Look Back In Order to Go Forward!





Revisiting Standards on the Urban Police Function

The President has called together a “21st Century Police Task Force.” Sometimes finding something old can be very new. Perhaps, we need to go back to the 20th century and dust off an outstanding report that high-influenced my thinking on police over the years and my thought on how to improve our nation’s police.

It was written 43 years ago and subsequently endorsed by both the American Bar Association and the International Association of Chief of Police.

Mr. President, it’s here! The challenge of improving police today is not so much in the ideas as in the implementation. That’s where leadership comes in…



Standard 1-1.1. Complexity of police task

(a) Since police, as an agency of the criminal justice system, have a major responsibility for dealing with serious crime, efforts should continually be made to improve the capacity of police to discharge this responsibility effectively. It should also be recognized, however, that police effectiveness in dealing with crime is often largely dependent upon the effectiveness of other agencies both within and outside the criminal justice system. Those in the system must work together through liaison, cooperation, and constructive join effort. This effort is vital to the effective operation of the police and the entire criminal justice system

(b) To achieve optimum police effectiveness, the police should be recognized as having complex and multiple tasks to perform in addition to identifying and apprehending persons committing serious criminal offenses. Such other police tasks include protection of certain rights such as to speak and to assemble, participation either directly or in conjunction with other public and social agencies in the prevention of criminal and delinquent behavior, maintenance of order and control of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, resolution of conflict, and assistance to citizens in need of help such as the person who is mentally ill, the chronic alcoholic, or the drug addict.

(c) Recommendations made in these standards are based on the view that this diversity of responsibility is likely to continue and, more importantly, that police authority and skills are needed to handle appropriately a wide variety of community problems.


Standard 1-1.2. Scope of standards

To ensure that the police are responsive to all the special needs for police services in a democratic society, it is necessary to:

(a) identify clearly the principal objectives and responsibilities of police and establish priorities between the several and sometimes conflicting objectives;

(b) provide for adequate methods and confer sufficient authority to discharge the responsibility given them;

(c) provide adequate mechanisms and incentives to ensure that attention is given to the development of law enforcement policies to guide the exercise of administrative discretion by police;

(d) ensure proper use of police authority;

(e) develop an appropriate professional role for and constraints upon individual police officers in collective bargaining and political activity;

(f) provide police departments with human and other resources necessary for effective performance;

(g) improve the criminal justice, juvenile justice, mental health, and public health systems of which the police are an important part;

(h) gain the understanding and support of the community; and

(i) provide adequate means for continually evaluating the effectiveness of police services.


Standard 1-1.3. Need for experimentation

There is need for financial assistance from the federal government and from other sources to support experimental and evaluative programs designed to achieve the objectives set forth in these standards.


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