The last blog was on change. A gulf exists today between two policing styles. The Back to the Future crowd want traditional roles: just the facts ma'am; answer-the-call-and-move-on; tactics and weapons. I call them Combat Cops (no slight of professional military is intended).
Combat cops live in a past long gone. They cling to a simplicity that was never there. In the 9/11 era, this style receives funding and attention. I have blogged on this HERE.
Conversely the problem-solving crowd wants critical thinkers. Emergency response is balanced with finding community partners to solve difficult crime problems. I call them the Community Cops.
Why does this matter?
Over a hundred police agencies have adopted the new police training officer program (PTO) described in the previous blog. Over the years a few agencies have dropped PTO. Sometimes they were combat cop agencies. Sometimes they were taken over by leaders sympathetic to combat cop values. In every case they offered up sneers for PTO unaware that isn’t the same as offering up a legitimate critique.
This is dangerous to community safety. Why?
A University of Illinois PTO evaluation study discovered that survey respondents who rejected PTO were worried about the "development of a soft or kind and gentle officer":
"Survey and focus group respondents reported a preference for the officer who responds to a call, prescribes guidance, and serves as report takers, not an officer who collaborates with members of the community or utilizes its resources to solve problems."
You mean like in the 1960s, the good old days of Dragnet? Or, perhaps Terminator 3: The Rise of The Machines?
Dichotomies are fictions. There are critical thinkers who retain tactical skills and combat cops who solve problems. The danger here lies in a pendulum swinging toward the latter and away from the former.
Police leaders in the video PTO is the answer, get how PTO strikes a balance. They get how powerful values (combat vs community) derail forward motion. Far too many executives don't. They cling to the past.
Research about PTO and video testimonials isn't enough to convince Combat Cops. As Rick Shenkma says in Just How Stupid Are We? given the choice between a harsh truth and a comforting myth, most people will choose the latter.
Two of the leaders in the video have retired (Reno’s Ronald Glensor and Charlotte’s Darryl Stevens). Reno’s current Chief will be gone next month. What will happen next? Which path will the next regime follow?