Indisputably, these are remarkably challenging times for policing, and the eyes not only of the nation, but of the world are upon us.
Let us reflect on issues, provide solutions and enhance our dedication to lives of moral courage.
NYPD Graduation: A Reflection
First, here is an observation from the April 24, 2023, graduation of the newest NYPD officers.
The graduation of more than 500 recruits took place in New York City at Madison Square Garden.
Prior to graduating, the recruits were dressed impeccably with new uniforms, complete with immaculate white dress gloves.
As memorialized on the NYPD Police Academy Twitter page, one of their instructors thunderously shared an inspirational reminder, boldly proclaiming the following to all:
“You are a servant to the people that are out there, do you understand me.”
The riveting response of the recruits, who would become the newest ethical protectors of the NYPD in a matter of minutes, was a resounding “Yes Sir.”
The instructor continued, “You are about to become police officers, you are going to act like it.”
This direct, no-nonsense pronouncement reminded all to serve. For all embarking on the next phase of their profession, it was emphatic. Their vocation demands high ethical standards, and an unwavering commitment, fortitude and discipline.
As we reflect on his words of wisdom, we proceed with reflections that include an anthology of excerpts from articles in The Chiefs of Police.
It is my hope that these thoughts encourage law enforcement to remember the dignity of their profession. This profession is vital not only to their communities, but to all of America.
Let Us Pause
Let us pause to address the horrific acts of violence against police.
Protecting our communities is a shared responsibility. The police and the community must be one and inseparable. We must be fully dedicated, without compromise, to protecting one another. Problems ignite and fester whenever the breakdown between the police and community occurs.
Every law enforcement member who died protecting and serving our communities deserves America’s eternal gratitude, remembrance and honor.
We must also be forever mindful of their families and support them with unwavering compassion, respect and dignity.
Let us honor them and forever hold their families, friends and law enforcement colleagues in our prayers and take every action necessary to reawaken the nation.
Some thoughts deserving reflection, resolve and response:
“This past year has been one of the most dangerous years for law enforcement in recent history due to the increase of violence directed towards law enforcement officers as well as the nationwide crime crisis, which has seen criminals emboldened by the failed policies of pandering prosecutors and cynical politicians.
“If these violent criminals are willing to commit brazen acts of violence against the men and women of law enforcement, we can’t begin to fathom what heinous acts they are willing to commit against law-abiding citizens.
As crime rates continue to rise, more citizens in this country are justifiably living in fear, constantly wondering if they too will become a victim. Law-abiding citizens saw the real-life consequences of what happens when elected officials embrace pro-criminal, revolving-door policies and make decisions that put the interests of violent offenders ahead of public safety.
These decisions — failures to prosecute violent offenders for their crimes or, even worse, releasing repeat offenders arrested for crimes who show a propensity for escalation of violence — make our communities less safe. These rogue prosecutors are putting innocent lives at risk. When there are no consequences for breaking the law, more people will break the law and crime will increase.
“I call on Americans in every community across the country to join us in taking a stand — to say, ‘Enough is Enough!’ Truthfully, the violence against those sworn to serve and protect is beyond unacceptable; it’s a stain on our society, and it must end. It is incumbent upon our elected officials and community leaders to stand up, support our heroes, and speak out against the violence against law enforcement officers.”
– Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police
Principles of American Policing
Although Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Policing Principles are timeless, contemporary issues demand principles complementing tradition while respecting current realities.
The Principles of American Policing has been formulated on the foundation of professionalism to enhance dialogue, communication, and trust between police and communities:
Being pro-police and pro-community is inseparable, indefatigable and preeminent. Police must at all times remain fully committed to protecting and serving the public through character, ethics, and leadership that is total and whole-hearted. Police must be guided by a moral compass that honors the community, Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Respect must be the heart of the police and it must be unwavering for the profession, colleagues, and community. Respect can only be earned through integrity, accountability and transparency. These qualities build trust, legitimacy and collaboration.
Police deserve that every level of government provide the resources necessary for proper police staffing, training and community service.
Initiatives enhancing police-community relations must continually be implemented and include citizen appreciation events, National Night Out, neighborhood block watches and citizen police academies. Programs for youth, the future of the nation, are vital. These include school resource officers, youth police academies, character education and mentoring initiatives.
Police deserve the latest and most effective technology to protect themselves and the public.
Moral courage must be encouraged, as police must be empowered to make decisions that are legal, ethical and moral.
Patriotism is mission-critical. Honoring America, our flag and our military personnel must be part and parcel of the police officer’s creed and take place at every event.
Police interventions must always be proportional, constitutional and uphold quality of life issues deserved by all communities.
Police require a discerning recruitment process, education credentials, and ongoing training/certifications on issues including constitutional policing, diversity, civil rights, race-relations, violence prevention, community policing, crisis management, ethics, leadership, gangs, private security and use of force.
Ethical Policing Leadership: World Class Certification Program
Along with protecting those who protect us, we must also ensure they have world class training as noted in the third principle of American Policing.
Therefore, “21st Century Policing: America’s Ethical Protectors” is a necessity for law enforcement.
Ethical training, development and certification are critical to the entire law enforcement profession.
Law enforcement agencies nationwide require ongoing ethical policing certification programs fundamental to their mission.
Here are some pillars of a program spotlighting ethical policing as the hallmark for professionalism. Reasons include the following:
Ethical policing certification is a proven educational model that strengthens operational efficiency, improves morale and increases respectability.
Ethics empowers the rank-and-file of an agency with leadership skills, vigilance enhancement and collaborative expertise.
Ethical Policing addresses state-of-the-art ethical principles based upon recognized issues vital to the profession. This is the most effective way of developing, attaining, and sustaining the vision, mission, and core values of the agency.
Ethical Policing strengthens agency accountability and improves community trust through principles enhancing expectations, performance and responsibility.
Ethical certification assists in limiting the agency’s liability as it demonstrates that ethical training has been conducted by an independent respected authority.
This program, which I developed and presented for a partnership of the Bergen County Police Chiefs Association, Bergen County Prosecutors Office and Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, has an agenda including the following:
Ethical Policing Principles: Principles of American Policing
– Emotional Intelligence
– Cultivating a reputation of respect
– Building community trust
– Neighborhood Policing
– Sexual harassment
– Crime prevention
– Communication skills
– Mental health and Officer Safety
– Conflict resolution
– Crisis management
It has also been my honor to present versions of this program for the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Air Force and the National Conference on Ethics in America at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Parenthetically, there are also opportunities that should be made available by law enforcement for the community relative to ethical certifications and community trust.
These initiatives fall under Community Policing, or as the NYPD refers to it, with some philosophical variation, Neighborhood Policing.
One such community policing initiative is a Citizen Police Academy, one of which I myself completed 25 years ago with the Teaneck, N.J., Citizens Police Academy.
These bridge builders allow citizens and police to forge trust, while understanding and enhancing an understanding of the criminal justice system and our shared responsibility.
American School Violence Demands Law Enforcement Leadership
It is irrefutable that our school violence crisis demands law enforcement leadership.
Recently, a comprehensive report titled “America’s School Violence Crisis: A Special Report, School Violence: Toxic Personalities, Warning Signs, Countermeasures” was published by The Chiefs of Police.
Although an understanding of the entire report is essential, this excerpt is directly associated with law enforcement responsibilities:
School resource officers (SROs): One of the most important school violence prevention, character education and community policing initiatives. But to be most effective, the SRO program demands the most qualified, trained, certified and dedicated police professionals available.
Qualified backup officers must be available of assigned SROs for the program to have credibility.
Additionally, school resource officers should study the following documents:
“America’s School Violence Crisis: A Special Report, School Violence: Toxic Personalities, Warning Signs, Countermeasures”
“Early Warning Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools”
“Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide for Safe Schools and Communities”
“The Final Report And Findings Of The Safe School Initiative: Implications For The Prevention Of School Attacks In The United States”
“Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and To Creating Safe School Climates”
“Averting Targeted School Violence, A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Plots against Schools”
Ethical Responsibility of Elected Officials
We must also demand that our elected officials, whom we have entrusted with critical leadership roles, provide ethical leadership to enact laws to support law enforcement and protect society.
Sensible laws are required, without the continuous lame excuses, outlandish interpretations of the Second Amendment and egregious misunderstandings of “well-regulated.”
Individuals who have sinister intentions or who are not mentally qualified must never be enabled to purchase weapons. Comprehensive background checks, training, certifications and licensing are a community responsibility.
Our elected officials must also provide the leadership to keep dangerous individuals in jails.
“What we got to do, if we really want to see homicides go down, is keep bad guys with guns in jail. Because when they’re in jail, they can’t be in communities shooting people. So when people talk about what are we going to do different, or what we should do different, what we need to do different, that’s the thing that we need to do different.
“We need to keep violent people in jail. Right now, the average homicide suspect has been arrested eleven times prior to them committing a homicide … that is a problem. That is a problem.”
– Robert J. Contee III, former Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Recently, The Chiefs of Police published “America’s Head on Collision: A Culture of Violence and Crisis of Character.”
The article pinpoints the horrific violence and character crisis, exemplified by active shooter incidents and corruption, undermining the moral compass of the nation.
Additionally, the FBI recently released “Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2022.” This document further highlights our violent society, designating 50 shootings in the 2022 as active shooter incidents.
These glaringly illustrated signs of the times must not define America. We must turn this venomous tide with the antidote of moral leadership, building bridges of trust and respect between the community and police.
These bridges are America’s only hope, and we must be fully committed to a unity of effort.
FBI: Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2022