Why Platteville?

Attendees at last year’s conference on 21st century policing.

Why the 2nd Annual Conference on 21st Century Policing at the University of Wisconsin in Platteville is important is that it brings together, not separately, police and community leaders.

The conference is intended to set a stage for future discussions and action. And that’s why police need to hear from citizens and citizens from police — especially surrounding this critical first step in building police trust — control in use of force.

We all know by now that the principles Sir Robert Peel issued to a new police department in the mid-1800s holds true for all who have the authority to use physical force to achieve their ends — the more force that has to be used, the less support the force-users have among those whom they police. It is a truism that while simple in stating, is difficult, but not impossible, to achieve.

If police “bunker in,” refuse to listen to their critics and become overly defensive, we will never get out of the trust-rut in which we find ourselves. At the same time, citizens and community leaders must be willing and able to sit down and listen to the “whys” in policing and push forward for common ground. We are all in this together.

The Platteville Conference permits both police and citizens to move away from dueling media sources, political posturing, and the rough and tumble of daily urban life.

There is a way forward. A joint presidential task force of police, citizen leaders, and academics has showed us a way in their report. Now it is time for police and community leaders to begin to implement these wise improvement recommendations.

Shortly following the report of the task force, our nation’s leading chiefs of police came together and issued the “30 Guidelines on Police Use of Force” to further address that important first step — finding agreement on how force is to be used by police in fulfilling their duties.

On polar ends of this argument we hear from chiefs and union leaders who pronounce that the current standards, policies and training are “non-negotiable.” They will not budge; they will not change. On the other end is the strident argument to abolish police.

As a long-term police leader and current observer, I would not want to see the present status quo being maintained or police abolished. There is a middle ground.

That’s “Why Platteville?” and why you need to be there.

This year’s conference on September 16th begins and carries on this needed conversation around police use of force and implementing the “first pillar” of the President’s Task Force: building police trust and legitimacy.

For registration information click HERE.

I hope to see you in Platteville on the 16th.

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