“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Based on my research, work and published findings on law enforcement, community policing needs a new model in this country.
My research confirmed that once law enforcement is part of the dialogue of a community dysfunctionality, other institutions, such as education, housing, and health care, have also failed minorities.
It may be easier to create and implement a new model on community policing because of its governing structure. In many instances, the local leadership and authorities can make tangible changes through the law. One example is eliminating chokehold practices, illegal search and seizure, and racial profiling, as well as a complete revision of policies and procedures.
Community policing is a systemic process of change that moves the mindset of the institution from warriors to guardians of a community through organizational strategies, community partnerships, engagement and problem-solving practices to proactively address public safety, social disorder and fear of crime.
I have detailed below some processes to incorporate when creating organizational transformation through a new model of community policing.
1. Realization: The community admits that systemic racism exists within law enforcement.
2. Leadership support from elected officials, private and not for profit organizations: Once the community admits that systemic racism exists within law enforcement and other institutions, the leadership of the community demands change for a new model on community policing. The support of the community leadership in creating organizational transformation is the pillar of community policing.
3. Behavior of change: Leadership within law enforcement needs to model the behaviors of the change that they seek and ensure they place people who share this mission in high-visibility roles. Without support from the leadership, a new model on community policing is doomed to fail.
4. A new model of community policing or a new paradigm shift: Before incorporating procedural justice or plans to develop a model on community policing, the principles of procedural justice and community policing must be reflected in all aspects of law enforcement departments. For example, the new model should include:
a. A complete revision of the Police Academy Curriculum.
b. Required First amendment courses. (Talking back or disrespecting a police officer is not illegal nor should merit an arrest.)
c. Extensive and required intercultural development testing, training, and action practices. Yearly testing and strict intercultural developmental plans must be required for all the officers and leadership.(Pathological fear is the belief that oppressed blacks will one day rise and inflict vengeance upon their oppressors or take over the country. Not only blacks, women and other minorities are discriminated against within law enforcement, but also The UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute reported that there is a pervasive discrimination against LGBTQ people in law enforcement departments around the country.)
d. Required deescalating techniques certification and yearly re-certification for all officers and leadership.
a. Extensive background checks prior to admission to the police academy (In his book Breaking Hate, Author Christian Picciolini shares how neo-Nazis and extremist organizations are placing their members in the military and police departments around the country.)
b. Extensive and required psychological testing prior to admission to the police academy, and yearly during employment for officers and the leadership. Extensive screening for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before and during employment.
c. Redesign list of applicants to intentionally hire diverse candidates. (Hiring diverse officers without a new model of policing will not fix the violence against blacks and other minorities in the community. Diverse officers need to be hired after a new model of community policing is put in place.)
5. Decrease of desk jobs: The research shows that increasing walking and biking around the community decreases 911 calls, crime, as well as increases race and community relations. It also helps officers stay in shape.
6. Evaluation of war weaponry in law enforcement: A growing number of law enforcement agencies in the United States have taken advantage of the Department of Defense’s “1033 Program,” which is passed every year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The number of police agencies obtaining military equipment like mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs) has increased since 2009. Why would a community in United States need weapons of mass destruction?
7. Police Dispatchers: These individuals are the first to receive the call for help from the community. After they receive the call and assess the situation, they send law enforcement to the scene. In the new community policing model, these individuals will need to follow new certification and training requirements such as:
a. Extensive and required yearly de-escalation certification and training. (These individuals with proper training can dissolve “racial” situations before law enforcement is dispatched to the scene. For instance, a black man cutting his own lawn did not warrant sending a police patrol to the address.)
b. Extensive and required intercultural development testing, training, and action practices.
c. Annual testing and strict intercultural developmental plans must be required for these individuals.
8. Community First Responders: These teams will be created to help deescalate officers when they are called by community members. These individuals will be well-trained on deescalating techniques to get officers to stop from assaulting, hurting, or shooting a community member. Other requirements for these teams include:
a. Extensive background checks to prevent infiltration of Neo-Nazi and extremist organization members.
b. Intercultural development testing, training, and action practices.
c. Annual intercultural testing and developmental plan participation.
9. Creating a new model of policing: This task should be done through a well selected group of community leaders including blacks, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ and other minorities. (Remember this is a “We” problem.) Experts on developing this type of models, and experts on intercultural transformations must be hired to assist with this process. (A defined intercultural curriculum and professional development must be designed to go beyond group representation.)
10. A commission alone will not be able to create a new model of community policing.
Communities that have implemented a new model on community policing have seen a tremendous improvement in race relations and partnerships. One of these communities is Camden, New Jersey. It often ranked as one of the deadliest cities in America, Camden ended 2017 with its lowest homicide rate since the 1980s. In 2013, the Camden Police Department was disbanded, reformed and born again as the Camden County Police Department. Camden is now something of a showroom for community policing techniques. Officers are trained to use handguns and handcuffs only as tools of last resort. To increase accountability, members of the department are equipped with GPS tracking devices, and many wear body cameras that were designed in 2016 with community input.
In conclusion, we need to do something new to eliminate systemic racism within law enforcement. A new model will save lives and support the many police officers that want to serve our communities. The current model of policing in United States is antiquated and obsolete
For more information about this article, please contact Maura G. Robinson at 812-457-8423 or firstname.lastname@example.org.