4 Professional Obligations of 21st Century Policing

Police officers have four overarching professional obligations.  They are to:  ourselves; other police officers; the police profession; and the community.
As a 30 year law enforcement expert, I never thought I knew everything.  I relied on others to show me what I could not see.  I am so graceful I did because we were able to stay ahead of our ever-changing environment, and provided a safe and enjoyable place for people to live and work.
I strongly believe that most police officers are committed to these professional obligations; however, some have either forgotten or do not believe in them.  These few police officers are significantly impacting police credibility in policing our communities.  In some cases, people are comparing some police departments to the Jim Crow policing era.
What can police officers do to help turnaround this negative wave of policing in the eyes of many Americans?  It starts with re-committing to the police professional obligations.   Let us briefly examine them:
  • To Ourselves. Police officers must be obligated to themselves first because this is the profession they chose.  I do not know of anyone who selects a profession and wants to fail at it.
  • To Other Police Officers. It is a mutually-supporting relationship of like-minded brothers and sisters who are obligated to each other.
  • To The Police Profession. There are several different definitions or interpretations of the police profession.  However, it boils down to positive characteristics and values of the police profession which exemplifies a professional police officer or police organization.
  • To The Community. I believe police officer exist for their communities.  Without people, you do not have communities, and without communities, there is no need for police.  So, police must be obligated to the communities they are policing.
The recently released President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Report is a good starting block to enhance relationships between police departments and the communities they are policing.  The report clearly shows that policing starts with PEOPLE.  Having the right people, at the right time, at the right place, with the right training and mindset leads to the kind of professional policing the public expects.  I truly believe a majority of police departments require enhanced training and management to ensure they are current, adaptive, relevant and evolving to meet the policing needs of their communities in the 21st Century.  What does this enhancement entail?  Re-committing to the police professional obligations along with the establishment of a 21st Century Procedural Justice, Police Legitimacy, and Cultural Sensitivity Awareness Training Program taught by knowledgeable and experienced industry experts.
This kind of specialized training is the missing link that will bring police departments up to 21st Century policing.  Some police departments have acknowledged a need for this training and are taking appropriate action to address it.  My concerns are the ones who either do not care or think they do not need it.  If you have additional questions regarding this article, please contact bfreeman@bafsecuritysolutions.com.