Fear or intimidation as a primary law enforcement tool has a long distinguished past. Because of that, when the tactic is challenged one will hear things like, “It’s the way we have always done it” - “It has always worked in the past” – “You have to intimidate ‘these kind of people’, it’s all they understand.”
Unfortunately, empirical support for these statements can be found, fear does produce results because it is the core emotion. As Seth Godin correctly states in Linchpin; “Fear dominates the other emotions, because without our ability to avoid death, the other ones don’t really matter much.” (p. 124)
For all these reasons, and many others, fear as a tactic is difficult to give up on. Law enforcement for generations past engraved the “social contract” manual of fear and intimidation into each succeeding generation, the cement has dried. One ought not to blame the line element officers for using fear as a tactic. Fear and intimidation has always been the favorite management tool of police commanders. It is the old “carrot and stick” regimen of gaining compliance. This is what officers have been taught and seen modeled since day one of their careers.
Fear and intimidation still reigns as the primary management tactic, and policing tactic, to this day. Regardless of the fact, the tactic itself has ceased to be a resource and has become a liability. This is especially true in a day of budget cutbacks, when we most need cooperation and synergy with our community to solve complex problems. Ironically, those on the outside of law enforcement, who would to change the culture, rely on the same fear and intimidation tactics; see the absurdity? Those who most resent the social contract of fear and intimidation – blindly use the same tactic to change the contact! Of course, all they do is strengthen the contract.
My point is this; we probably have dangerous cities with high crime rates because fear and intimidation as a tactic no longer works. The “wolves” are not intimidated – the vast majority of community members who would otherwise be partners, eyes and ears ARE. The “wolves” on one side and police “snarling sheep dogs” on the other side. I was recently speaking with a colleague who supervises a homicide squad. He told of a shopping cart with two decomposing bodies sitting in a neighborhood for days, a trail of blood leading to the “wolves” house who had perpetrated the murders. Not only did no one call police, no one “knew anything” during an area canvass. The military would call this a pro-insurgency environment. In other words, the social context of the neighborhood is such that the insurgents (criminals, drug dealers and gang members) are having their way. This is because in a fear based social environment (just to name a few of the more obvious ones):
· There can be no trust
· Safe, open, honest communication will not exist
· Creative solutions to complex problems will never emerge
· Everyone dodges accountability out of a sense of survival-blame shifting is normative
· Wolves move about with impunity doing what wolves do
We will soon reach a logical conclusion for the 9-1-1 hamster wheel. The final step is real time crime analysis, so we can be where the victims of crime are BEFORE they call to report the crime. Police will have reduced reaction time as low as possible. Law enforcement will hit a natural ceiling; we can no longer react to the tragic results of fear and intimidation as a tactic any quicker. Then what?