Hiring well-educated officers and teaching peer intervention will be the only things that save communities from bad policing.
Kill the blue code, use peer intervention
I recently had the opportunity to meet Michael Quinn, a retired police sergeant from Minneapolis who has been involved in training and improving police in New Orleans under a Department of Justice consent decree.
Quinn’s theory is one that I totally subscribe to: Peer intervention will save our nation’s police. When police come to understand that, much good will result. Peer intervention is effective only when all officers involved agree to listen if a fellow officer steps in and tells them to change their behavior. And officers must be courageous enough to intervene if they see a cop doing something illegal or stupid that could jeopardize his or her career, family or status within a given community.
Intervention may have helped the Salt Lake City detective who arrested a nursesimply for doing her job. Just this month, he was fired for threatening and handcuffing the woman, who rightly refused to draw blood from an unconscious patient. The video of the incident is upsetting, yet informative.
Standing around the detective are other officers. At least one must have questioned the cop’s actions. Yet, for most of the incident, neither intervened in any significant way.
Imagine if one cop had stepped in and talked the acting officer down. That could have stopped the incident from escalating. And the detective might still have a job.
Instead, both officers, through their lack of meaningful action, followed a blue code that continues to legitimize bad policing.
Among the ranks, where cops depend on other cops to come to their rescue, being a “rat” — a cop who tells the truth when the truth hurts — is not an option.
Cops must change that mentality.
They should be trained on when and how to stop bad behavior by fellow officers. They must memorize and live by a new code, one that says: “I care about you, and I will intervene to stop you when I think you are jeopardizing your career or endangering your community.” And the response to this statement must be complete and total acceptance.
When police internalize this kind of professional accountability, there will be no need for body or dashboard cameras to ensure proper, legal and respectful police behavior.
Good policing comes from the heart, and technology doesn’t govern that.
Read the full article in USA Today HERE.