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Friday, September 26, 2014

Ferguson, Lessons Learned

There are many high-quality proposals under consideration in the aftermath of Ferguson.  These proposals offer the promise of improving on what local police do when performing their jobs.  At the same time, it is important to remember that it is possible to do all the “whats” of policing the right way but to be wrong at a much deeper level.  This involves one’s mindset, or how one is in relationship toward others while performing the tasks of policing.  

The following link presents an example of a Deputy who intuitively understands this difference: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/no-complaints-about-this-traffic-cop/.  Consider what Deputy Simmons does—writes tickets. Consider how Deputy Simmons is in relationship with others while he writes tickets.  He does not look down on people; “I am right here with you,” he says.  

The truth is that people really feel it when officers look down on them.  Dick Gregory explains this in the following segment http://time.com/3150053/ferguson-civil-rights-movement/. Looking down on another person while exercising a position of authority produces “hurt” and a “whole lot of emotions… that has nothing to do with the other night.”  This hurt can be deeply felt, even while all the rules and protocols are being followed.  

The unfortunate reality is that there is no hope in the near future of somehow eliminating challenging use of force events.  While it is impossible to predict when one will strike a community and police department, such events are sadly inevitable.  Also, there are people who, because of a deep hurt, feel a sense of responsibility to leverage local outrage following the event.  The media also feels the need to leverage local outrage in order to hold police accountable, not only for the challenging use of force event, but also for the deep, longstanding hurt felt by the community.  These realities will inevitably converge to create a kind of negative synergy against the police.

Police can complain, or they can begin to take responsibility for how officers see and respond to every person, during every contact.  Police must do this as officers go about fulfilling all the improved protocols and policies that are on the table.  Otherwise the hurt will continue even as the protocols improve.

The single safeguard police have is the establishment of a track record of respectful, high-trust relationships with every person, during every contact, every time.  Policing in today’s America requires a mindset which takes responsibility not only for what police do, but also how police see themselves in interactions with others while doing what they do.  

For an organization that is in deep conflict with their community, the solution would be a comprehensive threefold process that has real-time, publicly available accountability to be 1) Mission ready, with concern for the wellbeing of every officer;  2) Community centric, monitoring the quality of every contact officers have; 3)  Strategically focused to verify that community and organizational goals and objectives are being met.  These three feedback mechanisms are backed by constant training, coaching, counseling, mentoring, and accountability for officers and workgroups who struggle in any area.

More examples of how viewing people as people affects every aspect of policing can be found here:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dealing with what goes wrong or helping things go right



Bureau of Justice Statistics research indicates that up to 10% of the people who have contact with the police feel they have been mistreated.  Furthermore, up to 83% of people who had force used on them by police; felt the force used was excessive.  Noteworthy however, is this - of the people who reported feeling mistreated by the police, only 13% filed a complaint and only 1% filed a lawsuit.  

While an individual's experience is not necessarily objectively correct - these statistics are potentially very insightful.  One can see pressure and resentment mounting on a day-to-day basis.  At the same time, the vast majority of the people apparently have so little trust in the system that they make no formal complaint.  However we know they talk, blog and write comments on public forums regarding police stories in the media.  This animosity continues to build until an event releases the pressure and explodes into open hostility.   
It is common to deal with the explosion and act as if “these people” are unreasonable and ignorant.  However, that belief does not make the associated costs go away.  One police chief recently commented that the overtime alone for the recent unrest was over $600,000, but that cost pales in comparison to the “international black eye” suffered by a city that depends upon tourism – defending a $20 million law suit and potential results of an FBI probe.

Some agencies are beginning to see the  folly of remaining on the well worn path of simply dealing with what goes wrong.  Does yours?

MATTHEW R. DUROSE ET AL., BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS, U.S. DEP’T OF JUSTICE,
CONTACTS BETWEEN POLICE AND THE PUBLIC: FINDINGS FROM THE 2002 NATIONAL SURVEY, at v (2005)
Joanna C. Schwartz. What Police Learn From Law Suits. Cardozo Law Review. 2012, Volume 33:3

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Justice and Compassion


These two concepts intersect at the noble roots of policing, and together provide solid foundation for Noble Courage.  Let us consider extreme lessons from history in hopes of better understanding these precious virtues.
Justice - Tyrants argue that justice is obtained by enforcing all their laws with cool, calculated precision.  Bullies and thugs derive twisted satisfaction from being enforcers of the despot’s tyranny.  Could desperate times ever create a breeding ground open to a “Hitler-esk” siren call, hypnotizing the masses in America?  If so, the “thin blue line” of courage, running through the heart of every American Guardian, would stand strong to protect our society from lapsing into tyranny.  Humanity must never wait until tyranny is knocking at the door, to begin to sustain Noble Courage.  At that point, no one will be able to care, if or when people begin to care; it will simply be too late.  The courageous ones will be the outlaws; the “cops” will be the thug enforcers.
Compassion – Despots go through great pains to drain the sap of human compassion - from their minions first and ultimately from all who fall under their tyranny.  The most noble of guardian’s have a deep conviction in the exact opposite direction.  Noble guardians have an almost innate sense which harkens back to ancient times, calling them to a life style commitment.  This commitment is the driving force for them to develop and maintain individual STRENGTH.  At the same time, these noble guardians temper their strength, attending to the greater good with a pledge to selfless SERVICE, personal SACRIFICE and shared SUFFERING.  These character qualities merge in the noble guardian to produce empathy for others, with a commitment to justice and a strong desire to relieve suffering – this is Noble Courage.
Hold the line noble guardian while others rest secure.  Just remember when you face down street level suspects - value and honor them as people.  If you do this, these suspects will teach you a valuable lesson with every interaction.  The real difference between a noble guardian and a strong thug is an unwavering commitment to justice and compassion, which fosters and sustains - individual STRENGTH, selfless SERVICE, personal SACRIFICE and shared SUFFERING.  Waiver in these commitments and Noble Courage fades – a strong thug emerges.    

Monday, March 19, 2012

Force Science Research Institute Reviews Unleashing Respect Project

Take a look at the recent article from Force Science Research
www.forcescience.org/unleashingrespect.pdf

Monday, February 20, 2012

Restoring Nobility

The profession of policing is noble because it based on timeless, universal, objective principles that are inherently good - Good for people, families and society. (Ancient Warrior codes of humble, sacrificial service; Aristotelian principles of the Noble Guardian, Peelian and Constitutional principles of working for and under the consent of the governed with the general welfare of our communities NOT the visible actions of policing as indications of success). All of these would to connect policing to what Aristotle would have called the “telos” or core purpose of policing. Character development in these areas is the most complex to accomplish, requiring education and moral development.


At the same time the procedures or actions of policing are not inherently good, they can be good or bad, depending on the context and motivation. Skill set development in these areas is less complex to accomplish, requiring training with repetitive drills.

Let us take a simply understood example, which has direct correlation: disciplining a child. The noble motivation “telos” is the love, care and concern for the immediate and long-term wellbeing of the child. The “actions” or procedures of disciplining a child can be done with good or evil (you pissed me off, you inconvenienced me, you made me look bad) motives. The problem: The moment one mindlessly (subconsciously) slips into the insidious belief that the actions of discipline are inherently good; one has become a potential danger to the well being of children. The self-righteous indignation one can feel while doing the activity of discipline, devoid of inherently good motive, sends one down the slippery slope to evil and insulates one from reasoning to the contrary (the loss of wisdom).

Oddly, the reverse can be true. If another sees the evil done by discipliners who have become disconnected from the inherently good motivation of love and care – and reacts by ceasing all actions of discipline – they too have become a danger to the well being of children (the loss of wisdom).

Problem: The procedures and activities of policing has generally become the focus of training, management and accountability systems within policing. This tends to create a subconscious disconnect from the “telos” or inherently good and noble principles of the profession (particularly when an organization makes little or no investments in moral character development). Not only does this breed discontentment and resistance from disenfranchised community members (losing the consent of the governed) it also breeds misery and apathy within our noble guardians.

The combination of these creates an operating environment ripe for problems – at the same time most police interactions are being video recorded. On the rare occasion when an officer slips, or appears to slip, over the line – the organization tends to isolate and scapegoat the officer implicitly saying; “we have no intrinsic flaws in our education, training, management or systems, this officer was simply a fluke bad apple.” Occasionally the organization circle around the officer and the entire organization tends to become a scapegoat. Once again, mindlessly dismissing the idea that there are lapses in overall moral character development along with intrinsic flaws in the training, management and systems of policing – “This organization is a bad apple.”

Unfortunately, the cycle tends to repeat itself because corrective measures taken against officers and organizations tend to be purely and simply punitive (actions and procedures taken devoid of inherently good motives – good motives simply cannot exist in a state of ignorance of underlying causes). After punitive actions, the next phase (of corrections disconnected from noble cause) tends to take aim at limiting the ability or inclinations of officers to engage in a sacred public trust: The sanctioned use of force and violence to uphold the rights and secure the safety or community members. This again is akin to ceasing all discipline and corrections for a child; it spoils the child, ruins the relationship and leaves the child miserable, unsafe and unprepared for the realities of life – all in the name of protecting the child from a corrupt discipliner. As Aristotle said:

"Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way. We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions." - Aristotle

When bravery (the acts of policing) becomes disconnected from commitment to simple justice and the moderating affects of humble self-control (the telos of policing) you end up with raw authority carried out with cool indignation. All of which flies in the face of the noble cause of policing, even while professionally carrying out the actions of policing.