I just got back from spending a day yesterday with some chiefs of police, commanders, and a team from the Chicago Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois.
The symposium was about enhancing police-community relations and organized by Chief Chet Epperson of Rockford who believes as I do that police-community relations in America is in crisis and need of repair.
Joining me as presenters were two old friends and colleagues, Dennis Nowicki and Chuck Gruber. Dennis was formerly deputy superintendent of the Chicago PD and went on to head up the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD for a number of years. He now oversees the federal consent decree impacting the New Orleans PD.
Chuck also has had a variety of police leadership positions. When he took over leading the Shreveport PD in the 1980s they had a rule that no black officer could arrest a white person! (In many areas we’ve come a long ways, in others, I worry.) Chuck went on to serve as president of the IACP and chief in various cities in Illinois.
What a delight this day was! Not only to share my thoughts with a group of guys and gals who are the decision makers in the midst of our national crisis, but to find I am not alone in the direction in which I think our nation’s police need to move (it’s also reassuring in these times when it seems like many police leaders and their professional organizations appear to be either frozen or in hiding).
I told the group they must do one thing when they get home if they have not already done it: They must have a plan in place to deal with a questionable incident regarding the use of deadly force in their city.
That plan needs to involve, deeply network and connect in the most intimate ways with their community — every one of their communities. At the same time, every police contact must be respectful and the use of force highly controlled. By these collective contacts, one at a time, day in and day out, trust will begin to be rebuilt. (You can view my presentation HERE.)
My overall advice takes into account the recent recommendations of the President’s 21st Century Policing Task Force:
- In each and every city, the mayor and police chief must stand up and use the findings and recommendations of the Task Force as a template for dialogue and action. Then:
- Hold a series of forums throughout the community on the recommendations of the Task Force that apply to your city.
- Celebrate those recommendations that are already in place.
- Identify areas in which help and improvement is needed.
- Develop an action plan.
- Implement needed changes
- Report back to the community on progress and achievements.
- Celebrate the progress and achievements that have been made!