President’s Panel Discusses Law Enforcement Personnel

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The President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice held three days of hearings by videoconference last week on law enforcement recruitment, training, and retention, the Justice Department reports.  Discussing recruitment, Arlington, Tx., Police Chief Will Johnson urged grant funding for cadet programs to encourage young people to enter the profession. Mike Yankowski of Michigan State University, retired chief of Lansing Police Department called for hiring officers who are highly ethical, of good moral character, and good communicators. “We can’t make the mistake of just hiring a warm body to fill that vacancy,” he said. Testifying on training, Erik Bourgerie, Director of Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) said training scenarios should become more complex, citing the example of domestic violence calls. He said, “Our current training method fails both our peace officers and our domestic violence victims. The first time new peace officers encounter the complexity, emotions and dangers inherent in a DV call is when they’re in the field and lives are truly on the line.” Palm Beach County, Fl., Sheriff Ric Bradshaw lamented the lack of management training.

In a hearing on retention of officers, William “Bill” Johnson of the National Association of Police Organizations recommended that “every officer in this nation have access to a peer mentoring program. One cannot overstate the importance of confidential, peer mentoring services to supporting officers’ mental health and wellness.” Sheriff Mark Napier of Pima County, Az., testified on “inadequate funding for substantive research into the development of best practices for law enforcement leaders confronting modern policing challenges.” He recommended that “the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) make available substantive funding over 10 years for meaningful law enforcement research.” (The Justice Department did not note that LEAA no longer exists, having been replaced in 1982 by other agencies.)

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