Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Supporting Police AND Supporting Protesters-Culture, Metrics, Values!

We have a crisis of confidence in the Justice System. Our national leaders have pitted this as Police VERSUS Protesters (or visa versa if your prefer).   That argument based in duelist thinking is destructive. This could be a police AND protester issue if stakeholders looked beyond current frustration and into the need to reconcile.   There are reforms needed in policing but that doesn't mean all police are to blame. Protesters are right in being upset because the system has gone unchallenged for many decades and has seemingly removed appropriate feedback loops that would allow it to improve. It is now time to improve through Culture, Metrics and Values to encourage the world to be a better place.

Let me say I get both sides of the argument. I firefight, challenged serious criminals a couple of times, and tried to help people were I felt I could. Over the years I've met mostly good officers that were helpful and genuine. On the other hand, I have seen the Justice System struggle with complex financial crimes based on lack of expertise while using hammer to smack petty crimes.  I myself have been on the receiving end of racial, religious, and monetary aggression and feel that they walked because of their close association with law enforcement.

So while I have respect for most officers I know all too well that some are not out to do the right thing and the system can turn a blind eye and brush illegal behavior under the carpet.  

So I can honestly say I understand the frustrations and anger the protesters feel when racism and discrimination smack them in the face and no one "sees anything" and ethics and morality appear to be damned! On the other side, I know most of these officers are trying to do the right thing and desire to help their communities but often lack the resources, support and tools. Good intentions erode under a culture of "protect your own", judges and prosecutors who are often shortsighted, and a thankless job that comes with lots of risks and not many rewards. 

Of course people are going to line up on both sides of the protest line, dig their heels in and say, "Its all their fault!"

Culture: Culture best serves it's stakeholders when it is open, inclusive, and focused on solving problems. If the culture becomes exclusive and focused more on punishment than helping we need to revamp. Having a "one of our own" enforcement mentality is great but it should allow for open internal dialogue and holding each other accountable for bad behavior.

Metrics: Success shouldn't come through tickets and arrests alone. There should be metrics on how to help others and encourage people to make their lives better. I have seen victims of crime become victims of the Justice system because we didn't reach out to help them. Our focus was more on punishment with partial information and not enough on helping.  Changing some of the metrics leads to changing of promotions and the culture of the organization.

Values: We built this huge legal infrastructure off attorneys, judges, court rooms, prisons, and guns. We forgot their essential purpose in helping society and encouraging peace and trust in the system. Societal stability relies on trust and we must work to restore that trust by universalizing our values to all races and religions. 

If we are not 100% the Justice Department is doing the right thing, punishing people fairly, and being wise in its decisions we should start thinking about reform. Likewise, if we believe that some of these officers are trying to protect the public and have good intentions then we should stop trying to hurt them during protests and find ways to create dialogue. This is where real leadership comes into play....when we try and understand both sides and take actions to pull the country together. Those on both sides that are sowing discontent are doing so for their own selfish causes and we may want to consider picking better leaders.


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