May 17, 2023 | View as webpage | Too many emails? Update Subscription Preferences
Dear Leader,

In Police1's latest digital edition, "Prevention, disruption & response: The strategies communities must deploy to stop school shootings," retired Captain John "J.T." Coleman shares his firsthand experiences with school shootings. His perspective, shaped by confronting the unimaginable at his son's school, underscores the urgency of the issue. Captain Coleman witnessed educators' courage in protecting students and believes that armed teachers, trained and prepared, can act as a deterrent and transform schools into harder targets. He urges police leaders to train rigorously, collaborate and prepare families for such unthinkable events.

We must listen to Captain J.T. Coleman's voice — a voice that resonates with the weight of experience and a deep sense of responsibility. His words ignite a burning call to action for law enforcement leaders everywhere. It is our duty to create safer environments for our children, to proactively address the stark realities of school shootings and to implement comprehensive strategies that reflect the urgency of the crisis at hand. 

Find additional resources to help you accomplish this vital mission in today's newsletter and online here.

Stay safe,

— Nancy Perry
Editor-in-Chief, Police1
Why every police leader should read the 'Renewed Call to Action' report
By Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D. 

Nearly a decade ago the Obama administration initiated the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which issued a report in 2015. The recommendations weren’t earth-shattering, pointing out that partnerships between local governments, the community and law enforcement could improve trust in policing.

Five years later the National Police Foundation (now the National Policing Institute) issued a follow-up to the task force recommendations promoting six pillars for change:

  1. Building trust and legitimacy
  2. Policy and oversight
  3. Technology and social media
  4. Community policing and crime reduction
  5. Training and education
  6. Officer safety and wellness.

Now another reboot has been issued by participants in the original task force’s report. This document, A Renewed Call to Action, promulgated eight recommendations that “focus on accountability, culture, the development of national standards and the important role of local government in developing a whole of government and whole of community approach to transformational policing.

The eight recommendations are:

  1. Establish as holistic role and mission of policing to help define community safety
  2. Align policing leadership, organizational structure, incentives, and strategies to the redefined mission
  3. Rebuild the culture of policing organizations
  4. Establish national policing standards; train to those standards; and provide supervision to ensure their application
  5. Address gaps in accountability systems that protect due process of officers while ensuring transparency and accountability for misconduct
  6. Invest locally and organize communities to address unjust systems that contribute to poverty and racism
  7. Address underlying drivers of crime
  8. The federal government should collaborate and support community-based organizations and local and state governments in helping to create safe communities.

The recommendations include a series of action steps that “could better define community expectations and create accountability.”

The advocates of federalization of policing through national standards and training demands stress local collaboration in what seems to ignore the potential irony of local control over policing with new demands that are attached to too little funding to balance those demands with providing essential services.

A bright spot in the report is a recognition that the police have perhaps become overpoliced themselves, stressing the need for careful balancing of due process in applying accountability to police officers.

Why leaders must address the recommendations

Few police leaders would argue with most of the premises of these reports and could point to many changes already at work in the profession.

Leaders must address the recommendations because these are the lenses through which political forces attach policy and funding. Leaders must be ready to honestly report to their public that these documents have been reviewed, assessed and applied to ongoing policy and training development. Making references to the task force and other nationally publicized recommendations can reassure the public that their interests are being served and that steps are being taken to align with the principles set forth.

Leaders must be able to say "yes, and" not "yes, but"

There is a temptation to be frustrated with these reports and the recommendations that have come from more than 133 task forces and other police reform groups. The Renewed Call to Action report states that there is frustration among communities that have experienced “over-policing” while experiencing increasing rates of crime. Exhausted police agencies struggling to provide basic services with shrinking staff and threatened budgets must wonder if these high-minded academic studies address the realities of trying to respond to 911 calls.

However, the public is less likely to be satisfied with sighs of “yes, but” explaining why some recommendations are out of reach, have been tried before, or belong in the stratosphere of think tanks that have never been in a patrol car. Leaders must be able to say “yes, and” that we are taking steps toward best practices for their communities.

It is worth the read and thoughtful consideration.

NEXT: Lessons for the field: A checklist for fair and just data-driven policing

Be the reason they don't quit: How to develop a retention mindset
By Nicholas Greco 

Did you know that police departments are hiring? Did you know they are accepting laterals from other agencies? Of course, you do. Every agency is hiring and looking to replace officers who are retiring or quitting. In fact, your agency more than likely has posted openings on numerous job boards, as well as on Facebook, LinkedIn, and anywhere they think there could be viable candidates. Some agencies have even gone as far as to make entertaining videos for recruitment purposes. I especially liked the used car salesman one last year out of Fort Worth, Texas.

Why they’re leaving

However, while we all know recruitment numbers are not where we would like them to be, recruitment is not the only thing your department should be working on. How many of you are working to retain the officers you already have?

While I would like to think every department would say they are doing so with a resounding yes, I know that may not be the case. The officers you have are a vital part of your organization and, as I have said before, need to be treated as assets. Let’s face it, there are many reasons officers may consider leaving the job, but many continue to stay. Police agencies cannot afford to get too comfortable or complacent with their existing officers.

So, I ask you: What are you or your agency doing to actively be the reason they don’t quit? Have you created an environment that fosters communication, fairness, respect and true camaraderie among everyone?

Employers across the country – and not just other law enforcement agencies – are competing for your officers. Many civilian companies out there view your officers as a valuable commodity and are offering attractive compensation packages and benefits. Officers see the civilian world as an excellent exit plan. Think about it: No one shooting at you, no more dealing with the public, no more dealing with agency politics. So why not jump ship? Remember, if you don’t value them, someone else will.

Case in point: A metropolitan police agency in the Midwest is losing officers at such an alarming rate, they’ve reportedly built up a pile of discarded uniforms 10 feet high. Officers walking by that pile in the locker room get a daily reminder of the status of their department, reinforcement of low morale – an incentive of sorts for them to add their uniform to the pile and move on.

If this is not concerning to you, it should be. So, what can you do?

A retention mindset

If your agency has become stagnant and complacent, viewing officers as liabilities rather than assets, you are more than likely hemorrhaging good officers.

It’s time to take retention seriously folks. We can no longer afford to micromanage minor infractions. Now is not the time to be focused on beard length, tattoos, not polishing one’s shoes, or breaks that go over by mere minutes. That type of micromanagement will only encourage further departures and continued low morale of already overworked officers.

Rather than “cracking down” on minor infractions, how about cracking down on the importance of officer health and wellness? It is not difficult to have a wellness day showcasing healthy food options as well as various resources from EAP, peer support and outside groups focused on officer health and wellness to try to promote work-life balance. Departments can also provide incentives such as time off or gift cards to get officers exercising by having them come to work an hour before their shift, because we all know no one has the energy after a shift to hit the gym nor can we know how unpredictable any given shift may be. If your department wants to be the reason they don’t quit, consider providing officers classes or roll call trainings on work-life balance, eating healthy, stress reduction, promoting continuing education, emphasizing advancement opportunities, and setting examples throughout the department for fairness and equity.

Perception and reality

In previous articles, I have written extensively about healthy diet and stress reduction, but an area that I want to focus on is fairness and equity. All too often, officers have come to me before or after a training session to share the concerns they have about advancement, favoritism and inequitable disciplinary practices. If you are at the command level and you recognize what I’m talking about, now is the time to right the ship. Your people are not going to stay if they are not getting a fair shot at advancement, promotion, continuing education opportunities, or even you backing them up when they need you. If your department is more of an example of what not to do, don’t complain about losing personnel to other departments or the private sector.

And keep in mind, the reputation of the department is also a big factor in recruitment. People talk all the time, and the police world is a close-knit community. Not to corporatize policing, because that is the last thing we should be doing, but your department must have good credibility and branding. Officers should want to lateral to your department, recruits should want to be a part of your agency, and the public should be happy to have your officers maintaining law and order.

Destigmatizing seeking help

It’s time to take officer health and wellness seriously, and that means it is high time to stop eating our own. Stop throwing good officers away when they need the backing of the department the most. Being a police officer is not just a career and a calling –  it is an identity. If your department is consistently pushing officers out who need treatment for depression, PTSD, anxiety or substance use, what message does that send to other officers who are struggling? They will suffer in silence, quit your agency, or worse yet, take their own life. That is unacceptable!

When a cop hurts their back or blows out their knee, they are allowed to come back and resume work once the injury is healed. Why is it not the same for PTSD or depression? What is so different about these individuals? The answer is nothing. They are not a liability, they are an asset – even more so because by allowing them to get well and come back to the job, you have set an example for the whole department. You show that yes, the job is stressful, and yes, the job contributed to you needing time off for treatment, but we want you back. We want you to show others that it is OK to get treatment, that it is not the end of an officer’s career or identity, and you are part of the blue family.

I can attest to seeing officers come back to the job stronger than before after various events such as PTSD, depression, and even coming close to suicide. By coming back, they set an example for others in the department. By welcoming them back, the department demonstrates its support for their officers.

Maximizing your investment

Consider this. How much time and money does it take to hire and train a new officer? What is the return on investment if that officer leaves shortly after they get through their probationary period?

Recruiting new officers is a daunting task today, so if you are not working on your retention efforts, your open positions will continue to grow, your overtime costs will grow, your ability to fully staff shifts will drop, and your morale will continue to plummet. If you truly want to be the reason they don’t quit, work to create an environment that promotes officers supporting one another and reaching out to each other. Remember, nobody gets through a law enforcement career without collecting trauma, but it is the support they have that can make a difference.

There are dedicated officers who are willing to do the job day in and day out, but they need to know they have your support and you have their back. The question is, do you?

NEXT: 10 steps to recruiting and retaining Gen Z cops

spacer.gif WEBINAR

Join this online learning event that takes a deep dive into how trainers can integrate human factor science into police training to improve the decision-making of officers under stress.
spacer.gif SCHOOL SAFETY

3. An integrated technological approach to school attack prevention and response: How "the safest school in America" is protecting its most precious assets.

2. How school-based threat assessment improves school safety: "Prevention has to start before the gunman arrives. We need to pay a lot more attention to those people before they come to school with a gun.

1. Developing effective strategies to prevent and respond to school shootings: How law enforcement and educators can collaborate on improving school safety.

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