Do you want to know what drives me to distraction in the field of policing? It’s our seemingly inability to learn, to progress, to improve.
This observation was one of the bases of my book in 2012, Arrested Development, where I argued that the field of policing had to overcome four obstacles in order to progress:
- An attitude of anti-intellectualism in which new ideas and research were suspect,
- The over-use of force to accomplish our mission,
- Corrupt practices ranging from stealing to false reports and testimony, and
- Disrespect/discourtesy toward those who we serve especially towards those who are poor or are of color.
My initial feeling was “Is this the best we can do?” I felt this because I was under-whelmed by the number of police and sheriff’s departments that have implemented and championed recommendations made by a very intelligent, broad and well-informed national Task Force.
Even in my state, Wisconsin, after we had hosted through the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, one of the first (if not the first) conference on implementing the recommendations of the Task Force. Our conference brought together both police and citizen leaders and a second conference is scheduled for September 16th in Platteville. [However, one positive Wisconsin offshoot was noted in their report. The new police chief in Beloit, Wisc., David Zibolski, who attended our fall conference, changed the department’s promotional process “so that each candidate for sergeant must now write an essay on how any of the task force pillars could be implemented within the agency.”]
- How about funding a number of regional centers, that is, model police departments, agencies that are implementing the Task Force Pillars so other leaders can find and experience 21st century policing? The centers can be places where police leadership teams could visit and the model department could “show and tell” what they learned, the problems they had encountered, etc., so that the visiting teams could go home and put these needed recommendations into practice?