10 actions police leaders should take to prepare for the pendulum swinging back
Law enforcement leaders prepare because the pendulum is finally swinging back in favor of public safety
Recently criminals and killers have taken advantage in cities where law enforcement officers have been defunded, demoralized and effectively handcuffed by political leadership. In addition, elected prosecutors’ lax policies have emboldened criminals to act without fear of consequence.
However, in Virginia, the election of Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin indicates that the pendulum is swinging back. In his acceptance speech, Youngkin promised, “We are going to comprehensively fund law enforcement because they stand up for us and we are going to stand up for them.“
Here are a few additional indicators the pendulum is swinging back:
- In stark contrast to Mayor DeBlasio, New York City voters elected former NYPD Captain Eric Adams as mayor.
- Portland's mayor proposed a $7M increase in the police budget and wants to hire 200 officers.
- Minneapolis voters soundly rejected a plan to replace the police department.
All chiefs and sheriffs should prepare their officers and deputies for the pendulum shifting back by following these 10 steps:
1. Stop the bleeding
Some politicians have aggressively initiated policies that not only dangerously cut rosters but also encouraged officers to leave the profession. These policies impact both proactive and reactive policing. Response times all over the nation, like crime, are on the rise.
Chiefs and sheriffs must stop the bleeding by convincing officers in pre-exit interviews that there is a light at the end of the tunnel if officers can hold on a bit longer.
Police leaders must apply a virtual tourniquet on their agencies to hold tight to the officers they currently have who have suffered much up until now because of their decision to stay and fight the good fight.
2. Consider the re-hire
Develop a protocol for re-hiring valuable officers who left during these trying times because of a principled stand, poor leadership, prosecutorial malfeasance, or just plain being overworked and underappreciated.
3. insist on achieving budget Increases for refunding personnel, training and equipment
A budgetary process exists in each jurisdiction for funding a city budget. Even if you submit now for funding for additional officers, training and equipment, money would not be available until the next fiscal budget year. So, submit now and be insistent in your requests for increases, pointing to the lives lost and the damage done due to the defunding fiasco!
Be positive and aggressive in your efforts to recruit. Concentrate on highlighting the fact that new officers will have an opportunity to mark a new era in policing. Don’t be afraid to highlight the challenges ahead, which translate as opportunities to the type of officers you want.
If your recruiting efforts are done well, they will inspire many young people to answer the call to serve the honorable profession of law enforcement. Don’t be afraid to mimic the positive efforts of other agencies with successful police recruitment campaigns.
5. Do not lower standards
Even though you will not see the numbers applying as in the past, do not make the mistake of taking shortcuts and lowering standards. Don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity.
6. Test, test, test
Continue requiring passing performances in your written, physical testing and psychological processes.
One compromise you could consider is dropping requirements of four-year degrees and accepting recruits that have completed a two-year associate degree in criminal justice. This is not lowering standards, but hiring recruits who have taken a specialized program preparing them for the street.
7. Conduct background investigations
Background investigations are a critical part of the police recruitment process and take expertise and time. No part of the process goes further toward identifying a candidate that should not wear your uniform than a thorough background investigation. Desperation and shortages should cause you to neither shortcut this process nor encourage you to accept a person whose past is littered with red flags.
Do not hire future problems to fill current openings.
8. Academy training
For those hired who are not already certified, there will be a need for the recruit to attend an academy. Some agencies should consider sponsoring recruits for the state certification academy if they don’t already in an effort to be competitive with other agencies that are doing so.
The recruit certification academy will delay the start of your new hires by months. The process may even eliminate some new hires altogether.
9. Field training
Your field training program (or its equivalent) will cause a further delay in your efforts to bolster your personnel level on the street. Even though the trainee and their trainer will be on the street, the slow, patient process of a good field trainer will blunt the impact that your recruits’ arrival on the beat will have.
Even so, don’t rush this critical process.
10. Release the new hires
The new wave of law enforcement appreciation is on the horizon. Once it arrives at your shores, by preparing for it in advance, you will be able to let loose your new wave of officers onto the street sooner. Can you imagine the impact a large number of positively motivated, highly trained, encouraged and enthusiastic officers hitting the ground running at the same time will have on crime?
I truly believe a new era in police history is about to dawn. All I have to say about this is, “Criminals change your behavior, or you may get hit when the pendulum swings back.”