidates is big enough to support it, and it would eliminate a lot of people of color.

Also, a four-year degree does not, by itself, imply that the recruit will be a good cop. Some of the best street cops I knew, trained, supervised, or otherwise worked with would probably not be good candidates for the dean’s list at a four-year university. But if you knew them, they would be the first people you would want showing up when your life is in chaos and you need a police officer. We don’t need “elite college graduates”; we need people who want to serve their community.

Military model is a disaster

I don’t know what the authors mean by a “rigorous academy,” but I do know that at its core it must be about taking officers to new levels of skills and abilities with positive motivation. The old military model is not only obsolete; it is a disaster for the community.

As the former deputy director of the Police Corps Program, a federally funded program that was supposed to teach community leadership along with police skills, I can attest to the fact that recruiting liberal arts and STEM graduates to be cops is difficult at best, and in today’s climate is probably even harder. Cultural competency from a liberal arts education is extremely desirable and those recruits who have even a basic appreciation and understanding of other cultures are ahead of the game in terms of communication skills on the job. STEM graduates, business degree grads, law degrees, etc., are all sought after by police chiefs because of the contributions they are prepared to make. Salaries, community animosity toward cops, and lack of promotional opportunities in smaller agencies are, and always will be, huge barriers to hiring these potential leaders.

Next: A single state police academy might work if we used the model I worked with in a program called POCOP. Police agencies would hire the persons that they want based on background, education, testing, etc. The agency would make the job offer and the recruit would draw a starting salary when the academy starts. Full salary and employment would be contingent on passing the academy. The academy would provide the core law-enforcement classes and skills training required by the POST Board to anyone who meets at least the minimum education and/or background to be a licensed peace officer in Minnesota. The downside to this is that we would have to dismantle an educational system that provides training across the state. A person trained in law enforcement or criminal justice may or may not end up in a peace officer’s job, but the education in the criminal justice system will be valuable to them in whatever career they follow. We don’t criticize students who pursue degrees in political science, art history, or law even though we know that many of them will never find a career in those fields. Why would we criticize law-enforcement and criminal-justice students or the schools that train them?

With respect to the academy idea, unless things have changed drastically, I would never co-locate the course with the State Patrol. As the deputy director of the Police Corps program working under the auspices of the State Patrol it was my experience that their idea of training peace officers is anathema to what real community policing is supposed to be. The constant screaming, degrading (right up until graduation day), and focus on beating people down mentally and physically was one of the reasons I left the program in 2002.

Location: Twin Cities

As far as location goes, if you want candidates who reflect your community you must put the academy central to the Twin Cities where people have access to it. The St. Paul Police and Chief Axtell truly understand what a community cop should be, and they would be a great resource and venue for any program. Also, transportation is a critical factor for new recruits. Putting the academy out and away from public transportation and making it residential will eliminate many of very candidates every department is trying to hire. Once again, it would make it harder for a person living in hard circumstances to be part of the program.

Next: As for funding, agencies are already paying for the background checks, psychological exams, testing, recruiting, and marketing of their agency. State funding could provide funds for the training, but it might make more sense to just make the academy an affordable, not-for-profit organization led by an experienced law-enforcement trainer working with a civilian from the Twin Cities community. Chief Norm Stamper’s comments on MPR the other day were wonderful and his thought, to paraphrase, that we will know community policing when we see police commanders and civilians in equal roles in a police department, was perfect.

Next: I take offense, and I am pretty sure the law-enforcement training community will justifiably take offense, to the implication that they “breeze over” some of the critical aspects of police training. I am not sure what the “other stuff” is that the authors are talking about. The argument is often made that police training emphasizes firearms and deadly-force training by dedicating many more hours to those skills than it does to communication skills or de-escalation techniques. You cannot compare the many hours it takes to make someone proficient in the use of firearms and deadly force with the training in communications, de-escalation techniques or implicit bias. They are different skill sets requiring different kinds of training. Should we devote more time to communication skills? Absolutely, but once again I go back to my experience and I can say that the majority of poor communication skills are introduced by bad trainers outside of, and in violation of, curriculum or training policy.

Are we too militarized? Yes, but not in the way you probably think. From time to time we are armed warriors with the tools, military and otherwise, that we need to get the job done. As peace officers, we need those tools that at the very least match the weapons and tactics of our worst adversaries; witness Dallas, Texas. The attitude that can come with the use of those tools is the problem. We are not the military. We are citizens working with other citizens to provide a safe environment for all. When we take on the attitude of soldiers occupying an area, based on our equipment, uniforms, and biases against people who are “not us” we become armed combatants with the attitude to match. As human beings we are all capable of acting in truly horrific ways toward each other. Dr. Ervin Staub’s work documents over and over again what savagery is possible: The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence.

Because we are also not sheep. There are times when we must be able to call upon that savagery in a controlled manner. Witness Flight 93 on 9/11. Citizens, when the need arose, became warriors willing to risk it all to save others — knowing that it probably meant their own death. This was a homicidal/suicidal act that would be unimaginable, even to the actors, under other circumstances, but it is a necessarily accessible component of a peace officer’s makeup. The community and peace officers depend on that warrior spirit to come alive when needed to do the things most citizens cannot or will not do. Learning to use that terrible power requires hours and hours of hands-on training lest it be used the wrong way, so we do.

It’s not the gear; it’s the attitude

Next: I have written over and over again about police accountability and the militarization of police tactics. I too want a police department that does not look and act like the military. However, it is clear from recent events that unless you are willing, as a community, to call in the Army or National Guard when we have events like Dallas, and all the other mass shootings and attacks on innocent civilians, you must prepare police officers to work with and use military equipment to end those events. I don’t like that we have gotten to this point, but I am not going to pretend that we haven’t. What we must eliminate is the attitude that goes with the military-style uniforms and equipment. There is a certain amount of pride in what we do and we must fight to not let it become hubris when we put on that uniform. I am guessing that the first uniformed police officers dealt with the same problem, going from civilian clothes to a uniform.

Finally: Many police trainers will say, “We are the law.” When taken out of context that comment sounds terrible, and scary. But what is meant by most trainers is this: Peace officers have incredible control over people’s lives in the exercise of enforcing the law. As peace officers we have a moral responsibility to enforce the law fairly. That means recognizing that every decision made by a peace officer with respect to enforcement is a moral decision. Not everyone should be arrested for an act that violates the letter of the law. Not everyone needs to go to jail. The poor teenage dad with a beater car who hasn’t renewed his plates because he can’t afford to do that and feed his wife and child this month does not need a citation and his vehicle towed even if the law says you should give him one. He needs access to resources to help him make good decisions about how to survive. We are the law and with that power comes the responsibility to enforce it fairly, justly, and with compassion. Most important, everyone needs to be treated with respect. The disrespectful acts that one officer may get away with will at some time come back in the form of anger and violence toward another officer. We don’t want to admit that the horrendous acts committed in Dallas and now Baton Rouge are, in part, a response to the constant barrage on the web and in social media of real police misconduct. But it’s true.

Body cameras

My recent experience with body cameras and working for many months with the New Orleans Police Department convinced me, and the vast majority of New Orleans cops, that body cameras are an essential part of police work. I love the idea of taking it to the next level with cameras facing backward and forward. I believe the law about body cameras in Minnesota is a disaster. Cops must be able to access footage before making their reports. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is able to write a completely accurate report of what occurred in a critical situation based solely on their memory. The body camera law in Minnesota is a trap for police officers and we will reap the rewards of that trap with increased litigation and accusations of lying in our reports.

New technology will hopefully give us more nonlethal tools, but there will always be confrontational traffic stops, warrant arrests, people with killing on their minds, and though we are guardians by nature we must continue to be warriors when necessary in defense of ourselves or, more often, the community we serve. 

Michael W. Quinn is chairman of the Inver Hills Community College Law Enforcement Advisory Board, a retired Minneapolis Police sergeant, and CEO of the International Ethics and Leadership Training Bureau, LLC. He is a husband, father, and grandfather.  

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Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 07/22/2016 - 09:02 am.

    I don’t see why…

    …when cops mistakenly shoot an innocent person they can’t just admit the cop who did the shooting is incompetent as least and fire him. The cop who shot Castile was under no threat. He thought Castile was pulling a gun, he claims, but he never saw a gun. The smoke screen about was it a traffic stop or crime stop covers up that the cop wasn’t following his own procedures and an innocent person died as a result. I have been driving a lot longer than Castile. I think I had one equipment failure stop in 50 years of driving and I was given a warning. I have made many turns over the years where I failed to signal. I have failed to have my most recent insurance notice in my car and had to give the cop an old one. Why was I, an old white guy, given more consideration than Castile.

    Our latest example if the guy in Florida who did everything possible to protect the life of the autistic man. Apparently the cop is too incompetent to aim his gun accurately. In this case that was a good thing. But you have the guy the cops thought was a victim begging them no to shoot. It is obvious the autistic guy was not armed. There is nothing threatening in the video that has been released. If the shooter could not see and hear all that he never should have shot if he were at all competent. Whether these cops were racists or not, they were still obviously incompetent. If a cop shoots an innocent person that alone should be enough to get him fired at least. I wonder if that therapist in Florida will retire on the millions his lawyer is about to collect for him.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/22/2016 - 09:43 am.

      I hope so

      That therapist should be able to make enough to live comfortably for the rest of his life, and have a little extra for the arthritis he’ll have in that leg when he gets older. While they’re at it, they should compensate the patient, too. I imagine he was terrified! Stupid should hurt, especially when stupid holds the power of life and death in his hands.

    • Submitted by Michael Quinn on 07/22/2016 - 10:15 am.

      Police Shootings

      Bill,
      I understand your comments. I have worked as an expert witness on police cases for several years now and these shootings of unarmed men and women usually have no justification. There is a growing belief in law enforcement training circles that cops are required to “Shoot First and ask questions later”. It’s wrong and it’s dangerous. It is a practice we must fight against. Go to http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/us/training-officers-to-shoot-first-and-he-will-answer-questions-later.html
      You will see the problem.

  2. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/22/2016 - 09:18 am.

    Gonna be honest

    “…but they are missing the experience that comes from working in a squad car.”

    I hope this piece gets better because I think, and I’m not alone, working in a squad car is a big part of what’s wrong with modern policing. I’ll keep reading, but the tone might just have been set…

    • Submitted by Michael Quinn on 07/22/2016 - 10:18 am.

      Policing

      I don’t understand your comment. I suppose I could have said it better by saying: missing the experience of years of law enforcement work in this city.

  3. Submitted by Jim Million on 07/22/2016 - 09:23 am.

    Border Collies

    I very much like like this allusion of policing. It fosters an image of gentle guidance of our society, working on the borders between civil conduct and aberrant social behavior. It also exemplifies the intricacies required in training and discipline.

    As a caution, we must be watchful in monitoring the work in our pastures and farmyards, cognizant of the changing natures of both sheep and collies as our herd grows in size, admitting we may need to modify or increase training and technique. Given this excellent pastoral example, we must also beware that sometimes some collies become dysfunctional, first exhibiting aberrant behavior before committing disastrous acts.

    We might revisit a most dramatic film scene in “Far from the Madding Crowd,” in which the border collies
    suddenly go rogue and drive the sheep over the cliff. Such occasional chaos should remind us that guiding our herd to better grazing ground is essential for growth and wool production, but ultimately pointless if we end up losing the sheep. All citizens must be responsible shepherds, as well, if we all wish to be cozy and secure in our warm wool winter sweaters.

    • Submitted by Michael Quinn on 07/22/2016 - 10:09 am.

      Sheepdogs

      I would add that sheepdogs could learn to love mutton, given the right circumstances. The abuse of power leads to more abuse of power. In my expert witness work I can tell you that I have seen many reports where cops were not held accountable for their unjust actions.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 07/22/2016 - 11:16 am.

        Better to Respect & Understand the Sheep

        I take it you don’t mean “love mutton” in the literal sense of taste. We can’t have them going crazy and eating the flock. In the film’s example, the shepherd shoots his dogs, leaving him with nothing. He can’t afford more sheep or new dogs, so he must go elsewhere.

        One point of training and ongoing supervision of officers should relate to those old issues of “group think,” “bunker mentality,” “self-affirmation.” I often wonder if it’s wise to run Facebook pages and Twitter feeds for nebulous effect. It must be far too easy for a given officer to develop a personal sense of isolation, at minimum, group isolation within his/her band of brothers/sisters. How self-affirming and negatively reinforcing can the constant cycle of cable chaos become before some decompensate or act out inappropriately? How real is Dallas or Baton Rouge to Shoreview officers, for example? How easy is it to exaggerate one’s personal situation in this 24/7/365 info-feeding diet of generalization?

        Could we use more mental health rotations among positive encounters? Can that Shoreview officer ever spend a day with Minneapolis police simply monitoring the happy crowd at a Twin’s game, or providing some presence at a benign concert venue? As our cyber/cable society dehumanizes all of us to some degree, creating false social barriers and personal senses of insecurity, does it do more damage to those among us already under severe stress? Yes, it does.

        Maximizing positive encounters might help reduce negative and unrealistic feelings of threat and isolation.

  4. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/22/2016 - 09:39 am.

    Ok

    My previous post hasn’t showed up, yet, but I’ll say that Mr. Quinn redeemed himself for the most part. Importantly, this:
    “We are not the military. We are citizens working with other citizens…”

    I support that line of thought, and I think it needs to be the center of all police training. Non-police citizens should not be called “civilians” by police because police are civilians, too. Using labeling such as “civilian” for the general public reinforces an us vs them mentality.

    I do, though, believe that there’s too much emphasis on being a warrior. In fact, I don’t believe that police should see themselves as warriors at all. Ever. Guardians can be fierce and protective without being warriors. A mom that attacks someone hurting her child does not usually see herself as a a warrior before, during, or after the attack. She sees herself as a guardian. Your job is to guard as a guardian, not engage in war as a warrior, no matter what your motives are. That can mean both offensive and defensive actions, but the mindset is important.

    Finally, I appreciate the sentiment on moral policing. However, I strongly suspect that lots of people who break the law as a result of simply being poor do not find much mercy. Philando Castile had been taken to jail on a misdemeanor because he had a suspended license, which was discovered after being pulled over for a broken taillight. I strongly suspect that many drivers are profiled based on their race and/or their poverty. A person with a crappy car and a broken taillight is more likely to be driving with a suspended license because they previously had a broken taillight and a crappy car and couldn’t afford to pay the fines. Fines that often aren’t applied to people who are driving a nice car with a broken taillight because they either: a) don’t get pulled over, or b) don’t get ticketed. Having never been pulled over, ever, I find it incredible that a person could be pulled over at least twice for a broken taillight. And it’s not that I’ve never had a broken taillight or broken the law in a car in any other way. It’s that I’ve just never been pulled over, and if I had, I have little doubt that a broken taillight would simply be a courtesy stop.

    • Submitted by Michael Quinn on 07/22/2016 - 10:37 am.

      PS

      I was pulled over recently by a Minnetonka Police Officer who told me that my taillight was out on the right side and he just wanted to let me know. Now that’s community policing. Well done Minnetonka PD.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/23/2016 - 11:12 am.

        Yay

        Now, if only you could experience that as someone who is not you. Someone a little darker and/or a little poorer and/or a lot younger. Might be a different experience. See Raj’s experience below. The problem with your experience is that, at the very least, you are living under the umbrella of white make privilege. It’s something you don’t even know thou have until you somehow live in someone else’s shoes, which is impossible. But sometimes you can get a peek–Philando’s death gave me a peek. I already knew the effects of make privilege based on my experience being female and seeing bafflement of my male friends and loved ones when talking about certain experiences women commonly have and men don’t. But white privilege became clearer to me when I realized that none of what happened to Philando would never have happened to me. The shape of my nose and a broken taillight probably would not have even resulted in being pulled over.

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 07/22/2016 - 05:54 pm.

      Pulled Over

      My wife and i were pulled over while i was driving in Bloomington. Since I was driving well below the speed limit and have no tickets and no i asked the officer why. He told me i had no license plate (my temp. registration was well displayed). He pulled us over outside the dealership 1 minute after we purchased our new car.

  5. Submitted by Michael Quinn on 07/22/2016 - 10:26 am.

    FInes and such

    Rachel,
    I appreciate your comments and I think we are talking semantics. We could certainly talk about the powers of a guardian and what’s required to defend against deadly attacks. Or we could call it the peaceful warrior that’s required to act in defense of self or others. Either way we are on the same page is terms of use of force.
    You might be interested in Plymouth, Minnesota’s policy on traffic fines. If you are given a moving citation for speeding for instance, and you are willing to write the City of Plymouth a check for nearly $300.00 dollars, they will erase the ticket from your record. How about that? So, if you have money you have control over your driving record. If you are the average driver in this city you get stuck with not only the ticket and a fine, but increased insurance premiums and the likelihood that the next cop that stops you will look at your record and say “You must be a bad driver. You have already received one speeding ticket and you didn’t learn your lesson. Here’s another one.”
    Money has power.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/23/2016 - 11:26 am.

      That’s bad

      There’s no two ways about that. While the city might have such crooked laws, it seems to be the perfect opportunity for police to apply moral policing and not use that power.

  6. Submitted by Jim Million on 07/22/2016 - 11:45 am.

    Boot Camp Academy Reality

    Not a positive image at all…at all. Since Korea and Việt Nam conflicts, our country has dealt with too many examples of some PTSD influence on society, including police forces. We sure don’t need to create more issues by employing draconian training processes. We surely do not welcome the prospect of Delta Force staffing of our community departments.

    We absolutely must reduce levels of anxiety and irrational fear within our police forces. Some fear of reality is justified, of course, but not pathological fear of generalized non-reality. Not every officer should be a warrior of any kind. That said, every force needs at least a few mature warriors to command those few battles that may come to any department someday. In the meantime, generalizing dark threats of transferred realities should be minimized for the health and welfare of everyone.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/25/2016 - 09:42 am.

    Blueprint?

    Unfortunately the author (Mr.Quinn) contrary to his claim, is actually offering little in the way of concrete actions in lieu of the previous authors, and, with all due respect, demonstrates why we can’t let the police- police themselves.

    If the military model is a disaster then we need concrete proposals to de-militarizing the police, not rationales for training them as warriors (albeit part time, very rarely warriors). You simply cannot have military training and equipment without having the military mentality that accompanies that equipment and training, and in point of fact the training and equipment without the mentality is useless.

    It would seem the most important piece of equipment patrol officers lack is a decent pair of binoculars so they can see the difference between a toy truck and a gun from a “safe” distance.

    The recent events in Texas and Louisiana have actually demonstrated the futility of arming and training patrol officers as “warriors” of any kind. The vast vast vast majority of patrol officers will never encounter ambushes by well trained and militarily armed attackers and clearly, if they do, “warrior” training of any kind doesn’t make them less vulnerable than ordinary civilians. In both cases it was S.W.A.T. teams, not patrol officers that eventually ended the rampage.

    Nor are “warrior” patrol officers any kind of realistic response to terrorism.

    Then we have the fact that this “warrior if need be” mentality is actually responsible for the killings that have created the racial tensions in the first place, and “tweaking” that warrior mentality somehow is simply not a workable solution.

    At the end of the day it’s the insularity of policing that has created the gulf between the police force and the community it’s supposed to be serving and protecting. Shooting unarmed innocent people is simply not acceptable and officers who do it should at the very least lose their jobs. Yes, I get to make that judgement even though I’ve never ridden in a squad because it’s the community, not the police who get to decide whether or not the police are meeting expectations when protecting and serving the community.

    We just had an incident in Florida where an officer “accidentally” shot an unarmed black guy instead of the unarmed autistic guy he was trying to shoot. This is completely unacceptable and we simply need to shut it down. There simply is no excuse for this level of incompetence with deadly force.

    Sure it would be great to get some more culturally educated people onto the force, the problem is such people can see that policing is off the rails and aren’t going to volunteer to participate in it at this point. You have to fix it first, then recruit. The structure of police forces simply doesn’t allow bottom-up reform. There’s a reason why policing appeals to certain personalities and not others. If you want more diversity in personalities you need to change the nature of policing.

    Blueprint:

    We need to obliterate any warrior mentality among our patrol officers. We have special teams to deal with severe and unusual threats.

    We need powerful civilian review boards that can remove officer from the payroll if need be when they violate our standards of policing. This is the only way we can break down the current insularity. We can’t leave this to the “professionals” who’ve ridden in squads, if the professionals knew how to handle this we wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.

    We need to develop appropriate response strategies and teams to deal with the plethora of emergencies we currently expect our police to cope with. For instance in suicide cases we need mental health personnel taking the lead with police in the background providing crowd control, safety, and support. We need to create a proper infrastructure of first responders instead of expecting our current first responders to handle situations they’re not equipped or trained for. It’s simply not realistic to assume that ordinary officers CAN be trained to deal with everything from family disputes to psychiatric emergencies AND be police officers. Such expectations are unfair for the police and unsafe for the community.

    Finally, and I admit most difficult, we need to recognize the fact that policing cannot be made perfectly safe. I think one of the problems that has arisen as a result of these community college programs is that policing has been put into the same box has any other major or degree one can pursue. The profession has responded to this by pretending that policing can be as safe as being an electrician if you just follow certain procedures. This is simply not the case, OSHA standards don’t apply to policing. Electricians aren’t REQUIRED to take risks therefore a goal of risk-free safety practices is appropriate.

    Policing requires risk and every officer needs to accept that risk. I know that sounds harsh but that’s the job. We simply cannot let officers deploy deadly force as a form of risk aversion. You simply cannot shoot at unidentified or poorly identified “risks” as function of policing. You can’t shoot because you “think” something, the threat has to be clear and unambiguous. Yes, that’s more (maybe even a lot more) dangerous for the officer, but that has to be the standard if we’re to avoid police shooting innocent people.

    We need to develop standardized procedures and training models based on policing models and then deploy them on State levels if not federal levels. Community safety needs to be the priority.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 07/25/2016 - 11:09 am.

      Well-thought, Well-articulated

      Thanks, Paul. Your comment is both excellent summary and reasonable recipe. The growing symptoms of “bunker mentality” created by small but intense feedback loops among officers must be effectively addressed.

      The fundamental issues here are those of civil maintenance, far more critical than street repair or snow removal. In this era of acute corporate awareness of significant “Human Resource Management” matters, our failure to properly address similar issues within our public protection sector is astonishing to me. Where is the intervention mechanism for our vital civil employees? Maybe it’s past time to put some Medtronic and 3M corporate specialists into our plans. Could there be two more successful examples of cultural/sub-cultural understanding than these firms at hand?

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