As elected officials, police leaders, and community members work to develop and implement solutions regarding concerns over policing practices and operations, it is imperative that these efforts reflect a balanced, strategic approach to combating crime and prioritizing community safety.
Unfortunately, too many states and cities, large and small, across the United States are hastily and, without proper forethought, implementing stark measures that do not get to the core of enhancing community-police engagement. Further, while politically expedient, these misguided and shortsighted measures will likely have adverse, negative impacts for years to come.
Which policy changes? The already implemented efforts range from removing 911 call centers from police departments, to having public works employees be responsible for traffic enforcement, to removing school resource officers from schools, to slashing policing budgets by millions of dollars. These changes simply put greater distance between community and police.
Is this the measure of success?
Is this what communities want?
What is the evidence base for these policy choices?
Comprehensive criminal justice reform is a complex challenge. And complexity takes time. And it requires the full engagement of all parties, including, but not limited to, police, prosecutors, the judiciary, prison and probation officials, the health care community, mental health providers, the private sector, community leaders, and elected officials.
Effective, lasting change will require resources, commitment, and well-thought-out approaches. The membership of the IACP supports these efforts. As dedicated police leaders, we will continue to embrace the challenge, instill strong values into our agencies at all ranks, hold ourselves accountable for our actions, and work through these turbulent times to build a more cohesive future for our communities.
We are bound by our duty to public service, our commitment to the preservation of life, and our responsibility for ensuring our communities are safe. We will not waver.