PREFACE to Second Printing

When  I wrote "Officer Up!" I had not heard the term "peer intervention," but  that's exactly what I had in mind.  We needed a tool that could prevent  r correct misconduct, not only within the day-to-day climate of police work, but in the heat of the moment.  That tool needed to be easily understood, easily accessible, and easily adoptable.  The result is the  LEGiT® model.  LEGiT® is a double acrostic that targets appropriate police behavior by communicating fundamental principles in one breath, for those trained to use it.  "Keep it LEGiT®" or "that's not LEGiT®"  could be enough to keep a fellow officer, or oneself, from going over the line and creating the kind of trouble we have become all to acquainted with lately. 

Peer intervention programs are in the works.  Each will be tailored to the needs and desires of the individual department.  My suggestion is that, in conjunction with these programs, we need peer intervention interoperability.   We work with other agencies (city, county, state, federal) and other  disciplines (fire, EMS, medical, corrections) all the time.  The next step is to have an interoperability tool so that these agencies and  disciplines can "cross-talk" to one another.  If all the agencies in my  county shared a common intervention language, the city cop who comes to  back me, a county deputy, could intervene on my behalf quickly and  effectively.  That's what the LEGiT® model is designed to do.

Small  agencies and rural departments provide cross-agency assistance and  mutual aid regularly.  These days, large departments are dotted with  other police agencies such as university, hospital, and transit police,  etc.  The ability to effectively do peer intervention intra-agency is great but the next logical step is to have the capability to do that inter-agency. Modeled after the FEMA definition of interoperability, my definition of peer intervention interoperability is "the ability of personnel to give and receive intervention from  other personnel and other agencies in a manner capable of preventing or  correcting potential misconduct. Allows police service personnel and  their affiliated organizations to communicate within and across agencies  and jurisdictions using common concepts and terminology."  Broad  acceptance and utilization of the LEGiT® program could give us that  capability. 

PREFACE to First Printing

All  around me are television screens blasting the images of the events that  happened in Dallas on July 7, 2016.  This is another day that will be counted among the infamous in American policing history.  As I sit here,  less than 20 miles away from that unbelievable scene, I cannot help but  think, as so many are commenting in the media, that we have crossed into some strange alien territory that is totally unfamiliar and foreign  to anything we have known before.  What is to be done?

Two days  ago, two more black men were shot and killed by white officers in  Louisiana and Minnesota while video captured the incidents and their  immediate aftermath.  The protest in Dallas that was interrupted by sniper fire was in direct response to these and other recent  occurrences.  We are facing a national emergency.  What is to be done?

In  January 2016, I attended a month long school for police supervisors.   One of the instructors at the school was on the commission that  investigated the Ferguson Police Department after the Michael Brown Jr.  shooting.  His insights into that investigation and the results  published in the report launched me on the journey that produced this  book.  For months we have been reviewing critical incidents during our  patrol briefings.  If it was not a police shooting, it was a terrorist  incident at home or abroad.  We would conduct a “roll call training”  based on the details of the incident, as we knew them, adapted to our  local situation.  I began to wonder, what could I teach my troops that  could help them remember and act on the values and principles we  embrace, even in a stressful situation?  What tool did I have to correct an officer’s behavior or restore his composure quickly?  I didn’t have  one.

I began reflecting on the Ferguson report, and others I had  seen, as well as what I heard in the supervisors’ school about  legitimacy in policing.  That reminded me of the popular term my sons  liked to use, “legit.”  I’ve always been good with alliteration and  words started coming to mind using legit as an acrostic.  The result of  that process is the LEGiT® program.

Throughout my 30 years of  police service, I have been in patrol briefing rooms, squad rooms, and  on the street listening to how we talk to ourselves and about  ourselves.  It became clear to me that we needed to address the internal  culture and climate from which we operate.  As I worked on the LEGiT®  concept, I started to look deeper into the issues of climate and culture  in the workplace.  I became convinced that not only did we need to  start doing something, but we need to stop doing something as well.  We  need to start consistently training, affirming, and reminding officers  of the principles and priorities that define legitimate police  behavior.  And we need to stop the internal shop talk that poisons our  work climate and de-legitimizes our work product.

How often have  you greeted a fellow officer and received a sarcastic remark in return  like; one day at a time, just livin’ the dream, ask me in eight hours,  or same crap, different day?  Do you listen to the comments they make or  the stories they tell or the jokes they laugh at huddled around the  de-briefing tables or at their desks or in the parking lot?  What we say  to and about and among ourselves matters.  What we think about what we  do and how we do it matters.  The way we view our jobs, especially the  patrol job, and understanding how to motivate officers to aspire to be  the kind of officers the community wants and deserves is essential to  developing and preserving legitimacy.

We as a profession, as an  industry, as the police community must step up and respond quickly,  measurably, and effectively to these concerns.  There are a number of  recent works, some of which are referenced in the bibliography, that are  addressing larger themes and issues regarding cultural change, and  social and political impact, but that is not my intent here.  I am  presenting a method or a program which can be quickly adopted and  implemented to address how we, as officers of the law, can react and  respond to dynamic situations appropriately and effectively not only  within the scope of our authority but within the reasonable expectations  of our departments, our communities, and ourselves.

From time to  time I will be responding to or referencing something mentioned in the  recently published Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st  Century Policing.  One of the many conclusions and recommendations from  the report was this statement:

“To achieve legitimacy, mitigating implicit bias should be a part of training at all  levels of a law enforcement organization to increase  awareness and ensure respectful encounters both inside the organization  and with communities.”   (Final Report,  11)

This book is an attempt to speak to that concern and offer a  concrete way to implement an aspect of that kind of training in policing  organizations.  There is no “silver bullet” approach or program or method that will solve this crisis; however, what I am proposing here is a quick, easy, reasonable, and affordable idea to move us in that  direction.

The premise of this book is that we, as a police profession, have to make changes and find options to improve the way we  conduct our business.  I offer a simple idea to augment other efforts to  achieve that goal.  What this book is not, is an argument for or  against any particular police action in the past.  Those incidents are  referenced in some detail, but only as they set the historical context  from which this book arises.  I am making the general observation that  police officers and supervisors need to be intentional about how they  think and talk about police work within their own ranks.  The program  I’m outlining offers a framework for doing that appropriately, as well  as a tool for reminding and encouraging officers to act appropriately  under duress.  In the chapters to follow, I offer one way in which we as  a profession can “Officer Up!” to the challenges of the day, foster appropriate police behavior, and reduce incidents of police misconduct 

 

INTRODUCTION  (Excerpt)

      Over the last 30 years or so, the police industry has been very  buzzword driven.  Every buzzword represents a new program or policy  initiative to bring about some change in policing that is usually a  reaction to police behavior that has come to light in the media and  drawn the criticism of the public.  Programs, trends, and fads that have  cycled through the police world in the last 30 years include:  problem-oriented policing, community-oriented policing, community  relations, Use of Force continuums, defensive tactics training, verbal  judo, diversity training, sensitivity training, critical incident  training, geographic policing, bike patrol, Citizens on Patrol, citizens  police academy, police sub-stations, neighborhood watch, SARA,  intelligence-based policing, CompStat, crisis intervention training,  constitutional policing, and so on.
     And yet, in spite of all of  these efforts and all of this training, never has policing been less  understood, less appreciated, less respected, perhaps less deserving of  respect (at least in the eyes of some), and less able to attract and  retain quality applicants. (Alexander, 2016:184)  You can argue that  historically, the police industry has never been more professional,  better educated, better equipped, or more responsive to the community  than we are today, and I would agree.  The images of the police from the  1950s and 1960s with only revolvers in swivel holsters, handcuffs, and  long night sticks gives me the shakes.  But after all the advancements  of the last half century, why is the President of the United States  impaneling a commission to study problems with policing in America?  The  answer is that police attitudes and behaviors are still a problem,  despite decades of evolution.

Chapter One:      The Current Political Context                                           
Chapter Two:      Understanding Culture and Climate                               
Chapter Three:   Re-thinking the Patrol Function                                      
Chapter Four:     Targeting Appropriate Police Behavior                                                          
Chapter Five:      The Motivation Challenge                                                 
Chapter Six:        Recommendations                                                             
Conclusion