Over recent years, support for law enforcement has declined dramatically and is still in a downward spiral. While some new programs have been employed in police work, none have adequately addressed the true problem û a lack of citizen participation in the manner in which their communities are made safer. For the necessary changes to occur, police agencies must demonstrate innovation, courage, and the willingness to work outside of an existing structure to bring about collaborative and positive results. Police departments must begin to form true partnerships with an informed and involved public. Law Enforcement agencies must also be proactive in their efforts to regain and increase public confidence. While police continue to grapple with rising disrespect and disobedience, the challenge of creating real partnerships with communities could produce positive, even profound, outcomes. NLEII will be the organization that precipitates the systemic changes that are necessary to modify the manner in which police work is performed. Its philosophy is to anticipate the future, embrace risk, create learning opportunities, and tap the power of citizen and community participation. The results will be improved public safety, effective community liaisons, improved skills for resolving community and cultural disputes, thereby insuring every individual the basic principles of human dignity, equity, and social justice.
Over recent years, support for law enforcement has declined dramatically and is still in a downward spiral. Incidents of abuse, misconduct, and excessive force throughout our country have contributed greatly to this demise. While some new programs have been employed in police work, none have adequately addressed the true problem - a lack of citizen participation in the manner in which their communities are made safer. As society has become more
multicultural, too few leaders at the local level have had the vision for this new era. Police and community leaders continue to work harder and harder within structures which produce diminishing returns.
For the necessary changes to occur, police agencies must demonstrate innovation, courage, and the willingness to work outside of an existing structure to bring about collaborative and positive results. Police departments must begin to form true partnerships with an informed and involved public. Police must learn to reach out and embrace "under- served" communities, learning what their needs are, and allowing the people of those communities to share responsibility and ownership of public safety actions. Law Enforcement agencies must also be proactive in their efforts to regain and increase public confidence. Much internal work needs to be done and the community should be participants in the process. While police continue to grapple with rising disrespect and disobedience, the challenge of creating real partnerships with communities could produce positive, even profound, outcomes. The National Law Enforcement Integrity Institute will be the much needed, and long overdue organization that will precipitate the systemic changes that are necessary to modify the manner in which police work is performed.
Our country and our world are in the midst of historic transformation. Law enforcement can no longer afford to simply face the changes and respond to the problems. NLEII will focus on the design and implementation of systemic change and renewal. The philosophy is to anticipate the future, embrace risk, create learning opportunities, and tap the power of citizen and community participation.
NLEII is committed to improve law enforcement practices and procedures, and to build relationships with communities that are deeply rooted in mutual trust, respect, and pride. Through training, consultation, assessment, and evaluation, NLEII will work in partnership with citizens and police departments to improve levels of professionalism, integrity, sensitivity, responsiveness, and fairness.
Ultimately, the program(s) will result in improved public safety, effective community liaisons, improved skills for resolving community and cultural disputes, thereby insuring every individual the basic principles of human dignity, equity, and social justice.
THE NLEII PROGRAM
NLEII is based on a holistic and collaborative reform of entire law enforcement agencies. The basic premise of NLEII is that police departments must begin to be proactive in their response to social change. For far too long, law enforcement agencies have been "running on a treadmill." Sometimes they run faster than others, but the results always seem the same. As Albert Einstein once said:
I. Community Based Approach to Law Enforcement.
Historically, law enforcement officers have attempted to fix people or solve problems through unilateral intervention. In today's world, however, they must learn to work with citizens and communities in a collaborative and interactive fashion, where the aim of reform is meeting the needs of the people. In our changing world, effective law enforcement must be a result of innovation and police/community collaboration. Citizen Commissions, public hearings, and trained community liaisons would work towards this objective. Community Liaisons would also be used to provide training for law enforcement agencies.
In order to make our communities safer, our citizens and police must move away from polarization and toward partnership. The concept of a Community Based Public Safety Initiative would bring about a community-responsive, or community-based approach to crime prevention. Community voices and opinions would be sought and acted upon û reorienting public safety programs and services toward community needs and concerns. Law enforcement could regain some of its credibility by learning firsthand, and then acting upon, the community needs in the context of their community's lifestyle and culture.
II. Internal Review and Assessment of Law Enforcement Agencies
While external support for law enforcement has plummeted, many police departments are plagued with a plethora of internal problems that minimize their ability to effectively work within diverse communities. Racism, sexism, cronyism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination are just a few of the perceived inequities. NLEII would be responsible for assessing consistency and fairness in the application of departmental rules and regulations. NLEII would not substitute for any existing internal structure. It would conduct a thorough review and prepare a status report with recommendations directly to the Chief of Police. He or she could then use the report as a resource for applying corrective measures or implementing new and improved department standards.
Training of all law enforcement officers is of critical importance, beginning with the "upper echelon." The archaic notion of "one solution is applicable to all situations" is absurd. NLEII believes that the "command and control" mentality is ineffective in many instances. Our training concepts include viewing citizens as "clients" rather than "complainants". Rather than label them "victims," we need to listen to and understand their voices, thereby becoming more in touch with their individual and community needs. NLEII would teach courses in Bias Reduction; Racial, Cultural, and Gender Awareness; Opportunities to Confront Stereotypes; Dealing With Cultural Paradoxes; and Systemic Discrimination Against Minorities, Women, Jews, Gays and Lesbians, Immigrants and Refugees. NLEII could design courses to meet specific needs, and would provide training that is innovative, inclusive, and very importantly - "acceptable" from a law enforcement officers perspective. Train the trainer courses would also be available.
IV. Certification and Evaluation
NLEII will conduct an annual evaluation of the program's effectiveness. Surveys, polls, and site visits to targeted communities would be used. Internal department surveys and local crime statistics (calls for service, violence abatement, etc.) would also be utilized. Collected data would be used to drive decisions and modifications, enhancing innovative and collaborative efforts when necessary.
We have mailed several proposals, but we have no funding as yet. NLEII would propose a pilot program or site (see attachment). We strongly believe that NLEII will become the national model of how to effectively build necessary police and community partnerships. The concept is applicable anywhere, and can be modified to meet the needs of any community, beginning to bridge the horrendous gap between the needs of varying cultures and the manner in which police services are rendered.
Proposed Pilot Program
While NLEII can be modified to meet the needs of any community, Prince George's County, Maryland is perfect for a pilot program.
The Prince George's County Police Department has a unique history that creates a challenge to building community partnerships. Over recent years, the county has become extremely diverse. Just two years ago, the population of approximately 750,000 residents changed from predominantly White to 51% African-American. The Asian, and Hispanic populations have recently grown in large numbers. The police department has not kept pace with the changing population it serves. Additionally, the department has a long history of racial tensions and a reputation for using excessive force. Officers have been recently indicted for brutality, and the Congressional Black Caucus just cited this department as one of seven departments throughout the country that they want the U.S. Attorney General to investigate for possible civil rights violations. Just recently the National FBI statistics rated PG County as the second most violent county in the country.