Welcome to the Police Academy!

I have this dream, I am back in uniform heading up a police department. I am addressing a recruit class of newly-hired police officers. Here’s what I am saying…

“As your Chief of Police, I want to welcome and congratulations you on your accomplishment in being selected to be a police officer in this great city of ours.

“Our department has historically sought out our community’s ‘best and brightest’ to serve as its police officers. I am sure that you will not disappoint us.

“The legacy of this department has been a strong orientation and commitment to our communities. I say ‘community’ in the plural because we are a very diverse city; you are an example of this growing diversity. We have long believed that the strength of this department is in the diversity of its officers.

“We see ourselves as community workers, or, as I have identified in the past, ‘social workers in blue.’ Our citizens expect us to be mature, honest, well-educated, competent, emotionally intelligent, compassionate, and controlled in our use of force.

“Over 150 years ago, on the advent of the first public police in London, Robert Peel reminded his officers the more that force is used to carry out our duties, the less support (and trust) we will have among the people we serve. How police use force to carry out their duties is one of the major problems facing America today.

“We expect exemplary work from you and will support you in doing this. Our job as leaders is to help you grow and thrive. We pledge to model these values and expectations as you join us. Now I would like to give you your first assignment.

I would like you to review the following six photos that I have just displayed.

After doing so, I would like you to do the following:

  • Write your personal impression of these photographs.
  • Why you think they were taken and published today?
  • Why do you think I am giving you this assignment on your first day here in the Academy?

You may begin now.

[Photographs by National Geographic photographer Jon Henry.]

As a reader of this blog, what are your impressions?

What do these photographs speak to you?

Tomorrow’s blog will discuss my impressions and how these photos speak to me.

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