Use of force essay questions

Use of Force
Contents:
  1. How Structural Racism is Linked to Police Violence - CityLab
  2. How Structural Racism is Linked to Higher Rates of Police Violence
  3. Stress Effects

Dykes , F. A federal judge noted that the use of a TASER and multiple baton strikes against Rodney King , including a PR24 baton strike to the face, were, if not reasonable, at least not criminally excessive force. Officers delivered some 50 powerful blows and strikes after King first resisted officers, he complied with commands. After King assumed a felony prone position, one of the officers kicked him and another struck him five or six times with a baton. Even though officers used substantial force to compel King into a prone position, only the last few blows lead to criminal liability because King had complied with the order to assume a prone position and submit to handcuffing United States v.

Koon , F. Deadly force is also measured by the Graham test, and is also limited by other constitutional considerations. Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court abolished the "fleeing felon" rule that permitted the use of deadly force against any fleeing felon about half of the states had already abandoned the rule by statutory changes. In Tennessee v. Garner , U. Contrary to public belief , police rarely use force. Any veteran cop will tell you that he or she uses interpersonal communications skills infinitely more often than arrest control techniques.

Research by the International Association of Chiefs of Police shows that police officers use any degree of force in less than one out of every 2, calls for service. Even well-meaning assessors are likely to be limited in experience to hundreds of hours of television and movie cop training how realistic is that!

Some courts have long applied a skewed Monday-morning quarterback view that a suspect shot in the back is the victim of de facto excessive force McCambridge v. Hall , F. Atlanta , F. Such a conclusion might seem reasonable to a person on the street, or even to an inexperienced police officer.

However, long-overdue scientific research by people like Dr. Lewinski and his colleagues apply biomechanics to use of force analysis and demonstrate the critical relationship between a sound understanding of the dynamics of human factors in combat and a fair and objective analysis of use of force. Anyone claiming to provide an objective evaluation of police use of force must gain the necessary educational foundation to even ask the right questions in order to reach reliable conclusions.

Agencies must broaden the vision of training, experience and education for those who analyze force situations and pass judgment on the reasonableness of force. The first step to managing use of force liability is to maintain a legally sound, up-to-date policy. The use of force policy copied 10 years ago from a friend who had a city attorney take a stab at drafting a use of force policy is probably out-of-date or legally insufficient, or both. Excellent alternatives are available to keep critical policies fine-tuned.

Many western cities and counties rely on Lexipol , a firm with attorneys with many years of specialized experience in defending use of force lawsuits and drafting sound policies. How many agencies require firearms qualification two or more times each year, but never provide training on the latest court decisions or statute changes that govern use of force?

How many agencies provide regular in-service training of non-lethal less-lethal perishable skills, such as defensive tactics? Even though police use of force is statistically uncommon, tremendous liability and potential for injury comes with each force situation. No use of force should merely be reported. Each situation is an opportunity to evaluate the officer, policy, training and equipment, and ask how to approach similar situations in the future.

At a minimum, the agency should ask the following questions as risk management tools:. Act on the answers. Improve the policy. Enhance training. Get the best tools available. Support the officers involved. Stay safe. He has served over three decades in public safety, is a legal expert and editor of Xiphos, a monthly national criminal procedure newsletter. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Death and serves as a use of force consultant in state and federal criminal and civil litigation across the nation.

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Article updated on December 1, What is permissible force? Hispanic immigration and migration has reached every State in the country, resulting in new cross-cultural exchanges in many communities. The social fabric of many communities is in transition. Multiculturalism is already a reality in many communities and institutions. The extraordinary infusion of newcomers can heighten risk factors for conflict because of the underdevelopment of social organization within the newly arrived population and the inexperience of existing governmental and community resources working with them.

The movement of existing American-born racial and ethnic populations towards an increasingly suburban and rural pattern includes heightened vulnerability to racial incidents and conflict between police and citizens. Organized racial or ethnic gangs or gang-like groups may form to prey upon newer residents of other races and ethnic groups in an attempt to force them to move and to prevent others from moving to suburban or rural communities. For these reasons understanding and recognizing changing community cultural and ethnic diversity is important to contemporary law enforcement efforts.

Cultural characteristics such as language, customs and traditions are key elements which affect the relationship between immigrant populations and police. The challenge for the law enforcement executive is to recognize community and cultural diversity by effectively responding to the law enforcement and community needs of culturally diverse groups. In trying to accomplish this mission law enforcement executives have successfully utilized such strategies as recruiting officers from the immigrant community, cultural diversity training, community involvement, establishing community advisory committees, and educating the immigrant population on the fundamentals of the U.

Expanding or establishing community organizations to bridge relationships between racial and ethnic groups and between law enforcement and the community may be an important step towards improving community relations. Law enforcement executives and police officers would be well served by a high degree of involvement with community organizations, so that members of the police department are clearly seen as members of the community.

There is no better application of the principles of good policing than in the post-September 11 environment. In the face of the dramatic terrorist attacks against the United States, the vast majority of America's communities responded with restraint, tolerance, and good will.

At the forefront of these efforts have been police chiefs and other law enforcement executives, who captured the spirit of police-community cooperation. This has been no small challenge, given the divisions, fears, and other internal stresses which arose during this unprecedented emergency. Police chiefs and other local officials recognized that this was a time for police-community cooperation and collaboration, a time to minimize any divisions and distractions from the common national priority of combating terrorism.


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Homeland security requires communities of cooperation and citizens of goodwill. A climate of personal safety and protection requires increased trust of governmental institutions and agencies, especially law enforcement. Important information is more likely to be volunteered to authorities. Suspicious and unusual activity will be reported, and investigations can proceed. Further, public trust and confidence reduce community tensions, especially between groups that may feel unprotected and suspected by government institutions.

The aftermath of September 11 became an opportunity for police departments and other government agencies, including CRS, to deepen their relationships with Arab-American, Sikh, and Muslim communities. While these communities were fairly well established, there had been little occasion for outreach and educational activities before September Since September 11, CRS has conducted hundreds of public forums, dialogues, and other events designed to build bridges between police departments and these communities.

What were some of the elements which helped to create the positive relations, especially between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve? The combination of danger and authority found in the task of the policeman unavoidably combine to frustrate procedural regularity. If it were possible to structure social roles with specific qualities, it would be wise to propose that these two should never, for the sake of the rule of law, be permitted to coexist.

Danger typically yields self-defensive conduct, conduct that must strain to be impulsive because danger arouses fear and anxiety so easily. Authority under such conditions becomes a resource to reduce perceived threats rather than a series of reflective judgments arrived at calmly. The ability to be discreet, in the sense discussed above, is also affected.

As a result, procedural requirements take on a "frilly" character, or at least tend to be reduced to a secondary position in the face of circumstances seen as threatening. Skolnik's description of this aspect of the police officer's role provides some measure of understanding of how violence might occur in encounters with citizens. It also provides a basis for the formation of "police culture" or the police society. While most occupational groups develop their own identity, the police identity seems to be much stronger because of the nature of the work. There is a belief that one cannot understand the difficulty of the work without having done it.

As a result, when a community questions the actions of the police--as can be expected when a police officer uses a firearm--the law enforcement profession has a tendency to close ranks and defend the officer at all costs. The development of this "police society" begins with academy training or even before in the recruiting and selection process and continues until the individual becomes an accepted part of the fraternity. An example of how this socialization process might take place appears in Jonathan Rubinstein's City Police :.

A rookie patrolman was sitting in the roll call room waiting for his tour to begin when his wagon partner left a small group to come and sit next to him. It was the first time anyone had spoken to him before roll call in the two weeks he had been in the district. Take my advice and get rid of it. Go down to Coteman's and get yourself one of them new plastic sticks.

They're good and solid, not a toothpick. Although reluctant, the rookie bought one of the new nightsticks the next day. The socialization process is generally more subtle, and assignment procedures may well contribute to the police society. Many departments, for example, rotate patrol officers' shifts weekly, which makes association with people other than police officers extremely difficult.

In addition to assignment patterns, the job itself tends to cause social isolation. After a period of time as a police officer, it is not uncommon for an officer to begin avoiding contacts with old friends, even when scheduling permits, because of the tendency to hear stories about traffic tickets and other negative encounters people may have had with the police.

The result is the creation of an environment where an officer withdraws further and further from the community. He or she moves towards the protective shell of the police world where colleagues understand the nuances of the work. From the standpoint of addressing the problem of police-community violence, the "police society" is critical.

The reinforcement of narrow views by limiting contact only to other officers has an impact on the creation and perpetuation of violent encounters with citizens. The "police society" also severely hampers efforts to investigate complaints of excessive force. The police profession must reach a point where violence is discouraged at the peer level.

When violence does occur, police officers themselves must be involved in providing information to the investigative process impartially and with integrity. At the same time, there are also positive aspects to a close-knit work group, and care must be taken to ensure these positive aspects are not harmed when attempting to deal with the negative ones. Bringing the right type of people into law enforcement is another major aspect of any effort to improve the police profession and address the violence issue.

Most discussions of police reform have touched on the importance of recruitment and selection as a long-term strategy for improvement. Although this may be obvious, they are difficult problems in and of themselves and, in addition, also a source of conflict between the police and the community. The source of conflict is disagreement over what type of person is best able to handle the responsibilities of a police officer.

One continuing debate is the amount and type of education appropriate for a police officer. Another debate involves the police agency's racial make-up. While there is general agreement on the need for a police department to reflect the make-up of the community it serves, there is considerable disagreement on how that balance should be attained. The courts have put to rest some of the physical requirements thought to be important for the police for so many years.

But the question of the psychological make-up of an officer--and how it should be measured--has yet to be resolved. Although there is a wide range of opinion on what type of person is best suited to handle the rigors of the job, three factors are considered vital in terms of violence between the police and community. These factors should be incorporated into the overall process of recruiting and selecting police officers:.

Once an agency decides what type of individual it wants as an officer, it needs to develop a recruitment plan. Many departments limit their recruiting efforts to local newspaper advertisements when positions are open. This method will usually produce a pool of applicants. However, the type of individual sought may not respond to newspaper advertisements. It is not unusual to hear in police circles that selection criteria are extremely rigid and that only 1 or 2 out of 10 applicants will survive the entire process and be offered a position.

One could also make a convincing argument that recruitment efforts are not very effective if 8 or 9 of 10 applicants cannot survive the recruiting process. Perhaps the effort devoted to processing applicants unsuited to becoming police officers could be redirected to recruiting the right type of applicant. The point here is that the recruiting method should be carefully designed to attract the type of applicant desired. Law enforcement agencies use a variety of approaches to recruit applicants. Some send recruiting teams to "career days" on college campuses, while others send recruiters to various cities to look for experienced police officers.

How Structural Racism is Linked to Police Violence - CityLab

Still others concentrate recruiting resources on their immediate geographic area. Many departments have made use of the local news media through feature stories, public service announcements, and Internet job postings. Some have also used business and corporate assistance to develop brochures that provide accurate information about what the department offers. An agency may need to circulate its recruitment announcements using a number of methods, such sending them to a diverse group of community leaders, setting up a table at community meetings, shopping malls, schools, colleges, and community gathering places.

A factor that has an immense impact, but is often not addressed effectively in recruiting plans is the influence of existing members of the police organization. Negative attitudes of individual officers about their job and the department may cause potential applicants to look elsewhere for employment. On the other hand, positive attitudes may exist for the wrong reasons--for example, because the department has an image as a place for "macho," TV-style cops. Therefore, it is important that the recruiting plan and its underlying rationale be shared with all employees, so they have a clear understanding of the department's objectives.

Employees can serve as excellent recruiters if they know these objectives and appreciate the critical importance of their jobs. Employees can also better discuss some of those issues often put forth as impediments to attracting high quality applicants. For example, they can speak directly to issues such as low pay and the difficulties of shift work. They are in the best position to talk about positive as well as negative aspects of a police career.

The objective of a recruiting program should be to attract a large enough pool of desirable applicants to fill department vacancies. This does not mean that the only measure of the recruiting effort should be the number of people who complete employment applications. If a department needs a higher ratio of employees from different racial and ethnic groups to reflect the community, and the only people completing applications are not from desired groups or do not meet basic requirements, then the objective is obviously not being met.

The recruiting plan must contain relevant and measurable objectives that are monitored to ensure every effort is being made to meet them. After an individual has expressed an interest in becoming a police officer, most departments begin a process that involves a series of steps designed to aid in making the selection decision. The selection process continues to receive a great deal of attention.

Arbitrary selection standards that were common in the past have been eliminated by courts and other actions. Further research should be conducted by the human resources department of a police department to establish a sound selection process. The close examination of this process has underscored its importance. It has also helped focus attention on developing a better understanding of the police officer's job and on including steps that measure whether a candidate has the potential for meeting those requirements.

Even with these improvements, a number of selection issues have continued to generate considerable controversy. Two of these, educational requirements and psychological screening, are measures believed to have potential for reducing violence between the police and community. However, these alternatives obviously would take years to change the make-up of a department.

In many departments, psychological screening and educational requirements cannot be imposed upon individuals currently employed. Educational issues have been a long-standing topic of discussion in law enforcement circles. As early as , the Wickersham Commission report noted the need for higher levels of education. These reports were followed by many other calls for similar requirements, but the reality has been that few departments have actually made any changes in entry-level educational requirements.

A report published by the Police Executive Research Forum, The American Law Enforcement Chief Executive: A Management Profile , noted: "In the Police Chief Executive Committee recommended the immediate institution of a four-year college degree for new chief executives of all agencies with 75 or more full-time employees.

Nearly ten years later, almost percent of those officials still do not possess a baccalaureate degree. If it is not possible to make much progress at the top, the entry-level standards will be extremely slow to change. It is not within the scope of this publication to set forth all of the arguments for vigorously pursuing the upgrading of entry-level requirements. Regardless, many believe that an entry-level requirement of a bachelors' degree would go a long way towards addressing a number of problems in law enforcement, including violence between police and the community.

The psychological fitness of police officers is also of major importance in addressing the violence issue. A police officer has considerable discretion in the manner in which day-to-day responsibilities are fulfilled. This discretion extends to the use of force.

One method to improve the prediction of whether an individual is able to handle police responsibilities is psychological evaluation. Although many departments do not use psychological screening in the selection process, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies has established the following as a mandatory standard for all agencies:.

Commentary: Law enforcement work is highly stressful and places officers in positions and situations of heavy responsibility. Psychiatric and psychological assessments are needed to screen out candidates who might not be able to carry out their responsibilities or endure the stress of the working conditions. The importance that the Commission on Accreditation has placed on this area by making it a mandatory standard is obvious. If an agency does not currently use this tool in the selection process, it will take a number of years for its adoption to have an effect on the organization, but it would be a positive step towards minimizing future problems.

Training can have a significant impact on all aspects of police service delivery and is of critical importance in the control of police-community violence. A Police Foundation study on the use of deadly force published in noted: "In the course of this study police chiefs and administrators were asked what steps they would consider most likely to bring about a reduction in unnecessary shootings by police officers.

The most common response was to recommend a tight firearms policy coupled with an effective training program. While one can generally agree with this response, findings in the International Association of Chiefs of Police report, A Balance of Forces , also need to be considered:. These findings clearly suggest that when it comes to training police officers, both the type of training and the approach to training police officers must be carefully examined. In examining this area, Herman Goldstein makes several pertinent observations on police entry-level training in Policing a Free Society :.

In Goldstein's observations one begins to understand some of the limitations of automatically turning to training to solve all problems. Perhaps it also suggests why some training programs may be associated with a higher rate of police justifiable homicides. Our analysis suggests a framework in which to analyze training related to police deadly force. Few training programs have attempted to conceptualize the varied and complex competencies necessary to implement a responsible deadly force policy.

Shooting simulators attempt to train police officers to quickly identify threats against them. Some crisis intervention training approaches focus almost exclusively upon the verbal skills useful in dealing with a limited range of disputes. If training is to be effective in reducing the aggregate number of police shootings, it must focus on multiple psychological dimensions, emphasizing those capacities that might influence police behavior in a wide range of armed confrontations.

Also, such training should be conducted in environments simulating the complex, and often bewildering, conditions in which deadly force episodes usually take place. From our observations, this approach to shooting training is rare in police departments. Scharf and Binder's observations indicate a need to rethink the approach to firearms training and, at the same time, reinforce Goldstein's observations almost 10 years earlier on training in general.

Both observations, however, seem to suggest that the advantages to be gained from training will not be realized until programs go beyond teaching a single response to complex situations. The focus should be on training and developing a "thinking police officer" who analyzes situations and responds in the appropriate manner based upon a value system such as this publication proposes. This is obviously a much different approach to training than has been used in law enforcement. This does not mean that many of the components of current training programs should be dropped.

They need to be tied together into a decision-making framework that causes officers to make decisions in earlier stages of responding to a call or handling an incident. This would minimize the risk of a situation evolving to a point where the use of firearms is required to protect someone's life. Mills and John G. Stratton reported findings in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin in February that "The nature of academy training and type of services actually provided are often discrepant. Seventy to 90 percent of police training is devoted to crime control, laws, and police procedures, while frequently 70 to 90 percent of subsequent job duties are devoted to interpersonal communication and interaction.

Policy is a guide to the thinking and actions of those responsible for making decisions. Its essence is discretion. And policy serves as a guide to exercising that discretion. The development of policies to guide the use of discretion by police officers is key to the effective management of police organizations. It is also critical to the control of violence between the police and community. A primary consideration of policy development, then, is to build accountability into police operations.

As stated in the opening chapter on values, the principle of police agency accountability to the citizens it serves is fundamental to the relationship. Police departments which that adopted values that uphold professionalism and integrity have consistently established policies that recognize the importance of accountability systems that build citizens' trust in police agency programs and personnel.

The importance of policy development has also been underscored by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Most of the commission's standards require a written directive to provide proof of compliance with those standards. Almost all of the agencies that have been accredited, or are in the process of self-assessment, have commented on how the documentation of their policies and procedures has been improved.

There are three policy areas of particular significance with respect to police violence concerns: policies dealing with firearms, citizen complaints, and public information. Use of Force and Alternatives. The appropriate use of force and the use of the least amount of force in effecting arrests are essential values which characterize a department that respects the sanctity of life.

Officers and departments that fail to train in and demonstrate the use of appropriate force, not only create the potential for heightened racial conflict, but also raise high municipal liability risks for their communities. Officers who are skilled in conflict resolution will find ways to avoid higher levels of confrontation. Where conflict cannot be avoided, less than lethal force can be employed by law enforcement personnel in accord with changing community values. Citizen Complaints and Other Redress Systems.

Even the best police department will receive complaints, and the absence of an effective complaint procedure has figured prominently in many cities troubled by allegations of excessive force. In fact, "Citizen complaints about police behavior, particularly the excessive use of force, is one part of the larger problem of relations between the police and racial and ethnic minority communities," according to Samuel Walker and Betsy Wright Kreisel.

The department's complaint procedure should be set forth in writing regardless of the size of the community or the department. The best way to ensure that police officers conduct themselves properly in the performance of their duties is to set reasonable policies and then establish effective procedures for internal review and sanctions. But, as indicated above, the system for handling citizen complaints must be one in which all citizens have confidence.

Nor can the principle be ignored that the police department is a public service agency which ultimately must be accountable to the citizens. An increasing number of cities in which citizens have lost confidence in the internal review process have tried various configurations of civilian oversight mechanisms or civilian overview boards with mixed results. A number of arguments are made both in favor of and against these mechanisms. For example, some observers hold that the police cannot objectively review themselves, that civilian review strengthens public confidence in the department, and that it ensures that police officers do not abuse the law.

This has resulted in a situation in which "the perceived failure of internal police complaint procedures has led civil rights groups to demand the creation of external, or citizen complaint review procedures," Walker and Kreisel conclude. When municipal officials attempt to establish a civilian oversight mechanism, police executives should anticipate strong resistance from rank and file officers. In fact, even some of the most progressive police officials do not favor civilian oversight mechanisms. While they agree that there is a need for public accountability, these officials point out that oversight groups are not panaceas and have had only mixed success.

They also suggest that emotions aroused by establishment of civilian oversight mechanisms may themselves lead to insurmountable problems. Citizens who are chosen to serve can be briefed by police officials on policy, practices, and procedures and help them become more acquainted with the department's operations so that they can serve better.

Those establishing civilian oversight mechanisms, regardless of type or format, must address six issues when designing a charter:. Municipal Liability. The U. Supreme Court in Monell v. Harris U. In an article by Professors Daane and Hendricks titled "Liability for Failure to Adequately Train," they state, "Not only does a good training program increase the effectiveness and safety of police officers, it may also reduce the potential for liability of the officers, the supervisors and the agency.

This potential for liability may range from cases involving use of force and deadly force, the failure to provide medical care, to those involving arrest procedure. Public Information. An area of policy that goes hand-in-hand with police accountability and police-community relations is the law enforcement agency's approach to release of public information.

How Structural Racism is Linked to Higher Rates of Police Violence

Clearly, the news media serve as a major source of information about the police and their activities. As such, the media play a key role in developing citizens' views of the police. Given this important function of the media, it is difficult to understand why so many police agencies fail to develop a public information policy and a relationship with the media based on mutual respect and trust.

This is especially important in the area of police-community violence. Media coverage of incidents involving the use of force is often the only information the community has to form an opinion about the appropriateness of police action. There is a tension between informing the public about an incident and getting the facts on that incident.

The department should have procedures for identifying who can make public statements, along with procedures for verifying information before it is released to the public.


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  • Silence on certain aspects of the investigation may be viewed as stonewalling, when in fact, the department simply does not have the information. The department that explains why certain information is not yet available and makes assurances that, when it does materialize, it will be disseminated to the extent permitted by law, will be regarded as responsive to the community's concerns.

    In the absence of information from official sources, the news media are forced to prepare the story based on information gained only from bystanders and unofficial agency sources, an approach that may result in less than accurate reporting of the incident. The stage is then set for friction between the police and media. Misinformed community members may also form erroneous perceptions of the police and their actions. Police officials must provide sufficient information and detail to accurately explain an incident.

    At the same time, they need to be careful not to jeopardize an investigation or the department's position. This is a difficult expectation of the police, but it is not impossible to deal with both needs. The task is much less difficult with a clearly articulated public information policy. See sample public information policy in Appendix G Racial Profiling and Bias-Based Policing. Law enforcement profiling is inappropriate when race or some other sociological factor, such as gender, sexual orientation, or religion is used as the sole criterion for taking law enforcement actions.

    Profiling that singles out members of the community for no reason other than their race is discriminatory and provides no legitimate basis for police action and has serious consequences. There has also been legislative proposals at the state and national level addressing racial profiling, along with lawsuits brought by civil rights organizations and the U.

    Department of Justice. Racial profiling erodes the necessary trust between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve. There is also the collateral damage of police recruitment of minorities being made more difficult and minorities becoming less willing to participate in the criminal justice process.

    The use of objective factors indicating potential criminal activity as a basis for making traffic stops may be a legitimate and effective law enforcement tool. However, inappropriate profiling impairs law enforcement's abilities. Furthermore, the use of race as the sole criterion for making traffic stops is legally and morally wrong.

    Discriminatory traffic stops divide communities and make police and prosecutors' jobs more difficult. One way to address this issue is with a defined set of department values that are the basis of the department's policies, and practices. Law enforcement officials have to monitor and manage the discretion exercised by their officers to ensure their actions are guided by values and principles that gives preeminence to the civil rights of citizens. Racial profiling imposes on the basic freedoms granted in a democratic society. For many in the minority community, racial profiling is an old phenomenon with a new name.

    A common response to racial profiling is the development of policies that declare racial profiling illegal, limit officer discretion in the area of traffic stops, and mandate training in cultural diversity. These measures are a necessary first step, but alone they cannot reduce bias in an organization. Symptoms will resurface and appear in other areas, such as walking stops, the use of force, police misconduct, minority officer recruitment, retention and promotion. Racial profiling is not the standalone problem; it is a symptom of bias-based policing.

    Police departments and communities can avoid debilitating accusations of racial profiling by communicating with each other about police strategy, crime trends, and community concerns. When they discover that guns are the primary instruments of murder in black neighborhoods, is it racial profiling or smart policing to target anti-gun efforts there?

    Resolutions to these issues are possible, but not easy. Hate Crimes and Hate Violence. Hate crime is a crime that is based in whole or in part on the offender's animus towards the status of the victim. This perceived "status" of the victim may be based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. David N. Aspy and Cheryl Blalock Aspy write, based on research from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, that "Hate crimes occur when a hating person enters a climate that encourages the discharge of hate-driven violence on certain targets.

    A defining feature of hate crime is that each offense victimizes not one person but a group. Hate crimes can exacerbate community tensions that in turn trigger community-wide racial conflict and civil disturbances. Based on its experience with hundreds of hate crimes cases, CRS recommends that police can initiate proactive measures before the fact such as taking actions to improve communication between majority and minority groups by the establishment of a human rights commission; establishing mechanisms to defuse rumors that may fuel racial tensions and conflict; utilizing the media as a helpful ally; implementing community policing and retaining police-community relations units in the transition towards community policing.

    The following are best practices for police departments to prevent hate crimes from escalating racial and ethnic tensions into conflict or civil disturbances:. Today, the policing function is viewed increasingly in terms of the "contractual" relationship with the people. That is, given the high community impact of law enforcement service delivery, such services should be based on community needs, safety, concerns, and on relentless enforcement of the law against criminals, with due consideration for the safety of officers.

    The contractual nature of this relationship notwithstanding, frequently neither minority community expectations of police conduct nor police expectations of support from the minority community have been met. The result, of course, has too often been violent encounters between citizens and the police. The seriousness of this situation, wherever it exists, makes it imperative that the community and police initiate steps to reduce violence. As in all matters involving how law enforcement is conducted, the role of top police executives is key. Among a multitude of other duties, the police executive must establish personal credibility with all segments of the community.

    The chief must articulate law enforcement standards of conduct and make clear what behavior the chief expects of the department's officers.

    Stress Effects

    The community should understand what constitutes unprofessional conduct and, above all, must have a reasonable understanding of procedures for investigating and adjudicating cases of use of deadly force. To reduce the potential for violence, police executives must inculcate the values articulated by policy and procedure into two levels of the police department: the administrative level and the "line" or operational level. To accomplish the task of value-transition on one level without doing so on the other is futile, for no change in police behavior will result.

    In addition to the two levels of the organization which the police executive must address, two dimensions of law enforcement must also be addressed: the police "culture" and various community cultures. Thus, to effect change in the police-community violence, police executives must take a multidimensional approach. Traditional approaches to reform have been one-dimensional, and have met with little success. The necessity for multidimensional leadership exists for several reasons. Consider, for example, the police executive who develops the "ideal" use-of-force policy, and who develops a strong system of "internal audit" and reporting to ensure that violations are identified and addressed.

    This executive has created an administrative response to the violence problem. However, he or she has not addressed the operational-level aspects that influence the use of force by law enforcement officers: training, peer-group pressure, informal leadership, initial socialization, and role of the union, if any. Nor has the executive addressed the external factors that impact use of force: the community's level of confidence in the department; prior use-of-force incidents; the existence of a healthy police-community partnership; community norms; media treatment of use of force; sanctions against use of force by local courts, prosecutors, and other official agencies; and community tolerance levels for violence.

    Policy developed by the police executive that does not take into account external factors is likely to fail. The administrative functions of policy, procedure, audit, review, and sanction will most probably be offset by operational-level attitudes, beliefs, and informal social structures that tell the line officer that it's "better to face an internal affairs investigation than to have your family confronted by the undertaker.

    The policies, procedures, and administrative infrastructure will fail, not because they were inherently "bad," but because they were not integrated at the operational level to combat police-community violence. The police executive who desires to affect the cycle of police-community violence must focus on at least four functions which offer the potential of creating change. All four of these functions are amenable to change through effective police leadership, and all four combine to aid the chief executive in developing a multidimensional approach to police-community violence.

    These four functions are:. The socialization process for patrol officers has been well documented in the literature--as discussed elsewhere in this publication. Police officers tend to become the kind of police officers they are socialized to be. The two most important components of the socialization process--and thus the process of leadership--are formal training and informal "peer group" indoctrination of the young officer.

    The field training officer FTO , field training program, and formal classroom training form the cornerstone of the young officer's operational personality. The acquisition of acceptable operational traits and the inculcation of "preferred" organizational values during this period will last for years under the tutelage of effective leadership.

    The acquisition of "bad habits" can be avoided through a carefully designed socialization process that is implemented by handpicked personnel at the training academy and in field orientation experiences. The field training officer is all important to the success of a department's training program as the FTO is the first person in authority who will orient a new officer to the job environment. These officers must be:. The progressive leader can use the influence of the FTOs to build positive work environments by being aware that the influences of mentors and the need to be accepted are powerful factors in the training of new officers.

    When there is consistency between explicit and implicit organizational values, explicit job-related behavioral expectations are continually reinforced throughout the training program, creating a conducive learning environment for new officers. Accordingly, leaders that set forth explicit behavioral expectations through the development of a "value-congruent" training program have the potential to significantly improve organizational performance.

    There are several questions the police executive may ask which will help to gauge the effectiveness of a department's leadership in the area of socialization. While the following are generic questions, they will help identify areas that need improvement:. The chief executive's answers to these questions will aid in identifying areas which should be addressed concerning the socialization of new police officers.


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    • Once the desired socialization of police officers is attained, it is a role of leadership to continue to refine this socialization. Administrative mechanisms are probably the most commonly used leadership tool for managing police-community violence. The process of effective leadership here involves first determining the values which must be proffered by departmental policy. This is followed by the development of procedures, rules, and regulations which reflect those values including establishing internal audit, review, and sanction processes to enforce compliance; and "interfacing" with the community to reduce the use "violent" solutions to problems.

      There are several questions the police executive should ask to determine the extent to which administrative mechanisms about police use of force are in place:. Effective leadership has its most conventional impact in the area of positive and negative reinforcement of police officers. Contrary to some beliefs, negative reinforcement is not "punishment. Positive reinforcement, of course, refers to the provision of rewards for behavior that is desirable.

      The chief executive should ask several questions to help assess how effectively department leadership uses reinforcement to foster nonviolent behavior:. The chief executive's answers to these questions will aid in identifying areas that need to be addressed concerning the positive and negative reinforcement of officer behavior. It is the role of leadership to continue to refine the positive socialization initially imparted to police personnel. This is accomplished through selecting appropriate positive and negative reinforcement for personnel who behave in ways which foster nonviolent problem resolution.

      Another way for the police executive to establish effective leadership in the realm of police-community violence is to educate the community in the expectations they should have of the department and the expectations the department has of the community. This function addresses the "community cultures" dimension of effective leadership. No matter what the internal functions of effective leadership within the department, positive change in the police-community violence cycles will occur more easily if the community is involved in the change process.

      Police-community partnerships and the engagement of the community in solving problems of violence enhance police effectiveness. There are several questions the law enforcement executive can ask to determine the extent the community is likely to be involved in helping retard the police-community violence cycle.

      These questions are based on the premise that the police and the community share ownership, responsibility, and accountability for reducing these incidents of violence:. These questions help the executive identify areas or concerns that should be addressed in managing the police-community partnership. The extent to which this connection is well managed will, to some extent, dictate the degree of success the police executive can expect.

      In summary, the "effective leadership" of a police organization's attempt to control the police-community violence cycle cannot be accomplished by a one-dimensional approach to the problem. A leadership plan which focuses merely on one aspect of the problem is most likely a plan that will not achieve its objectives. What is required is a multidimensional approach which focuses on both internal and external factors, an approach which addresses operational problems as well as administrative processes, and which addresses the need for change within the informal leadership of the department as well as the need for change within the community.

      Through the development of an "interactive" model of professionalism which focuses on the four stated areas of change within the department and its environment, police executives can develop the effective leadership necessary to have an impact on the cycle of police-community violence. Until an approach is developed that is multidimensional, interactive, and fully supported by the chief executive, reliance on the "leadership model" to reduce the police use of force will bear little fruit. A police department's procedures--what it actually practices --are, of course, a fundamental element in determining relationships with the community.

      Even the most positive values will be of little use unless they are reflected in the performance of officers on the street. Thus, the need to reduce police-citizen violence will not be met solely by adopting a set of values. Practices must be implemented which demonstrate an enlightened, practical approach to policing.

      Within that context, there are a number of important considerations. Community policing is a policing approach embraced by some departments and espoused by national law enforcement organizations. It is described as a philosophy, managerial style, and organizational strategy that promotes better police-community partnerships and more proactive problem solving with the community. It can help solve a wide range of community problems and issues involving crime control, crime prevention, officer safety, and the fear of crime.

      Community policing is referred to by several names, most commonly as community-oriented policing, problem-oriented policing, community problem solving, neighborhood policing, and problem-based policing. Community policing is based on collaboration between police and citizens in a nonthreatening and cooperative spirit. It requires that police listen to citizens, take seriously how citizens perceive problems and issues, and seek to solve problems which have been identified.

      Webb and Charles M. While community policing continues to evolve, current research shows that it results in improved safety for both residents and police, neighborhood revitalization, positive neighborhood and police morale and confidence, heightened confidence in government institutions, including police, and improved race relations.

      As one resident of Chicago said, "When you have a sense of camaraderie and cooperation between beat officers and community residents you lose the sense of fear. In fact, they state some community policing activities may be viewed as unimportant to the community, while others, such as investigations of drug and gang-related activities, may have broad community support. Reports on public support for community policing has been generally favorable. The difference with community policing programs is an intentional focus on community interaction with the department.

      In Madison, Wisconsin, police officers and community volunteers conducted surveys of police activities and police efforts to resolve neighborhood problems. The Madison Police Department found that "as the officers completed the questionnaire with the participants, the respondents gave information to the officers about the quality of life and social order issues whereas the other volunteers who were not officers, those issues rarely emerged.

      Community policing represents a continuation of the established traditions of policing in the United States. It flows from three values discussed in the section of this publication on values:. Improving a police department's image in the community takes more than just concern or wishful thinking. For the police to be truly effective in a changing, complex society, they must recognize that it is in their own self-interest to administer a department that is competent, fair, honest, and responsive to the needs of the individual citizen.

      The police department must establish an effective partnership with the community as a whole, the foundation of which is mutual trust and understanding. Police organizations must realize that they have the ability to alter their own image within the community. A well-developed community relations effort should be the product of careful construction, designed by the police and the public together, and should not be the result of an emotional reaction to a temporary crisis in the community. The fundamental tenet of any successful police-community relations effort must necessarily involve an open channel of communication between the police and the public.

      Once established, a communications vehicle should be further developed to ensure that the channel remains open. Police departments must be sensitive to the fact that virtually every phase of their operations has an eventual impact on the community, which translates into an individual citizen's assessment of a department's effectiveness. Token or artificial efforts towards enhancing public image will quickly be recognized as an insincere gesture, which can only invite public ridicule and repudiation.

      Training must also be in place to ensure that all officers veteran and recruit alike--continuously maintain an understanding of, and a sensitivity to, the social and human relations problems that surface within the community. Police departments should adopt a community-oriented attitude in every facet of their operations. The public must be convinced that the department's concern for community relations is not just a priority for administrators or community relations officers, but a serious concern that has the commitment of each officer.

      Defining the police role within a community should not be solely the responsibility of a law enforcement agency. The entire community, represented by traditional and nontraditional agencies and groups alike, should be called upon to identify local concerns that fall within the purview of the police department.

      Suggestions should be carefully weighed and freely debated in an atmosphere which recognizes that no single element or agency has exclusive jurisdiction or authority for determining what the posture or reaction should be towards problems that have impact on the entire community. Within every community there are business and professional groups, social service agencies, religious and civic organizations, and non-law enforcement city agencies, all of which are potential resources for dealing with many of the problems that confront the police. Such organizations have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to donate time and effort in support of programs that improve the quality of life in a community.

      An effective police executive researches the community and develops a "resource bank" of organizations willing to donate time and effort in support of police initiatives to improve services to the community. The assistance and interaction that these groups afford can be of great benefit in offering cultural, language, direct service, and training opportunities for police officers. In an era of tight fiscal control and dwindling budgets, these organizations can help law enforcement agencies develop specialized programs that address current and future needs.

      The police and community groups should establish areas of mutual concern, analyze points of disagreement that call for resolution, and reach a consensus on how all parties concerned can work together effectively in crisis situations. CRS can provide technical assistance in implementing meetings with the community to build a partnership with the community. A police department's effectiveness in making itself accessible to the community will invariably depend on whether there is a plan or program to promote and enhance involvement with citizens.

      Whether the purpose is to inform citizens about police initiatives, to inform them about general police department progress or conditions, to secure their input in a specific area, or to discuss effectiveness of the department and its personnel, most police executives depend on three basic avenues. They are: direct dialogue with citizens and representatives of organizations, use of the news media, and communication of selected information through various means, including speeches and assignments to designated personnel.

      At the same time, all department personnel and all means of communication should be focused on making the department "approachable" to citizens. The most common standard for measuring a department's effectiveness with respect to accessibility is the number and attitude of citizens who freely approach the department to make inquiries, complain, or volunteer their assistance.

      If the attitude of citizens demonstrates confidence in the department and pride in performing a civic function, it can be surmised that a substantial level of departmental accessibility has been achieved. On the other hand, if citizen contacts or encounters with the police are characterized mostly by a mixture of fear, rancor, and general distrust, then the police executive and the department's personnel have a lot of hard work ahead of them.