As I said in the last entry (found immediately below this one), the Police Executive Research Forum had a lot of things right in its recent controversial 30-point list of suggest use of force policies. Let’s start, then, with the Good parts. For those who didn’t catch it in the last installment, it can be found here.
One of those recommendations, Policy 11, makes me want to dance in the streets. “To build understanding and trust, agencies should issue regular reports to the public on use of force.” (Emphasis PERF’s.)
I’m happy to hear them say that because it’s something I, and others, have been recommending for decades. If police administrators ignore us on this, perhaps they’ll listen to PERF. For too long, the old ethos has been, “We don’t try our cases in the press. The facts will all come out in court.” However, when police are falsely accused of brutality, this silence is seen as a plea of nolo contendere by the public we serve. False memes like “hands up, don’t shoot” now become common currency, and go unchallenged, and come to be believed by a public which has not seen the evidence that contradicts the false accusation.
I am also in agreement with their policies numbered 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29, and 30.
Yes, we believe in the sanctity of life. Documenting use of force incidents? Check. Training academy culture in line with agency values? Check. De-escalation encouraged, and the other points enumerated in the immediate preceding paragraph? Fine.
Only trouble is…we’ve been doing these things and ascribing to these values right along. The wording of the PERF report condescendingly implying that these concepts would be new to policing is nothing less than insulting to rank and file American law enforcement.
We said in the previous installment that we’ll discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly here. Now that we’ve acknowledged the Good, we’ll examine the Bad and the Ugly in the installments coming up next.