The State of the Police Field: A New Professionalism in Policing?
Panelists debate the premise of a Harvard Executive Session working paper that suggests police organizations are striving for a "new" professionalism. Leaders are endeavoring for stricter standards of efficiency and conduct, while also increasing their legitimacy to the public and encouraging innovation. Is this new? Will this idea lead to prematurely discarding community policing as a guiding philosophy?
Ellen Scrivner: I'm Ellen Scrivner, Deputy Director of NIJ, and I welcome you to this session on behalf of our Assistant Attorney General, Laurie Robinson, and also our acting director at NIJ, Kris Rose.
This session, “State of the Field: A New Professionalism,” I think you're going to find thought-provoking, with lots of information to really start a good discussion.
You're going to have the opportunity to hear about two papers that will soon be presented to the field as outcomes of the second Executive Session on Policing that is being conducted by the JFK School at Harvard and funded by NIJ.
Today's presentations will be delivered by two well-respected academics, and they will be followed by comments from a highly regarded and progressive police chief and your moderator, all of whom have participated in the Executive Session.
I think you're going to find it interesting that through our panel today, you're going to hear a resurgence of what some see as a rather old and discounted term, the concept of “professionalism.” Just to clarify, these papers are not addressing professionalization or professional crime-fighting concepts that were developed in the '60s and '70s in response to departments that were rife with political patronage and corruption. Rather, they're responding to a larger issue, and that is, what is the next big idea in policing.
Our presenters are not looking, however, for just the right buzz word. Rather, they are taking an in-depth look at all that has gone before, and they're going to capitalize on those traditions to create more of a new frontier.
I think the question, then, could be asked, well, just what are we talking about. Are we talking about models, paradigms or yet another reform, such as problem solving, community policing, intelligence-led policing, evidence-based policing, predictive policing, smart policing? Are we talking about any of that?
All in this room have seen reforms come and go, and they have been labeled in numerous ways, but always they were presented as quite distant from the professionalized crime-fighting approaches of yesteryear. There were strong attempts to make sure that there was no association with that.
With each reform it has been tempting to believe that this is the answer, kind of the “aha” moment; however, realistically, it probably cannot find an answer that will not change in the next several years as the world changes around us. And as policing is influenced by those changes, our approaches and our strategies begin to change as well. So it's not a case of people just casting around really for the next big idea. It's looking for what is the idea that builds on all of the things that have gone before us.
So, in terms of today's paper, I'm not sure that we're just talking about a new response. After hearing the presentations, I believe that you will agree that these are exciting and cutting-edge papers that present some fundamental changes in terms of a different conceptual framework that links the two papers that are going to be presented, and that conceptual framework is professionalism. They represent a different way of thinking about where policing has been, where it is going and the organizational focus that will be needed to sustain this framework. I think you'll also agree that both papers very much represent where the field is right now.
Following the presentations, Chief Ron Davis from East Palo Alto will present his reflections on how these ideas will play out on the ground. So, in the tradition of NIJ, we are combining the research and practice orientation in this particular presentation.
After you hear the presentations and Ron Davis' comments, we then will take questions from the audience, and I will ask you to hold your questions until then.
So, at this point, I would like to introduce our panel. Our first presenter will be Professor Chris Stone. Christopher Stone is the Guggenheim Professor of the Practice of Criminal Justice, and he is the faculty chair of the program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. From 1994 to 2004, Chris served as director of the Vera Institute of Justice, having joined the Institute in 1986 as head of its London office. In 2006, Chris was awarded an Honorary Order of the British Empire. I believe they call that the “OBE,” and not too many people in this country have that. He was awarded that for his contributions to criminal justice reform in the United Kingdom. He received his bachelor's degree from Harvard, a master's degree in criminology from the University of Cambridge, and his juris doctorate from the Yale Law School.
Following Chris, you're going to hear from Professor David Sklansky who joined the Boalt faculty at Berkeley in 2005, following a decade at UCLA School of Law where he won the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award and was twice voted the law school's Professor of the Year. He teaches courses on criminal law, criminal procedure and evidence. And David serves as faculty chair of the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1984, David clerked for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. He also briefly practiced labor law at Washington, D.C.'s firm Bredhoff & Kaiser from 1987 to 1994, and he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles where he specialized in white collar fraud prosecutions. While at UCLA, he served as special counsel to the independent review panel appointed to investigate the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division scandal. David is the author of Democracy and the Police,Stanford University Press, 2008, and it's a well-regarded evidence casebook, Evidence: Cases, Commentary, and Problems. He has written extensively about criminal procedure and policing.
And our third panelist who will be the commentator on the papers that Chris and David are going to present is Ron Davis, who was appointed chief of police for the City of East Palo Alto on May 31, 2005. Prior to his appointment, Chief Davis spent 19 years with the Oakland Police Department where he served in assignments, including the police academy director, criminal investigations commander, patrol commander and Inspector General for the department. Chief Davis is a former member of two federal monitoring teams responsible for oversight of police reform agreements between the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., as well as the Detroit police departments. He serves as a police reform expert for DOJ and has testified at the United States Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on racial profiling and the United States Congressional Black Caucus hearings on police misconduct. Ron is the author of the article, Bias-Based Policing and co author of the recent U.S. Department of Justice publication, How to Correctly Collect and Analyze Racial Profiling Data: Your Reputation Depends on It!, and he is a contributing author to the recent Police Executive Research Forum publication, Chief Concerns: The Use of Force. Chief Davis serves as a member of the prestigious Harvard University Executive Session on Policing, sponsored by NIJ, and he possesses a bachelor's degree from SIU in Illinois and is a graduate of the Senior Executive Program at Harvard University's JFK School of Government.
So join me in welcoming our panel because I think we are going to have a —
Scrivner: And with that, I will ask Chris Stone to take the lead on our first paper presentation.
Christopher Stone: It's a pleasure to be here with all of you and my friends on the panel.
What I'd like to do is take a few minutes to share with you the outlines, the basic thrust of a paper that Jeremy Travis and I have been writing for the Executive Session on Policing and really invite your comments, your questions but, most importantly, your arguments with it. It's a set of concepts we are actively working on and hope will be useful.
We offer the new professionalism as a framework that we hope can help police chiefs, front line officers, communities understand what's going on in policing and as a way of keeping organizations focused or their own individual work focused or their relations with the police from the community focused on what's going on, on how it can be better, on what it's trying to achieve.
The use of frameworks is familiar in lots of fields, and for a long time in recent years, a general framework around community policing has been very useful in the police field, but that has, as Ellen suggested in the opening, been so added to over the years. We have so many concepts, ideas, priorities in policing that the cacophony is sometimes hard to deal with. And, as Jeremy and I were listening to conversations over the last several years among police chiefs, watching what front line officers do, working with a handful of departments on trying to improve work, we think we hear a few consistent themes that we have brought together under this organizing framework of the new professionalism. Those themes are accountability, legitimacy, innovation and coherence, national coherence.
So we think that we hear a movement in policing, defined by these four elements; that a commitment to accountability on behalf of police departments, a concern with legitimacy — and we'll talk a little bit more about what we mean by that — a commitment to innovation, going beyond the kinds of innovations we've seen in the last several — or several decades ago, and a new exploration and experimentation with and perhaps even a commitment to greater national coherence in the policing field.
Now, none of these is new. All of these are ideas that have been percolating, developing, gathering momentum over the last several years, maybe a decade or more. Indeed, we think all of these have some — can trace roots back to the beginning of community policing in the late 1970s, early 1980s, but we do think they're coming together in a new way, and I'll talk a little bit about that.
Let me say a little bit about why we think this is a new development. It's new. We call this the “new professionalism” for two different reasons. First, we want to contrast it with the professional model of policing that Ellen mentioned in her introductory remarks; that is, for a series of reasons that we'll talk about, but I think is unfortunate, the academic field, to some extent those who train and write about police performance in the United States, labeled the reforms of the 1950s and 1960s in the United States as the “professional model of policing.” And when community policing was first being discussed and debated in the 1980s and early 1990s, it was frequently contrasted with the professional model, and, indeed, you'll still hear very prominent chief executives in law enforcement today talk about how we still have to complete the work of getting away from the professional model and more into community policing.
Well, the idea that police should be leaving a professional model of policing is a curious — it's a curious framework. It's an odd language to use, and, in fact, many chiefs have told us that it leads to a lot of confusion. We want to be professionals. Why should we be leaving a professional model of policing? So the new professionalism is a way of trying to reclaim what's good in professionalism and try and help organize that thought but not confuse it with the professional model of policing at mid century.
It's also new in a second sense; that is, we think that each of these elements — the accountability, the support for the pursuit of public legitimacy, the kinds of innovation and the kinds of coherence we're seeing now — we think are taking on new forms. We think they're developing in new ways, and we think it's important to mark that development. To the extent that that new professionalism can be achieved in police departments, we think it would be a substantial achievement and a turning point in many ways in the history of American policing.
So let me start with the first of the — so the contrast, it's new as opposed to the contrast with the professional model of policing. Maybe, I hope, a few of you are at least as old as I am so that you can recognize “Adam 12,” a television show that came right in the center of the ambition of the professional model of policing, as it was called. And although it was described as professional — and we think it was probably — we think the term “professional model” was applied to the reforms of the 1950s and 1960s in policing because, in one sense, police — the conceptualizers, the people writing about this and talking about it, like George Kelling and Mark Moore and others, saw in that model both a good thing, that is, an effort to protect the police, distance the police from the manipulations of political machines, of the corruptions that could come from too much political control or just the informality of policing in the early decades of the 20th century. The achievement of more rigorous recruitment, more rigorous training, tighter supervision were all designed to make real improvements on the kind of policing that the Wickersham Commission and others had seen and criticized in the early decades of the century.
But it had a series of flaws, and Kelling and Moore and others wrote about those flaws and about the flaws of the professional model. What did they talk about? They talked about how the professional model was too removed from communities. The cocoon of the patrol car became an image of the distance that police began to take from their communities. It had a very limited array of tactics, basically a randomized motor — random patrol, rapid response and the retrospective investigation of crimes. It was a command-and-control model, a top-down disciplined notion of how police ought to work. You were in service, if not to your sergeant and your captain, at least to your dispatcher, but you were taking commands from above.
And perhaps the most telling criticism of the professional model came about the ability of this so-called “professionalism” to sit right alongside continued racial bias in policing. I think that in 1990 a really important paper as part of the first Executive Session of Policing was co authored by the two — to this day, the two leaders of the Police Foundation. There was actually a one-year leader, who will remain nameless, for the first year for the Police Foundation, but then Patrick Murphy led Police Foundation for over a decade in very important years, and Hubie Williams then took it over and continues to lead it today. Those two leaders of that foundation together wrote a paper about criticizing the professional model of policing because of its connection to racial bias.
I'm just going to quote one passage from their paper written in 1990. “The fact that the legal order” — and they're describing this 1950s, 1960s model of professional policing. “The fact that the legal order not only countenanced but sustained slavery, segregation and discrimination for most of our nation's history and the fact that the police were bound to uphold that order set a pattern for police behavior and attitudes towards minority communities that has persisted until the present day. That pattern includes the idea that minorities have fewer civil rights, that the task of the police is to keep them under control and that the police have little responsibility for protecting them from crime within their communities.”
Williams and Murphy went on in that paper to point out that into the 1960s, a third of American police departments still restricted the rights of black officers to make felony arrests. It talked about the disappearance of black officers from most major police departments from the time of 1900 to the 1950s and other facts that actually made them feel that calling the police in the 1950s and 1960s “professional” was to miss the falsity of that profession, at least as experienced by African Americans.
So it is clear that the community policing that was championed as an improvement on this professional model was, indeed, and I think continues to be an improvement on all these features. There's nothing, I think, wrong with the critique of the professional model, except that it called what it was replacing “professional,” and the new professionalism is in a sense trying to redefine what police mean and should mean by professionalism, not connected to these features. So it's new in a second sense as well.
So let me just try and elaborate a little bit on what we see as new in these features. So police have always been accountable since probably at least the 1930s and '40s on. Internal accountability in policing is part of that command discipline we talked about. But the accountability that we see as new is a willingness to talk externally, talk in the language of accountability and actually hold departments and hold themselves — chiefs and others holding themselves accountable in a public way.
When I started working on police accountability with police agencies and writing about it in the late 1980s, early 1990s, several academics, several of my friends, told me that was a great idea, but I should not use the word “accountability” because the police would leave the room if I talked about it as accountability. That was code for dealing with misconduct. They didn't want to talk about it, and you should use the word “integrity.” You should talk about lots of things, but do not talk about accountability.
Today in Chicago, there's a deputy superintendent for accountability. That's the title? Accountability is championed by police executives in speeches all over the world when Americans go abroad, American chiefs go abroad and train on modern democratic policing. They almost always talk about accountability as one of the features that marks a professional agency. Now part of that is simply because accountability as an element of good government has become much more common in the last 10, 20 years. It's now embraced much more widely.
But part of it, also, is a change in policing. Accountability is not just about conduct anymore. In fact, the three C's here refer to what we see when police agencies, when police leaders embrace accountability. The best of them talk about accountability for the three C's: for crime, accountability for crime and the problems associated with crime, accountability for cost and accountability for conduct.
We can talk about examples of how police departments are accounting for their costs in new ways in this last decade. It's pretty obvious, I think, the way they used to think of CompStat innovations across the country or other features in which departments are holding themselves and holding themselves publicly and internally accountable for crime. You see there are lots of examples of that.
But on conduct, I want to also emphasize that accountability for conduct is not just accountability for misconduct. There have been new advances there. You think of Bill Bratton's public confession of error just days after the MacArthur Park disturbances, the breakup, police breakup of immigrant rights rally in MacArthur Park in 2007, when he comes back and actually holds a press conference and says we were wrong, says there was excessive force used and takes strict discipline against the commanding officer on the scene. There are more of these public apologies for misconduct, but there's also, I think, a revolution in the accountability for controversial conduct that chiefs think is legal and legitimate.
Take a look, if you haven't seen it, at the annual firearms discharge report issued by the NYPD every year. It is a remarkable document in which the department outlines every time a gun was fired by a police officer, talks about why they think the patterns are justified, even when they are highly disproportionate in terms of the race and ethnicity of those fired upon, and they defend that through a series of statistical and factual arguments. But they also describe when there has been discipline taken, the officers removed from the force, even ones that didn't make the press at all. So I think the public accountability for conduct has reached a new level as well.
We talk about public legitimacy. When Jeremy and I were putting this paper together, I was scared of using the word “legitimacy.” It sounds very academic. It sounds a very obscure, abstract term. But I've been surprised, actually, at how easily police executives I've been talking to have picked up on this idea.
I mean, let me be clear. Legitimacy is important for any authority. Any element of the state or other authority needs to attend to its own legitimacy, needs to understand the sources of legitimate authority as opposed to illegitimate authority, and there are many of those sources. The professional model of policing in the 1950s and 1960s emphasized law and sort of professional expertise as the legitimacy of that police force, of the police service.
Community policing focused more on the consent and the connection with communities, often in community meetings, through community surveys, through engagement of active community participation in the work of community policing.
Jeremy and I argue that a new professionalism needs to be ecumenical about this. These are all important sources of legitimacy — the law, democratic politics, professional integrity and the public. But we focus particularly on public legitimacy and particularly within public legitimacy on the confidence of those most disaffected from society, the marginalized communities, whether those are marginalized and disaffected just because there are kids and they are in their teens and they're just disaffected as a general matter or if they're members of ethnic or racial minorities who are disaffected, perhaps from the society for other reasons. It is precisely in those communities that support for the police and confidence in the police is weakest.
The latest Gallup survey from 2009 shows that when they ask people about confidence in the police as an institution nationally, about 63 percent of white adults say they have confidence in the police as an institution, about 38 percent of black adults answer the question that way, and those patterns focus police departments on the legitimacy of the public.
We talk about innovation, not just doing a few new things. There's always been innovation in policing, but we think we see innovation going on not just occasionally, not just at the front lines as was often true with the problem-solving of the 1990s and early part of this century, this decade, but, indeed, whole, as Herman Goldstein hoped would happen, with Problem-Oriented Policing, whole management teams, senior-level executives innovating themselves at a department-wide level and, indeed, the pursuit of continuous learning in organizations.
Finally, we think we see trends in national coherence. Our country is particularly fractured in its policing. Nobody in the world would ever dream of creating a system where you had an uncountable number somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 separate police organizations and how we achieve national coherence, although there probably — I would say probably has to be some consolidation. We have to do something about the 80 percent of the departments that have 25 members or less.
We are not going to achieve coherence in this country through consolidating or the creation of a national police organization. We're only going to do it, if we do it at all, through professionalism and through developing a common set of practices, expertise, understandings that moves across departments, we hope with increased mobility.
Let me just say, finally, to set up the debate that Jeremy and I are having with David Sklansky about this in this session, let me just say a few closing words about the connection between this new professionalism and community policing because we do think that, while community policing is a part and has always been a part of the rise of this new professionalism, we think that it's important to see community policing as embraced by the new professionalism, but not the same as it, and that the new professionalism goes well beyond, I hope, what community policing is doing.
So let me just recall a debate that occurred during the first Executive Session. Ed Meese, then Attorney General, was a part of that session, and Mark Moore, my predecessor as the Guggenheim chair at Harvard, both in that session. And Mark had proposed this idea that the professional model had been fine for its time but was really in trouble now and community policing should really replace the professional model and, indeed, he said he thought was happening with the community model to find a whole new era. Ed Meese said that was a bit grandiose. He thought, yeah, there's this nice thing going on with community policing that's important, but it's really just a small part of what he called a “strategic policing.” That was really, he thought, what would mark the 1990s, and he said, you know, I'm happy to support this community thing as long as you just say it's an important contribution, but a lot of other things are going on, too, and you don't want to exaggerate the importance of the community part of it.
What's interesting is that Mark Moore did not argue with that. He agreed all those other things were going on, problem solving, strategies, work on crime and robbery, but he said, you know, if we call it “strategic policing,” the police won't do the hardest part of all, which is actually building strong relations with communities. So he wanted to call the new movement “community policing,” not because he thought it embraced all its elements but because he thought it would focus police agencies on the hardest bit, the bit that they would probably ignore if left to their own devices.
So that's what we got. We got community policing, and it worked, as a rhetorical matter. I think Mark was right, and it took off with a big help from Bill Clinton and the COPS office and a lot of money. “Community policing” became recognizable as a phrase to most Americans. It became recognizable as a federal funding stream, but it is not clear that you actually got the kind of community engagement that we hoped for.
I will just race through because I'm out of time here.
Some of things that the community policing did not turn out to actually have an answer to, it was not expected community policing would be accompanied by a huge increase in the volume of Americans being arrested by the police. The idea was that there'd be other tactics. In fact, we have seen a tripling of arrest rates per 100,000 at the same levels of crime. It did not anticipate a huge surge in stops as a stop and search. Even today, police chiefs who were the leaders of community policing turn to one another and say, “Oh. And, Chief, could we talk about what the role the community is supposed to be? Because I'm not sure anybody knows what the community is supposed to be doing in community policing.”
It's a bit late. It does not tell us much about how to police political dissent, whether you think of the recent political conventions of the last decade or other elements of it. It does not talk about how to balance privacy and the huge expansion of covert surveillance available to police agencies today. It does not talk about how to manage the difference between disrupting criminal operations or actually arresting and prosecuting criminal operations.
These are recognizable problems, I hope you understand, and community policing is a valuable thing, but the new professionalism, we hope is a way of addressing all of these and more. Community policing, at least in our view, a valuable, important thrust, but it has simply become too vague today to really guide operational decisions and answer the concerns that departments have.
In the end, I think Jeremy and I believe that community policing is a hugely important part of what we mean and we see in the new professionalism. But police need frameworks today that help them understand how they do use force, how they are making arrests, the appropriate use of stops, how to use this new surveillance technology, how to deal with new kinds of expectations of privacy. These are fundamental issues of our democracy, and the role of the police in this democracy is really at stake right now. Police agencies need to understand how, even when they are controlling sometimes forcefully elements of political dissent, they are still encouraging, not suppressing, our democratic traditions.
We believe that the new professionalism that we see is a way of engaging those questions, a way of guiding the answers. In short, we think the professional policing enhances democratic progress when it accounts for what it does, achieves public support, learns through innovation and transcends parochialism. That's what the four elements of the new professionalism are, and we think we see them in American policing today. We want to applaud them, and we want to see them continue.
Thanks very much for your attention.
David Alan Sklansky: Thank you all for coming. I want to thank NIJ and Ellen Scrivner for organizing this panel and for including me in on it. I also want to thank NIJ and the Harvard Kennedy School for sponsoring the “Executive Session on Policing: A Public Safety,” out of which the paper that Chris Stone just presented has emerged.
This has been a really phenomenal set of meetings that I feel very privileged to have been a part of that's brought together leading police executives from around the country, including Chief Davis, with a few lucky academics who've got to sit in the room and learn and then mouth off.
And I want to thank Chris Stone and Jeremy Travis for writing this terrifically interesting and important paper that Chris just presented to you and for sharpening and helping to spur debate on some really critical issues.
This is going to be an odd kind of debate because I agree with 95 percent of what Chris and Jeremy say. I think that their focus on accountability, legitimacy and innovation is exactly correct. I think they're right to say that these are emphases that are emerging right now in progressive police organizations around the world and that deserve to be encouraged. And I think that the way in which Chris and Jeremy discuss accountability, legitimacy and innovation is perceptive and largely correct. I agree, for example, with the three fold way that they describe accountability in terms of crime, cost and conduct.
I'm not sure how I feel about the national coherence piece of the agenda, partly because I'm not sure I understand exactly what national coherence means. But, in any event, I don't think that national coherence is as important to what they say descriptively and prescriptively as accountability, legitimacy and innovation. And with all of that, I mean, all I have to contribute is applause.
I'd say, moreover, that I agree with Chris and Jeremy that there are aspects to the thinking about policing in the 1950s and 1960s that needs to be recovered to some extent, that has been given shorter shrift than it deserves. I agree, for example, that the idea of law as one way to get police legitimacy is something that was overemphasized, maybe in the '50s and '60s, but maybe hasn't been given as much attention as it should in the last couple of decades, and it'd be good to give it a little more attention.
So my point of departure is really all about what might be thought a matter of packaging, which is calling this agenda a “new professionalism.” It may just be a matter of packaging. I'm not sure about that, but if it's a matter of packaging, I think the packaging is important, not as important as what's inside the packaging, but important. So why don't I like his packaging of professionalism? Why don't I think it's a good idea to call these disparate ways in which reform police chiefs around the world are converging a new professionalism?
In large part because of the baggage; the concept of professionalism in policing has two kinds of baggage. One is historical, and the other is present day. So the historical baggage is the connection with policing in the 1950s and the 1960s. That kind of policing was called “professionalism” not in retrospect by people who were pushing community policing in the 1980s, and it's true that they used the term, but they didn't come up with it.
The term “professionalism” was the term that progressive police leaders used for most of the 20th century to describe what they were doing but particularly in the 1950s and the 1960s. In fact, if you looked around at reform efforts in policing in the 1960s, what you would see is that every police department in the country claimed to be doing professional policing, just like every police department in the country in the late 1980s and early 1990s claimed to be doing community policing. In the 1950s and 1960s into the 1970s, that professional policing is what police said they wanted to be. It's what they claimed to be. And because it was a term that was slapped on virtually anything that police departments around the country were proud of, it's a little hard to isolate exactly what was the core of the kind of policing in the 1950s and the 1960s that later fell into disrepute, but I would say that it had three elements.
One was a laser-like focus on crime suppression as the be-all and end-all of the police mission. The second was a strong emphasis on detached, objective scientific analysis of how the police should respond to crime. And the third was hierarchy, a top-down managerial style that stressed the advantages of centralization. And all of that fell into disrepute, as Chris says, in the early 1980s. It was blamed for making police departments insular, arrogant, resistant to outside criticism and almost clueless in responding to the social ferment of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
It was supplanted as the reigning orthodoxy of police reform by this term “community policing,” and just as in the 1950s and 1960s, everything that police departments were proud of was called “professionalism” and every police department claimed to be doing professional policing, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, every police department claimed to be doing community policing, so it's a little hard to put your finger on exactly what it is that community policing was supposed to be all about. But in large part, I would say it was defined against the parts of the old model that seemed to be causing problems. So that is to say that community policing self-consciously widened the scope of what the police were doing, so that it wasn't all about crime suppression. It very consciously moved away from an emphasis on detached objectives, scientific apolitical approaches to police policy, and emphasized instead that the selection and implementation of police policies should be guided by some participation with, partnership with and consultation with communities.
Nobody called the new kind of policing “anti-professional policing” because everybody understood that the word “professionalism” has some valences which are positive. Nonetheless, a lot of what community policing was about was moving away from parts of policing in the 1960s that I think it was a good thing to move away with. So that's one piece of the baggage that the term “professionalism” has.
The other piece of baggage it has is present day because it is true that community policing no longer has the cache as a buzz phrase that it did in the late 1980s, early 1990s and even the first part of the 21st century. The newest buzz words in police reform circles, the buzz words that we've heard a lot during the Executive Session have to do with information-led policing and predictive policing. In fact, two of the panels that are running concurrently with this one have to do with information — one of them features Jerry Ratcliffe who is a major proponent of information-led policing. Another one is explicitly focused on predictive policing.
And information-led policing and predictive policing differ in some ways, but they're both efforts to focus police policymaking on data, on objective analysis of data, on objective analysis of data that's done in a centralized manner and objective analysis of data that focuses overwhelmingly on crime suppression as the goal of the police. So that is to say that both information-led policing and predictive policing return in significant ways to each of the three central components of the professional model of policing in the '50s and '60s, crime suppression focus, centralization and detached objective, apolitical analysis.
There are really important differences between what people who talk about predictive policing and people who talk about information-led policing, on one hand, and people in the 1960s and the 1950s were talking about, on the other hand. It would be wrong to say that people who — that information-led policing backers or predictive policing backers want to return to the world of “Adam 12.” For one thing, “Adam 12” was all about random patrol. That's what the guys in the show did every day, and the one tactic that everybody agrees we don't want to return to is random patrol.
More broadly and more importantly, a big piece of predictive policing and information-led policing has to do with the innovation that Jeremy and Chris talk about. That is to say, that a big piece of what information-led policing and predictive policing is supposed to do is look at objective measures at how a successful a police department is being in fighting crime and then use those objective measures to learn and continually to improve the performance of the police. That's new. That wasn't part of the professional model of policing in the 1950s and 1960s.
Nonetheless, I myself am skeptical of ILP and PP as banners under which progressive policing should march, not because I think technology and data analysis aren't important, but because I think there is a strong tendency for them to be overhyped and for technology to drive out dimensions of policing that are equally if not more important. In fact, I'd say that's a big part of what led to the discrediting of the professional police model in the 1950s and 1960s.
I would add to — I remember Chris had a slide that overlaid the two cops in “Adam 12” with all the things that turned out to be bad about that form of policing, and I think that was a good list of all the criticisms that got leveled against predictive policing, except that it leaves out over reliance on technology, which especially in Los Angeles was an important part of the critique of the LAPD from the late 1960s on. So, I mean, and I think there is a lesson to be learned there.
I'm not sure, but I think Jeremy and Chris may agree with me about a lot of this, and so it's possible that a lot of this really does come down to labeling, but, as I have said, I think labeling can be important. So, to me, the question is why would you want to call where policing is moving a “new professionalism.” What does the term “professionalism” get you?
Well, the term “professionalism” can mean a couple different things. Sometimes we can talk about somebody being professional when we mean they work full time at something; they make a career of it. We may disparage a politician, for example, by saying that she's a professional politician. That means that that's her only job and her only career.
Well, nobody thinks that policing in the United States suffers from a deficit of that kind of professionalism. Nobody thinks, that is to say, that today police officers don't make policing enough of — they don't have enough of a commitment to this. When I say nobody, that's not quite true. If you talk to older cops, they'll sometimes complain that younger officers don't have the same attachment to the job that they did when they were rookies, but outside of the ranks of older officers, I don't think there's much support for that view, and I don't think that — that's not what Chris and Jeremy are talking about when they're calling for a new professionalism.
So another way in which the word “professionalism” sometimes is used is to just refer to a high level of competence. Like a photocopy shop might say, “We're really professional,” meaning we do really good photocopying, but, I mean, if that's all professionalism means, being really good at something, then it doesn't really add anything. I think it's clear that that's not what Jeremy and Chris are driving at either.
I think that the only other strong connotation of the word “professionalism” that I can think of — and I might be missing something — is an appeal to a notion of a self-regulating, autonomous, occupational body with a specialized core of knowledge and expertise, like lawyers or doctors or engineers. And that version of professionalism, it seems to me, is inherently linked to a certain push towards detachment and certain emphasis on objectivity, a certain de-emphasis of politics and community engagement, and I think that those are things we should be worried about.
Community policing, it's true, has all kinds of problems as a concept. It was never fully realized. It's a radically incomplete set of ideas of about policing. It does raise all the questions that Chris raised towards the end of his remarks, what does it mean to partner with a community, what do we mean by community anyway, what do you do when different people in the community disagree, as they always do, about how the police should act, what do you do when, as always the case, there are lots of people in the community who don't seem to have any clear ideas about what the police should do or have conflicting ideas about what police should do, and what are the respective roles of different parts of a police force in engaging with a community, how do you use middle managers in community policing — that's something that advocates of community policing have always been really weak on — and how do you use a community policing approach to try to think about problems like policing of political dissent or policing of covert surveillance. So those are incredibly hard problems.
It seems to me that those are precisely the problems that police executives, police officers and people who care about the police need to be thinking and worrying about. That is to say, all the problems that the framework of community policing raises are the problems that I think we should want everybody who cares about and thinks about the police to be focused on.
The problems that the frame of professionalism raise seem, to me, less important. I mean, it is true that if you call for a new professionalism, then the very rhetoric raises some questions that could be useful. So one thing that the rhetoric of new professionalism raises is what do we mean by professionalism. What does it mean to be a professional? Another question that it raises is what's the relationship between policing and some other things that we think about as professions, like medicine or the law or engineering. Those are interesting, important questions, I think, but I don't think they're anywhere near as interesting or as important as the questions that are raised by the framework of community policing.
So that's why — I mean, my own view is that if you want a framework for policing, community policing is a pretty good one. If you want to emphasize that we need to push beyond what community policing advocates have already accomplished, which we definitely do need to do, call it “advanced community policing” or something like that.
But my own sense is that we're better off keeping the focus on precisely the questions that the community policing framework raises because I think that in that respect, we're not that different, we're not in that different a space or time than Ed Meese and Mark Moore were when they had their exchange, which is to say that I think today, as then, police don't need to be encouraged to incorporate new technology. What they do need to be encouraged to do and helped to do is to think about the very difficult questions about what it really does mean in a democracy for the police to be part of a community, to work with a community.
So, having said all that, I want to say that I do think that it's possible I'm wrong. I mean, it's possible that the rhetoric of community policing itself contains dangers that are larger than its promise. It's possible that just using the term “community policing” is stupefying because it carries with it, inherently and necessarily, this idea that communities are easily understood things and that it's obvious how you engage with a community.
I don't see that, myself. It doesn't seem to me that the language works that way, but I throw it out there as a risk. It seems to me that that risk is smaller than the opposite risk, the risk that by reemphasizing professionalism, deemphasizing community, we are at risk of repeating the mistakes that we made during the 1950s and 1960s in terms of over reliance on technology, under-appreciation of the necessity to engage constructively with a community.
So Chief Gil Kerlikowske said in a speech about 5 years ago that there's a possibility that the police, like other professions and other occupations, have a 20 year learning cycle; after 20 years, we forget the lessons we've learned and move on to the next new thing in policing. So my concern is that that may be what's happening at this moment, that we are tired of the lessons of community policing because they seem familiar, even though the community policing agenda is as important as it ever was and remains so largely unfulfilled.
Scrivner: Thank you very much, David.
Ronald Davis: Good afternoon. I don't know where to start. I thought of the — anyone see the commercial? I'm probably dating myself a little bit, but I think it came out recently where you have the peanut butter and then you have the chocolate, and somehow they kind of bump into each other and, therefore, you have the Reese's. This debate made me think about it. You have two different thought processes, and we're wondering at which time they will collide together and they'll come up with something new that we now know as to be a very good treat and probably most of us eat and we shouldn't.
And so I thought of that when I listened to the debate and I read the papers of — I agree with both that they're so close together. But I'm going to try to add a view now as a police chief that may have to enact or make some of these thoughts work.
And I think about what is the role of a police chief, and I think part of the debate is maybe starting with some questions because, you know, the basic Covey principles start with an end in mind, and it seems to me that we quite often have not defined what that end is. And so there still seems to be a debate as to what is the role of the police department, what are the police there for. And the answer to that question would determine in many ways what we should be engaging in.
And so I think the real challenge — and I do agree with both and the many points that they made. I think the challenge right now as I look at community policing in my 25 years, is that, intuitively, I think everyone is feeling, definitely at the Executive Session, myself and in the industry, that we've hit this ceiling, that something has happened, that we now need to go in a different direction because we've taken this concept as far as it appears to have gone. So, when I look at community policing, I think back in the '80s when it was debated at the Executive Session, it was a radical thought. 2010, it's an easy program. Something happened, and part of it is probably success.
So the question is what is the next step in community policing. Is it advanced community policing, as David mentioned? Is it a new professionalism that Chris mentioned?
In looking at that, I have to look at the balancing act that I have as a chief of police. So, one, I have a community that whatever you call it, I still have to serve. Two, I have a political environment in which I have to survive; otherwise, there is no policing for me. And that's a reality of all the chiefs. I have external constituencies. I have to worry about inside the organization and some new dynamics that have changed policing in one of the three C's, and that is cost. I have to operate within very tight fiscal constraints, further reducing budgets and the ability to do easy programs and start really identifying what are the core missions or functions of the police department.
So the question for me going forward is how do I still provide a high level of service while still embracing the concepts of community policing because, if I heard this correct, I think both Chris and David are not saying abandon the idea of community policing, but I would have to lean towards that we do need something different in that community policing has to go further than I think the profession has taken it.
I think the true success of community policing is the evolution from community policing to community-based governance, and as long as we keep talking about community next to the word “policing,” I think we're going to keep running into this ceiling because now if we're going to start dealing with the kind of problem-solving that community policing suggests, it has to go beyond the police; that community policing, to be effective, in my opinion, should be a subset of community-based governance. And so I would probably put a little challenge on both that if you look at this concept of new professionalism, starting with the three C's, that it will probably actually be six C's.
Chris, I'll throw that first thought out there.
And so you have crime, cost, and conduct, but under community-based governance, you would have city leadership and the idea that all of city government is involved in making our community safe. That has to be led by the chief executive officer, whether it's a mayor or city manager. It involves public works, redevelopment. It involves planning. It involves from — every city department has something to contribute.
Why that's important with community-based governance is because then they should be measured by their ability to actually contribute to that ultimate goal. Right now it still seems to be solely focused on the police, so we had this debate about community policing versus a new professionalism.
The other “C” I would add would be collaboration with outside agencies and the community. The more we have to reduce our budgets, the more we have to collaborate.
The other “C” that's not in there is the community. And I think if you add those three C's to the existing three C's, then the issue of community and why we want community policing may exist, but it may actually be at a higher level, so just not community policing. It's community-based governance. It's the idea that the community has a lot more control than just that of the police department. It has control of the people they elect to run the police department or the city. It has control or input and control of all departments that contribute to public safety.
If we were to achieve that, then I think you can then go from community policing to a community-based governance to this idea of a new professionalism, which to me the ultimate goal would be something that Gil Kerlikowske mentioned to just getting into public safety.
And if we ultimately one day just accept that the role of the police maybe even will change to public safety, inclusive of public safety are everything you can think of. It would be crime, which is one component. It would be emergency preparedness, which is another component. It would be terrorism as a component. It would be race, racial turmoil as a component. It encompasses so much that you're not focused solely on crime control. It may actually even change CompStat.
I am a proponent of the idea of a new professionalism, as I read both papers, because I think we do have to take community policing to another level. I am concerned, however, with David — is how do I sell, quite frankly, a new professionalism to my elected officials that have put so much into community policing. And I think to get to this new professionalism, there may have to be that stop along the way. It may have to be not immediate, but the first stop may be, once again, the transition from community policing to community-based governance, then to a new professionalism.
I think the police profession has to step it up with regards to professionalism and identify a question that Patrick Murphy asked some years ago: Are we a vocation or a profession? And why that's important, I think it goes to the issue of the national coherence. If we're a profession, that means we're going to live by and adhere to a body of standards, of core values, of regulations that hold us accountable. And that policing as a community member, as an American, you have a right to have a certain levels of standard, regardless of where you go in the United States. It should not change because you cross some jurisdictional boundary. So there should be a body of standard that's consistently followed, especially with regards to the accountability.
And I think we have to get to the issue of professionalism. That was suggested. Then there's criteria to get hired. There's criteria to get fired. There's criteria as far as education, as far as training, and there is a level of accountability that goes with having established professionalism.
Unfortunately, we have made the word “professional” bad, and it would seem to be going backwards. So I think David may have struck something that it may be the packaging.
But I would offer that it may be time for a new package with the concept that as not abandoning community policing but actually advancing it to the next level. And that if we were to package it as a recommendation, in such a manner that we're looking at community policing now evolving to a larger context of community-based governance, that we're looking at taking police to the next level of professionalism which looks at the core areas that we talked about with regards to police legitimacy, the three C's and now we would say the six C's, the issues of innovation and creativity, I think all of that then fits and meshes perfectly and goes back to my initial comment about the peanut butter and the chocolate coming together to come up with a very good treat.
I think it's going to be a lot of work, and we may have just defined the last 20 years. I don't have the answer. I'm just thinking from the perspective of a police chief, how do I make all of this work, how do I do it within very tight fiscal constraints, how do I do it so my officers understand what the heck I'm talking about, how do I do it so that the politicians and elected officials don't look at me like I've lost my mind and am trying to abandon something that they've passed through resolutions, and through even may have even got elected on, how do we do all of this. And I think what I'm feeling intuitively is that I don't know the answer to that. I just know we have to do something.
My concern now is community policing, as I mentioned earlier, is went from that radical thought to just an easy program. We can define what is a community policing officer, which I don't understand what that is. If community policing is a philosophy, then all officers should be community policing. We have community policing grants, which are separate from technology grants, which are separate from policing grants and enforcement grants. So we are constantly dividing this concept up to make it more and more programmed, and a threat to community policing is that it's going to be specialized. And, as a good professor once told me, to specialize in some cases is to minimize.
So the further we go with embracing a concept without advancing it, whether it's advanced community policing or a new professionalism, the risk we take is to minimize its actual impact. And at some point, community policing is going to be some old school program that we had 10 years ago that will be on the chopping blocks first when we start reducing budgets.
The idea of professionalism, I think is not tied to cost, in a sense, other than you are to manage those costs most efficiently and effectively as possible.
So somewhere in between, I think the two brilliant minds have come up with something that I believe the industry has to tackle with and grapple with, and I hope comes out of the Executive Session is they'll answer to that, will set us on a course, I believe, for the next 10, 15 or 20 years because I just know as a chief, I'm feeling that I'm hitting a ceiling, that I know that I'm engaging with my community and I'm having the meetings and I'm trying to improve the relationship and we're providing cultural competency training and we got the officers really understanding the role or at least the importance of community involvement. We're still very vague with the role of it. I think someone said that earlier, and I agree, but we now know that the problems are deeper than that.
So the question I ask my community is, now that we've had the meeting, what next? What does that mean? So we've talked, and it took 10 years, 20 years, quite frankly, for the profession to even acknowledge that the community was the recipient of services that provided input, and that's a major advancement, but where do we take it beyond the meeting?
If I say you have a role, what really is that role? Is it a role to set priorities? Am I misleading you to think that you can set a priority of traffic enforcement when you have 20 shootings going on in the neighborhood? Is that realistic, or is it helping to identify the priorities on some of your non essential areas? Is it defining what the response is going to be? Because some communities, even those that are most likely to be accused of being abused, will give you abusive tactics in response to things that bother them.
So how far does this thing go, or are we misleading people to say that you identify the priorities, you identify how we respond, knowing that as soon as you get back to headquarters, it doesn't mean anything because I'm still going to put the officers out there the way I want to, and they've still got to operate within a body of standards regardless of what someone said at a community meeting.
So we have to take a look at what does this mean now, where do we go to the next step, so that I have realistic expectations for the community, this is what your role should be, this is what we can do together. But, once we identify it, then I do want to, as an executive, embrace a body of standards. I want to embrace science and technology to do it in the best and efficient manner that we can do. I have that obligation.
I don't think the police department should run away from technology, and I don't think technology should run away with the department. And I think somewhere in balancing it, that is to use it to truly get to the most efficient and effective police department one can have, but those balancing acts, once again, goes to trying to merge the two concepts.
Like I said, I don't know what the ultimate title will be, but it has to be something that captivates the officer and the staff. It has to be something that provides political support or obtains regardless of political support, and it has to be something that's tenable within the resources, the limited resources that we all know we have.
So somewhere in there — and I think Ellen is going to get into this, too — is I think, intuitively, they have struck upon something that many of the chiefs are feeling, and that is we have hit this ceiling and we need to break through it. We have done a great job, and the crime reduction is at its highest. I think police and community relations is probably at its highest. We still have a lot of question of legitimacy, especially in communities of color, but to compare that to 20 or 30 years ago, undoubtedly is better. But we also know now that new problems of policing require different responses.
Excuse the phrase — and I'm one that struggles with this quite often — if we were to diet as a country, we lost that first 10, 15 pounds. And that was easy, it was good, it was water weight and good for us. Now it's getting down to the real hard part, and that is how do we actually go further, how do we sustain it and not keep going up on these up and down increases and decreases of what we called as “community policing.”
And I think the way to do that is to quit making — not to minimize it, not to specialize it, but to embrace it as a larger capacity, a larger context for city government, so that whatever the police department engages in, it has to fit into community-based governance. Otherwise, that chief executive would find him or herself operating outside the direction of the city.
So I think I'll end there and just open it up, but I just think as a chief, I do appreciate the thought. I do appreciate the ultimate goal. But I think the challenge is going to be how to interpret this, and to think about it at some point if the great minds in here, with all the acronyms, are struggling with it, then how do you translate it to people like me, the chiefs that are running the organizations and to the hard working men and women that have their hit in the field, and you want to translate that into some specific goals.
And I think the ultimate goal, I would envision a police department that has public safety officers that are not necessarily over-reliant on crime, unless that's the issue of the day, but will look at a wide range of everything. And if you think about a public safety department, then all of its members are public safety agents and officers, including civilian or non-sworn at every level. Whether it's a community service officer or code enforcement officer or secretary, they're all contributing to public safety. So that may be also something to think about, how do we evolve to that point, which I think Gil was eluding to as just how about we just police. I would maybe change that to we just do public safety and recognizing that community engagement of policing is the philosophy in which we operate as a government, not just as a police department.
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