Guest Blogger: Chief Keith Humphrey, Norman, Oklahoma, Police Department
There have been many significant changes in the policing field since the 1970s. Training topics have expanded, there is more effort to diversify the force to reflect the community, and there is a much better use of technology to increase public safety. Despite those changes, it is still obvious more effective changes are required. Given recent events, such as the shootings in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Charlotte, North Carolina, along with the critical views and reviews of our profession, we must continue to display professionalism and our commitment to effectiveness and excellence.
In order to continue a commitment to effectiveness, the policing profession must build and maintain trust within communities. For our profession to regain and retain credibility in all communities, humility and transparency must exist. Admitting that things can be done better is a good place to start. Review of policies, community relations, use of force protocols, and leadership must be thorough. Obtaining assistance from outside resources can end in positive results for all. Outside resources can include community groups, such as citizen police academies and community forums or meetings, and research from universities or law enforcement policy and research organizations.
We must also realize that there is more than one way to do something. Failure to change will always cause organizational stagnation. The law enforcement profession that we once knew is a thing of the past. Community policing is no longer a term that will be accepted by a community without its respective department having a strategic plan.
Effective training for officers in the areas of communication, emotional intelligence, and implicit and explicit bias as well as a commitment to build strong partnerships between citizens and their police departments is imperative. Effective and efficient policing requires the elimination of complacency, the restoration of humility, and the expectation of unity by both internal and external stakeholders.
There are many possible solutions to developing more effective policing. One suggestion is requiring updated policies and procedures to coincide with federal and state requirements. Training in leadership, cultural diversity awareness, emotional intelligence, crisis intervention, and de-escalation should become standardized law enforcement programs. Lastly, honesty regarding the long history of concerns involving law enforcement and communities of color through external and internal conversations is crucial.
All communities expect and deserve quality customer service. Our profession must continue to demonstrate to our communities, and the nation, that we are committed in our efforts to restore trust and build partnerships.
This blog post is part of a series highlighting best practices in advancing 21st century policing as part of the IACP Institute for Community-Police Relations, particularly those that address recommendations from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing final report. The Institute is funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Motorola Solutions Foundation. Learn more about the ICPR.