Warm and fuzzy
Many police executives, writers, authors, Chiefs, P.h.d.’s, and bloggers have written exhaustively on the topic of crime reduction and crime reduction strategies.
Not so much on the topic of how to put bad guys in jail.
This article will piss off a lot of people.
Especially those in power or motivated by politics. The two words are practically synonymous with one another.
The buzz topic these days seems to be centered around community policing and how it is the only solution for the out of control violent crime sweeping our country.
The agency where I work has started a new FTO program (now called PTO or Police Training Officer) specifically geared for community policing and how to apply it as soon as each rookie hits the streets.
Two of the officers who were recently released from this program gave a nice power point presentation to staff and other city officials at a standing room only meeting last week.
Unfortunately, I was in attendance.
The slides were pretty and the rookies did a good job in telling the staff the problems they have identified in a certain area and the contacts they have made.
I did the same thing.
Twenty years ago.
Let me illustrate my point.
A few years ago I gave what I thought was a wonderful Christmas present to my oldest son. He gave the obligatory “thanks Dad” and went to opening the remainder of his gifts.
After a few months, lo and behold, what did I find underneath his bed still in the box?
The same gift, still unopened.
Guess who got the very same gift the very next Christmas?
You can re-name it, re-package it, re-deliver it. At the end of the day it’s the same thing.
A white cow and a brown cow still make the same milk.
Stay focused man
By now you may be scratching your head wondering where I’m going with this.
It’s a legitimate question.
I’m trying my best not to produce another snore-fest article routinely written by my competitors at PoliceOne and Law Enforcement Today.
Or any other cut and paste LEO news site out there.
We spend so much energy and focus on teaching new cops how to be politicians that we are handicapping them in the one area that is most important.
Being a cop.
Going after bad guys and putting them in jail. For a really long time.
And how do they get there?
By going after the bad guys. The worst of the worst.
More importantly, being trained how to go after bad guys and present solid cases in court that put them away for a long time.
Not running radar on a dead-end street because Mrs. Washington declared it priority one.
And not delegating half of your shift to Mr. Danforth’s house because 6th graders are cutting through his property.
Yes, citizens do play a role in crime fighting and crime prevention.
But a small one.
If we are doing our job, it’s the police who should have the most understanding and picture of what and how a community should be policed to protect property and life.
I mean, that’s why they hired us right?
We are living in different times.
After Ferguson and other events around the country, many have been tricked into wanting a different style of policing.
Some politicians have even made the absurd declaration that their communities would be better off without police.
That is not a typo. And more than one have stated such non-sense.
As mentioned, our agency has adopted a new post academy training, the PTO model.
It is intended to help the new officer be better equipped at problem solving community issues with a focus on the adult learning model of teaching.
Some officers who have been through the training tell me that one exercise used to illustrate different teaching methods was singing.
I’m not making this up.
Each trainer was given a topic to discuss as if they were teaching it.
One of the models of learning was music.
Other than being terrible singers, some of the students chose to rap about their topic.
(I want everyone to close their eyes right now and just imagine your FTO singing to you about an officer safety issue)
Disclaimer; I have not personally been through PTO training therefore I will not pass judgement on the overall effectiveness of the training.
Only time will tell if it is worth the additional training hours and extra resources required for each new cop to complete this new training method.
The future of policing
I am an old school cop.
When I was released from field training, I was expected to know my job. This also meant knowing the people and influencers in my district (hmm, does that sound familiar).
There were no cell phones (well the bosses had those ridiculous brick phones but I didn’t own one my first 4 years). This meant that I had to think quick on my feet and problem solve without the security that a cell phone brings.
I was forced into making decisions in dynamic and sometimes chaotic circumstances.
If a supervisor was needed, I called one. But it had better be for something good.
Looking back, I thank god that, because of technology or the lack of it, I was forced to be self-reliant and make decisions.
Most police and sheriffs departments have been doing some form of community policing for the better part of the last 4 decades.
In reality, community policing (on a micro level) has never gone away.
However, with fewer and fewer good people wanting to be cops these days, it’s hard to realistically make it a priority.
A new beginning
The safety of the officer should always be the priority for the executive staff of every agency in this country.
When the manning levels in uniform patrol are compromised with new and shiny programs that are merely re-gifted Christmas presents, it shows the rank and file cop that you really don’t care about their safety.
Even if those front line cops won’t openly admit it.
And honestly, they shouldn’t have to.
Until manning levels are up to an acceptable level and violent crime levels off, community policing needs to step aside for a more modern, intelligence-led policing model.
If not, this period of policing history, which included ineffective community policing, may be viewed as the cancer that prolonged the suffering of countless crime victims and citizens of this country.
We need to aggressively and ruthlessly go after the two percent who create eighty percent of the dread and suffering in this country.
It needs to start now.
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