An Interview Every Police Officer Needs to Hear

Michael Bell and his family.
Michael Bell and his family.

The video interview all police need to see was conducted by one of my colleagues at UW-Platteville, Dr. Patrick Solar.

Pat is a retired chief of police and now teaches in the criminal justice program. He is very sensitive to these issues. Listening to victims/”customers” is a very important part of improving, continuously, police services.

Michael Bell, a former air force pilot and father of a boy killed by police, has taken on lengthy and successful journey to change the status quo here in Wisconsin. He was instrumental in changing Wisconsin state law which now mandates an outside, independent review of police deadly force use. (See Wis. Statute 175.47.)

Unfortunately, listening to victim’s stories is very uncomfortable to those of us who deliver police services — uncomfortable, but essential.

Police need to ask themselves:

  • How are my listening skills?
  • Can I listen without getting angry?
  • Can I deeply understand what people who are unhappy with my work are saying?
  • Will I honestly take into consideration what they are recommending or asking of me?
  • If I am lacking in one or more of these areas, what am I willing to do to improve?

You can find out more about Michael Bell and his story HERE.




  1. Only the police should be capable of making a valid assessment of police performance. Guarding against organizational and professional biases should be an integral part of assessing performance. Guarding against biases may require assessors from outside that organization.

    I disagree with the customer service perspective that has infused government. The perspectives of our citizens is important, because after all, it is their government. However, our oath requires service to an idea, not any person or organization. Citizen perceptions can lead us away from those ideals we pursue just as easily as they can help. Even if the majority of Americans were to believe we should profile Muslims, our oath to the Constitution dictates that we not.

    I listen, but keep my eyes on the ideals we pursue.


  2. Funny how it took a death of a white person in order to bring police reforms where if it was a minority person, nothing would have gotten done.


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