A network of police chiefs from is exchanging ideas on reforms in policing, and teaming up with progressive prosecutors to push for measures that would keep mentally ill, addicted and nonviolent offenders from jail, reports The Marshall Project, writing for Politico. The aim is to steer the policing profession toward “a more community-friendly mentality,” or as the current jargon puts it, as “guardians” instead of “warriors.” “I don't think this is necessarily a change of heart,” says Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson. “The emphasis on de-escalation only came about because of resistance on the part of the public.”
The network has support from consulting firms and think tanks that provide research, advocate for the latest strategies, and help place protegés in key policing jobs. It is bound by two influential national organizations, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which is open to the heads of departments in the 67 largest cities or counties, and the Police Executive Research Forum, which writes policy proposals, organizes brainstorming sessions, and helps cities recruit police chiefs and advises on reform plans. Whether the new wave of progressive policing amounts to profound change or a cosmetic makeover will depend on whether it is absorbed into the culture of the rank and file, said Jonathan Smith, until recently a lawyer in the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division who led investigations of alleged police misconduct in Cleveland, Ferguson, Albuquerque and Seattle.