GUEST BLOG: Gerard Cleveland is a school and youth violence prevention expert and an attorney based in Australia. He is co-author of Swift Pursuit: A Career Survival Guide for the Federal Officer. He is a frequent contributor to this blog, most recently regarding policing and drones.
PROBLEM-SOLVERS, NOT CALL RESPONDERS
No one serious about public safety would advocate for the abolishment of our police agencies. We need them in times of emergency, as well as to investigate and solve community crime and disorder problems. However, we do need to have a serious discussion about what we want our police agencies to focus on in the next few decades.
Greg Saville and I just finished teaching a two-week problem-solving class called Problem-Based Learning for Police Educators at the Law Enforcement Training Academy in South Dakota with a wonderful group of dedicated and talented police and public service participants. Much of the course focused on ‘what next’ and we had senior police and sheriff executives, graduates from our previous classes, visit to tell us that as our communities change, so too must our public service agencies.
During all our training courses, we challenge police and community leaders to answer some key questions they will face in the years ahead, two of which include the metaverse and artificial intelligence.
If you are serving in a public role – in any agency – what plans and training have you undertaken to deal with issues in the metaverse? As that virtual area of our lives grows and becomes part of our daily activities, what role will police need to take? If you are not sure that you need to address this issue yet, consider how much catching up policing agencies had to do with the arrival of crime on the web – especially the dark web – only a few decades ago. We do not want to be in the same position of catching up with technology as the metaverse extends its reach into our daily lives.
As well, what does your team know about the enhanced capabilities of privately owned drones? Many of our class members had never considered that the new threat of crime may be delivered via mini drones to your neighbourhoods. Their experience with drones generally extended to using police drones to clear buildings or watch traffic patterns, but almost no planning had been done to deal with drones being used for nefarious purposes by criminals. Greg describes one of the high-crime hotspots where his team brought SafeGrowth programming but then learned that the neighbourhood gang used drones to monitor police patrols.
Finally, how does your agency plan to address the development and growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI)? While AI will provide positive support for us in so many ways in medicine, engineering, traffic control, predictive policing, and a multitude of other ways, how have you begun to prepare – as parts of Asia have, for AI attacks on our infrastructure, our computers and even the vehicles we drive and the machines we operate?
If you find yourself scratching your head wondering, “what do I do next?” we have a suggestion. Firstly, form some small groups with your police and community members and investigate and discuss what you can expect in the next 10 years from the above developments. Secondly, and most importantly, train your people to be problem solvers and thinkers, not reactive, call responders.
But that last sentence is much harder than it sounds. We’ve been trying to change police training for the past two decades with limited success. I suspect that unless we reframe and fund strategies to address future trends, our current model of warrior responder will suddenly be quite irrelevant except in limited circumstances in the late 2020s and beyond.