I’m Taking a Break!

In my office in Madison, Wisconsin in the early 90s. In the. background are two pictures that have hung in my office for over 20 years. The quote for Dr. King is “No man is free until all men are free.” For Gandhi, “In a gentle way, you can change the world.”
Speaking out in the present day.

“I am sure ‘this, too, shall pass,’ and we will get through this — eventually. But as for now, this old warrior-guardian needs a break!”

I went to bed early on Election Day and now found myself unable to sleep. I am worried. What is happening to America? Did i get it wrong during my 80+ years? You know, those “self-evident truth;” which boldly declared that all of us are created equal and have to right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Then there exists another bold, radical, futuristic statement in our motto, on our Great Seal: — “e pluribus unum” — out of many, one!

In my thinking, the election is secondary to the fact that we, as a nation, are deeply split into two camps. Regardless of who is in the White House, I don’t see the prospects for improving policing advancing. Instead, it will continue to be “Black Lives Matter” versus “Back the Blue.” Both are possible, but most likely will never come together in the unity we, as a nation, so desperately need.

I am sure “this, too, shall pass,” and we will get through this — eventually. But as for now, this old warrior-guardian needs a break!

Almost a decade has gone by since I re-engaged in policing. In the first three decades, I practiced the craft, developed new ideas, diversified, become community-oriented, and managed protest. 

During the last decade, I wrote a book (this link is to a free downloadable copy!) and published this blog (2011) which has the objective of helping “improve policing.” In this blog, I attempted to engage and struggle with the issues facing today’s police and share the lessons I had learned along the way.

The main point was to identify and realize there are major obstacles, four of them, which prevent police from being all that they could be: the obstacles of “anti-intellectualism, violence, corruption, and disrespect.” I first identified these obstacles in “Arrested Development” and i believe they continue to doggedly obstruct the improvement of our nation’s police.

In order to overcome these obstacles and move ahead, police need to raise their educational requirements (to a bachelor’s degree), increase recruit and career training, develop less-than-deadly methods of using force, promote servant leaders, work on increasing their collective emotional intelligence, practice Procedural Justice, and be strongly connected to, and able to work with, their communities, many of which are highly diverse.

All of this must be accomplished while being transparent and highly accountable to the community in which they serve. Yes, it’s a lot to ask, but should we not expect this from those who enforce our laws, model our values, and keep the public’s peace in a free, democratic, and diverse society such as ours?

Since 2016, I have struggled with the policies and direction of the Trump administration. During the past four years.I have to say that at almost every step, this administration has directly contradicted what I have taught and believed about the nature of policing for over 60 years. 

This conflict has occurred on almost every level; from disparaging the work and recommendations of President Obama’s task force policing to making vain and foolish comments to police about letting suspects be injured; a criminal offense. to backing away from the government’s important responsibility to enforce our nation’s civil rights laws when cities or states refuse or are unable to do so; through a consent decree.

I could say more, but suffice it to say that I cannot the remaining years I have left agonizing about the wrong direction our police are traveling. Police have the duty and potential to do great good among us, act as “social glue” holding us together in our villages, towns, and cities, and be models of our national values and guardians a our fragile democracy and way of life.

While I am on this break, I will not be writing or commenting on what needs to be done. I have said what I needed to say. It’s all here.

But I will assure you that you will always be in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless everyone of you who serve in this most noble of callings.