The Future: Part VII

future 3Future of Policing Essays: American Policing in 2022

Part VII

During the next few weeks I will be publishing excerpts from twenty or more of these essays with the hope of generating some discussion on what these police leaders and academics have to say about the future of our men and women in blue.

Enjoy and please comment!

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“By 2022, experience will have educated society of the falsehood of the cliché ‘more with less’ as it relates to policing. Communities will have realized that it is physically and logistically impossible to literally pro­ duce more of a service or product in an environment of increasing demands with less resources or material. Policing can and will broaden its responsibilities, raise performance standards, and demand a greater effort from its ranks. But without a fundamental change in the foundation, framework, and ideology of the police organization, the law of diminishing returns will rule the day, and success, if experienced at all, will hardly be sustainable (my emphasis).

“This shift in the paradigm of delivering services will be accomplished well before 2022 by those who have properly managed expectations of the  community and made the people themselves the catalysts of the preferred change. The transition of each other’s roles in the police-community relationship will be from the most prevalent model of a customer being serviced by a vendor to a true partnership with each participant accepting greater responsibility in the process for desired outcomes.

“Residents will welcome this adjustment as they enjoy the synergistic product of a concentrated police- community relationship with a narrower focus on the greatest priorities. This occurs when police agencies can no longer perform concierge-like services and cease attempting to deliver on the skewed logic of our Professional Era forefathers who guaranteed a cop to arrive at every received call. And no longer will the benchmark for success be measured solely by police response times to crimes that have already occurred.”

[J. Scott Thomson, chief of the Camden (New Jersey) Police Department.]


“Since the introduction of community policing in the 1980s, few departments have fully implemented the concept as the foundational philosophy of their organizations. Rather, community policing has coexisted alongside the traditional reactive model for patrol. For the most part, jurisdictions were not really forced to make choices between the two operating modalities…

“In the future, patrol will look quite different. The non-emergency responses will be handled by civilians or by greater reliance on technology. There will be fewer patrol officers, but they will be highly focused problem solvers who will rely heavily on research to determine the focus of their daily activities (my emphasis). Such research will identify not only criminals but also key persons or places in the community in order to enhance the legitimacy of the agency. Their training will focus heavily on interpersonal communications and scenario-based problem solving. Their equipment will be rich on data access, and their weaponry will be heavily less than lethal. The use of force will be discreet, surgical, and effective.

“The essence of police service will never change. We will always strive to protect the innocent and pursue the guilty. We will always recognize that law enforcement determines the truth or falsity of the constitution and our system of laws. In short, what we do will not change, but how we do it is going to change quite radically. I think it’s going to be quite exciting.”

[Bernard K. Melekian is director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Prior to joining the COPS Office, he was the chief of police for the city of Pasadena, California.]