Platteville: Reflections and Learnings

Left to right: Me, UW Prof. Joe Lomax, Retired LAPD Capt. John Mutz, former LAPD officer Alex Salazar, and former Sheriff "Dub" Lawrence.

Please post your reflections and learnings from the 2nd Annual Conference on 21st Century Policing: Building Trust and Legitimacy which was held last Friday, September 16th on the campus of the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. You may post to this blog under “Comments.” Thanks for helping us plan an even better conference next year!

Comments From Conference Evaluation Form

What were the most useful aspects of the conference?

  • Order of the speakers; the panels; breakout sessions were great;
  • Panel on mental health issues; diversity of voices and topics – especially the point/counterpoint on PERF recommendations; the way police use force;
  • Mental patients that are incarcerated; breakfast, lunch and other refreshments were outstanding; all speakers were outstanding;
  • Chuck Wexler and Mark Bowman; integration of students in a conference for working professionals; great to see both sides of arguments throughout the day;
  • A combination of speakers with diverse professional backgrounds; exposure to cutting-edge issues; hitting on the need to reform police and community relations; varied perspectives;
  • Discussion from different stakeholders; Ozanne’s remarks were impressive and well-delivered; make Lt. Dan’s presentation a part of the conference – not a breakout; good microphones and room arrangement.

What should any future conference focus on?

  • Wrongful convictions; training and standards; social forms to bring law enforcement and community together regularly to breach the insular peer pressure on all sides;
  • Procedures and jails;  current topics;  contemporary issues in law enforcement;  feasibility of implementation of various ideas presented; best practices in LE;  cyber crimes;  field training;
  • Breakout groups to brainstorm solutions;  how to root out racism;  real things I can do in  my agency; how to increase the effectiveness of community policing by encouraging the people to partner with the police;
  • How to have open communication; police stress and well-being; community responsibility; citizen police academies; volunteers in police services (VIPS); fundraisers for DARE/TRIAD/k-9; how to actually implement this  stuff.

Additional Email Comments:

“Most participants I talked to on all sides seemed to agree that the public is asking for Graham v. Connor to be as Executive Director Wexler said: the floor not the ceiling.  In our region that is starting to become common ground to a certain extent, but how high the ceiling is will be a real negotiation.  Police are very reluctant to cede the primacy of their perspective in judging appropriate use of force.” — Dr Staci Strobl, Chair, Criminal Justice Department, UW-Platteville.

“I do not feel like we really framed the discussion for the day early on. We had a very diverse audience gathered on Friday.  However, depending upon the group you most aligned with (past law enforcement, current law enforcement, community member, academic or student). The concept of “21st Century Policing” can mean a lot of different things to you.   After the initial opening remarks, we moved into Noble’s [Wray from the COPS Office] comments.  We followed this by scheduling Chuck Wexler and Mark Bowman.   All three really are flying at the 35,000 foot level if you get my thought here.  Yet in the afternoon, we have Michael Bell’s very emotional presentation, and then I stayed for Sheriff Lawrence’s breakout which quite frankly everyone should have had the opportunity to hear (given he traveled all the way to Wisconsin from Utah).” – Joe Balles (Retired Capt., Madison, WI PD)

“I enjoyed the conference! It put a very personal aspect to the current policing issues, for me it put faces to police officers and people leading the community along with people who have been affected by bad policing or people who oppose the current direction the criminal justice system is going. For example, hearing Michael Bell’s story about how his son was basically executed by bad police officers made me reflect on my view of “there’s a problem with some police, but it’s just not as prevalent in Wisconsin or around my community”. The personalization made me realize that there is a bigger problem than I originally thought before going to the conference; it also made me realize that it’s not just one person’s problem but it’s everyone’s problem to get involved and to fix it. Thank you for organize a very thorough and in depth program, I really enjoyed hearing extremely knowledgeable people discuss a very important issue.” — Student, UW-Platteville Student

“I still haven’t processed all that I experienced that day. I learned a lot and felt discomfort in several of the presentations, which is a good thing. I guess the challenge I face is how we bridge the knowing – doing gap.” — Dr. Mark Bowman, Methodist University, Conference Speaker

“I felt very comfortable being in an honest, progressive environment to discuss this toxic and polarizing subject matter which has always divided us as a people. I thank you Chief Couper for ALWAYS being that consistent voice for reform. Your beautiful leadership and love for the profession has NEVER wavered. I am tremendously overjoyed to see a new paradigm shift developed to overcome the current state of violent madness, where law enforcement can truly become a trusted government institution.” — Alex Salazar, Former LAPD Officer and Breakout Session Presenter

“Thanks for the opportunity to provide my reflections on the 21st Century Police Initiatives conference held at UW-Platteville on Friday, September 16.
First, I agree with you that the overall conference was fabulous.  It was especially good to hear different points of view on topics, taking some of the attendees out of our comfort zones.  It is easy to agree with those professionals, academics, and citizens who agree with us.  It is can be difficult to listen to opposing points of view; however, if we are ever going to change, in general, let alone in how police go about the business of protecting and serving, then we need to listen and learn.  This conference provided that forum.
“This conference, although labeled for police, really transferred to all disciplines in the criminal justice system, including, but not limited to probation and parole, prisons, the judiciary, prosecutors, and the defense bar.  The 30 Guiding Principles developed by the Police Executive Research Forum should be shared with all criminal justice professionals.
“I especially found the presentation by Lindsay Wallace to be the most rewarding for me.  Her openness about her own mental health diagnosis and how NAMI ‘saved her life’ were particularly riveting and personal.  It gave her great credibility.  Her advise on how police and any first responder should be trained to deal with persons with mental health issues was very informative.

“Last, I very much likes the statement by Dr. Mark Bowman who said, ‘You can tell what a government values by what they budget’.  The idea that police agencies require less training than persons who are licensed barbers should be more widely told and explained.”  Bill Grosshans, Lecturer in Criminal Justice, UW-Platteville, former head of Wisconsin state probation and parole.   

See Some Conference Photos HERE.