Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Collapse of the 911 Hamster Wheel

The wheel has collapsed, cities have cut budgets, departments have reduced staffing - the rules have changed. In the past, no matter how ineffective we were; we could always blame lack of community support, lack of funding and resources. Then we would get more funding, more resources more staff and most importantly, promote all our friends and get all our raises.
We never liked the 911 Hamster Wheel, we complained about it all the time but it has served us well in ‘proving’ we always needed more. Now, there is not more to give. What is the solution?
L.E. culture has always been susceptible to what Zachary Shore in “Blunder; Why Smart People make Bad Decisions” calls exposure anxiety. We fear looking weak and this leads to dangerous cognition traps. We tend to puff ourselves up to appear big and intimidating. We resort to our most base instincts, apply our Newtonian worldview, get out the stick (of industrial age carrot and stick fame) and engage in our communities as if our ends justify our means. However, as with most cognition traps the results tend to be disastrous
On the other hand, this could be a great time of learning and developing. An opportunity to forge strong relationships with our communities, establish new levels of understanding and empathy. This time could produce great new ideas of policing in the 21st century. This could be such a ‘revolutionary’ time that we find ourselves returning to our historic roots of Peelian Principles. We may find that building partnership with our communities IS our basic mission, and if we do not strive to do so with EVERY contact, we are self-destructing and have no one to blame but ourselves. We may begin to honor (and even promote) a completely new cadre of hero’s in our culture. Those who forge enduring relationships of high trust, and through this, find clarity and non-kinetic solutions to complex problems. We could begin to unleash the power of unconditional respect.
As unbelievable as it may seem, L.E. may not be ready for a fundamental change of this nature yet. We are all entrenched in loyalties, fears and biases that produce a plethora of cognition traps. However, if budget flows, do not return to normal levels soon, we might have no choice. We will either become irrelevant observers to chaos and suffering, or an occupying force.
So with cautious optimism – let us not simply watch and observe where the current budget crisis leads, let us take the lead with courage, compassion, integrity and unconditional respect for all people.

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