Police Professionalism And Responsibility Assignment

One of the primary responsibilities of a modern law enforcement agency is to have a mechanism in place that monitors the activities of its employees to ensure that each one acts with integrity and professionalism in the conduct of their official duties as a police officer.  The San Angelo Police Department rigorously monitors the activities of its employees to maintain the highest possible standards of conduct.  

Under the direction of the Chief of Police, the Office of Professional Standards is staffed by one sergeant and one detective.  The unit provides an avenue for the citizens of San Angelo to report improper police actions.  The Professional Standards unit is charged with investigating those allegations of misconduct or other internal affairs matters as assigned by the Chief of Police.  The Professional Standards unit exists to safeguard the high degree of integrity and professionalism required by our officers to provide the highest quality police services to the community and to maintain the public trust. 

The Professional Standards unit also performs other duties for the Chief of Police such as overseeing the Department’s Accident and Injury Review board, supervising the Sex Offender Compliance Program and providing yearly analytical reports related to Response to Resistance, Vehicle Pursuits and on duty Accidents and Injuries of employees.

The Professional Standards Unit also manages the Department’s activities and ensures that the Department remains in compliance with its Recognized status within the Texas Police Chief’s Association Best Practices Recognition Program. 


Commend and Officer 

File a Complaint

Racial Profiling


Principles of Good Policing:
Avoiding Violence Between Police and Citizens

(Revised September 2003)


About the Community Relations Service

The Community Relations Service (CRS), a unique component of the U.S. Department of Justice, seeks to prevent or resolve community conflicts and tensions arising from actions, policies, and practices perceived to be discriminatory on the basis of race, color, or national origin. CRS provides services, including conciliation, mediation, and technical assistance, directly to people and their communities to help them resolve conflicts that tear at the fabric of an increasingly racially and ethnically diverse society.

CRS does not take sides among disputing parties and, in promoting the principles and ideals of nondiscrimination, applies skills that allow parties to come to their own agreement. In performing this mission, CRS deploys highly skilled professional conciliators, who are able to assist people of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.

Police-citizen conflict accounts for a major portion of the disputes to which CRS responds. The agency provides a wide range of conciliation and technical assistance to help prevent or resolve disagreements over alleged police use of excessive force and other policing issues. CRS carries out most of its activities informally, but will conduct formal negotiations if the disputing parties believe that approach offers the best opportunity for reaching a mutually satisfactory settlement of their differences.



Over the years, the Community Relations Service (CRS) of the U.S. Department of Justice has assisted police departments and communities all over the country in coming to grips with the difficult task of maintaining law and order in a complex and changing multicultural society. Frequently, these efforts have involved minority citizens' complaints about police behavior, use of force, and hate groups.

In the following pages of this third edition, the staff of the Community Relations Service, together with knowledgeable law enforcement executives, have set out guiding principles that should govern police work in the community.

The underlying assumption is that a police force and the community it serves must reach consensus on the values that guide that police force. Those values, while implicit in our Constitution, must embrace as clearly as possible the protection of individual life and liberty, and, at the same time, the measures necessary to maintain a peaceful and stable society. To accomplish this, a police executive must be familiar not only with his or her own police culture, but with the community culture as well, which is no easy task in neighborhoods experiencing major demographic changes.

The Community Relations Service's involvement in police-citizen violence stems directly from the CRS mandate to assist in community conflicts that threaten peaceful race relations in communities. Among the causes of such disputes, none is more volatile than allegations of unwarranted police use of deadly force against minority citizens. Even a perception that police follow this practice is cause for concern, because the negative impact on police-citizen relations will be the same.

These issues have been a central concern for CRS since its inception. However, the agency stepped up its programming in this area during the late 1970s when its caseload began to increase. A number of national leaders cited police-citizen violence as a serious problem, and several independent studies indicated that minorities were disproportionately the victims of police use of deadly force. In 1991, the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles, videotaped by a citizen, was cause for many departments and communities to re-examine police values and practices, again resulting in a major increase in CRS casework in this area. More recently there have been fatal shootings of African-Americans by Caucasian police officers, including the deaths of Tyisha Miller in Riverside, California in 1998; Amadou Diallo in New York City in 2000; and Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati in 2001.

In 1979, CRS organized one of the first major national conferences to examine the deadly force issue and the safety of police officers. The League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Urban League cosponsored the conference. It involved some of the Nation's top police executives, national civil rights leaders, criminal justice researchers, local community leaders, and rank-and-file police officers in extensive discussions about the use-of-force issue. Those discussions laid the groundwork for unprecedented cooperation on action programs by conference participants when they returned to their home cities.

For more than 25 years, CRS has made the development and implementation of innovative approaches to the deadly force problem--and dissemination of information through other conferences, training workshops, and publications--a major focus of its efforts. As one part of that effort in the mid-1980s, the agency invited four of the Nation's outstanding law enforcement professionals to join in examining the police function with an eye toward identifying techniques, tactics, and approaches that should help to minimize violent police encounters with citizens. Those professionals were Frank Amoroso, chief of police of Portland, Maine; Lee P. Brown, chief of police of Houston, Texas; Charles Rodriguez, professor of criminal justice at Southwest Texas University, and chief of police of San Antonio, Texas; and Darrel W. Stephens, chief of police of Newport News, Virginia. This group and CRS's own staff developed the recommendations and suggestions that were presented in the first printing of this publication.

This publication is a 2003 revision of the 1993 edition. It maintains the strong emphasis on police values and their affect on officer behavior and on the community served by a department. New and expanded sections in the text and appendices have been included on:

  • Community Policing
  • Changing Demograpics and Immigrant Patterns
  • Hate Crimes
  • Principles of Community Policing
  • Policing in the Post-September 11 Environment
  • Responding to Incidents Involving Allegations of Excessive Use of Force

It perhaps should be pointed out that CRS is well aware that citizens bear some of the responsibility for the nature of relations with the police. In fact, CRS has frequently addressed steps that citizens and police can take cooperatively to reduce community racial tension in its field services and publications. The interest here, in this publication, is in focusing exclusively on the police function, because of its predominant importance in the overall equation of police-citizen relations.

Finally, while this publication is directed primarily towards law enforcement, it is also CRS's intent to encourage law enforcement executives to use its contents to explore their relationship with representatives of the communities in which they work. In the Community Relations Service, we have always appreciated the benefits of a preventive response versus a reactive one. Police executives will find this publication helpful in devising techniques to avoid racial conflict and disharmony in the communities they serve.


The relationship between the American public and law enforcement, particularly its violent nature, has been under continual re-examination. Police-citizen violence and related concerns are prime topics of conversation wherever law enforcement professionals gather to discuss problems. Many police departments have made reviewing their use of force a top priority. And major civil rights organizations have made a priority of responding to police use of deadly force.

The dimensions of this issue are also reflected in the amount of research and analyses devoted to it by criminal justice researchers and scholarly journals. In addition, even a casual reading of the Nation's newspapers often yields accounts of confrontations between police and citizens over the use of deadly force in situations where racial and ethnic tensions create additional complications or difficulties. Television news programs sometimes provide dramatic supporting videos, graphically depicting the resulting tensions in a community.

Why has the relationship between law enforcement and citizens come under such scrutiny? One reason is the significant number of killings by and of police officers in recent years. A second factor is changes affecting municipal and civil liability, which have put cities and employees of local governments under greater legal jeopardy where use of force is applied.

Another important factor is a succession of court rulings placing more restrictions on police use of firearms, including the 1985 Supreme Court decision in Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, which invalidated parts of many states' rules for shooting at fleeing felons. Still another reason is the increasing primacy given to preserving life as a value underlying the concept of policing. There is also a movement to modernize and improve police work from within the profession itself, partly in reaction to the above incidents but also as a general response to larger changes in U.S. society.

Two premises underlie the approaches to policing discussed in this publication. One is that the police, by virtue of the authority that society vests in them, have overarching responsibility for the outcome of encounters with citizens. This in no way ignores the fact that the police must deal with such groups as criminals, persons under the influence of alcohol and drugs, law-abiding citizens, and persons with mental impairment. The second and main premise is that good policing must take into consideration two equally important factors: the values on which a police department operates, as well as the practices it follows.

In addition to adopting a set of values, it is equally important that police departments clearly and publicly state those values. This sets forth a department's philosophy of policing and its commitment to high standards for all to know and understand. To be significant, these values must be known to all members of the community as well as all members of the police department. In addition, a department's values must incorporate citizens' expectations, desires, and preferences. A department's policies and practices flow from its values. Without clear values, it is unlikely that practices will be as well focused as they should.

Law enforcement practices constitute the second major focus of Principles of Good Policing, taking into account major areas of police responsibility that can produce incidents that escalate into violence. In isolating these situations, the publication suggests how procedures, tactics, and techniques might be modified--or new approaches implemented--to reduce the number of instances in which potentially problematic police-citizen encounters become problems in reality. This publication contains principles, practices, and philosophy that are applicable for law enforcement of all jurisdictions. While the terms "police officer," "officer," "law enforcement," and "department," are used throughout this publication, they are not intended to exclude the many other kinds of law enforcement agencies and their personnel, such as sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, marshals, deputy marshals, rangers, agents, special agents, and investigators who make up the larger law enforcement family that can benefit from this publication.

This publication also takes into account that there are no philosophies or practices that will anticipate the entire range of human behavior that officers might encounter in the course of police work. It is also understood that, ultimately, the police officer's judgment will be the deciding factor in most cases. However, enough relevant experience and information exist that officers can be given practical guidance which, in many instances, will help to avoid situations escalating to violence.

Much recent effort to reduce police-citizen violence has focused exclusively on imposing tighter restrictions on police use of firearms. Appropriate firearms restraint is critically important, and the Community Relations Service (CRS) actively provides technical assistance to police departments when they review and revise their firearms and use of force policies. However, many departments have found it more useful to pursue a number of administrative innovations as a package of protections to officers, citizens, and crime suspects alike. That, essentially, is the approach this publication takes.

It should also be emphasized that the safety of police officers is recognized as a fundamental concern. No responsible citizen expects a police officer to risk his or her life unnecessarily or foolishly. And no police chief worthy of the responsibility would adopt policies or practices that expose officers to undue risk. Reverence for all human life and safeguarding the guarantees of the Constitution and laws of the United States are also important values in policing.

CRS's interest is in promoting the adoption of policies and practices that afford maximum protection to officers and citizens. The content of this publication, in the final analysis, is based on the principle that good policing involves a partnership between police and citizens. Police cannot carry out their responsibility acting alone. And it must also be emphasized that no police department that permits its officers to use unnecessary force against citizens can hope to gain their support.

Only when sound values, mutual respect, and trust are shared--among all groups that make up the community--can the police-citizen partnership work as it should. The recommendations, suggestions, and observations in Principles of Good Policing are offered to help achieve that bond between citizens and the police.

Law enforcement agencies have responsibility for the outcome of encounters with citizens, and good policing involves the values upon which a department bases its operations.

Original Task Force

Community Relations Service Staff

John G. Perez
Regional Director
Dallas, Texas

Martin A. Walsh
Regional Director
Boston, Massachusetts
Vice Chairman

Atkins W. Warren
National Administration of Justice Specialist
Washington, D.C.

Gus Taylor
Senior Conciliator
Dallas, Texas

Dennis Wynn
Media Affairs Officer
Washington, D.C.

Law Enforcement Representatives

Frank E. Amoroso
Chief of Police
Portland, Maine

Lee P. Brown
Chief of Police
Houston, Texas

Charles M. Rodriguez
Professor of Criminal Justice
Southwest Texas University
San Marcos, Texas

Darrel W. Stephens
Executive Director
Police Executive Research Forum
Washington, D.C.

2003 Publication Revision Committee

Community Relations Service Staff

Frank Amoroso
New England Regional Director
Boston, Massachusetts

Daryl S. Borgquist
Media Affairs Officer
National Office
Washington, D.C.

Jonathan Chace
Associate Director
National Office
Washington, D.C.

George E. Henderson
National Office
Washington, D.C.

Timothy Johnson
Program Analyst for Administration of Justice
National Office
Washington, D.C.

Ben Lieu
Conciliation Specialist
Mid-Atlantic Regional Office
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Martin A. Walsh
Regional Director
New England Regional Office
Boston, Massachusetts

Atkins W. Warren
Regional Director
Central Regional Office
Kansas City, Missouri

1993 Publication Revision Committee

Community Relations Service Staff

Robert Lamb, Jr., Chairman
Northwest Regional Director
Seattle, Washington

Thomas L. Battles
Conciliation Specialist
Miami Field Office
Miami, Florida

Daryl S. Borgquist
Media Affairs Officer
National Office
Washington, D.C.

George E. Henderson
National Office
Washington, D.C.

Julian Klugman
Western Regional Director
San Francisco, California

Scarlet Parham
Alerts Desk Officer
National Office
Washington, D.C.

John G. Perez
Special Assistant to the Director
Dallas, Texas

Martin A. Walsh
New England Regional Director
Boston, Massachusetts

Atkins W. Warren
Central Regional Director
Kansas City, Missouri

Table of Contents

Values for Good Policing

The primary purpose of this publication is to assist law enforcement agencies in reducing the incidence of violence between police officers and citizens. From the perspective of the police executive, the successful accomplishment of that objective should have two major benefits. First, it should enhance the safety of police officers. Second, it should foster an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect between the police and the people they serve. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a basis for assessing a police department to determine, first of all, if its culture is conducive to reducing violent confrontations between the police and citizens. Equally important, this chapter provides a frame of reference which can be used by any police chief to develop policy, make decisions, implement programs, and, ultimately guide the manner in which the department delivers police services to the community.

The Role of Police

The role of policing has been dynamic since it became a profession in 1829 under Sir Robert Peel in London, England. The relationship between police and citizens in American society is generally understood as a progression from the political era, when police were introduced in American cities in the 1840s to the early 1900s; to the reform era, stretching across the middle part of the 20th century from the 1930s to the 1970s; and then to the community era of modern policing since the 1970s. Williams and Murphy point out the lack of involvement of minorities in policing throughout these different eras. Communities of color were largely powerless during the political era and thus not able to influence police strategy. During the reform era, police strategy was determined largely on the basis of law, although communities of color were generally unprotected. In today's community era of policing, one of the tenets is the requirement for a cohesive community working in partnership with a responsive police department. Williams and Murphy state that this precondition does not prevail in many minority neighborhoods.

The Community Relations Service (CRS) of the U.S. Department of Justice has cosponsored a number of forums and worked closely with racial and ethnic police organizations, including the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, National Asian Peace Officers Association, National Black Police Officers Association, National Latino Peace Officers Association, National Native American Law Enforcement Association, and National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. These forums focused on the relationship between minority citizens and police. Williams and Murphy emphasize just how serious the discussion about the contemporary role of policing in America is:

�the history of American police strategies cannot be separated from the history of the Nation as a whole. Unfortunately, our police, and all of our other institutions, must contend with many bitter legacies from that larger history. No paradigm--and no society--can be judged satisfactory until those legacies have been confronted directly.

The Report of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department (July 9, 1991) also bluntly states in its foreword that violence between police and citizens is not something from an era of policing that is behind us:

Police violence is not a local problem. Recognizing its national character, police chiefs from 10 major cities convened soon after the Rodney King incident and emphasized that "the problem of excessive force in American policing is real.

The Police Culture

The "culture" of a police department reflects what that department believes in as an organization. These beliefs are reflected in the department's recruiting and selection practices, policies and procedures, training and development, and ultimately, in the actions of its officers in law enforcement situations. Clearly, all police departments have a culture. The key question is whether that culture has been carefully developed or simply allowed to develop without benefit of thought or guidance. There are police agencies, for example, where police use of force is viewed as abnormal. Thus, when it is used, the event receives a great deal of administrative attention. Such a response reflects the culture of that department: the use of force is viewed and responded to as an atypical occurrence. Contrast such a department with one which does not view the use of force as abnormal. In the latter case, there may be inadequate or poorly understood policies providing officers with guidelines regarding the use of force. There probably is no administrative procedure for investigating incidents where force is used. And, most importantly, the culture of the department is such that officers come to view the use of force as an acceptable way of resolving conflict.

Over the past few years, there has been significant progress in improving police-community relationships. Yet, the major problem creating friction between the police and the community today--especially in communities of color--is police use of deadly force. This is an age-old problem of which only in recent years has the public become aware. The fact that this problem existed for such a long time before receiving widespread attention can again be related to the culture of the police.

Until the Tennessee v. Garner decision in 1985, few if any police departments had developed their firearms policy around a value system that reflected reverence for human life. Rather, those agencies which did have written policies (and many did not) reflected the prevailing police culture in those policies. The prevailing culture centered on enforcement of the law. Thus, the official policies of most police agencies allowed officers to fire warning shots, to shoot fleeing felons, or to use deadly force in other circumstances reflected less than the highest value for human life.

It is clear that the culture of a police department, to a large degree, determines the organization's effectiveness. That culture determines the way officers view not only their role, but also the people they serve. The key concern is the nature of that culture and whether it reflects a system of beliefs conducive to the nonviolent resolution of conflict.

How do you establish a positive departmental culture? In answering this question, it is important to emphasize again that all departments have a culture. It is also important to recognize that the culture of a police department, once established, is difficult to change. Organizational change within a police agency does not occur in a revolutionary fashion. Rather, it is evolutionary.

Developing a Set of Values

The beginning point in establishing a departmental culture is to develop a set of values. Values serve a variety of purposes, including:

  • Set forth a department's philosophy of policing
  • State in clear terms what a department believes in
  • Articulate in broad terms the overall goals of the department
  • Reflect the community's expectations of the department
  • Serve as a basis for developing policies and procedures
  • Serve as the parameters for organizational flexibility
  • Provide the basis for operational strategies
  • Provide the framework for officer performance
  • Serve as a framework from which the department can be evaluated

In developing a set of values for a police department, it is not necessary to come up with a lengthy list. Rather, there should be a few values which, when taken together, represent what the organization considers important. For example, if it is the objective of the department to create a culture that is service oriented, then that should be reflected in its set of values. In other words the importance of values is qualitative, not quantitative.

Finally, an essential role of the police chief is to ensure that the values of the department are well articulated throughout the organization. To accomplish this, the chief as leader must ensure that there is a system to facilitate effective communication of the values. This includes recognizing and using the organization's informal structure. This is important because, in addition to the formal structure, values are transmitted through its informal process as well as its myths, legends, metaphors, and the chief's own personality.

Each police department should develop a set of policing values that reflects its own community. Fortunately, there is a general set of policing values that can serve as a framework for any department to build upon to meet local needs. Developing a set of organizational values is not difficult. A police executive should first clearly explain what values are to those in uniform. Then the executive should ask each member of the department to list what he or she considers the five most important values for the department. The findings of such an exercise will represent a consensus on the values department members hold most dear--an excellent starting point for creating a set of departmental values. What follows is the previously mentioned general set of values of good policing, which can be the springboard for a department's own formulation:

The police department must preserve and advance the principles of democracy. All societies must have a system for maintaining order. Police officers in this country, however, must not only know how to maintain order, but must do so in a manner consistent with our democratic form of government. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the police to enforce the law and deliver a variety of other services in a manner that not only preserves, but also extends precious American values. It is in this context that the police become the living expression of the meaning and potential of a democratic form of government. The police must not only respect, but also protect the rights guaranteed to each citizen by the Constitution. To the extent each officer considers his or her responsibility to include protection of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of all individuals, the police become the most important employees in the vast structure of government.

The police department places its highest value on the preservation of human life. Above all, the police department must believe that human life is our most precious resource. Therefore, the department, in all aspects of its operations, will place its highest priority on the protection of life. This belief must be manifested in at least two ways. First, the allocation of resources and the response to demands for service must give top priority to those situations that threaten life. Second, even though society authorizes the police to use deadly force, the use of such force must not only be justified under the law, but must also be consistent with the philosophy of rational and humane social control.

The police department believes that the prevention of crime is its number one operational priority. The department's primary mission must be the prevention of crime. Logic makes it clear that it is better to prevent a crime than to put the resources of the department into motion after a crime has been committed. Such an operational response should result in an improved quality of life for citizens, and a reduction in the fear that is generated by both the reality and perception of crime.

The police department will involve the community in the delivery of its services. It is clear that the police cannot be successful in achieving their mission without the support and involvement of the people they serve. Crime is not solely a police problem, and it should not be considered as such. Rather, crime must be responded to as a community problem. Thus, it is important for the police department to involve the community in its operations. This sharing of responsibility involves providing a mechanism for the community to collaborate with the police both in the identification of community problems and determining the most appropriate strategies for resolving them. It is counterproductive for the police to isolate themselves from the community and not allow citizens the opportunity to work with them.

The police department believes it must be accountable to the community it serves. The police department also is not an entity unto itself. Rather, it is a part of government and exists only for the purpose of serving the public to which it must be accountable. An important element of accountability is openness. Secrecy in police work is not only undesirable but unwarranted. Accountability means being responsive to the problems and needs of citizens. It also means managing police resources in the most cost-effective manner. It must be remembered that the power to police comes from the consent of those being policed.

The police department is committed to professionalism in all aspects of its operations. The role of the professional organization is to serve its clients. The police department must view its role as serving the citizens of the community. A professional organization also adheres to a code of ethics. The police department must be guided by the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. A profession polices itself. The police department must ensure that it maintains a system designed to promote the highest level of discipline among its members.

The police department will maintain the highest standards of integrity. The society invests in its police the highest level of trust. The police, in turn, enter into a contractual arrangement with society to uphold that trust. The police must always be mindful of this contractual arrangement and never violate that trust. Each member of the police department must recognize that he or she is held to a higher standard than the private citizen. They must recognize that, in addition to representing the department, they also represent the law enforcement profession and government. They are the personifications of the law. Their conduct, both on and off duty, must be beyond reproach. There must not be even a perception in the public's mind that the department's ethics are open to question.

Recognizing that society is undergoing massive changes, police agencies are confronted with a great challenge. The essence of that challenge is to be able to respond to problems created by social change, while at the same time providing the stability that holds a society together during a period of uncertainty.

By setting forth a clear set of values, articulating what it believes in, the police department has a foundation to guide itself. Such a foundation also allows for organizational flexibility. In addition, a set of values provides the community with a means of assessing its police department without having to become involved in technical operations. Value statements serve as the linkage between the ongoing operations of a police department and the community's ability not only to participate, but also to understand the reason for police department strategies. It is within this context that the recommendations and suggestions in the following pages are presented.

Contemporary Issues in Policing

Close observers have seen a number of changes in policing. Many changes have come in the form of programs developed to address a specific issue or problem and supported with funding from outside of police departments. These programs include community-oriented policing, school resource officers, police-community programs such as Midnight Basketball, and drug and gang reduction programs. While most of these contemporary programs made positive contributions to the police organization or the community, they often did not survive after outside funding stopped because they were implemented alongside what the police department was already doing and were never integrated into day-to-day operations.

Moreover, many of these programs were implemented without full understanding of the factors involved in the issue or problem they were designed to address. The exponential growth of public and private funding created a whole new profession of grant writing for local government and law enforcement. Interest and competition for the grants were keen; in fact, in many cases, the success of some law enforcement executives was measured by local officials on their success in competing for outside funding. And while many organizations became proficient at writing successful grant proposals and some positive results were achieved through programs such as McGruff and D.A.R.E. which became very popular in the community, there were other problems that did not lend themselves so easily to specially funded programs: officer recruitment and selection, community demographic and diversity changes, immigration-related policing problems, cross-cultural communication, and bias-based policing. Counter-terrorism was recently added to this list. The problem of police-citizen violence, although it receives considerable media and community attention and generates genuine community tension, is one that does not readily lend itself to solution through a specially funded program. Police management software can now be obtained to track individual officer activity including tickets written, complaints, accidents, incidents, assignments, and other custom factors to help alert the law enforcement executive to problem officers. However, the solution does not lie in technology alone. Encouraging positive values and an enlightened philosophy of policing hold some of the greatest promise for addressing many contemporary issues in policing.

When violence occurs between police and citizens, the situation may be complex. Violence often occurs in a setting where the police officer or citizen may receive considerable support for a violent act. From the law enforcement standpoint, there may be a solid legal basis for the police officer's use of force, including deadly force. Attempts to minimize violent encounters between the police and community must focus on the police, since their likelihood of exercising control over potentially violent interactions is much greater. But even when the effort to control violence focuses on the police, the complexity of the situation brings a wide range of issues and situations to consider which confront law enforcement officers every day.

Changing Demographics and Immigration Patterns

Delivery of policing services in multicultural communities is now common. Immigration has been the major driver of growth in many areas of the country. Asian immigrants have accounted for 43 percent of this growth since 1970, greatly increasing the presence of languages, cultural values, experiences, and lifestyles with which many other Americans have had little contact. 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.S. criminal justice system. 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.

Policing in the Post-September 11 Environment

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. 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 11. 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?

  • Tone-setting messages by public officials ranging from the Nation's highest public officials to town mayors and police chiefs helped to create an atmosphere of moderation and restraint. Their public cautions against misdirected behavior towards fellow citizens and pledges to vigorously prosecute of any attacks against individuals or groups went a long way towards establishing expectations of fairness and justice.
  • Prompt and sensitive attention by government and law enforcement officialsto racial and ethnic attacks and incidents helped to create trust and confidence in public officials and institutions. When incidents and hate crimes were reported, most law enforcement agencies reacted with dispatch, sensitivity, and thoroughness.
  • Improved cooperation and coordination among Federal, regional, and local policing and other law enforcement agencies helped bridge jurisdictional tensions and prevent conflicts. Since September 11, investigative agencies have enjoyed unparalleled cooperation, combining resources and experience in their investigative and prosecutorial efforts.
  • Intensive training by police and government agencies in Arab, Muslim, and Sikh issues helped to head off cross-cultural conflicts, misunderstandings, and tensions. Law enforcement agencies recognized that they needed to deepen their understanding of these cultures, and many secured training to help officers to be sensitive to the particular cross-cultural dimensions of police work.
  • Outreach by police departments to Arab-American, Muslim, and Sikh communities provided police and leaders from these communities an opportunity to develop cooperative working relationships. Effective policing involved deliberate efforts by police chiefs to extend their connections to these communities by visits, calls, and public forums to listen, learn of concerns, and reassure members of these communities that their concerns are taken seriously.

Police Culture/Police Society

Regarding the competing forces pulling at the police officer, Jerome Skolnik writes:

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. "Hey, Tony, I been meanin' to ask you, where'd you get that little stick you carry?" "It's what they issued us at the academy," the rookie replied. "No kiddin. 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." The rookie fidgeted, kept his eyes on the floor, and quietly replied, "I don't want to be that way."

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.

Recruitment and Selection

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:

  • The department should have a ratio of employees of color and national origin that reflects the diversity of the community it serves.
  • Continued emphasis should be placed on bringing into law enforcement people reflecting a variety of college disciplines.
  • Individuals should be psychologically suited to handle the requirements of the job.

Recruitment. 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. 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.

Selection. 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 1931, the Wickersham Commission report noted the need for higher levels of education. The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice recommended in its Police task force report that officers should have a minimum of two years of college and supervisors and administrators should have four years. The National Commission on Police Standards and Goals established a standard in its Police report, published in 1973, that by 1983 a basic entry-level requirement should be a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. It is now thought that a diversity of degrees is preferable to only criminal justice degrees to avoid similarity of thinking among officers and to avoid limiting the broad experience required for an effective law enforcement agency.

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 1985 report published by the Police Executive Research Forum, The American Law Enforcement Chief Executive: A Management Profile, noted: "In 1976 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 50-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:

32.6.6 An emotional stability and psychological fitness examination of each candidate is conducted, prior to appointment to probationary status, using valid, useful, and nondiscriminatory procedures.

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.10 

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 1977 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."11 

While one can generally agree with this response, findings in the 1982 International Association of Chiefs of Police report, A Balance of Forces, also need to be considered:

  • In-service crisis intervention training as opposed to preservice training was associated with a low justifiable homicide rate by police.
  • Agencies with simulator, stress, and physical exertion firearms training experience a higher justifiable homicide rate by police than agencies without such training.
  • Marksmanship awards given to officers for proficiency in firearms training are associated with a high justifiable homicide rate by the police.
  • In-service training in the principles of "officer survival" is correlated with a high justifiable homicide rate by the police.12 

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:

  • The success of training is commonly measured in terms of the number of hours of classroom work. Eight weeks is considered 100 percent improvement over four weeks�
  • �those who have analyzed the status of recruit training have found much that is wrong�the programs are structured to convey only one point of view on controversial matters in a manner intended to avoid open discussion.
  • �there is an unreal quality in the training program in the emphasis placed on military protocol, in their narrow concept of the police function, and in their according-to-the-book teaching of police operations.
  • �they tend to portray the police officer's job as a rigid one, largely dictated by law, ignoring the tremendous amount of discretion officers are required to exercise.
  • �training programs fail to achieve the minimal goal of orienting a new employee to his job�failure to equip officers to understand the built-in stresses of their job�officers are left to discover on their own the binds in which society places them�
  • If recruit training is inadequate, in-service training is more so.13 

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. A more recent observation in this area is made by Scharf and Binder in The Badge and the Bullet:

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.

Most training�focuses upon one or possibly two isolated competencies. 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.14 

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. It requires consideration of a total situation as opposed to focusing solely on the final "shoot/don't shoot" decision. 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.

In support of a new approach to police training, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department psychologists Marcia C. Mills and John G. Stratton reported findings in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin in February 1982 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 and Accountability

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.15  As a result, police executives generally recognize the need for a trustworthy vehicle for citizens to seek redress of grievances involving alleged police misconduct.16  Most police chiefs know that when a department conveys to the public that it accepts complaints and is willing to aggressively examine allegations of abuse, police officers can expect to win the citizens' confidence needed to do their job more effectively. The department's complaint procedure should be set forth in writing regardless of the size of the community or the department.17 

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. "Official data on citizen complaints consistently show that racial and ethnic minorities are overrepresented among persons alleging police misconduct," according to Walker and Kreisel. 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.18  On the other hand, critics of civilian oversight or review maintain that civilians lack the knowledge and experience to evaluate the police, that such oversight inhibits officers' use of force when it is warranted, and that such mechanisms are redundant, because police themselves review complaints against officers.

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.

There are four basic types of oversight systems:

  • Type 1. Citizens investigate allegations of police misconduct and recommend findings to the chief or sheriff.
  • Type 2. Police officers investigate allegations and develop findings; citizens then review the findings and recommend that the chief or sheriff approve or reject the findings.
  • Type 3. Complainants may appeal findings made by the police or sheriff's department to citizens, who review them and then recommend their own findings to the chief or sheriff.
  • Type 4. An auditor investigates the process by which the police or sheriff's department accepts and investigates complaints and reports on the thoroughness and fairness of the process to the department and the public.19 

Those establishing civilian oversight mechanisms, regardless of type or format, must address six issues when designing a charter:

  1. How much access to information will the public be given regarding the complaint and the process?
  2. Will conciliation between the complainant and the officer be attempted?
  3. Does the oversight agency or the police executive determine discipline for officers?
  4. What are the rights of officers during the process?
  5. Who receives complaints, and who investigates complaints?
  6. Will police officers be included or excluded as members of the oversight board?20 

Municipal Liability. The U.S. Supreme Court in Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), concluded that local governing bodies/municipalities can be held liable when a plaintiff alleges and proves "that official policy is responsible for a deprivation of rights protected by the constitution." Since that 1978 decision, a number of courts have imposed liability on police supervisors and municipalities that do not take care to guard against officer misconduct and do not provide adequate training for their police officers (see City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris 489 U.S. 378 (1989)). 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."21  These authors further state, "�it is imperative that police officers be provided with excellent training; [and that] good police management through training helps to reduce liable incidents for the officer, the chief and the municipality." (See full article in Appendix F-1.)

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. 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.

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-1.)

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. "Whether intentional or unintentional, the application of bias in policing tilts the scales of justice and results in unequal treatment under the law," writes Ronald L. Davis, the author of a study on bias-based policing for the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).22  Allegations of racial profiling and other bias-based policing activities, particularly traffic stops and random searches, have become national issues, as the escalating coverage in the media shows. 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.S. 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.

As Davis writes in the NOBLE study:

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.23 

Police departments and communities can avoid debilitating accusations of racial profiling by communicating with each other about police strategy, crime trends, and community concerns. In a response to the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo by New York City police in 1999, George Kelling writes:

�Police increasingly rely on analysis of crime data, mapping and other methods to develop tactics for addressing specific problems. 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. They involve balancing individual rights with community interests, effectiveness with costs, and the tradeoffs among important values�Police and neighborhood leaders will have to seek each other out aggressively and honestly�24 

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 1997 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."25 Victims of hate crimes feel vulnerable to more attacks and develop feelings of alienation, helplessness, suspicion, and fear. A defining feature of hate crime is that each offense victimizes not one person but a group.26  When perpetrators of hate are not prosecuted as such and their acts are not publicly condemned, their crimes can weaken even those communities with the healthiest of race relations. 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:

  • Strong Policy Statement (Internal and External). The department and community must be clear about the police executive's position against hate crimes. Every employee in the department must be held accountable for practicing and following that philosophy. In some cases a local government ordinance against hate activity modeled on existing hate crime law in effect in that State may form the basis for the police executive's position and departmental policy.
  • Training (In-service and Academy Classes). Officers within the department and trainees need to become aware of and educated about crimes motivated by prejudice, how to respond to them, how to meet the needs of the victims, and how to collect the proper evidence. Raising their awareness about these crimes makes it more likely that they will show sensitivity and understanding when investigating such cases. In addition, these officers will remember that hate crimes and subsequent investigations will be taken seriously. Very often leaders from communities targeted by hate crimes and others can be invited to be part of the training effort.
  • Procedures.
    • -- Adoption of a model policy for investigating and reporting hate crimes, such as one supported by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
    • -- Establishment of data collection procedures using uniform definitions of hate crimes available through the FBI and reporting of the information collected (even small numbers in a jurisdiction may be valuable for providing an aggregate regional or national understanding of hate crimes).
    • -- Establishment of a racial-bias crime unit in large cities to investigate and respond to such crimes.
    • -- Establishment of a civil rights office in smaller municipalities.
    • -- Establishment of a two-tier internal review process for all potential hate crimes in accord with the FBI recommendation on bias crime incidents.
    • -- Pre-identification and training of community leaders to assist in the response to hate crimes.
    • --Establishment of protocols and response procedures between law enforcement, school, social service providers, and community leaders for addressing hate crimes. (CRS has mediated hate crime response protocol agreements that can serve as models for law enforcement agencies and communities.)
    • --Collaboration with communities to build coalitions of political, business, civic, religious, and community organizations to help create positive climate and foster cooperation, inclusion of diverse groups in decision-making processes to increase confidence in government, and working with schools to prevent and plan responses to hate crimes on campuses.
    • -- Collaboration with a local human relations commission in community forums on racial and ethnic relations to help encourage a positive community climate.
    • --Prosecution of hate crimes to encourage better reporting of these crimes, ensuring their investigation, establishing hate crimes task forces, and assisting victims and witnesses during the adjudication of their cases.
    • -- Collaboration with schools to prevent and deal with hate crimes and hate-based gang activity in schools, including development of a plan to handle hate crimes and defuse racial tensions. (CRS has helped some communities develop memorandums of understanding between law enforcement, schools, and local social and community service agencies who have a role in addressing school-related hate crimes.)
    • -- Documentation of hate crimes and hate crime patterns through research on the scope and impact of and solutions for hate crimes.
    • -- Establishment of a temporary rumor control and verification center immediately following an incident. (A police department or municipal telephone can be staffed by a diverse team 24 hours a day during the crisis period so as to help reduce tensions or prevent escalating tensions which may lead to violence. Use the media and community organizations to publicize the telephone number in the affected community.)
  • Community Interventions. Community intervention activities are essential following a hate or bias incident to address the needs of victims, community fear, and racial tensions, as well as to prevent retaliation and to change the climate that allowed hate to exist and to target specific groups. Law enforcement executives need to act quickly and publicly to avoid perceptions of apathy and acceptance of the hate crime. Useful steps include finding allies and collaborating with them on activities to meet short-term issues and later establish long-term goals to address diversity issues through community dialogues, annual diversity events, periodic police-community forums, and police-community advisory groups.

Effective Police Leadership

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. 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

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