It has often been said that law enforcement is resistant to change. However, those of us leading the profession recognize that it is not resistance to change, but a drive to change in a measured, responsible way. Implementing new ideas simply because they are new, without thoroughly examining the potential benefits and potential pitfalls, can put our officers and communities at risk.
However, innovation is—and should continue to be—an important element of law enforcement in the 21st century. The world changes at a rapid pace, with new technologies and strategies used every day by both peaceful civilians and criminals. Our responsibility to our communities requires that we adapt and evolve with them in order to successfully protect them from new threats, meet their evolving needs, and connect with them in this quickly changing world that we all share.
In part because of the rate of change in today’s world—and the constantly growing number of both new opportunities and challenges that these changes bring with them—IACP supports the creation of a National Criminal Justice Commission, such as the one proposed by a bipartisan bill introduced in March 2017. IACP has advocated for the creation of a commission for more than two decades, recognizing that it would provide a mechanism for professionals from all areas of criminal justice, social services, and government to comprehensively review the U.S. criminal justice system and collaboratively develop recommendations to address public safety challenges. I encourage law enforcement leaders throughout the United States to contact their U.S. senators and voice their support for the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2017.1
Innovations in law enforcement can vary by agency and our communities’ and officers’ needs. IACP provides numerous resources to help keep law enforcement up to date on cutting-
edge tools, while simultaneously providing the information and evidence leaders need to make informed decisions about which advances are the best fit for their agencies and communities. Some areas addressed by IACP’s resources include the following.
Policy: The Law Enforcement Policy Center is constantly developing or updating model policies on timely topics, including, for example, body-worn cameras, naloxone (Narcon), and excited delirium. In addition, 11 leading law enforcement organizations, including IACP, recently released the National Consensus Policy on Use of Force to help our agencies evaluate and enhance our own use-of-force policies.
Mental Health: IACP’s One Mind Campaign aims to ensure successful interactions between officers and persons with mental illnesses. Agencies can join the campaign by pledging to implement any or all of four promising practices: (1) partnering with a community mental health organization; (2) developing a policy to address responses to persons affected by mental illness; (3) training and certifying 100 percent of your officers (and select non-sworn staff) in Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety; and (4) providing crisis intervention team training to at least 20 percent of your officers (and select non-sworn staff).
Community-Police Relations: The IACP Institute for Community-Police Relations (ICPR) is designed to guide and assist law enforcement agencies seeking to build or enhance community trust. The ICPR’s webpage has a number of resources for agencies, such as a Communities of Color Toolkit, examples from the field, and discussions of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommendations.
Most recently, the ICPR partnered with Howard University (Washington, DC) to create the Policing Inside-Out course that brings African American college students, law enforcement officers, and community leaders together to open a dialogue on criminal justice issues and help all of the participants understand the others’ points of view in an effort to enhance community-police relations. (See pages 44–49 to read more about this initiative and the lessons learned for law enforcement and community members.)
Officer Safety and Wellness: We have learned that officer safety and wellness efforts need to go beyond tactical safety to a holistic wellness approach that gives officers both the physical health and mental wellness to handle the stress policing can put on our bodies and minds. IACP’s Center for Officer Safety and Wellness focuses on officers’ health, safety, and wellness on and off the job, providing resources that range from a nutrition factsheet to a video on the risks officers face when responding to domestic violence calls to a vicarious trauma toolkit, among many others.
I urge you to access and use these resources to assist you as you develop and implement innovative approaches at your agency. Regardless of the issue at hand—officer fitness, a new technology, relationship building, or the myriad other challenges law enforcement faces daily—new, creative, innovative solutions, implemented with care, can pave the way to safer and more secure communities around the world.♦
1National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2017, H.R. 1607 (2017).
Please cite as
Donald W. De Lucca, “Improving Law Enforcement’s Capabilities, Public Safety, and Communities Through Innovation,” President’s Message, The Police Chief (June 2017): 6.