A Personnel Crisis: Let’s Not Squander the Opportunity!

Okay, there’s a crisis in American policing, but as we know a crisis is a mix of danger and opportunity.

Police try not to let fear control their work lives, but many seem to be blind to the opportunities presented by it.

The personnel crisis now facing police can be a time to reflect, adjust, and act on what needs to be done — improve the diversity and quality of police applicants and, at the same time, raise public trust and support.

Let us not forget that this is also a time of danger; danger lies in dropping standards (rather than raising them) and hiring new officers that will be with your organization for the next two to three decades. This is NOT the time to settle for less. Recruiting must be based on the desire to serve others. Policing can be a noble calling and it must always be presented as so.

Now is also an opportunity to improve the way police are taught in the academy (as a college classroom with only job-specific stress training) and led on the street by mature leaders.

We’ll see how this goes. The recent USA Today article on the problem is a good summary of the crisis.

Let it be said once again:

1. We need more women in policing. The movement 30×30 Initiative is a good start (30% women in policing by the year 2030). Women make darn good cops. Their significant and singular presence in a police agency improves its performance. (When I retired from the Madison (WI) Police Department we went from 0% female police officers to 25%. Since that time, Madison reached the 30% goal years ago.

2. There is not only a need to diversify policing by gender, but also in terms of race and sexual orientation. Simply stated, a police agency in a free society must look like the community it serves.

3. In order to attract men and women to policing, there must be a shift in how recruit training is conducted; that is, there needs to be a shift away from the “boot camp” model to that of a college classroom. Take a look at PERF’s recent publication, “Transforming Police Recruit Training: 40 Guiding Principles.” (You will find out I am not the only one advocating many of these important training principles.)

4. Today’s opportunity must also include a change in how police leaders lead; across the board from chiefs of police to first line supervisors/sergeants. No longer can modem police leaders use an authoritarian “top down” style of leadership; instead a style based more on “servant-style” leadership committed to employee growth and participation.

5. Policing needs men and women who have high EQ (Emotional Intelligence) and who have advanced education beyond high school. If policing is ever going to significantly improve how it conducts its business it will need formally educated (degreed) officers to overcome years of anti-intellectualism and the failure to creatively act on opportunities. Policing must become a college-educated person’s career choice.

Good luck. No more George Floyd system failures. A new day and a new way ahead in 2023!

You can do it!

Read the full article from USA Today HERE.

And, while we’re at it, take a look at PERF’s recent publication, “Transforming Police Recruit Training: 40 Guiding Principles.” (You will find out I am not the only one advocating many of these important training principles.)

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