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October 20, 2021 | View as webpage | Too many emails? Update Subscription Preferences

Leaders,

Over the past month, Police1 launched two new publications addressing critical issues impacting law enforcement:

Opioid response: While COVID-19 became public health enemy number one in 2020, a familiar foe continued to claim thousands of lives. Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period according to CDC data. This places law enforcement in the middle of a double public health crisis: a pandemic combined with the opioid epidemic. Evolving strategies to win the war on opioids, sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific, looks at how police agencies can use data and research to inform drug response operations. Download your copy here.

Duty to intercede: Detecting negative behavior – the near misses and minor problems – before there is a serious incident increases retention, saves time and money, and reduces risk and liability for an agency. Police performance: Developing a culture of accountability, sponsored by Getac Video Solutions, looks at how agencies can weave the duty to intercede throughout their policies and training to create a top-down culture that can change possible histories of misconduct into legacies of agency integrity. Download your copy here.

P.S. Spread the knowledge. Share our leadership newsletter archives with your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe here.

Stay safe,

— Nancy Perry 
Editor-in-Chief, Police1

 

FEATURED CONTENT
How technology can improve police-community relationships
By Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D. 

Discussions and analyses of current issues in policing are not hard to find. In addition to commentary on social media and the mainstream press, there are studies generated from government agencies and advocacy groups. A report from Veritone, a company specializing in artificial intelligence applications, represents a unique category of study from the perspective of corporate interest.

3,000 Americans speak up on law enforcement

The report, Transparency & Trust: Shining Light on Police & Community Relationships and How Technology Can Help, is a compilation of survey results from 3,000 Americans regarding their perspective on law enforcement.

The results are encouraging for those who have been thinking that law enforcement’s reputation had sunk to historic lows and is unlikely to recover soon.

Over half of respondents say their perceptions come from actual interactions with law enforcement, indicating that personal contact remains the most potent ingredient for positive public relations. Two of the top three ways that respondents heard about police activity was from police agency sources, but 42% believe there is a need for more transparency

Four out of five Americans feel safe in their own communities and 75% of those say that police help keep them feeling that way. Nearly 40% believe that current police funding is adequate, with 18% saying funding is too high and 14% saying funding is too low. Well over 80% believe that police resources should be focused on violent crime matters, with 40% believing that assisting with medical and mental health calls is also essential.

When polled about the use of technology, 61% accept police use of facial recognition for identifying suspects, most support body-worn cameras even if they don’t understand the rules for releasing the video. While 44% support more funding for anti-bias police training, fewer than a fourth approved of collection of data regarding the race of police contacts.

The public shows some sympathy for the plight of police officers in the current environment, with 62% saying that law enforcement officers have had a more difficult time doing their jobs in the last 5 years than previously. Only 15% believe police officers don’t care about their community.

The issue of transparency in the age of immediate news sourcing rather than the now outdated method of issuing a press release hours or days after an event may be closely tied to public confidence in law enforcement. The survey also showed low engagement with traditional community policing activities like public meetings and events. While confidence in the police acting in the public interest is above two-thirds of respondents, more specific questions like honesty with the press, making non-biased judgments, using technology, use of force and protection of Constitutional rights score lower.

Technology's role

So what role can technology play in increasing confidence in law enforcement?

As Assistant Chief Bailey of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is quoted in the report: “Technology is very important, especially now when we’re trying to be data-driven and intelligence-driven in policing. With limited resources and the demands on law enforcement growing by the day, we have to allocate wisely. Technology plays an incredibly important role in making people feel safe, solving crimes, and building trust and legitimacy within the community. The more information we can provide at the public’s fingertips, I think the better off we’ll be.”

One example is speeding the release of potentially controversial body camera footage. The report estimates that viewing footage to conceal the identities of uninvolved subjects can take an hour for every minute of video. Artificial intelligence technology can complete that task in minutes. Other technologies such as predictive policing can increase public confidence if the public is educated as to its purpose and limitations.

Policing still trusted, but suspicions linger

The good news is that policing is still trusted and respected by the majority of the citizenry. The bad news is that lingering suspicions remain.

“Public misconceptions about policing sometimes occur due to a lack of understanding about operations, a lack of access to records, or how LEAs manage and retain records. With better technology and objective data leading the way, LEAs have the opportunity to shine a light on their operations and answer the public’s call for increased transparency,” states the report.

Leaders can determine how to engage and enlighten the public about how they use technology that still maintains privacy, as well as using that technology to respond quickly to the public’s need for information.

NEXT: Policy transparency: A communication toolkit

How can leaders ensure a culture of self-policing and accountability in their agencies?
By Police1 Staff 

Police1 asked law enforcement leaders to share how they develop a culture of accountability at their agency. Here's some of the advice they shared:

4 essentials to develop personal accountability

Culture will indeed eat policy all day long if you don’t train constantly on the demand for personal accountability both within yourself and your fellow officers.

Law enforcement leaders must instill within their men and women from day one the criticality of holding themselves and their peers accountable. Doing the right thing all the time, even when no one is looking, must be a part of police training from the very beginning and always.

Policy regarding accountability will never be effective unless it is unwaveringly enforced. There are four parts to this:

  1. Train and condition your people to always do the right thing.
  2. Always set the example of integrity and honesty in everything you do as a leader. And by the way, every deputy is a leader.
  3. Monitor your people (not in a micromanagement sense, but in an ever-trusting sense of a leader who has high expectations of his or her subordinates).
  4. Hold yourself and everyone within your sphere of influence accountable.

There must be a culture in place where not only is it acceptable to bring light to anything that is broken within an organization – or any wrongdoing on the part of others – but that it is the responsibility of the individual regardless of rank to do so.

As part of this culture, it must be fully understood that one is never to break the honor code, one is never to disgrace the badge or the uniform. If a deputy crosses the line, it is the responsibility of the other deputy with knowledge of that “crossing” to bring it out into the open. Moreover, they must know that not only is it expected or acceptable to do so, it is the only honorable option.

When you raise your right hand and take the oath, you are swearing to something that is forever obligatory and binding. Just like the military. We are no different. If someone does something wrong and they get away with it, they will not only continue to do it, but it reflects poorly on the badge and the uniform worn by everyone else. The badge and the uniform are everything. You as the law enforcement leader are responsible for holding yourself accountable – and again all deputies are leaders – and for holding others accountable. That expectation must be unassailable.

Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff Leon Lott is the National Sheriff’s Association’s 2021 Ferris E. Lucas Sheriff of the Year.

Lead by example

When a young child is taught by his parents not to steal, it is usually a theme reinforced through observation and example.  Actions speak louder than words so a child would be confused if his father told him not to take what doesn’t belong to him but then watched his dad shoplift a pair of pants at a clothing store. A kid’s eyes will betray what his ears heard. 

The attention given self-policing and accountability – particularly in the area of an officer’s duty to intervene such as when observing another officer using excessive use of force or falsifying police reports – is certainly important. Police leadership can help achieve this by developing and maintaining a culture that respects the rule of law particularly in the area of department policy and regulations, as well as placing an emphasis on police ethics. But it is one thing to talk this talk but another to walk the walk.

If a new officer learns in the academy to use force within constitutional limitations and is taught by his department field training officer that excessive force is unacceptable but then listens in roll calls as officers laugh about a beating on a suspect, that officer is receiving mixed messages. And then if that officer actually observes an abuse or violation of any sort, they may be confused on what course of action to take. The department talks like they care, but do they?  

Reinforcing the importance of self-policing and accountability through training and other innovative measures has its value, but if an agency has a culture that values discipline, respects the rule of law, builds relationships with those they serve, and treats its customers with dignity, even the ones who break our laws, their officers are in an environment where they will in fact WANT to hold themselves accountable.  They don’t need to be constantly told to self-police because they are already doing it with each tour of duty. 

 — Chief Tom Wetzel is a 32-year veteran police officer and currently leading a northeast Ohio suburban police department.

For more responses from law enforcement leaders, download Police1's latest digital edition, Police performance: Developing a culture of accountability.

spacer.gif TOP TWEET: POLICE WEEKEND 2021

 
spacer.gif BE ADVISED

3. 'Sad is the piercing pain of those left behind': Police1 columnists drive home the importance of honoring the fallen, as well as consoling and mourning with the bereaved during Police Week and beyond.

2. How the National Law Enforcement Museum honors and educates: Whether you are a rookie, a veteran or a member of the public, interactive exhibits and fascinating artifacts make this museum a must-visit.

1. Five ways police departments can improve officer traffic safety: During NLEOMF's Destination Zero conference, Lt. James Preston discussed how Harris County enhanced officer traffic safety and accountability after two officers were struck and killed by passing vehicles.
 

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