The third version of my ebook, “Arrested Improvement” is now out there on Amazon. It completes a course of I started in 2010 after I began desirous about what I had discovered as a police chief throughout my three-decade profession in municipal policing and wished to share with others.

Then got here this weblog. It was a option to attempt to course of what was occurring in American policing; particularly, why weren’t police bettering? Why, after a whole bunch of questionable deaths by police, the essential methods of police use of lethal pressure didn’t change, didn’t enhance.

Over time, I’ve written over 1,500 posts on this web site and bought greater than 1,800 followers from over 130 international locations all over the world. This weblog has been considered greater than 500,000 instances!

The third version of my ebook makes an attempt to finish this quest at organizational enchancment. If you happen to haven’t learn it, I’m posting the ultimate chapter right here.

It’s a message and a means ahead. Peace!


Arrested Improvement: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Racism, Protest, Corruption and the Seven Steps Essential to Enhance Our Nation’s Police

Chapter 9

George Floyd: The place To From Right here?

October 2014: Laquan McDonald.

McDonald was shot 16 instances and killed by Chicago police whereas strolling away from police with a small knife is his hand. The dashcam video of this incident was not launched by Chicago police till 2018.

November 2014: Tamir Rice.

Rice, a 14-year-old, was killed by Cleveland police in a park whereas taking part in with a faux gun. A park CCTV digital camera recorded the taking pictures.

April 2015: Walter Scott.

Scott was shot and killed by a North Charleston police officer after they scuffled and he broke away. The officer responded by taking pictures him within the again. Officers on the scene have been gradual to summon emergency medical look after Scott who died. A bystander videotaped the occasion.

July. 2016: Alton Sterling.

Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge, LA after police responded to a disturbance name outdoors of a neighborhood enterprise. He was shot whereas struggling on the bottom with police. The incident was filmed by a bystander and CCTV safety cameras.

July 2016: Philando Castile.

Castille was killed by a police officer in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, MN after being stopped and telling the officer he was licensed to hold a firearm. He was shot whereas reaching for his license. His girlfriend and her daughter have been within the automotive and witnessed the taking pictures. His girlfriend captured a lot of the occasion on her cellphone digital camera.

March 2018: Stephon Clark.

Clark was shot no less than seven instances and killed in Sacramento, CA after a foot chase. Officers mentioned they believed the cellphone in his hand was a firearm. The occasion was recorded by officer’s physique digital cameras.

March 2020: Breonna Taylor.

Taylor was shot eight instances and killed after Louisville, KY police raided her house to arrest her boyfriend.

Could 2020: George Floyd.

Floyd died on the bottom, handcuffed, after a police officer knelt on his neck for over 9 minutes, throughout which he cried out, “I can’t breathe!” A younger bystander recorded the occasion on her cellphone.

April 2021: Daunte Wright.

Wright was shot and killed by police in Brooklyn Middle, MN after he struggled, broke away, and tried to get into his car. A veteran police officer mentioned she thought she had used her Taser (an digital management weapon) as an alternative of her firearm. Recorded on the officer’s bodycam.

I had nearly completed writing the primary version of this ebook over a decade in the past when the Occupy Motion surged in our nation’s cities. The protest in 2011 was a progressive socio-political motion which primarily engaged younger white Individuals. Occupy referred to as consideration to inequality in our nation and provided new methods to consider democracy right here and all through the world. I needed to rapidly add a brand new chapter to my almost-completed manuscript titled “2011: Yr of Protest.”

I used to be compelled to do that after observing police across the nation responding violently to those that refused to maneuver. Police in lots of our nation’s cities have been as soon as once more unprepared to successfully deal with massive teams of residents exercising their First Modification rights. The violent police response was typically accomplished with out dialogue or negotiation with these assembled. Traditionally, police response to public protest in America has frequently run into issues with the correct of the individuals to assemble and protest governmental actions.[1]

Then in 2014, Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO. His bleeding physique remained on the road, uncovered, for hours in broad daylight. As anticipated, protest, typically violent, erupted throughout the nation. There was no video recording of the taking pictures both by physique digital camera or bystander. However, a second version wanted a chapter entitled, “Cease, Don’t Shoot.”

Chapter Eight on this ebook targeted on police use of lethal pressure as a serious drawback going through our nation, particularly when, as we later came upon, the precise variety of individuals shot and killed by police annually far exceeded what police have been reporting. Additional, this quantity included a disproportionate variety of younger Black males. The truth is, it is among the main causes of demise for younger Black males.[2] When a Black mom states she is fearful that police might kill her son, that’s not an unreasonable worry.[3]

Earlier than Ferguson, the variety of individuals reportedly shot and killed by police gave the impression to be small in quantity. However when groups of journalists from the Washington Put up and The Guardian scoured information studies, they discovered a a lot bigger quantity. Over time, police departments had grossly underreported the precise variety of residents killed. Their investigations, which proceed to this present day, revealed police really had taken the lives of residents in virtually 4 instances the numbers reported. At the moment, there isn’t a central reporting of those deaths save for the work of those journalists.[4]

Additional investigation reveals that one-third of the thousand deaths brought on by police annually are disproportionately younger males of shade. Since that point, and regardless of a relentless name by residents for police to be extra restrained in using lethal pressure and to hunt various management strategies, the variety of residents killed by police stays comparatively unchanged. I discover this surprising because it reinforces my thesis that the event and enchancment of our nation’s police continues to be “arrested!”

The failure to cut back the variety of residents killed by police annually leads many voters, particularly these of shade, to imagine that police are both incapable or unwilling to cut back the variety of residents they kill annually. When a Black youth is killed by police beneath questionable circumstances, it results in extra distrust of police from these with whom police have essentially the most contact.

When charges of police use of lethal pressure in America are in contrast with these in different democratic international locations all over the world, a putting image emerges. Police-related deaths of residents in america are reported to be 33 deaths per 10 million inhabitants. The illustrated graph reveals that in each different democratic nation on the earth, the variety of residents killed by police is considerably decrease than these killed by police in America.

Why is that this? Why haven’t the police in our nation been capable of cut back this quantity? Is it our low customary for utilizing pressure?[5] The paucity of police coaching in contrast with these international locations wherein police are extra restrained? Our lack of gun management? Or are we merely a extra violent nation?

The excuse for our nation’s low customary for police use of lethal pressure is discovered within the 1989 resolution of the U.S. Supreme Court docket in Graham v. Connor. In that call, the time period “cheap objectiveness” is discovered. This time period has been taken to imply that if a police officer, in his or her personal thoughts, senses a risk, lethal pressure is justified.

Sadly, this doctrine was rapidly adopted by police trainers some years later as “If we worry, we will shoot!” (Notice: the Graham resolution got here down after I served as Chief of Police in Madison. Our coverage on use of pressure didn’t change. In later years, this resolution, which was NOT a lethal pressure case, was used to justify police use of lethal pressure by each police trainers and leaders.)

I argue in Chapter Eight that our nation’s customary for police use of lethal pressure have to be that required by the European Union—“absolute necessity.”[6] I would add that nothing prohibits a police company from setting the next customary than what the regulation would possibly allow. For instance, an officer violating an company’s use of pressure coverage is probably not criminally prosecuted for his or her actions, however the officer might undergo self-discipline, together with termination for not following organizational instructions.

This was the scenario earlier than america Supreme Court docket dominated in Tennessee v. Garner. In Garner, the courtroom dominated that lethal pressure might not be utilized by police to cease non-dangerous fleeing felons, particularly, taking pictures youths who ran away after ditching a stolen automotive.

Police in Madison, WI, and some different progressive departments throughout the nation, already had a piece rule (coverage) in impact that prohibited lethal pressure from getting used to cease fleeing criminals who didn’t current an instantaneous, harmful risk to the group. But on the identical time, state regulation permitted police to make use of lethal pressure to arrest any fleeing felon whether or not the offender was instantly harmful to others or not.[7] Why can’t that happen with the Graham resolution?

Because the beautiful assault on our nation in 2001, we have now change into a extra fearful nation. This collective worry has deeply affected our police. Slowly, a piece perspective of serving to and serving others was changed by that of a warrior, armed and able to confront the various risks police have come to imagine they face.

You may see this on the face of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin as he restrained George Floyd and ignored his cries and the protest of those that witnessed this occasion. So the difficulty of police use of lethal pressure had, as soon as once more, captured headlines all over the world. Just like the beating of Rodney King three a long time in the past by Los Angeles police, Floyd’s demise was captured on a cellphone video. It rapidly appeared on community information and social media websites all over the world and induced outcry and protest. Chauvin was arrested, convicted, and despatched to jail in 2021, however not earlier than protest, together with property injury, had occurred in lots of American cities. Nonetheless, the speed of Americans shot and killed by police stays unabated.

Within the meantime, town of Minneapolis, the place I served as a police officer within the Nineteen Sixties, skilled violent protests for months and suffered tens of millions of {dollars} in property loss together with the torching of the native precinct station. A name went out to “defund,” and even get rid of, the police division. Unrest, protest, calls to defund the police, and occupation of the location the place Floyd was murdered proceed.

The informal observer of police would possibly assume that after Trayvon Martin, a younger Black man, was shot and killed in 2013 by a white vigilante in Florida and the nationwide “Black Lives Matter” motion was shaped, police would work to switch their insurance policies and coaching relating to using pressure.

Given the variety of occasions of lethal pressure use by police throughout the nation, one would assume that governmental leaders would reply by ordering police to tighten up their lethal pressure insurance policies. In spite of everything, every occasion tends to cut back the belief and help police must conduct their work successfully and safely.

Even in justified makes use of, public belief and help of their police erode when victims are shot a number of instances. This additionally occurs when police use lethal pressure to kill a suspect armed with a knife. This typically rapidly occurs as a result of police have been educated and led to imagine within the “21-Foot Rule.” That’s, an individual armed with a knife can kill you earlier than you possibly can react in the event that they get inside 21 toes of you.

This “rule” was not factual, but it turned a justification for officers to shoot suspects with knives in the event that they obtained nearer than 21 toes to them. Analysis proved in any other case and demonstrated that totally different methods of motion can improve the officer’s means to outlive such an assault.[8]

Now allow us to return to the demise of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It have to be realized that within the current time, if the younger lady had not videotaped Officer Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes, Chauvin would probably not be convicted or in jail at this time. With out the video proof, Floyd’s demise would probably have been justified.

For instance, police would report that he was harmful and uncontrolled. Additional, a health worker might rule he had medication in his system and died from “excited delirium,” which was utilized in Chauvin’s protection.[9]

Since Michael Brown’s demise in 2014, I hoped that police leaders would have successfully responded to the issue of lethal pressure use. In impact, the framework for doing so took place when President Obama created the twenty first Century Activity Pressure on Policing. It quickly fell by the wayside after the 2016 presidential election.

Whereas some cities and states enacted legal guidelines prohibiting police choke holds, requiring physique cameras, mandating peer intervention, and prohibiting taking pictures at fleeing automobiles, the variety of killing is but to be diminished. In spite of everything, that have to be the measure of effectiveness of those legal guidelines. (By the way in which, all of those “reforms,” aside from physique cameras, have been actions taken by most progressive police businesses over three a long time in the past.) Police misconduct happens even when officers know they’re being recorded on digital camera; police car sprint cameras have been in operation because the Eighties with seemingly little influence on individuals killed by police.

Really, the proposals being thought of will do little to enhance the character and apply of policing in our nation. What’s wanted, nonetheless, is to deal with the destructive perspective many law enforcement officials carry with them every single day. That’s the actual drawback in policing at this time—it’s about perspective!

When Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd, all America noticed it. Regardless of Floyd’s cries and the outcry from bystanders, Officer Chauvin didn’t seem to think about what he was doing was in any means out of the abnormal. Chauvin was primarily saying by way of his physique posture, “That is the way in which we do issues right here.” And the cries of Floyd and those that have been standing by didn’t matter.

It’s this sort of perspective that I’ve continuously confronted throughout my three a long time in policing. It’s the disdain for different individuals. It’s internalizing and residing with the assumption “We’re the police and also you’re not. We are able to do something we want to you, and you haven’t any energy to cease us!”

It’s a developed perspective with echoes from the times of slavery and Jim Crow. Now not can our previous be carried into our future, nor can it’s ignored or forgotten alongside the way in which. This destructive perspective in the direction of others have to be changed by one other perspective, the constructive perspective of obligation, honor, equity, compassion, and accountability. That is the perspective that must be demanded of our nation’s police. Those that can not make this adjustment want to seek out different employment.

I started writing my on-line weblog “Enhancing Police” in 2011 (bettering­police.weblog). As of this writing, this web site comprises almost 1,500 posts, 500,000 views, and 1,800 followers from 30 international locations all over the world. In it, police, college students, and residents can discover solutions to lots of the issues confronting the management and administration of police: easy methods to choose and prepare, facilitating citizen suggestions, and the best-known strategies of main, creating, and fielding competent, delicate, and efficient law enforcement officials, in brief, the type of police who can undertake an perspective of “service above self.” I don’t use the time period “serve” frivolously.

For essentially the most half, the issue with bettering police is the absence of management, a void which has permitted a vicious, destructive perspective to develop and stay inside the ranks, affecting far too lots of our nation’s law enforcement officials.

Because of the current division and acrimony in our native and nationwide politics (these are form phrases), I count on little shall be accomplished to enhance our police till we be taught to hear and get together with each other. You already know, the apply of fundamental civility. This consists of creating a standard understanding of the position of police in our society. For instance, after the conviction of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, a nationwide ballot revealed that half of conservatives surveyed believed the jurors had come to the flawed resolution by convicting Chauvin. Alternatively, 90% of liberals believed the alternative. In such a political atmosphere it’s troublesome to see how we, domestically or nationally, can ever come to settlement as to the steps we must always take to enhance our police.[10]

Allow me to additionally add, as a tragic and beautiful instance, what occurred in our nation’s Capitol constructing on January 6, 2021. You probably have any query or reservation as to what did occur on that day, I invite you to view the 40-minute documentary of a group of journalists who adopted the tragic, highly-coordinated, and lethal occasions of that day.[11]The fixed diatribe in opposition to our system of presidency and its electoral system led to 1000’s of individuals being inspired to “cease the steal,” referring to the 2020 election, which was about to be ratified in Congress. Someway, they got here to imagine it was their patriotic obligation to interrupt into our nation’s capital constructing and stop lawmakers from ratifying the election outcomes.

This “name to arms” resulted in an orchestrated assault and break-in at our nation’s capitol constructing on January 6, 2021. These insurrectionists weren’t “vacationers.”[12]

Throughout that tragic day in our historical past, over 100 law enforcement officials have been assaulted and injured, and Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick misplaced his life. Those that confirmed up in Washington and got here to the Capitol constructing have been prepared with walkie-talkies, baseball bats, and bear spray to injure and overcome Capitol and Metropolitan police. A lot for the “Again the Blue” slogan many of those rioters little question espoused up to now. Are you able to think about what would have occurred if 1000’s of Black males had stormed our nation’s Capitol in the course of the “Million Man March” in October of 1995?[13]

So right here I’m. Within the eighth decade of my life, having spent over three a long time as a police officer and chief, and now devoting most of my post-retirement life to speaking, educating, and writing about police and their enchancment. I discover myself struggling to consider the long run, how wanted reform can ever proceed in our nation with its current political divisions and the destructive perspective amongst lots of our nation’s officers.

Even with an settlement on what reform measures have to be taken, we’re a nation with over 600,000 police serving in 17,000 police businesses. Policing in America is, and at all times has been, a neighborhood endeavor; subsequently, reform, even incremental enchancment, is essentially within the palms of native residents. They’re those who ought to be addressing how and by whom policing ought to be carried out.

As I discussed earlier on this ebook, the necessities to be licensed as a barber or beautician in most states are far better than these for law enforcement officials. The variety of hours we prepare our police falls far under that required of police in Europe, Australia and Canada. (See “Chapter Six: The Seven Steps.” Step 4 addresses the significance of coaching and main in police enchancment.)

This surprising truth was first revealed over 40 years in the past within the report of President Johnson’s Fee on Legislation Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.[14] It stays so at this time.

Whereas most American law enforcement officials at this time are higher educated than these with whom I served, the very fact stays that just one % of our police businesses require a four-year baccalaureate diploma for entry. That was true in 1969 after I served as police chief in Burnsville, MN, and it stays true at this time. Will we not care sufficient about our police to require them to be educated? In Burnsville, we instituted a four-year diploma requirement for all new officers. That was 1969. At the moment, town continues to carry this requirement as a result of it makes good sense to have educated police. A school training doesn’t guarantee that our police shall be excellent, however they are going to higher perceive their job, what they’re referred to as to do, and the way they’re to deal with individuals.

I discover I’m ending the place I started: easy methods to successfully apply the artwork of policing in a free and democratic society. We should not overlook the 4 Obstacles I define on this ebook for they proceed to arrest the development of our nation’s police. To start to journey the street forward, we should craft and preserve a powerful, unyielding imaginative and prescient which inspires honest, equitable, managed, and community-oriented policing.

However at this time my imaginative and prescient is significantly narrowed. I see it occurring solely in particular person progressive communities, communities that may come collectively and craft an efficient and lawful means ahead with their police. In case you are indignant about police and their habits, whether or not you’re a police officer or a citizen, I counsel that as an alternative calling for defunding or eliminating your police, you’re employed along with them. Rethink your strategy, in or out of the ranks, and re-imagine policing in your group. What would such a company appear to be? How ought to its officers be chosen and ready? How ought to its officers and their leaders be evaluated?

Bear in mind, police are our designated functionaries. They do our work (work many people wouldn’t essentially need to do). They symbolize us—at evening, in warmth and snow, with people who find themselves intoxicated, indignant, or are experiencing a psychological well being disaster. When a citizen might need to run away from a hazard, police run in the direction of it.

Whereas some persons are harmful, the job of police is to assist. Analysis (and my expertise) reveals most police work is just not about arresting or preventing with individuals, it’s about serving to and serving them.[15] Police work stays the enterprise of serving to.

Police are essentially guardians, not warriors. They don’t seem to be to be chosen as a result of they’re the hardest, however as a result of they’re the wisest. Merely put, it’s quite a bit simpler to coach an individual with a guardian orientation to be a warrior than to coach a warrior to be a guardian.

Due to this fact, our police shouldn’t look or act like paramilitary troops. Change begins by communities deciding on college-educated, emotionally clever women and men from various backgrounds, sufficiently educated, who’re predisposed to assist, serve, and shield others; that’s, police candidates should start their careers with the correct perspective and beneath­standing of what they’re referred to as to do: guard, serve, and assist, and gown them accordingly. Chapter Three describes the explanation for outfitting police in non-military-style uniforms.

Police aspirants should perceive that nowadays they’re getting into a job with a powerful historic, and current, system of racial bias. At the moment, police should be capable to see and course of their work by way of the prism of race. That is the idea of Crucial Race Concept (CRT); it’s understanding race and racism as a social assemble and holds that it’s unwise to assume {that a} vital inhabitants in our nation who has been enslaved and discriminated in opposition to for generations will merely “recover from it.”[16]

The best perspective I name for have to be supported, not erased by the preliminary coaching expertise of police. And when police recruits return to their departments after coaching, they have to be met by clever and skilled leaders (each formal and casual) who help a working perspective of guarding, serving, and serving to.

Police might be higher educated to de-escalate harmful conditions and management their use of pressure in dealing with emotionally disturbed and aggressive individuals. All of us should perceive that the authority we grant our police to make use of lethal pressure is a accountability that nobody else is accorded in our society. There’s a sacred nature to it. Over 150 years in the past, Sir Robert Peel and others noticed that the extra pressure police utilized in performing their duties, the much less help they’d from the group. That can be true at this time and is why belief have to be constructed. (See “Peel’s Rules” in Chapter Two.)

Due to this fact, police, who serve our democracy and help its values, have to be prepared to be true community-oriented employees, that’s, capable of work with residents to unravel their police-related issues. That is the essence of Group-Oriented Policing that I talk about all through this ebook. In doing this, police should act as if all lives matter, and the safety of lives is their elementary obligation.

If we, nonetheless, want to enhance our police, it won’t be straightforward. We should create a brand new means of policing and a brand new breed of police. There exist few examples throughout the nation. A number of years in the past, I wrote “The right way to Charge Your Native Police: A Person Information for Civic, Governmental, and Police Leaders.” This booklet is a option to assess the standard of your native police company. It’s one thing any officer or citizen can do.[17]

Within the late Nineteen Sixties, our nation tried to change into a “Nice Society.” It was the thought of President Lyndon Johnson, and he bought it to Congress. One of many concepts was to create Mannequin Cities: locations wherein the concepts and practices of a Nice Society have been being successfully carried out. As a younger graduate scholar, this appeared to me to be an amazing concept for policing. If we will develop mannequin cities the place leaders from different cities can come and be taught, why not create mannequin police businesses which might, for instance, implement the suggestions of the 1967 Activity Pressure on Policing in addition to these from the twenty first Century Activity Pressure and the PERF Pointers? We did that in Madison within the late Eighties and early ’90s after we provided three-day coaching periods for different police to be taught what we have been doing in Madison and the way it was working.[18]

However how can we do that? Aren’t police immune to new concepts and alter? Received’t they resist outsiders? I counsel that proposing police enchancment on the native stage doesn’t need to be confrontational. It may be seen as useful for each police and group. Take into consideration taking this strategy together with your Chief of Police or Sheriff:

“Chief/Sheriff, everyone knows that everybody of us might change into simpler. I definitely might. However how can we try this with out it showing that we have now been doing a poor job? A technique is to consider and undertake the thought of “steady enchancment” as each a private and organizational objective. I might be prepared that will help you and your division do that. In spite of everything, an efficient police group is one that’s trusted, supported, and revered by the group. It’s potential. You and your officers will be capable to strengthen your group’s belief, help, and respect by working with us and discovering option to construct that belief and help and get nearer to the group. We are able to do that by working collectively. Would you be prepared to provide it a strive?”

Until residents on the native stage are prepared to take this daring step, little will ever be completed relating to bettering their police. There are just too many police and businesses to do something vital on the state or federal ranges of presidency. We should understand that bettering police begins at dwelling, in your neighborhood. It begins with you, whether or not you’re a police officer or a member of the group.

I’ve argued over time since Ferguson that our police have did not both hear or perceive what’s being requested of them by Black residents. I hear, “Cease killing us. Be who you say you might be. Deal with us as you deal with white individuals.” This cry might be heard by way of American historical past, from the times of slavery to these of Jim Crow. I hear it at this time.

But I’m reminded what my expensive pal and mentor Herman Goldstein typically informed me throughout our decades-long discussions about police and their enchancment. Herman would say, “Bear in mind, David, there are police and there are police!” He was reminding me of the number of police and their habits all through the nation. Amongst these businesses exists a variety of capability and talent. Amongst 17,000 police businesses are large variations.

New York Metropolis, for instance, has a police division of over 30,000 members; it’s bigger than the armies of many countries. But 90 % of police businesses throughout the nation have fewer than ten officers. It’s unattainable, subsequently, to make a sweeping generalization about police in America. As a substitute, we should understand the one efficient means police are going to be improved is domestically, a division at a time, and it could actually start in your city or metropolis.

The communities which shall be profitable in doing this can accomplish that by way of steady motion and strain from residents who’re clear about what they’re making an attempt to attain, residents who’re capable of carry police into the dialogue and construct coalitions and objectives.

Will your city or metropolis be considered one of them? Until you act, the event and enchancment of your police in your city or metropolis will proceed to be arrested, and all of us will undergo as a nation.

Good luck and Godspeed.






[5].     Graham v. Connor

[6].     See Article Two of the European Conference of Human Rights:


[8].     Police Apply and Analysis Quantity 22, 2021 –Concern 3










[18].    (See The Activity Pressure on twenty first Century Policing and the Police Govt Analysis Discussion board’s report “Guiding Rules On Use of Pressure:”

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