21st Century Policing Police

Can Police Change Their Mindset From Warriors to Guardians?

The Crime Report
Written by The Crime Report

By Stephen Handelman

If cops provided first aid to individuals they shoot, regardless of the reason for the shooting, would that change the festering hostility towards law enforcement in America’s at-risk communities?

Soon after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man in Tulsa last September, a Los Angeles officer told criminologist Lawrence Sherman that SWAT teams in his city were trained to provide immediate medical help to anyone injured during police actions—even those shot by police themselves.

“Didn’t they get that memo in Tulsa?” he said, half-jokingly.

Sherman recounted the story at a panel at Fordham Law School Wednesday to argue that the recurring tragedies of police-caused homicides in the U.S. should be addressed by “reengineering” police procedures and training in ways that encouraged them to save lives, not take them.

“Little changes can cause huge impacts,” Sherman said, suggesting for example requiring all patrol cars to carry hemostatic bandages, often used by the military on the battlefield, that can prevent shooting victims from bleeding to death before they get medical help.

In another example, Philadelphia cops drive victims—including those they have shot—to hospital emergency rooms, added Sherman, who is director of the Jerry Lee Centre for Experimental Criminology and Chair of the Cambridge Police Executive Program at Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology in the UK.

His point was expanded by Phillip Atiba Goff, Director of the Center for Policing Equity at John Jay College, who said such changes needed to be incorporated into a larger “political ecosystem” that recognized the racial biases built into the history of US policing and that rewarded police for perceiving their jobs as protecting the most vulnerable members of the community, rather than just catching “bad guys.”

“It’s about the difference between ‘warriors’ or ‘guardians,’” he said. “First responders or first line of defense.”

Sherman said addressing the factors that lead police officers to use their firearms in the first place—ranging from a perception that they needed to act quickly to save their own lives to the fear that a suspect’s refusal to follow their commands would “humiliate” them before their peers—was critical to achieving changes in officer behavior.

A lot of shootings can also be explained by officers feeling the urgency to resolve a confrontation quickly so they can be somewhere else where they are needed, Sherman said.

“The solution is to slow things down, create space…so there’s an option to be patient,” he said.

He added later, “Sometimes it’s not just when to shoot, but when to stop shooting.”

Sherman, who also holds the post of Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, was elaborating on a paper he published last month in the Annual Review of Criminology.

The paper argues that the failure of recent attempts around the U.S. to convict officers for shootings of unarmed civilians underlines the difficulty of using legal strategies to punish officers for their actions, and would have little long-term effect on changing behavior or police culture—especially in the smaller cities where most police shootings occur.

Tulsa police officer Betty Jo Shelby, for example, was acquitted in the September, 2017 shooting of Terry Crutcher after a jury decided that she acted according to departmental procedures and training.

“This isn’t a New York City problem; it’s a Ferguson problem.”
Sherman noted that while larger cities had witnessed a great deal of progress in reducing officer-use-of-force incidents, in cities with populations of less than 10,000 some 18 percent of homicides were caused by police.

“This isn’t a New York City problem; it’s a Ferguson problem,” he said.

See also The Crime Report’s: Slow Down, Officer: How to Build a Better Cop

Goff, whose center works with police agencies across North America, countered that while measures like placing hemostatic bandages in police cars or training police to slow their responses are helpful, fundamental change requires police managers and their political masters to acknowledge the systemic biases that pervade American society, of which policing is only one part.

“Neighborhoods that suffer from this problem have a color,” said Goff, noting that the majority of police shooting fatalities were African-American or Hispanic men.

“You can’t use training to shift culture unless the culture is ready to receive training,” Goff said.

But both speakers agreed that looking at police misconduct as evidence of flaws in the systems and procedures established by law enforcement managers to monitor and control police behavior was critical.

Goff cited work his center had done with police in Toronto, Canada to reduce the high number of police stops, mostly affecting individuals of color, as an example. When that city’s police authorities admitted that the criteria they used in promoting officers included the number of street stops they made, Goff’s researchers suggested they eliminate that metric for judging police performance—and let all officers know it.

At the same time, officers were required to give their badge numbers and hand out cards to anyone they stopped and questioned on the street.

Within two months of instituting the new policy, the number of stops recorded plunged from 7,000 to 26, Goff said.

Neither speaker suggested such measures were the ultimate answer to the problem of police misbehavior, but Sherman said that many U.S. cities which had made an effort to reform police procedures had experienced drops in officer-involved shootings.

A “Tactical Operations Procedure” first established by the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the 1970s that required all officers involved in a shooting to go before an internal board to justify their actions sharply reduced the incidence of police shootings in the 1970s. But a 1989 Supreme Court ruling in Graham vs Connor, which allowed police involved in a shooting incident to defend their actions by claiming a “reasonable” fear of danger, undermined its effect, Sherman said.

Similarly, police-involved shootings, as well as overall crime rates, were sharply reduced in Camden, NJ, once ranked as one of America’s deadliest cities, after the entire police force was restructured in 2015 following a financial crisis.

Sherman conceded that many officers would continue to resist advice from academics, community activists and even their police bosses to use patience when dealing with potentially dangerous confrontations because they felt their lives were on the line.

But a coordinated strategy that used some of the same principles of avoiding system “crashes” employed by the aviation and healthcare industries could be effective in smaller cities where police agencies were often understaffed and under financial pressure—with little ability to vet and monitor new officers.

“There would be fewer police killed, and fewer civilians would die,” Sherman said.

Wednesday’s Fordham panel was moderated by Tracey Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law and Founding Director of The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School.


Stephen Handelman is executive editor of The Crime Report, where this story first appeared.

Photo by Willy Ochaya via Flickr.

50 Comments

  • “A lot of shootings can also be explained by officers feeling the urgency to resolve a confrontation quickly so they can be somewhere else where they are needed” . Boy ,now there’s a nugget of pure liberal wisdom for you. Don’t you love it when people obviously don’t like you presume to tell you how to do your job? Any cops out there, ever get the impression Witness la doesn’t like you very much?

  • Yes, the mindset can be changed crooked James McBuckles has done it at the LASD. Patrol deputies were known for being proactive, for taking pride in looking for criminal activity, which in turn would place them in a position of confrontation, with the criminal element. Because of the great number of (over 1000) deputies currently under investigation, being falsely prosecuted, fired, or receiving unjust discipline for the stupidest of reasons, while law enforcing, they are now GUARDIANS of trees and empty remote parking lots. It is like asking for a German shepherd dog to guard the sheep, however, if a wolf appears don’t bark too loud, don’t hurt the wolf, but if you hurt him, leak his injuries. So idiotic and illogical. No doubt, liberalism is a mental disorder.

    • You should try harder than repeating rant radio talking points. I could just as easily point to the follies of supply side economics and claim conservatism is a mental disorder. Only a ding would believe the answers to today’s problems are always found by reliving the past.

      Now I agree with you regarding McBuckles. He has decided his political fortunes lie in destroying the LASD, while ALADS and PPOA look the other way.

      • Re: ALADS & PPOA. If you didn’t have a pair you would also look the other way. Another reason why many are awaiting SCOTUS dialogue next week concerning Unions. LACERA in March and no more dues to ALADS. Hey Ron Hernandez, tell the membership how much the running tab is for Superior Court Case BC540789.

        • Funny how history repeats itself. Over four years ago, the big deal was Baca stepping down and a big fuss about the next Sheriff. ALADS had and still has it’s “Palace intrigue” and today they waver as to which candidate whom they will endorse. Good to see fellow East Los Veteran Armando Macias still fighting.

  • This panel that Sherman spoke at could have benefited from having an actual cop on it. I don’t even no where to begin addressing some of the idiotic comments these academics made.

    These fools actually think that by shooting some fool it would free them up to respond somewhere else? WTF…

  • Obviously having a PHD doesn’t equate to common sense or intelligence. Mr. Sherman needs a heavy dose of reality that is only found in the decaying streets of our inner cities. First of all cops are both warrior’s and guardians. The are different sides of the same coin. They are not at odds with each other. Second….I have never seen or heard of a cop shooting someone due to fear of ridicule or because they were in a hurry to get somewhere else. Lastly, the writer of this article should do his home work before regurgating liberal talking points with no basis in fact. What a bunch of hog wash!

    • The problem with advanced degrees comes into play when the receiver lacks any practical, first-hand, ground-roots experience in the field they have chosen to become an “expert” in. This may work for a theoretical physicist, engineer, chemist or other pure science. However, for a field that deals with the most enigmatic, unpredictable, least understood subject….the human mind, these “experts” need to temper their theory based education with either years of first-hand practical application, or consult those who have that first-hand experience.

  • I for one would not want a police officer with a mindset of being a “security guard” and just responding to calls, observing and taking reports, versus one with a mindset of proactively seeking out and deterring criminal activity. Do you really want a police officer responding to your call for help who is timid, passive, indecisive and ambivalent about his job. In that case, the police can take on a role like that of the fire department, and just sit sit at the station and roll out only when called.

    It’s clear some members of our society don’t like law enforcement and are bent on finding ways to errode the public’s confidence, negatively bias an entire generation regarding their role in society, and virtually “castrate” them of their responsibilities.

  • Cops stop being proactive and crime goes up…..who would have thought? Ferguson and Baltimore are prime examples of the left’s failed polices…..judging by the liberal policies of the BOS and LA City Coincil. …..it’s just a matter of time before Los Angeles begins to feel the “Ferguson” effect which is supported by the rise in current crime statistics. Give a great big thank you to Charlie Beck and Sheriff McDonnell. Couldn’t of done it without you. What say you CF?

  • I just wish they had photo of the group-hug the panel had at the end of this session. They must have felt soooo good about solving the problem of “warrior-cops” running amok. I just Leroy had been there to spew his wisdom to the group.

  • Bandwagon, I say you and your ilk have been crying that the sky is falling for the last 30 years, always complaining about how the bureaucrats and the “liberals” tie your hands, how you need more officers, etc, etc. Yet, the sky hasn’t fallen, and crime has been falling for the past 30 years. You and your ilk have been whining how LA and California are going to hell in a hand basket, yet there is no comparison between LA and Kentucky, Mississippi and the rest of Trump country. Is it really too much to ask that you and your ilk not be trigger happy, not stop every black kid with saggy pants, or stop every brown person thinking they must be “illegals.” Jesus, what happened to customer service.

    And, some of your ilk, now whine about your unions. Please. You would not make what you make, get the sweet pension you do, and get off after killing black kids if it were not for that union of yours. I’m not fond of your unions, but I think you too ungrateful for complaining about them when they have managed to keep many of you out jail and gave you a nice retirement after 25 years on the job. For gods sake, where else can you retire after 25 years of working. What happened to 75 being the new 65, or 55, in your case. Its your pension and not immigrants that is choking the city and state.

    You guys are just too thin skinned and cannot take any constructive criticism. You are in a service profession, you serve the public and the public pays you. Conspiracy, gives two options of what police could be. But, they are not the only options and if we, as a society, through our elected officials and courts, say we want something else beside roughshod cowboys, so be it. The times they are changing, and if you do not like your job, find another one. Of course, the pension is too good, so screw principle and whine instead.

  • CF:. Musta struck a nerve…. Calm down…to be honest….I was expecting something a little more enlightening​ from you….,..very disappointed……if that’s the best you have…..you just guaranteed another four years of Trump. Winston Churchill once said ” if you were never a Democrat you have no heart”. He then said ” if you were never a Republican you have no brain”. We all know which side of the spectrum you reside on. Drain the swamp!!!!

  • CF: I have to admit…..after your first couple of sentences…..I got extremely bored. You need to up your game……your trolling skills have vastly diminished…..may be early signs of Alzheimer’s setting in…..

  • Bandwagon, Winston Churchill said that? Even when the facts are readily verifiable, you make shit up. That may fly in AP English History at Robert E. Lee High, but please, around here, stop pulling crap out of your ass. This is not a police report, you can’t just make stuff up. Unlike your police reports, someone can actually read what you post on this site.

    • “This is not a police report, you can’t just make stuff up.”

      True statement, but I’m curious: how’d you find THAT out?

  • CF….your RE-hashed, RE-used, RE-cycled talking points are getting old. Have you ever heard of transference….you are the one who is “thinned skinned”, who resorts to “potty mouth” and insults when others oppose your arguments. You resort to name calling and then project your “idealized” beliefs, views, images and scenarios about all cups being dirt, lying racist. Nice try but others see through you. You are the one who thinks all of their views, conclusions and arguments are the right ones without dispute.

    Oh, you clearly have a “hard on”, jealousy and disdain for “civil servants” as indicated by your rants about their pensions and retirement. Sounds like sour grapes and just plain old envy to me.

    You are as closed minded, ignorant, bigoted and just as prejudiced as the best of them. Just get off your throne of feigned righteousness and face facts….your an idiot.

  • CF:. Ok the actual quote was ‘” if u are not a liberal by age 25 you have no heart. If u are not a conservative by age 35 you have no brain”. Forgive my paraphrasing…..but u get the drift. Pretty weak CF. Time to reinvent yourself with another moniker….you are like a petulant kid who keeps slamming the front door to get attention.

  • Conspiracy, don’t hold back. Let me know how you really feel. I hope you don’t talk this way to the folks you stop and frisk and talk back to you. I have no disdain for civil servants. I have no problem paying taxes to run the police, fire, trash, courts, etc. I believe there is a role for government. What I disdain are “civil servants” who bitch about the government, the unions, etc, when they owe everything they have to the government and unions, especially if they are LOE or firefighters, who have the sweetest deal with their pay, pension, etc. I disdain whiners, complainers, who complain about their job but don’t leave or move on. Like you. I hope that clarifies it.

    Bandwagon, surely you jest. First, there is a hell of a difference between a liberal and a Democrat. Second, there is a hell of a difference between a Republican and a conservative. No one in Europe considered Republicans to be conservatives. Third, this saying does not originate with Churchill. Finally, anyone in Europe, certainly at the time of Churchill, talking about conservatism meant it in the Burkean sense, not Republicans. Do not flatter yourself, and go back and read something more than an inspirational poster with a quote misattributed to Churchill. Otherwise, Conspiracy will think you’re an idiot.

    • Hmmmm…… “What I disdain are “civil servants” who bitch about the government, the unions, etc, when they owe everything they have to the government and unions, especially if they are LOE or firefighters, who have the sweetest deal with their pay, pension, etc. I disdain whiners, complainers, who complain about their job but don’t leave or move on. Like you. I hope that clarifies it.”

      I guess a “civil servant” abdicates his First Amendment rights to free speech when he decides to be employed by a government entity? Just stupid. Oh…I know many a “civil slave” which is how you really who work pretty damn hard for the “sweet deal” they earn everyday.

      Just keep observing from afar and let the adults and doers keep the wheels of our society greased and mixing. To bad you couldn’t get hired and benefit from one of those “sweet government jobs”. As you surely know and have researched, (since you have an opinion about and are all knowing) there are even standards for “civil servants.

  • So CF, why don’t you tell us what you do for a living. We have all heard you opinions of government employees but never a word on what you do that makes you better and smart than everyone else ?

    Xoxoxo

  • Interesting Jim. But how do u prove a negative. The author himself says there is no proof (record) of Churchill being the author of quotes/quips attributed to him. Unless his personal secretary was writing everything he said……we are in a conundrum.

  • Conspiracy, if you are going to throw the constitution around, at least know what it says. The constitution, and the first amendment specifically, protects you against the government limiting your right to free speech. It does not apply to me. I am not the government and I have never suggested the government censor your comments, regardless of how idiotic they may be, at least while you are off duty. If you go back, I have never said the government should stop your dribble. They cannot, they will not, and as long as you are off duty when you utter them, i stand by your right to do so despite how asinine they seem to me. The constitution, on the other hand, does apply to you while on duty. That is why you are always whining about the ACLU and other liberals suing the city LOE, county LOE, or ICE. I hope this helps.

    Bandwagon, are you serious? “We are in a conundrum?” Surely you jest, my friend. You are fine attributing words to someone for whom there is no record of ever having uttered those words because there is no record that he did not say those words? Surely you jest. Thats a Trumpean comment. Its convention, tradition and just plain common sense that we do not attribute words to someone when there is no record, no freakin’ witness, nothing, that they uttered such words. In that case, why not take credit for the quote since we have no evidence Bandwagon did not say it. That may fly with your police reports where you can say the black kid gave you permission to search his car because he didn’t say you could not search his car.

    Are You Kidding, you have heard my opinions about a subsection of government employees – LOE, not government employees in general. As I mentioned before, I have no problem with my taxes paying for government, and thus government employees. And, I have no problem with unions. I think there is a role for them. Its that some of our friends on this site come of as ungrateful, miserable and unhappy employees, who complain about the government (which gave them their job) and unions (which maintain their job), and seem to want to go back to the good ‘ol days, which for most people of color, gays and women where not good ol days.

  • No way CF has a job. Too many ridiculous, unrealistic and non-sustainable opinions/ diatribes to be in any way productive.

    But I’m sure there’s a big ol depression in Mommy’s couch and a worn out Xbox controller.

  • I’ve been here a very long time. I know without doubt that Chicago Fire and CF are a guy named Reg and he is a guy who I beat up for a long time, lied about his family, came up with the Chicago Fire because he knows I’m from Chicago and the CF, well there you go. You fool nobody old man. Your last few posts as CF are really pointing out the Reg in you. Celeste knows I’m right but can’t say it, I get that. So remember when talking to “CF” you’re talking to a guy who is gutless, or he’d go back to just “Reg.” Way back you can find “Chicago Fire” posts, what a dope. Still own you.

  • Back to the article, I guess the school “resource officer” in Parkland Florida was certainly not a “warrior” and when it came time to be a “guardian” he could not grasp that it sometimes takes a warrior to be a guardian.

    It is clear that the panel which was the subject of this article does not recognize that fact either. And even after this tragedy, they will not put two and two together. Sad.

  • I don’t read these silly articles anymore. Lost interest, but I enjoy the comments. Thanks, Sure Fire. You’re probably right. Could’ve swore it was the writer of this silliness. Maybe they’re twins…

  • The Cf troll has been with us for a long time, he’s posed as an LASD insider, friend to James Sexton, “tattooed bad boy”, and now “cf” the libtard. He has always desperately sought attention by going after commenters, while never really offering anything in the way of information or opinion regarding ideas. He is almost certainly a middle aged white guy who had a disappointing career somewhere within LASD.

    • I don’t know “friend to Sexton” but I hope you’re not referring to me, as my beef was with ALADS and how they shitted on him. If you disagree then feel free to bring out some facts which oppose mine. I am joined by many who totally agree. I have no defense or love for Tanaka & ALADS Board of Directors.

  • Conspiracy, let me make one last attempt at clarifying the constitution to you. If the you, while on duty, try to stifle someone’s speech for the mere fact that you don’t like what they say, you have a badge and think you are a warrior, you may violate someone’s first amendment right. There are other factors, of course, but hopefully you get the gist. Me on the other hand, I am not on the government’s employ. Theoretically, I can see you at Winchell’s and call you a pig and tell you to shut-up, and I will not have violated your first amendment right. I may have been rude or disrespectful, but I did not, and could not, have violated your first amendment. The first amendment begins with, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech….” For example, neither you nor I have a first amendment right to say what we want on this site. Celeste can cut us off at her whim, and we can do nothing about it. Does that make sense? So, do not post that you have a 1st amendment right when I tell you to stop whining.

    Ownership, you are right, I am unemployed and cannot get hired. I am considering being an officer, like you. I hear the standards can be fairly low. The problems is that I’m not sure I can pass the psych exam as I do not have the required hatred of black and brown folk or self-hating tendencies. It’s an option. Hopefully, you can be a reference and vouch for me.

    Bandwagon, don’t pretend you were being an idiot on purpose. Do share more Churchill quotes. Reminds me of the old Churchill quote, When you dont understand an idiot, he may still be a warrior in uniform. Well, I’m not sure he said it, but I have no evidence he did not. You can use it, if you wish.

    Major Kong, how you could not have solved the Grim Reaper killings or Biggie’s murder boggles the mind given the your intellect and skill. Perhaps I am not all of these other people you think of. Perhaps there are others besides me who don’t buy your bullshit. You may be right and I may be some middle aged white guy who had a disappointing career in LOE. But then, you just mentioned most of the folks on this site. Try again, Sherlock.

    • CF:

      “I am unemployed and cannot get hired.”

      Have you figured out why?

      If you are unemployed from a previous job unemployment benefit laws have changed so that the unemployed can go to school & get job training while drawing unemployment benefits.

      If you are young enough to consider law enforcement then you are probably young enough to go into the military, which is a more honest institution–I’ve done both, and that is my fervent opinion.

      After the military you can go to school on the G.I. Bill & get other meaningful benefits.

      Good luck.

    • CF….I repeat…you have nothing to clarify because your opinions are nothing more than a ripe, sweaty pile of you no what. You will never….can never enlighten anyone as you have nothing to over but highly biased, racist, prejudiced tinged rants from a disturbed mind.

      Your First Amendment rights allows you to spout your crap though.

  • CF: Just stay on Mommy’s couch and keep trying to get to that last level of Super Mario Bros. Let the adults figure things out.

  • CF: Clearly I was mistaken attributing the quote to Churchill…..although there is no proof he didn’t say it…..but it was worth ur response……unlike you I can admit when I make a mistake and didn’t do my homework. Now please go find the nearest cop and express ur first amendment rights……good luck!

  • CF: Somehow I can not envision you chasing some poor misunderstood gangster through an alley in Compton in the middle of the night. I see you more as a school resource officer who will retire when called to duty. Neither worrior or guardian. A brave man dies only once….but a coward a thousand times. Didn’t Churchill say that. ……..

  • Bandwagon, first, you are right and I will rise to the occasion and admit that I, too, was wrong. You are a bigger idiot than I thought. I was wrong, and I admit it. Its not simply your misattribution, but the standards, or lack thereof, that you have when voicing some “fact” that is the problem.

    Second, you cannot imagine me running down an alley after some gang member because you are not picturing me with a badge and a gun. You see, the badge and the gun make you more “courageous.” They swell your testicles and give you a false sense of belief that one is a warrior or guardian. I, too, cannot picture you in Compton without a badge and a gun, let alone in an alley, and even more impossible to imaging is you chasing anyone. Thank you.

    • CF = “L”oser who could never get hired by any law enforcement agency, thank goodness for back ground checks and psychological evaluations.

      Now spends his time criticizing the very thing he (or she or it) could never be.

  • CF: Obviously you lack any imagination. Still waiting for you to exercise your first amendment rights. God willing…..it will be me in the donut shop taking ur lunch money.

  • CF:. Not to worry…..there will always be others willing to stand up and be the warriors and guardians that protect your right to be an idiot. Shameful that you will probably never realize that fact. I apologize for the cop who bounced you off the hood of his car after you opened your big mouth. Obviously, you never learned anything from the experience.

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