DO POLICE VALUES MATTER?

 

RAMON BATISTA AND MARK D ZISKA
  

Have  you  watched  the  news  lately?  It’s  mostly  reports  and  videos  of  disturbances  and  protesters. What’s on the media’s mind right now is crime, violence, police shootings, related  trials, and the calls for justice around the country. But this unrest is not new. This has been  going  on  for more  than  three  centuries.  It  will  continue  to  happen  unless  things  change.  Fewer officers, less training, and reduction of resources won’t change the things that need  changing.  The  talk  of  defunding  the  police  only  pushes  the  police  further  away  from  meaningful engagement.  

If you look at the last fifty years of policing, as we have, and understand why we decided to  write DO NO HARM, you’ll notice the one thing that does make a difference in policing, in  business, and in our personal lives: our values. What do we hold dear, and what determines  our success in life? Having and living good values—justice, integrity, honesty, courage, trust  and service to others—is the way to effect change.  

Nothing will make a difference in law enforcement until we change the kind of officers we  recruit—hiring as much or more for values, character, and a heart for service than we hire  for  policing  skills or  previous experience.  It is much easier and more effective  to  hire an  officer who aligns with a department’s vision, mission, goals and philosophy than it is to train  someone to fit. 

Pair  value  hiring  with  implementing  a  strategic  plan  with  goals  to  achieve  the  kind  of  communities we want to work and live in: safe, equal, supportive, and non-violent, and then  things will  change  dramatically. Safe  communities mean  safe  officers and  vice-versa,  two  arcs moving in the same direction, not away from each other. In fact, the further away that  police and communities drift, the more dangerous it becomes for both groups.  

We’ve seen our strategic process work, and we think getting it out to cities and departments  will enable those agencies, communities, and cities to implement the same kinds of change.  Change must begin in our core values as officers, as politicians, as people, and as a nation.  We’re willing to start with ourselves and our officers and trust the rest will  follow. That’s  true for business, it’s true for school, for life, and especially for policing where what you do  today can save a life tomorrow.

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