Officers in many parts of the country are exhausted by the mixed messages they often receive from elected officials and the communities that they serve. On the one hand, residents and business owners call the police for practically every problem that plagues their daily life—from noise complaints to unruly customers to reports of intoxicated persons or homeless people sleeping in front of their home or place of business. And they turn to their departments to “do something” when unrest erupts or violent crime increases.
On the other hand, aggressive enforcement intended to prevent and detect criminal activity exponentially increases the frequency of enforcement contacts and, therefore, the likelihood of citations, arrests or use of force incidents that some in the community deem unreasonable or even brutal.
So it seems that the time has come for communities, through direct referendum or through their duly elected officials, to decide what exactly they want their police to do and not do. The rules of engagement need to be clarified for officers and the community.
They need to be in writing. They need to be in policy. They need to be a formal contractual agreement. And with a contract come certain obligations on both sides. Officers are obligated to operate within the enforcement framework that is specified. Community members and the officials that they elect are obligated to live with the consequences, for better or for worse.
In this two-hour webinar, Attorney Matt Dolan will outline strategies for agency leaders, union leaders and elected officials to utilize in formulating policies that clearly address the rules of engagement in areas including: