Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.
Progress continues in KCPD's vision for community policing
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Little moments can make a big impact.
That's part of the rationale behind community policing efforts championed by Kansas City, Missouri, Police Chief Rick Smith.
But sometimes those officers take the call to serve above and beyond — as Community Interaction Ofcs. John Lazano and Robert Pavlovic along with Impact Unit Ofc. Aaron Hiebert recently demonstrated.
"We are there to help people; we're not just there to put handcuffs on people," Pavlovic said. "There are so many different things and events we can help with."
After Lindsay Moran, a social worker with the Shoal Creek Patrol Division, learned of a family that had no beds, she got them one.
Lazano, Pavlovic and Hiebert teamed up to deliver it it to the family's residence, haul it inside and set it up.
"I can relate directly. I was a refugee, I was homeless, I didn't have beds," Pavlovic said. "Once we put (the bed) together I knew exactly how it felt."
By embedding officers more deeply in the community, Smith hopes to foster increased trust and cooperation and, ultimately, to make a dent in the rising plague of violent crime in KCMO.
Smith announced plans to add a social worker at each of the department's patrol divisions in January 2018.
It was the continuation of an effort that started with the hiring of Gina English as KCPD's first embedded social worker in December 2016.
After placing social workers in the divisions with the greatest need, like the East Patrol Division, KCPD built up the program.
The concept isn't new, but it's continuing to make a difference now that Smith's vision has been fulfilled. Social workers were hired for the Northland patrol divisions late last year.
"We're busy. We're busy because there is a need and we're busy because our officers look for opportunities to make referrals to us, which is a huge part of our partnership," Moran said.
From Happy Valley To Pioneer Valley: Policing A Town In Massachusetts
We're not going to lie, the Drama Club has been glued to the television for the month of March. Not only did the month see the introduction of Mrs. Wilson, and the re-broadcast of The Tunnel, it also presents one of our new favorite female-led detective shows: Happy Valley. As we've followed Sergeant Catherine Cawood through her second season of dramatic and sometimes strange cases in West Yorkshire, we couldn't help but wonder — what is policing like in our own towns where city-living meets rural surroundings?
Three officers from different communities in Massachusetts answered some questions on this topic: Jody Kasper, the Chief of Police in Northampton; Jonathan Klaren, the Chief of Police in Chilmark; and Ed Lawton, a Lieutenant and Patrol Division Commander out of Acton. Read on to see what we learned from each.
Jody Kasper - Northampton, MA
Jonathan Klaren - Chilmark, MA
Ed Lawton - Acton, MA
What is your town best known for?
Kasper (Northampton): We are best known for our vibrant downtown area with great restaurants and shopping. People come from all over the region just to sit on Main Street, have a coffee or ice cream, and people watch. We're also known for social activism.
Klaren (Chilmark): Chilmark is a rural community on the island of Martha's Vineyard. The island is a popular summer resort destination. The town is known for its history of farming, fishing, rural setting and beaches.
Lawton (Acton): Issac Davis was born in Acton, Massachusetts. Davis commanded a company of Minuteman from Acton, Massachusetts, during the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. His house remains today protected by our historical society. Davis is memorialized through the Issac Davis Monument on the Acton Town Common.
What would you say the majority of cases are/work is comprised of?
Kasper (Northampton): We have very little violent crime and it is much more common for us to respond to property crimes including shoplifting and other types of thefts, or vandalism. We respond to thousands of medical calls each year, over 500 motor vehicle collisions that result in injury or significant damage, hundreds of domestic violence calls, opiate overdoses, arguments, and others too numerous to count.
Klaren (Chilmark): Property and alcohol related crimes.
Lawton (Acton): Like many towns around us we deal with a large volume of [mental health] calls and we have a clinician on staff to assist us with these calls. We respond to a number of [domestic violence] calls each year, and our department currently belongs to the Domestic Violence Service Network, a group of volunteer advocates that assist victims with these incidents. These individuals prove invaluable with their dedication. Like many departments in the state we continue to see a large volume of scams and fraud mostly internet and phone. These individuals prey on the elderly and attempt to have green dot cards or bitcoins purchased, claiming that they represent utility companies, IRS, etc. Our department has an elderly affairs officer who works closely with the elderly. [And] the town has seen its share of drug addiction calls. All of our officers are trained in the delivery of Narcan, and each officer carries it on their person. We have an officer that follows up on every drug call to offer services to help them cope with their addiction.
What are some of the unique elements of working in your town?
Kasper (Northampton): We have an incredibly diverse population and we strive to best meet the needs of all of our individual community members. This means that we need to understand issues around poverty, mental health, addiction, homelessness, immigration, military service, the LGBTQI community, race and ethnicity, and different religions, to name a few.
Klaren (Chilmark): While the towns' year-round population is just over 1,000, I know most, but not all, of the residents. The police chief, and all police officers here, are very accessible positions to the public. The police department members are very recognizable both on and off duty.
Lawton (Acton): One of the unique elements of working in the town of Acton is Community Support. The department runs a Citizens Police Academy several times a year, and the feedback we receive is tremendous. Our officers teach the Academy, and we've had residents take the class more than once. The next class starts this Wednesday.
What aspect of working in law enforcement do you like the most?
Kasper (Northampton): I enjoy that it is constantly evolving and that we are always facing new challenges. The job has become incredibly complex over the past few decades. Over that time I have witnessed dramatic changes in how we respond to addiction, how we handle calls that involve people with mental health issues, how we handle domestic violence, how we react in use of force situations, and how we think about and discuss race and ethnicity. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it's been rewarding to be working and to watch the field progress.
Klaren (Chilmark): Working with the community. All police work is not just about law enforcement. [And] being a mentor and role model towards other officers. It's rewarding to follow the careers of past officers who started their careers as a part-time Chilmark officers, and have earned successful careers either elsewhere or currently the Chilmark Police Department.
Lawton (Acton): We can meet people every day to assist them o a wide range of problems. Some of the issues are simple, and some can be complex. The ability to show up to work and not know what your first call [is] leads to the excitement.
How does working in your town compare to towns and cities of differing sizes?
Lawton (Acton): I have worked in a much smaller community where I would go a whole shift without receiving a call. In the smaller towns, you need to be self-motivated and make up your activity with security checks, motor vehicle enforcement, and you would investigate the incidents that you responded. In a larger department, we have a community policing officer, traffic officers, and a detective unit which investigates all of our incidents. The officer takes an initial report and then it followed up by the detective division.
What aspect of your community inspires you to continue in law enforcement?
Kasper (Northampton): Northampton is a fantastic community that is welcoming to all. I'm honored to be tasked with leading the department that protects that kind of community.
Klaren (Chilmark): This department is very appreciative of the support this community shows us. With that, we fully acknowledge that support is a perishable commodity and needs to be constantly earned. This inspires all the members to the Chilmark Police Department to work and train hard so they we can provide a competent, professional and fair police service to this community and keep these support levels high.
Lawton (Acton): The town of Acton has been great to the police department. We have a state of the art Public Safety Facility, with 43 sworn officers. The town has a small town feel with a call volume that makes it interesting. The citizens of Acton are very supportive of their police department and make working in Acton an enjoyable experience.
Cops, residents brainstorm community policing
Districts are devising their own community policing strategies
Chicago police districts throughout the city held public meetings in March to gather resident input on their various community policing plans.
Each district will hold two meetings — one to get the initial input from residents and one, scheduled some time in April, to get resident feedback on the proposed plans. During the first meeting, residents were asked what they wanted the police to focus on and how the relationship between the police and the community can be improved.
The plans are part of a series of reforms outlined in the 2017 Chicago Police Superintendent's Community Policing Advisory Panel. Among other things, it recommended that each police district develop its own local community policing strategies.
Those strategies should work to achieve six overarching goals: Getting the police to engage with the community in ways that residents see as "constructive and beneficial" to them; building "relationships of trust" between police and the minority communities; encouraging community members to work with the police and the city to address quality of life and crime issues; tackling problems that impact communities' overall health; implementing principles of restorative justice; and actively working to address trauma experienced by the victims of crime and the community as a whole.
The report recommended that any plans that departments develop should have community input. During a March 15 meeting held for the 25th District at Grace and Peace Church, 1856 N. LeClaire Ave., residents were split into groups around tables and invited to respond to three questions. The idea was to have a discussion, with note takers jotting down ideas that emerged in the process. For each question, participants were asked to switch tables. Participants were encouraged to speak about their own experiences rather than something they heard from others.
Twenty-fifth District Commander Anthony Escamilla encouraged all attendees to speak their mind.
"During the first round, we talked about what you think are issues in your community and how we can come together to solve those problems individually, block-by-block and city-wide," Escamilla said. "It's really important that we put together a good plan."
Most attendees were people who are already involved in community policing in some capacity or another. Ed Stanford, a CAPS community organizer who served as a meeting facilitator, made a reference to attendees being "hand-chosen by the officers in the 25th District."
For the first question, attendees were asked what are the key problems they would like the police to address. For the second question, the residents were asked what they would like to see happen in order to deepen the relationship between the police and the community.
One of the recurring comments at that table was that there were instances when police seemed angry for seemingly no reason, which made conflicts worse.
The police officers in the group noted that they have stressful jobs, which cause them to lash out, which they felt residents don't understand. They argued that body cameras would address the accountability concerns.
The third question asked what community institutions they wanted the police officers to be involved in. The overall consensus from the table was that they should have a bigger presence in schools, especially elementary schools. They also wanted officers to hold more regular events and make regular visits in parks and businesses.
"The common theme is that officers should be interacting more with people instead of [just] chasing down perps," said Mark McNear, a CAPS facilitator "Going to block clubs, coming to our schools, spending time in the community."
Deondre Rutues, who ran for 37th Ward alderman in the Feb. 26 election, serves as a community ambassador for the 25th District neighborhood policing pilot. He said that the meeting could be helpful.
"I feel it's important and very helpful for our community to bridge the gap," he said. "Those things can only help strengthen that."
6 steps to hosting an effective community meeting.
The “sage on the stage” is not a posture designed for listening, but a barrier of separation
American policing hasn't come out of the trough of disrespect and suspicion but there is good news. Recent studies on the use of body worn cameras, trust of police and racial bias in use of force have vindicated the profession on many levels. But building, or rebuilding, positive connections with the communities we serve remains a constant challenge.
One way to interact with the community is through police-community meetings. These can go horribly wrong and be counterproductive. Chicago Tribune reporter Lolly Bowean recently attended a neighborhood meeting where she lives where police were asked to address recent criminal activity. Her mission was personal. A neighbor had been murdered.
Here are some of her observations: “Yes, there had been a murder and a separate shooting, one of the higher-ranking police officers told us. But compared with some other Chicago neighborhoods, crime was not that bad. Another police community engagement liaison explained that because of how the law works, the police essentially have their hands tied and for various reasons can't address our concerns. When one of my neighbors stood and offered the address to a home that had drug activity and homeless people squatting, the police liaison told him that just because he thought it was a drug house doesn't mean it is."
"The officer didn't make any promises to investigate. When another neighbor told them about a sidewalk being crowded by loiterers, the spokesman explained that loitering isn't against the law and trespassing is difficult to prove. When a new homeowner stood and spoke about his efforts to install cameras around his property, the officer told us that even if we had surveillance footage, it was useless unless a person was actually behind the camera and willing to appear in court.”
Those of us who have sat in those police leader positions and been put on the defensive, accused of inaction, unwilling to make promises we can't keep, and communicating our own frustrations with the culture and the legal system, may easily understand the difficult position these Chicago officials are in. But this meeting, perhaps like many in your world, did little good and some possible harm. Make your community interactions better by following these principles:
1. SMALL GROUPS ARE BETTER THAN LARGE CROWDS
Large audience venues can be plagued by poor sound systems, disruptive people in the crowd, and lack of connection between speakers and community members. Multiple meetings with smaller groups – especially select stakeholders and community influencers – offer opportunity for better interactions.
2. TABLES ARE BETTER THAN PLATFORMS
When I see pictures of a uniformed officer behind a podium addressing a group, I see a lost opportunity for connection. It may be second nature to set up a room the same way our classrooms were set up at the academy or in the briefing room or press conference but the “sage on the stage” is not a posture designed for listening, it is a barrier of separation.
Sitting around a table or a circle of chairs at the same level of those with whom you are interacting helps equalize the parties. Avoid the temptation to be at the head of the table. If you're there to listen and answer questions, you don't have to be in charge. A moderator can be helpful in defining and phrasing the discussion. The dynamics of the presence of media at a small event is likely to have much more positive results than media at a large event.
3. POSITIVES ARE BETTER THAN NEGATIVES
Avoid any verbiage that implies nothing can be done. Instead of saying, “We have no control over that,” try, “We can have a conversation with the prosecutor about that.” Instead of saying, “We can't do anything without evidence,” try saying, “We will devote some investigative resources to examine that. If anyone knows of additional information, please contact me at this number.”
4. SOLUTIONS ARE BETTER THAN PROBLEMS
You may be just as frustrated as your citizens about conditions in your community and lack of cooperation from political leaders, the justice system and lack of resources. But the way to be viewed as problem solvers in our communities is to solve problems, not create excuses. Expressing hope and encouragement instead of stooped shoulders and sighs will build trust as you look for creative solutions to the challenges your community is asking you to address. Asking for solutions with an open mind without swatting down audience member's ideas with why their ideas won't work or why it's been done before and failed can start a productive discussion about what can be done and by whom.
5. LISTENING IS BETTER THAN TALKING
The chief or meeting leader should focus on listening and facilitating discussion, so have another officer or LE staff member focus on taking notes. Ask for clarification. Get examples. Make immediate phone calls to get or convey information. Ask what end results are desired. Review the main points. Ask if anyone was unheard or if anything was unsaid. Ask questions. Explore responses.
6. FOLLOWING UP IS BETTER THAN MAKING PROMISES
If the group is small enough and you've asked for contact information, send a thank you and a summary to participants or to leaders who may convey your message. Offer a follow-up meeting, especially if an advisory group or task force evolved from your interactions. Assign tasks to specific officers and get a summary of results ready to report. Be ready to find and present good news about the issue. Make sure the patrol officers working the neighborhoods are aware of what happened at the meetings if they weren't present. They will be key in maintaining support for your efforts.
Unsung Heroes: Community policing matters
The Batesville Police Department consists of 13 officers, who all have varying reasons for wanting to get into this line of work.
“Growing up I had relatives in law enforcement, but I didn't recognize that it would be the path I would take until I was a senior in high school,” recalls Chief Stan Holt, who has served the department for 27 years.
Twelve-year veteran Sgt. Chris Smith had family members who were involved in law enforcement, which piqued his interest.
Patrolman Ethan Back, who has been on duty for about 11 months, reveals, “I always wanted to be a police officer.”
The chief says his main duties are “making sure we do everything we can to provide a safe environment for citizens, and giving my officers and dispatchers the equipment, training and tools they need to provide the best professional services they can.”
He also has administrative tasks, which include “overseeing the daily duties” and working with the city administration to stay within budget.
“In a small agency, I have more of an opportunity to be more involved with all aspects of the job, such as working with the detectives and crime scene people and working with the patrol guys who are out in the neighborhoods keeping our roadways safe.”
Smith reports, “I supervise four people and do crime scene investigations.” He is in charge of the property room and makes sure evidence “gets up to the lab or where it needs to go.” The defense tactics instructor also manages the fleet.
Back does routine patrols, traffic stops and responds to calls.
“We have a low crime rate in Batesville and we're not having to deal with the more serious crimes,” Holt points out. “Most of our cases fall into the lower-level crimes and property crimes.” Daily activities focus mostly on “motor vehicle accidents and assisting citizens with things such as unlocking vehicles and title checks.
“Our guys do a good job. Community policing is a big aspect of our jobs. A lot of times in the bigger cities, this is hard for them to do. It really seems like our officers really get to know the community. On so many of our cases, we make personal contact with people. A lot of times, citizens will ask for an officer by name because they do have a good relationship with them.”
“Our officers do a lot of different presentations for different groups and at the schools. It's very common for officers to be at the schools on a weekly basis.”
The chief reveals, “The opioid crisis hit our community just like every other community. A lot of the crimes we investigate are connected back in some way to drugs. We deal with so many families who are dealing with drug addictions. A big part of our jobs is working with those families.”
Over the last three decades, technology has “come a long way.” He remembers, “When I came on, the only equipment you had was the radio in your car. Now all officers have computers in their cars. They can go through dispatch or run a license plate directly through the computer.
“If we have a situation where we're looking for suspects, the dispatchers can text us pictures of them so we know who they are.”
Radio technology has also improved. Years ago, “if you got very far out of the city, you couldn't reach anyone on your car radio. Now you can talk to officers in the northern or southern parts of the state with hand-held radios.”
The officers work well with other members of the criminal justice system.
“Batesville sits in two counties, which is unique,” Smith announces. “We deal with prosecutors from both” Franklin and Ripley counties.
The prosecutors “recognize the caliber of officers we have,” Holt emphasizes. “They rely on the officers to give them a strong case to prosecute, and they're well satisfied with what we give them.”
Through “our hiring process, we really select the best candidates. They go through 15 weeks at the law enforcement academy and are sent to lots of trainings in state and nationwide.
“Chris has attended the National Forensics Academy. It's uncommon for most agencies in the state of Indiana to send someone there .... We really step things up with our crime scene and active shooter trainings.”
What do the officers enjoy about their jobs? Back likes “the interaction with the public and helping people on a daily basis.” Smith appreciates “not doing the same thing every day and getting to investigate and follow up on solving crimes.”
“Just knowing that you have an impact on making your community and county a safer place for citizens” makes it worthwhile, the chief believes. “Working for a small community is really rewarding because people will come up and say thank you for what you do.”
As in any occupation, there are also challenges they deal with.
“The mental health issue is pretty significant,” Smith observes. “We want to help people, but it's hard to find a place for them to get help.”
Back says it's difficult “dealing with children when they get removed from their families and when you find teenagers with drugs and see the path they're going down.”
“With this job, you see the best in society and the worst,” Holt stresses. “When you're involved and go to some of those scenes where there are severe injuries or the overdose of a young person, you're dealing with a family, and their hearts are just broken.
“Police are human just like everyone else. You take things home with you. When we bring in new people, we tell them, ‘Don't let this job be your priority in life. Make sure your family is.'”
However, “over the years, you see so many different things, so much tragedy with people. That's been the toughest part, working with families in those situations.”
Smith maintains, “The things that make Batesville great can hurt us sometimes. We do have a low crime rate, but don't be afraid to report things when you see them. You won't bother us.”
For those interested in a law enforcement career, Back says, “Be open-minded. There are lots of different law enforcement agencies out there.”
“It's hard to get into law enforcement,” Smith points out. “I was interviewed and turned down .... Don't get discouraged if you're not selected. Keep trying. It generally works out for the better.”
“These are really competitive jobs,” the chief adds. “A lot of agencies don't require a college degree,” but he recommends it.
“Pay attention to your driving record. Don't do anything that's going to hinder you from getting hired. Integrity is everything in this job, and it's applied to the highest standard.”
“One of the first things we do (when looking at prospective candidates) is look at their social media presence and see what they have on there.”
“I am really proud of our agency and the team we've put together,” Holt acknowledges. “Police officers sacrifice a lot. It's a 24/7 job. They're working holidays and nights, dealing with all kinds of things.
“This is not the highest-paying job. You know going into it you're not going to get rich. It really is a calling in life, and you're making your community a safer place for citizens.”
Atlantic City crime rooted in addicted people, abandoned homes, residents say
ATLANTIC CITY — A bright yellow backhoe sat on top of five feet of rubble in the middle of Keener Avenue in the resort's Westside neighborhood Thursday evening. A bedroom door flapped on its hinges inside half a row home, the house's insides exposed.
“These communities used to be thriving with families and kids,” said Indra Owens, 37, pointing to a vacant lot beside a boarded-up home stuffed with trash and couches. “What's happening is, when these houses start becoming this, it fosters an atmosphere for crime.”
Police have been working to put the emphasis on places like vacant lots and abandoned homes via Risk Terrain Modeling, a method that analyzes crime data to compute geographical risk factors for crime in a community.
“We like that philosophy, and we think that goes along well with our community policing policy,” Deputy Chief James Sarkos said. “Not to target people because they're in a specific location, but to target that location itself.”
For example, the city's many convenience stores proved to be a risk factor for crime, according to the model, so the department responded by assigning officers to interact with store owners each shift, Sarkos said. They've done the same with vacant lots and rooming houses.
“What we found is that (officers are) getting out of their cars and going into these locations and it's good community policing and it gives us better visibility in these areas that we need to target, that are priorities,” he said.
Joel Caplan, a Rutgers University criminal justice associate professor, and his colleague Leslie Kennedy developed Risk Terrain Modeling in 2009. Caplan said the method is working in Atlantic City to reduce crime, saying RTM has had “significant implications for reductions of crime in the areas they focused on and citywide.”
Caplan said the model is a predictive tool that looks at the relationships between the crimes that are occurring and the features in the environment — liquor stores, pawn shops, grocery stores, parking lots, fast food restaurants, parks, schools — places that could be intuitively risky and others that aren't.
“It informs decisions about what's attracting illegal behavior and then allows the decision-makers to come up with strategies to intervene at those locations, not by focusing on the people but by figuring out what the contexts are that attract illegal behavior and trying to change the environment to change those contexts," he said. "And that's what Atlantic City did successfully.”
Atlantic City's crime rate has been dropping for 26 years, according to New Jersey Municipal-County Offense & Demographic Data. The city's 2018 year-end report showed violent crime decreased by nearly 30 percent and non-violent crime decreased by nearly 32 percent from 2017.
But crime rates are not as low as state leaders would like to see, with few residents or visitors reporting a sense of safety and order, according to Jim Johnson, special counsel to Gov. Phil Murphy who wrote a report released last year that outlines recommendations for the city to move forward.
Some residents say poverty, addiction, mental health problems, abandoned homes and other squalor are working to keep the city a haven for crime.
In places that are poorer, there is more street crime, said Nathan Link, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Rutgers University–Camden.
“It doesn't mean that any poor individual is necessarily more criminal than a rich individual,” he cautioned. “There are lots of poor people who are completely law-abiding, and there are many wealthy criminals.”
Social and historical forces have created high-poverty areas that have a lot of crime, Link said, adding the least well-off people are the ones who tend to be stuck in those types of places without jobs and, as a result, alternative — often illegal — economies spring up, creating a cycle of poverty and crime.
“It has nothing to do with the people in these areas being intrinsically bad,” Link said. “It has to do with some areas being so deeply disadvantaged that many of their residents struggle through life, and the broader community doesn't have the capacity or resources to reduce crime.”
Owens said she isn't insensitive to the problems the addicted and sick are dealing with, but it's “out of control."
”That itself breeds crime,” Owens said. “When you're hungry and you want to get high and you're in a strange place, it breeds crime. You used to be able to really pinpoint the neighborhoods where you could maybe still sleep with your door open, or unlocked. That's nowhere now.
New York State
Another Voice: Community policing can break down
by Marian Bass
Well over a generation ago, the Buffalo Police Community Services unit was added to the police hierarchy of services to help maximize public safety.
As its first director, I was assigned a staff composed of both sworn and civilian personnel. Our objective was to try to develop those worthwhile programs that would bring about wider understanding, systematic communication and more harmonious relations between the police and the public.
Community policing involves police striving to deal with issues while improving their own image in the process. It is directly antithetical to the traditional image of reacting to crime, for its principles are predicated upon the prevention of crime. Community policing is community peacemaking. It is an ideological change in how police must deal with citizens.
It means that public safety and protection are not the exclusive concern of law enforcement agencies, but the concern of the entire community. Thus its implementation is not a simple matter. It cannot be achieved through the issuance of a general order mandating change. It must be organized around specific goals and a set of priorities that are credible to both the police and the public. We are, in essence, asking the police to improve the community's racial climate.
Foot patrol is an important aspect of community policing and is regaining popularity in many departments. But beyond its popularity, there is no visible proof that it reduces crime. When foot patrols are instituted, however, the degree of fear in the community seems to diminish.
But if foot patrol does not actually aid in reducing crime, should it be utilized simply because it makes citizens feel safer? Despite its feel-good quality, there should be serious misgivings. Violence in some inner-city neighborhoods reflects not only serious black-on-black crime, but in some instances a great hostility toward police. To expose a young officer, black or white, to patrol on foot in certain sections of the city, where they are most needed, may be foolhardy, and deserves rethinking as a police strategy. Antipathy toward police knows no color line in neighborhoods where homicides are common and commonly unsolved.
Foot patrol is only one aspect of community policing. Responsible citizens live in immense fear and press for more police protection. The problem is compounded when mixed messages are sent to police. The cry is for more aggressive patrol, yet police are often accused of using too much force.
Community policing is not a cure-all for violence, but it is an opportunity for departments to prove that police are a part of, not apart from, the community.
Ohio law enforcement agencies improving community-policing relations
COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Tom Stickrath today announced updated figures on the number of Ohio law enforcement agencies that have implemented Ohio's statewide minimum standards on use of force, deadly force, hiring, and recruitment.
According to a report issued today by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, a total of 445 law enforcement agencies in Ohio have fully adopted the primary standards set by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board.
An additional 49 agencies are in the process of adopting the standards.
The policy standards, which define circumstances for use of force and deadly force and promote equal employment and non-discrimination, were developed by the Collaborative in an effort to improve the relationship between law enforcement and citizens.
"These agencies have voluntarily engaged in the certification process and have demonstrated a true commitment to providing exceptional services to their communities," said Governor DeWine.
The report showed that as of March 29, 78 percent of Ohio's population is served by a certified agency or an agency actively seeking certification. Also, 74 percent of law enforcement officers are employed by a certified agency or an agency actively seeking certification.
The Ohio Collaborative has also established standards in the following areas: community engagement; body worn cameras; law enforcement telecommunicator training; bias-free policing; and employee misconduct. OCJS partnered with the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to help certify Ohio's law enforcement agencies.
To view the Law Enforcement Certification Public Report, which lists the certification status of all of Ohio's law enforcement agencies.
LAPD to scrap some crime data programs after criticism
by MARK PUENTE
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore plans to scrap a controversial program that uses data to identify individuals who are most likely to commit violent crimes, bowing to criticism included in an audit and by privacy groups.
In a five-page memo sent Friday to the Police Commission, the civilian panel that oversees the LAPD, Moore detailed a host of changes in response to a 52-page audit by Inspector General Mark Smith.
Smith found that the department's data analysis programs lacked oversight and that officers used inconsistent criteria to label people as “chronic offenders.” Smith also couldn't determine the overall effectiveness of a geographic component that tried to pinpoint the location of some property crimes.
Moore told commissioners the department will not use programs that fail to produce results and will strive to “identify new or emerging ideas that hold promise.”
“Crime reduction strategies are never static,” wrote Moore, who is scheduled to present an oral report to the commission on Tuesday. “We will continue to learn and evolve in our work.”
For years, critics have lambasted the data-driven programs — which use search tools and point scores — saying statistics tilt toward racial bias and result in heavier policing of black and Latino communities. After the “chronic offender” lists created an uproar among civil liberties and privacy groups, the LAPD suspended that tool in August.
Andrew Ferguson, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia who studies policing data and wrote a book on the topic, credited Smith's audit for exposing problems. Police leaders, he said, need to be transparent if they want to build community trust and accountability around data programs.
“You have to have the courage to go to the community to tell them how you're using it and if it is broken,” said Ferguson, who called for annual audits of the programs. “If they do that, they're going to be leaders” in the country.
Smith's audit focused on several tools.
For violent crime, the department draws "LASER" zones devised by a human crime analyst, not a computer — to identify crime hot spots and where to focus more officers.
Many of the department's divisions also used data to compile lists or "bulletins" of people calculated to be among the top 12 "chronic offenders." The program assigned points to people based on prior criminal histories, such as arrest records, gang affiliation, probation and parole status and recent police contacts.
Smith found that 44% of the so-called chronic offenders had either zero or one arrest for violent crimes. About half had no arrest for gun-related crimes. Others were in custody or had been arrested for only nonviolent crimes.
Officers will now rely more on old-school tactics, using physical descriptions of those suspected in reported crimes. They will also focus more closely on perpetrators recently released from custody and those who have committed similar crimes in the past, the memo stated.
Moore also plans to increase oversight by developing “precision policing” manuals tailored to each of the agency's four geographic commands. The manuals, which are expected to be completed this summer, will incorporate the inspector general's recommendations. The four area commands will provide a “centralized model of oversight from the Office of Operations,” Moore wrote.
The inspector general's audit also found discrepancies with a location-based tool, called PredPol, shorthand for predictive policing.
The software program is designed to predict where and when crimes will likely occur over the next 12 hours and where to target officers. The software's algorithm examines 10 years of crime data, including the types of crimes, dates, locations and times.
But Smith found that some factors, for example, the size of the crime zones and presence of police facilities, skewed the data.
The department is in the process of developing “smaller micro hot spots, approximately 500 feet by 500 feet.” It also plans to work with the vendor to exclude the crimes reported by people at police stations, Moore wrote.
“It has been noted that a location-based strategy of identifying patterns and series of crime trends at specific locations, corridors or neighborhoods are a proven crime strategy.” Moore wrote.
A recent study from New York University School of Law and NYU's AI Now Institute examined data programs in troubled police departments in Chicago, New Orleans and Maricopa County, Ariz.
The study concluded that “dirty data” lead to biased policing and unlawful predictions. Those policies repeatedly send officers to the same neighborhoods, regardless of the crimes committed, the study found.
Rashida Richardson, director of policy research at the AI Now Institute and a co-author of the report, said Smith's findings mirrored suspicions that police target specific communities.
“This shows a larger policing problem,” she said. “None of this is standardized. A lot of this system is one-sided.”
LAPD Officer Hannu Tarjamo, a director at the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said the data programs can be helpful, but they also distract officers from police work. Community policing, he said, is done best when officers learn areas and know who commits the crimes.
The league “has faith that (Moore) will do the right thing” with the programs, Tarjamo said.
Community activist Najee Ali said residents expect improvements in the wake of the audit. Ali said he welcomes future data audits and changes to problematic programs.
“We hope Chief Moore will continue to listen and value our input,” Ali said.
(Video on site)
'Police need to find a better way:' Officials want answers about black teen's traffic stop
by ANDREW WOLFSON
Civil rights leaders and several Metro Council members said Thursday they were enraged by a traffic stop in which a teenager was pulled from his car, frisked and handcuffed last summer after an alleged minor traffic violation.
Councilwoman Jessica Green, who chairs the council's public safety committee, said she has asked Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad to appear before Metro Council to answer questions about the stop of Tae-Ahn Lea and the department's tactic of "hyper-policing" to fight violent crime in the West End.
Green, D-District 1, said the stop described in a Courier Journal story and viewed a million times on YouTube shows how Louisville residents are "hunted down because of the color of their skin and where they live."
Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League said when she watched the video with a group of black parents on spring break, "We found ourselves talking back to the video, holding back tears."
"We understand the violence, we understand the drugs," she said. "But one fact remains, many of our children are innocent.
"Police need to find a better way."
Conrad has declined to comment on Lea's stop, saying it is the subject of a pending internal-affairs investigation, although he has defended the department's strategy of aggressive policing in high crime corridors. A police spokeswoman said the department has no plans on dropping the strategy.
Councilman David James, D-6th District, a former police officer, said he doesn't blame the officers involved in the stop because "they are doing what they are told to do."
But he said "stops like these are a bad idea. It is morally wrong. It is like going fishing with a big net. There are better ways to fight violence."
Councilman Mark Fox, D-District 13, a former police major and district commander who retired three years ago after 34 years on the force, said stopping people for traffic violations in high-crime areas makes sense. He likened it to employing police radar in an area with a high accident rate.
But Fox said police, after checking Lea's license and running his name for warrants, should not have forced him out of his car.
"I wouldn't have done that," he said.
Metro Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9th District, noted that both Conrad and Mayor Greg Fischer six months ago promised a broad, community-wide discussion about traffic stops, especially in west Louisville neighborhoods.
"The community is still waiting — and this story demonstrates again how much we need to have that discussion now," he said.
"Routinely treating citizens in certain neighborhoods as suspects results in bad relationships and can result in violence and even death."
Cassia Herron, vice chair of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, said money used for traffic stops should be invested instead in initiatives that “enable people to participate in the local economy in ways that provide living wages and enhance quality of life.”
For example, she cited tuition for technical college, collateral for entrepreneurs to secure bank loans, downpayment assistance for first-time homeowners, improvements for sidewalks and streetlights and summer work for young people.
Lea, who had no criminal record, was stopped Aug. 9, 2018, for making a wide turn. Police searched his car after a police canine supposedly alerted on contraband inside it, but no illegal drugs or weapons were found and the traffic citation was later dismissed when neither of the officers who wrote it showed up in court.
Raoul Cunningham, president of the NAACP Louisville chapter, said, "how this young man was handled was disturbing."
"We support efforts to reduce violent crime, but what is the price citizens — primarily in west Louisville — must pay? How many stops have been made in other Louisville communities for an alleged illegal turn?"
Lea was stopped about a month before police pulled over the Rev. Kevin Cosby, senior pastor of St. Stephen Church, for an alleged traffic violation that he claimed was racially motivated.
Conrad announced last month that an investigation found Cosby was not racially profiled.
In an interview Thursday, Cosby, who is also president of historically black Simmons College of Kentucky, said watching the video of Lea's stop was like "déjà vu."
He said the stop and search showed "how an entire community is profiled" and that it "tragic how tax money is used to harass people."
He also said it appeared that officers in the stop were trying to goad Lea and his mother, Tija Jackson, into doing something more extreme.
Green said no date has been set for Conrad's appearance. She said he will be asked to provide proof that traffic stops in high crime neighborhoods reduce violence and that she and others will try to help the department understand the "history of disenfranchised people being targeted just because where they live."
Green said that as a former prosecutor, public safety is her highest priority, but the "idea my two sons could and would be pulled over for no other reason than that they live in west Louisville" gives me "significant concern."
Conrad has said intensive policing in the Russell neighborhood reduced homicides there, but a study released last year of more than 2 million traffic stops in Nashville found they did not reduce crime.
Fischer declined to comment on the stop, saying it was under investigation. FOP President Nic Jilek also wouldn't comment.
Experts who viewed the video for the Courier Journal say that while the stop — other than the frisk — was legal, it was disproportionate to the alleged offense and an example of the kind of bad policing that undermines community trust.
"That young man and his family will forever have a bad taste towards police officers and the department," James said
Gavin Buckley: I've learned about policing from the Annapolis community
Mayor Gavin Buckley
April 4 commemorates the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who was called “a drum major for peace.” He was gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee.
Two months after he was killed, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. In the aftermath of these two killings, amidst civil unrest, the federal government took decisive action to ban the so-called “Saturday Night Special.”
And so it was after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated that the federal government moved swiftly to pass massive Civil Rights legislation.
In those days, many states, counties and municipalities pushed back against the federal government's civil rights agenda to address racial injustice and inequality. Today, I find the opposite is true. It is up to leadership in localities to push for the changes we want to see in our communities while leadership at the federal level is going backward.
As part of my administration's directive for One Annapolis, we are actively recruiting people onto boards and commissions, hosting outreach events, and looking at how opioids affect all communities. Many of these issues are problems nationally as well as locally.
We are working in all wards of the city.
We have taken that approach to our search for a new Annapolis police chief and therefore have been hosting community forums to understand what residents want to see in a new chief.
We have had three sessions so far. The first, with 108 residents in attendance, was at the Cook-Pinkney American Legion Post on Forest Drive. The second, with 51 people, was at the Eastport Fire Station on Bay Ridge Avenue. The third, with 53 people, took place Tuesday at the “Pip” Moyer Recreation Center on Hilltop Lane.
Each session attracted a diverse audience. The panel got good recommendations because there was variety in opinions from participants.
I imagine King would be disappointed to hear that, 56 years after he called for an end to police brutality in his Washington, D.C., “I Have a Dream” speech, the community asked at nearly all of the forums that our Annapolis chief be a leader in ensuring that all Annapolitans receive equitable treatment by the police.
Of course, everyone wants a chief who is experienced, has integrity, is committed to the city and is trustworthy.
But some of what the 200-plus residents of our neighborhoods have come out to say, so far, aligns with what I have been talking about in a new leader of the Annapolis Police Department.
They want a chief who is in the community, not just for “special events,” but who is committed to building a model of community policing that reflects a humanizing of the police force and not the militarization of it.
Alongside residents, I want a police chief who values connecting and coordinating with nonprofits and agencies around things like mental health. Participants said they wanted a chief who will actively recruit young people from within our schools and neighborhoods with an eye toward an individual temperament that leans more toward resident interaction, cooperation and relationship-building.
What I am most buoyed by is that these forums are bringing about an honest and open dialogue with residents. I am thankful that they have taken the time to come out and discuss this very important topic with me and members of the search committee.
We have one more session, at 7 p.m. Thursday, at Mt. Olive AME Church. I hope everyone comes so you don't miss out on this experience. I've continued to learn at each session. I'm sure residents will continue to voice their concerns in letters to the editor and on social media.
I'll be listening.
Public forum aims to promote positive police and community relationships
by Audrey J. Kirby
MUNCIE, Ind. — A collaborative effort by local organizations aims to promote the benefits of positive relationships between community members and the police officers who protect them.
The Whitely Community Council, Muncie Police Department, Ball State Criminal Justice and Criminology Department and The Facing Project have joined forces to host a public forum with guests including local police officers, members of the Citizen Police Academy, attorneys and Delaware County Circuit Court 2 Judge Kim Dowling. There will also be an appearance from Tommy Norman, a police officer from Little Rock, Ark., whose videos on community policing have helped him gather more than one million likes on his Facebook page.
The event runs 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at Cornerstone Center for the Arts. It's free and open to the public. The first 100 to register receive a free lunch.
Ken Hudson, executive director for the Whitely Community Council, said the event aims to shine a positive light on relationships between the community and police, with the most important goal being to create a pathway for bettering those relationships.
"Understanding is a two-way street," Hudson said, adding that residents should understand their rights and the roles of law enforcement, but police officers should also understand how residents feel.
Part of the event that will focus on this understanding will involve the telling of stories from residents and local Muncie and Ball State University police officers. It's the latest venture of The Facing Project, a nonprofit that provides a platform for individuals to share their stories, which are written as first-person narratives. Students from Ball State wrote the stories and also created art projects to go along with them that will be on display Saturday.
Kiesha Warren-Gordon, associate professor of criminal justice and criminology at Ball State, said she hopes to print enough books, which will include the police and community stories, to be able to pass them out at the event. The hope is that the books can be used for new cadets in training.
"(The students) wanted to work on continuing to develop the positive relationships that have already been established," Warren-Gordon said, "and they wanted to figure out ways to branch that out to more people in the community."
The Facing Project's portion of the event, along with an introduction by Ivy Tech Community College chancellor Jeff Scott, will take place at the beginning, with breakout sessions to follow. The event will also have a Police Training Simulator, a representative from the Citizens Police Academy who will talk about the program and a group of attorneys, judges and more who will discuss current issues in criminal justice.
Following lunch, conversations will continue at a one-hour forum moderated by Mitch Isaacs, executive director of the Shafer Leadership Academy.
Regarding the negative altercations between police and citizens in communities across the country that make national headlines, Hudson said, "We want to get in front of that." He said the event will have pamphlets available that explain best practices during a police encounter, whether it's during a car stop, on the street or at home.
Proposal to Increase Community Oversight of Dallas Police Department Heads to City Council
Seven months after Botham Jean's killing, the Dallas City Council will be briefed Wednesday on a proposal to extend the community's power to check police power.
by PETER SIMEK
It has been seven months since Botham Jean was killed in his apartment by an off-duty Dallas Police officer. At the time, the event turned up the volume of the voices in the city who have long been calling for an overhaul in the way Dallas checks the power of its police department. This Wednesday, the Dallas City Council will be briefed on a proposed reform of the Citizens Police Review Board, the latest attempt to address the issue.
The reform of the Citizens Police Review Board has been in the works for years. In 2010, after Dallas police shot and killed Tobias Mackey, activists began calling for more citizen oversight of the police department. In 2017, U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson commissioned a report that outlined best practices for reforming the Citizens Police Review Board. But it wasn't until Jean's killing that these efforts began to gain real political momentum. For residents in Dallas communities that feel they have been over-policed—a feeling underwritten by a well-documented history of police shootings and killings—those reforms are essential in restoring confidence in the Dallas Police Department.
The changes laid out in Wednesday's briefing propose renaming the review board the “Community Police Oversight Board” as well as creating a new three-person department in City Hall called the Office of Police Oversight, or OPO. This new department would receive complaints about police behavior and serve as a mediator between the complainants and DPD.
The OPO would also monitor DPD's internal investigations, observing officer interviews and interrogations, submitting questions, and requesting information as part of the internal investigations process. The Dallas police chief would continue to retain authority over those investigations, but the chief would submit a report of their conclusions to the Community Police Oversight Board. That board would retain its current right to conduct independent investigations of police behavior and make recommendations for improvements to DPD.
This new system is born out of compromise between activists and police officers, and neither side is 100 percent happy with the results. Dominique Alexander, who heads the Next Generation Action Network, is concerned about two aspects of the proposal. The first relates to the new OPO's potential power to subpoena witnesses in investigations into police behavior, a key demand of activists seeking police reform. This new proposal retains a technical advisory committee made of up of non-Dallas police officers who would need to approve any subpoenas made by the OPO. Alexander also objects to the Dallas Police Association's continued involvement in drafting the revisions to the oversight board and the creation of the OPO.
“The city believes the Dallas Police Association and the unions have to okay this,” Alexander says. “The unions should not have any involvement in police oversight. Regardless of whether or not an officer's behavior is right or wrong, they have to represent them. The accountability is not there. So their involvement is very problematic. It seems like in the city of Dallas the police union's voices are more important than the community's voices.”
Dallas Police Association President Michael Mata believes it is only fair that the police have some say in shaping an organization that will oversee the work of the officers he represents. In particular, Mata wants to ensure that any newly constructed citizen review board won't be able to circumvent the Dallas Police Department's own internal investigations. He doesn't want the new organizations to have subpoena power or the ability to interrogate witnesses.
“It could often result in a violation of due process,” Mata says. “It's a slippery slope.”
Another disagreement between activists and police relates to the way the new OPO will be staffed and who will have ultimate oversight of the department. Alexander says he would like the OPO to be organized similarly to the Dallas Parks Department, with the head hired and directly reporting to the Community Police Oversight Board. Mata wants the OPO to be managed by the city manager.
Expect many of these disagreements to get a full airing at tomorrow's briefing thanks to the inclusion of a public hearing on the council's agenda. Council member Philip Kingston, who has been closely involved in the ongoing work in overhauling community policing oversight, is concerned that the only purpose of the public hearing is to kick-up dust around the reforms and slow the process down.
“It is blatantly an attempt to turn the thing into a piñata to weaken the proposals,” Kingston says. “Every minute that has lapsed since Botham Jean was killed has weakened the power to reform.
Voluntary registry helps police find people with dementia
by Leslie Boyd
When a child with autism went missing in Hendersonville a couple of years ago, the police didn't just ask his parents what he was wearing: They wanted to know a number of things, including what the boy liked to do.
“His mom said he loved water, that he would always head toward water,” remembers Monica Howard, a dispatcher for the department. “We found him by a pond near his home. We knew to look there because his mom gave us that information.”
A happy ending, for sure. But just think how much sooner he might have been found if police had had instant access to a description of the boy, photos and information about where he might go, she points out.
James Ervin Crouse, 84, was not so fortunate. In January, he was found dead one day after a search had begun.
“I wake up at 2 a.m. sometimes and I think about these things,” says Hendersonville Police Chief Herbert Blake. “I know that man was found outside city limits in the county, but it bothered me.”
Blake wondered whether the police might have found Crouse alive if they'd had some sort of informational head start. He'd read about a voluntary registry for people with dementia that enabled police to access key information and post it to all on-duty officers, saving precious time, and he thought about setting up a similar program in Hendersonville. A guide published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police provided a ready model, and the local version launched in January.
“It can happen anytime,” notes Blake. “You run into the bank to make a quick deposit or into the store to pick up something, and the person gets out of the parked car and walks away. It's not a matter of neglect; it's more a matter of a caregiver can't be there every moment.”
Keeping people safe
In the program's first month, eight people registered. Carrie, who asked that her last name not be used, says she signed up her husband as soon as he was diagnosed with dementia.
“I know if I get home from an errand and he's not here, I can make a call and every police officer will have his information within seconds,” she explains. “I think this program is awesome. I saw it on social media, and I knew it was something we needed.”
To register, family members fill out a form and provide one or more photos, which are uploaded to a computer file. Caregivers can access the form online, visit the Hendersonville Police Department or have a hard copy mailed or hand-delivered to their home. The information is shared only if the person is reported missing, stresses Howard.
Hendersonville is a retirement destination, and although most of those folks are healthy older adults, in time, some inevitably begin to develop conditions related to aging, including dementia.
“The first priority is keeping people safe,” says Blake. “The more quickly we can get information out to our officers, the more likely the person will be found alive and uninjured.”
The information in the registry goes beyond a simple description. Family members are asked to describe the person's favorite activities and places; whether they've ever been reported missing before (and, if so, where they were found); and whether there are any specific emotional triggers that police need to know about.
“If we know someone is afraid of bright or flashing lights, that will help us in dealing with that person when we find them,” Howard explains.
Saving precious time
The International Association of Chiefs of Police doesn't keep track of how many law enforcement agencies have such programs, but a spokeswoman said it's a growing trend as the baby boomer generation ages and dementia becomes more common.
In Asheville, for example, the Fire Department uses a computer program called First Due, which provides information about pets and people with disabilities. The department, notes spokeswoman Kelley Klope, “is getting ready to roll out Community Connect, which is an extension of First Due.” The expanded program will offer a voluntary registry where residents can provide information about pets, children and people with special needs, including dementia. First responders will be able to access that information while they're en route to the destination.
Christine John-Fuller of the Alzheimer's Association's Western Carolina chapter says such registries are a growing trend because they save time when someone goes missing. In fact, the national association has its own program, MedicAlert + Safe Return, which uses a bracelet to identify the individual. The bracelet shows the phone number for a hotline that's staffed around the clock, enabling anyone who encounters the lost person to get more information.
The family can also call and ask that the information be shared with other agencies that are helping in the search. The program charges $55 for the first year (including the cost of the bracelet) and a $35 annual membership renewal fee after that.
Tips for caregivers
The Alzheimer's Association offers these tips for preventing wandering:
Establish a routine for daily activities. Caregivers should identify the likeliest times of day that the person might be likely to wander off and then plan activities during those times. This can help reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness.
If the person feels lost, abandoned or disoriented, reassure them that they're safe. If they say they want to go home or go to work, the caregiver shouldn't try to correct them. Instead, offer assurances such as, “We are staying here tonight. We are safe and I'll be with you. We can go home in the morning after a good night's rest.”
Ensure that all basic needs are met. Has the person used the bathroom? Are they thirsty or hungry?
Avoid busy places. Destinations such as shopping malls and grocery stores can be confusing and cause disorientation.
Position locks out of the line of sight. Install them either high or low on exterior doors, and consider placing slide bolts at the top or bottom.
Install devices that signal when a door or window is opened. This can be as simple as a bell placed above a door or as sophisticated as an electronic home alarm system.
Provide supervision. Don't leave someone with dementia unsupervised in new or changed surroundings. Never lock a person in at home or leave him or her in a car alone.
Eliminate access to car keys. The person may forget that they are no longer able to drive.
Even with these precautions, however, people with dementia can wander, and it's best to be prepared, says Howard.
“We can pull up this form, with photos, and have it distributed to police and rescue personnel in seconds,” she emphasizes. “Every minute counts, especially in very cold or very hot weather, and having the person's information at our fingertips saves a lot of time. We don't have to go out to the house and interview family members, because we have all the information we need right here.”
Blake, meanwhile, says the program “is what community policing is all about. It's not about zero tolerance or getting tough — it's about keeping people safe.
Training Camden, NJ: 3 steps to creating a protector culture.
Our goal was to make officers in a “start-up” department ethically driven, effective communicators and tactically proficient
Hundreds of LEOs have been through our basic Ethical Protector course. While we have scores of positive testimonials from our students, we usually train only a few officers in each of many different organizations. Our influence has been more wide than deep. But there was one department that was different.
We were both involved in a large training program several years ago that tested our theories in, what was at the time, the most dangerous city in America. It was a unique opportunity. We were tasked with helping shape the culture and skills of the new Camden County Police Department (CCPD) virtually from scratch. The previous city police department had been disbanded due an inability to control the high crime rate, poor relations with the community and cost overruns.
The new chief, a forward-thinking leader named Scott Thomson, had approached us to discuss how we could lead the training of the new department. The goal was to make the officers in this “start-up” department ethically-driven, effective communicators and tactically proficient in a very challenging environment.
Over the many months we were there we trained all the officers in tactics, de-escalation skills and community policing methodologies, some adapted from the Marines' effective “winning hearts and mind” efforts overseas. At the core of the training was respect – respect for the sanctity of life. Whose life? Self and others. Which others? All others. Including the criminals, if possible. Wherever our officers went, everyone would be safer because they were there. That ethic, of a life-protector, drove the new tactical philosophy and communication techniques. “Ethics drives tactics, tactics drive techniques,” was the motto.
After our training concluded, we were anxious to see if the new philosophies and methodologies would stick. Could CCPD sustain the transition? Would the lives of the officers and citizens of Camden continue to improve? Or would the culture revert to the old days of out-of-control crime and poor community relations?
We are happy to say that the culture has remained true to the ethical protector (or guardian, as they now call it) culture. Today, Camden is often cited in the news as a model of effective community policing, and crime is way down. Making the officers think of themselves as “protectors,” along with deploying new de-escalation tactics, saved a life almost right away.
The credit, of course, rightfully goes to the men and women of the Camden County Police Department who have created and maintained the new culture and to their courageous and visionary leadership. While our roles have ended, we think it would be helpful for other departments intrigued by the dramatic transformation in Camden to learn about the unique methodology that was used to get the change started. We were intimately involved with that.
There were several things that appeared to work that any police leader could try:
1. DEMONSTRATE TOP-DOWN SUPPORT AND BUY-IN AT ALL LEVELS
It was Chief Thomson who made a 100% commitment to the new program. Granted, he was able to start with a fairly “clean slate,” as the new CCPD had a fresh start with many new young officers. But there is no way you can create a new culture (or change one) without everyone, particularly the leadership, being fully engaged.
Chief Thomson started by introducing us to all the leadership and emphasizing that the ethical protector culture would be the number one priority in the department. Then we scheduled “port and starboard” training for the entire department where we gave every officer a one-hour overview of the new program. It was mandated everyone be trained, including the captains and deputy chiefs. Everyone. Often police leadership tries to introduce a new program, but the actual training gets foisted on the rank and file while the leadership remains in their offices. Camden didn't do that.
2. SELECT AND EMPOWER EFFECTIVE MENTORS
Concurrent with the program overview training, we asked Chief Thomson to select his 20 most respected and charismatic officers – not the most highly ranked, necessarily, but the ones most looked up to by their peers.
His first choice was the training officer who was a former Marine and a “walk-on-water” field cop. Together we selected the next 19. Some were lieutenants, some were sergeants, but many were patrol officers, several with combat experience overseas. They came in all flavors – genders, races and job descriptions.
They were given two special “mentor courses” and we held bi-monthly mentor meetings to practice the new de-escalation and tactical skills. But most important, we told stories. We talked about our own mentors and how they had impacted our lives. Stories of respectful behavior and heroism we had witnessed were shared. And we celebrated them.
In addition to setting the example for all officers and being available 24-7, the mentors selected certain individuals in the department who they felt connected to and could “take under their wing.”
We also talked about officers who needed specific guidance, and we made sure someone would willingly mentor that person.
We are not big fans of traditional “train-the-trainer” programs. No matter how “vital” the information being passed, the idea that a few days (or hours!) of training qualifies a person to teach others, much less make the lessons stick, is mostly delusional. People need mentorship and sustainment to learn something, especially if the goal is to create a whole new positive attitude about their job.
The next step was having the mentors assist our staff in teaching a three-day Ethical Protector course to the rest of the department – 25 officers at a time. The training included ethics, communication and de-escalation skills (we used the Verbal Defense & Influence methodology) and tactical skills.
Every training day also consisted of a PT session where the participants – mentors and officers alike – worked on fitness and shared adversity. There we bonded and had some fun. Personality clashes evaporated. We were “one team – one fight” all the way.
3. SUSTAIN THE MOMENTUM
The training was great for morale, and the officers' response was overwhelmingly positive. But we worried about how to sustain the momentum.
The mentor program was one way: make sure the mentors followed up with the officers and informally answered any questions they might have about the tactics or de-escalation techniques. But we realized that we needed a “practice” that could be done, daily so the training wouldn't wear off, and the culture would feed on itself and keep evolving in a positive way. This is not easy. The life of a police officer can be very busy and stressful anywhere, but especially in a dangerous city like Camden. Hours are long, and the pay is not always great. It's hard to schedule anything but state-mandated training. Keeping physically fit is also a challenge. But once a culture is established, it can be self-reinforcing.
One suggestion to use is a tool called CAP, which stands for clarify, activate and practice:
Clarify: This first step consists of just one thing: re-affirming our self-concept as a protector or guardian of life, no matter what.
Activate: Moral behavior can be effectively inspired through the emotions. Consistently activate the protector self-concept by sharing stories. And the officers of Camden – perhaps of every city – have stories of heroism and selflessness to spare. Tell them.
Practice: Put everything all together with quick reviews of the tactical and verbal skills as a daily practice. This is a commitment but can realistically be done in 5 or 10 minutes at role call and be led by whichever mentors happen to be on shift. Instead of saying “Be safe,” we recommend saying something like, “Remember, everyone is safer in your presence.” Then call on someone to give their favorite anecdote about a friend or colleague (or even talk about a timely story from the news) that epitomizes the image of an ethical protector. Then do one physical activity. It could be a gun retention move, or the unholstering and re-holstering of your firearm 10 times in a row with eyes closed, or 10 push-ups or deep squats. It doesn't have to take long – just a couple of minutes – but do it every roll call, and don't leave out the physical part. Don't just talk! Eventually it will become part of the culture, and that's when the important changes start.
With some motivation, a plan and a sustainment methodology you can improve the morale and effectiveness of your officers, as well as positively impact your officers' tactical and communication skills. The ethical protector philosophy also has a good chance of helping you improve your relationship with the community you are sworn to serve. Police departments are under intense scrutiny by the media, having a department of real ethical protectors is a story you'll want them to tell.
The Police Chief Who Learned to Listen
To curb homicides, Eric Jones started by having the Stockton, California PD focus on repairing its relationship with residents. “More than ever, I see trust in police connected to reducing violent crime.”
by ELIZABETH VAN BROCKLIN
American communities with the deepest mistrust in law enforcement are often the same places that experience high rates of gun violence. Academics refer to a community's faith in cops to protect them as “police legitimacy.” When police legitimacy is down, street justice prevails and crimes are harder to solve, which in turn fuels more shootings.
Police Chief Eric Jones of Stockton, California, had seen this vicious cycle up close in his earlier days making arrests as an officer. His department's tough-on-crime style of policing didn't seem to be improving public safety; the city was one of the most violent in the country. After Jones was promoted to chief, an Urban Institute survey of Stockton and five other American cities confirmed his fears: Just a third of residents across the six cities said they trusted police; a third felt that police treated residents with dignity and respect; and half felt police acted out of personal prejudice or bias.
Jones started to learn about reconciliation, a process of reckoning with past and present harms of law enforcement in order to improve fractured relationships between police and residents. In a 2017 op-ed he co-authored with the city manager, Jones likened the process to “reopening a wound that never healed. It causes pain today but promotes healing tomorrow.”
Seven years into his experiment, homicides and shootings have gone down, while clearance rates have improved.
Jones spoke with The Trace about his department's evolution in policing, and shared some of the ways he thinks it's made his community safer.
I started working for the Stockton Police Department in the early 1990s as a beat cop and then I just worked my way up over time. I was one of those officers that was out there making as many arrests as I could. That's just what we're supposed to do, what our supervisors and commanders were directing us to do — it was a measurement of success in our department and police departments all over the place. I did often wonder, “Does this really make the most sense?” In my gut, I felt like it wasn't the best approach.
When I took over as police chief in 2012, we were going through a really difficult time as a city. Stockton had filed for bankruptcy, we had just had major layoffs in the department, morale was down. We had really high crime, the highest homicides we'd ever had; we had a lot of demonstrations and protests; we had issues with trust and lack of confidence. The zero-tolerance policing strategy was actually putting even more of a divide between us and the community, to where the community felt like we were an occupying force. We were doing these community meetings and these town halls where concerns were expressed, but no meaningful changes were coming out of those.
That year, a gentleman named Jerron Jordan called and asked for a meeting. He'd recently been released from prison and he wanted to make some changes so others didn't go there. He was very shocked that I even returned his call, much less that we actually got together for a sit-down. He was probably the first person who I really listened to as chief, and I began to understand the systems that had let him down along the way, and how racial disparities had come to light through his environment. Even though we came from two totally different backgrounds, we both wanted the same thing for the community: reduced crime and increased trust, better opportunities for our young men of color so they don't get trapped in the criminal justice system, more mentors. That was one of those moments where something clicked.
I knew we needed to do something differently. We needed to listen to more of our community, and not just the business leaders who are complaining about burglaries. We needed to listen to the formerly incarcerated. We needed to listen to victims and survivors. And we needed to listen to those in the communities that are most impacted by high crime, and that also have the lowest trust in police. That's when we began to make a shift toward “listening in a new way.”
In 2015, the city manager and I embarked on a listening tour. We said, “We'll meet with anybody — we'll go to your church, your school, your living room, your business — and we will hear your thoughts on community-police relations.” We reached well over 100 people doing those.
Around that time, we were one of six pilot sites across the nation chosen to be part of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. The goal was to really get to the root of, how do you improve trust with the police in the communities that most need it?
As part of that, the Urban Institute did a baseline survey of residents in the six cities to gauge community trust in police. The results were difficult to hear. I knew there was mistrust — I did not know it was so significant. But the survey results also showed that the community wanted to work with the police, so that gave me at least some hope and promise.
When you really look at the history of policing in America, you find these undeniable facts of atrocities and abuses. In the summer of 2016, I went to an African-American church on Stockton's south side and made a public acknowledgement of past harms of law enforcement. I talked about how police played a role in enforcing slave codes and facilitated lynchings, and also about more recent injustices by law enforcement.
I had also started leading listening sessions. We began by inviting the leaders of the groups that had felt disenfranchised — the NAACP Stockton Branch, Black Leadership Council, El Concilio, our pride center, the Southeast Asian community. Then we asked them to recommend other groups or individuals, and we expanded it from there. In those sessions, we got into meaningful dialogue and talked about race relations head-on.
I heard from a lot of members of the community who felt like they were victimized twice: once at a crime scene of a loved one and secondly the way they felt they were treated by law enforcement. At one of the early sessions, a woman came and talked about the night her son was murdered. He'd been killed in a double homicide in 2012, in east Stockton. She recounted how the officers wouldn't let her cross the crime scene tape to be near her son, how they didn't seem to understand why she was screaming and emotional, how they wouldn't answer her questions.
It moved me quite a bit. I didn't try to interrupt and ask clarifying questions, I just listened. I thought, “Wow, we can do better.”
I ended up doing about 30 listening sessions throughout the city over several years. I now have my commanders and officers attend, because it's important for them to hear the same things I was hearing. We're doing them about once a week now.
We have begun to change some of our policies and practices based on the feedback from the sessions. One of the first changes I made was making it routine for us to follow up with victims' families. It used to be, if a community member has more information, then they had to get a hold of us. Survivors told us, “Let us know you still care and reach back out to us.” Now we are actually intentionally getting back to families. It sounds small, but it's not. It took recognizing these are impacted humans, and a shooting hits through their whole family. We need to stay connected, whether we have a legal or investigative reason to or not.
We have trained our officers in implicit bias — how biases form and how they can jeopardize good judgment — and procedural justice, which is about being fair, neutral, giving a voice, and respectful communication. Another thing: We'd never acknowledged that our officers experience trauma. We acknowledge that now, and we have a very robust wellness network to deal with that.
Community members say, if we're not comfortable coming to the police, street justice prevails. More than ever, I see trust in police connected to reducing violent crime. Last year we had a big reduction in both homicides and nonfatal shootings. Anonymous tips are up; more people are providing information to the police. We're solving more cases. Our homicide clearance rate went from around 40 percent in 2017 to 66 percent last year. And when trust goes up it's safer for the officers going into neighborhoods, because there's less animosity and confrontation.
Someone once told me, when you're making changes and reforms, you should only be one to two steps out ahead of your department. If you're three to four steps out, you'll lose them. To other police departments interested in trying similar things: Go see what's working in other cities. And if you can, get your police union involved from the beginning. It certainly makes the work better if you have the rest of the department with you
The door to a safer, healthier community Is wide open, Salinas police chief says
Salinas Police Chief Adele Fresé shares her thoughts on the city's community safety strategy.
by JAY DUNN
In a recent Californian op-ed, representatives of two local activist organizations argue that instead of police using force, our city should rely more on prevention.
I couldn't agree more.
In their piece, the authors recommend a list of measures that would build a healthier community with less need for law enforcement. For example: avoiding militarization of police; investing in parks and after school programs; working with mental health professionals and community advocates; and better lights, sidewalks, and bike lanes.
To which I say yes, yes, yes, and yes.
What they are describing is the community safety strategy of the City of Salinas. It has guided the City's approach to violence reduction since 2010, in partnership with the members of CASP, the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace.
The strategy is often summarized as PIER, for Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement, and Re-Entry.
The authors of the recent op-ed say this strategy has failed.
But what they recommend as an alternative is in fact the exact same approach.
The City and its partners have been hard at work creating and improving parks, including Closter Park, which is now much safer; partnering with mental health practitioners; improving lighting and sidewalks; new bike lanes; renewing and strengthening our commitment to community policing and transparency; and much more. All of which was recently recognized when the Salinas Police Department was awarded the James Q. Wilson Award for Excellence in Community Policing.
And far from failing, the PIER strategy has been proven to work. One example can be found in San Jose, which went from being one of the most violent big cities in America to one of the safest. San Jose was a model for our strategy in Salinas.
And PIER has been working here, too. Despite severe resource constraints, we've seen a reduction in violence — and importantly, a steady reduction in the number of young people becoming involved in violence.
More: Salinas homicides drop 32 percent in 2018
But what of use of force by police?
As the PIER strategy makes plain, enforcement should be a last resort — and re-entry services should reduce further need for it.
Prevention comes first, because prevention addresses crime and other social instability at their roots.
Intervention comes second. That means spotting risk factors early and stepping in to offer appropriate help, like mentoring, counseling, after school programs, or sports.
Enforcement should only be used when prevention and intervention have failed: someone has gotten into such trouble that they're creating a threat to others.
There is no “us and them” about this. If any officer ever violates the standards of our department, they violate the standards of our community, and we stand with the community. Our officers know these standards well and are proud to meet them.
Our police don't want to use force. In the rare instances they use lethal force, they see it as a tragedy.
It's a tragedy in which our whole community has played a part.
That's because by the time someone is in an armed stand-off with police, they have been failed many times by many people. We all need to take responsibility for that.
So our door is wide open. And we are glad to walk through the doors that have been opened to us.
The door is wide open for everyone of good will to join in the work of CASP and our other community-building efforts. Along with the City, a number of local organizations are charter members of the Governing for Racial Equity initiative. For years now, GRE has meant they have seats at the table with our City's top leadership, with the opportunity for a true partnership in working to achieve equity for everyone.
My door is wide open, as are those of other police leaders — for those new to talking with us, an easy way to start is to call or drop in to set up a meeting, or click the Here To Hear/Aquí Para Escuchar button on the front page of our website.
When a door is wide open, there's no need to pound on it. Instead, we should all take the risk of walking through, and taking a share of the hard work, and responsibility, that comes with trying to make real progress. Meanwhile, in seeking to heal our community, maybe we can model that healing in our interactions with each other.
To these ends, we are eager to be partners with anyone who wants to work in good faith towards our shared goal: never needing to use force against anyone.