Many law enforcement agencies claimed they President Barack Obama’s 21st Century Policing but in reality, it was just symbolism without substance and a bunch of police nonsense with police departments doing the running man.
The first steps of President Obama’s 21st Century Police Model are legitimacy, transparency, and accountability. Unfortunately, the many police departments throughout the nation that claim the new policing model have yet to produce policies and procedures that address the new view of being legitimate, transparent and accountable to the citizenry of the community they claim to serve.
What we saw was feel-good moments and funding for hamburgers and hotdogs, along with officers on social media dancing. The reality is; you can feed them, dance for them all you want. Those types of activities will not change the perception of law enforcement in the minds of black and poor people because four days after President Obama’s Townhall meeting on Police and Community Relations another unarmed black man, Charles Kinsey, who had his hands in the air, was shot by a white police officer in Miami. With the emergence of #45, the good recommendations have fallen to the wayside.
As a Black Law Enforcement Professional has stated time and time again the basis of policing in the Black community has never been one of service always a mindset of containing and controlling since the conception of the enforcement of the Slaves Codes and Black Codes. This basic racial fundamental of policing was long before the accepted starting point of policing in the United States 1838 (Boston) and 1845 (New York).
Many Law Enforcement historians love to quote Robert Peel as the father of modern policing negating the historical racial aspects of American Policing as it relates to enslaved and free Africans. Some even try to credit him as the originator of what is called today as Community Policing.
Peel created what is referred to as the Peelian Principles that was supposed to create professionalism within the law enforcement profession.
It is reported and taught that Peel’s model of policing, police officers are regarded as citizens in uniform. The Officer exercise their powers to police their fellow citizens with the implicit consent of those fellow citizens. “Policing by consent” indicates that the legitimacy of policing in the eyes of the public is based upon a consensus of support that follows from transparency about their powers, their integrity in exercising those powers and their accountability for doing so.
If you walk in many Black communities today, you will see those police departments are far from Peel’s model. For the purpose of this writing, we will use Peels Peelian Principles to continue the need conversation that even law enforcement has fallen away even from the basic principles that many police management of scholars claim as their foundation.
PRINCIPLE 1 “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”
There has been a misconception that many in the black and poor communities do not want police to stop crime and violence. This is an entirely false conclusion. What Black communities now see is a style of over policing and a warrior mindset in police where the perceptions of Black people, especially that black male is a constant threat.
PRINCIPLE 2 “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”
This is clearly not the case in many black communities throughout the nation. The mindset of the many police officers and police management is that they don’t need the approval of the community. Many Black communities do not have a say in how their communities are policed. Even when districts are represented by Black elected officials the influence on policy and procedures that affect the community they serve are minimal and fails to change the reality of the community when it comes to policing.
PRINCIPLE 3 “Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to obtain and maintain the respect of the public.”
In many Black communities, cooperation with the police is nonexistent. This is also the case when some departments have a high number of Black Officers. Many Black communities do not feel that police do not have actual observance of the law when their own violate policies procedure and training. Black communities never see Black Officers or what is referred to as “Good Officers” address the bad officers for the sake of the community they serve.
PRINCIPLE 4 “The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”
Because of weak accountability of police officers abusing the use of force and deadly force policies has long been a problem in the Black and poor communities throughout the nation. Police management and elected officials have failed miserably to address the need to create more stringent legislation on violations of Use of Force and Deadly Force policies.
PRINCIPLE 5 “Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”
Police always have opportunities to correct public opinion, but they fail when good cops stay silent amongst the bad ones. A good officers silence is confirmation of the “Us against them Them” culture and the “Blue Wall” that is mentioned nowhere in Peel’s nine principles of policing.
PRINCIPLE 6 “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.”
The unfortunate relationship with the police and the black community is historical when it comes to the use of force especially deadly force. In many cases, persuasion, advice, and a warning are not used. The new warrior mindset fails to accommodate deescalating situations. Officers have been faster to shoot and ask questions later. Many studies have shown that “Racial Bias” conscious or unconscious plays a role in an officer decided to kill a subject, but yet, elected officials and police management have failed to address this issue critically.
PRINCIPLE 7 “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
Every police academy has failed this principle. The Us against Them attitude in many of the police academies across the nation. Many officers do not live in the community that they work so police being members of the public is nonexistent. The current police culture has failed to recognize that they are servants of the public and paid by the public.
PRINCIPLE 8 “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”
Because of the failed accountability of Officers that have violated policies procedures and training and the complicit silence of good officers, it does give an appearance that officers usurp the powers of the judiciary.
PRINCIPLE 9 “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”
Principle 9 is essential because policing technics and philosophy have not stopped crime in violence in black communities across the nation. If we use #9 as a guide or a report card then policing as it is today is insufficient and has failed miserably to the needs of black people to keep us safe and make us feel protected like other communities.
Is too much to ask to raise the bar on accountability on what Peel calls “Citizens in Uniform”? Raising the bar especially in Use of Force policies will not only make us exceed the standard, but it will save innocent lives and rebuild integrity in our communities.
Damon K. Jones
Damon K. Jones is an Activist, Author, and Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine, a Black-owned and operated newspaper based in Westchester County, New York.
Mr. Jones is a Spiritual Life Coach, Couples and Family Therapy Coach, Holistic Health Practitioner, First Aid in Mental Health Practioner, Diet and Nutrition Advisor, and Vegan, Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach.
Mr. Jones is a 32-year Law Enforcement Practioner New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.
Mr. Jones has been a guest commentator on New York radio stations WBLS (107.5 FM), WLIB (1190 am), WRKS (98.7 FM), WBAI (99.5 FM), and Westchester's WVOX (1460 am). Mr. Jones has appeared on local television broadcasts, including Westchester News 12 "News Makers" and Public Television "Winbrook Pride. You can now hear Damon every Wednesday at 830 AM on WFAS at 1230 AM, Morning with Bob Marone Show.