Letters to the Editor
... input from forum participants
From Wisconsin - Problem solving is the future of policing

May 6th

Dear LACP:

FYI, this is a message I recently sent to some members of the Wisconsin Association of Community Oriented Policing (WACOP). I consider professional problem solving the future of policing:


Dear Fellow WACOPpers:

With all due respect to officials of District 2, I was a tiny bit disappointed with the regional meeting on April 26th in Beloit.

I think that we -- all of WACOP -- must be alert to what WACOP, in my opinion, is and should be. What is it that makes WACOP unique? It is the emphasis on community problem solving a la SARA or some other problem solving methodology, in my opinion.

Presentations at the meetings and conferences are fine, but I would put the roundtables and demonstrations of police-community problem solving as the first priority and the topical presentations as lower priorities. The roundtables seem to be taking second place and in some cases not happening at all, or they take place at the end of the afternoon when most participants are meeting-ed out, anxious to get home, and not at their innovative and creative best. Attendance is sparse except for those who are there only to catch the presentation.

Some of you old-timers might remember the meeting at the UW-Madison campus some years ago, when some departmental high muckety-mucks (the "superfluous supervisory personnel") sort of dominated the meeting? Some of the regular participants (poor, lowly street working stiffs) were actually angry that "their" meeting had been co-opted. I hope we never lose the WACOP emphasis on the front line, modern, professional police, street-level problem solver.

I think that at the annual conferences, every presentation ought to be required to have as its theme how to identify problems, analyze, respond to, and assess results. I think the process is what is unique to WACOP, even more than the substance.

As I've said before, "If your community oriented policing isn't heavily invested in problem solving, all you have is a glorified public relations program." What is the WACOP mission? What makes WACOP different? What makes WACOP special?

Maybe roundtables should be first thing in the morning at the regional meetings, followed by a short presentation in the afternoon. Or, maybe a short presentation should be "bracketed" by some roundtable first, followed by a presentation, then finish the day off with more roundtable? Maybe participants should be assigned homework to bring with them a problem to share when called upon at the meeting. Maybe we should re-institute the roundtables at the annual conference?

I expect some of you to disagree, and that's OK ... These comments come to you as constructive criticism.


John Scepanski, Training Officer
Wis. Dept. of Justice, Trg. & Standards Bur.(P.O.S.T.)
PO Box 7070, Madison, WI, USA 53707-7070

608 / 267-2781