The Law Enforcement Leadership Vacuum
Where Have All of the Leaders Gone?
June 30, 2020
There is a quote from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that articulates what I believe we are seeing occur in America right now. The quote is listed in the column next to this post. Paraphrased it observes that any society that turns its back on those elements that created its greatness to embrace its destructors is doomed to an uncertain fate at best, and destruction at worst. I believe that law enforcement is a force for good in society.
Last Week I Held the 3rd of 3 Free Webinars on the current events happening in law enforcement with the sheriff of Burke County, GA, Alfonzo Williams. Sheriff Williams is African- American. He is very outspoken on what he thinks are the right things to do in the face of the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis almost one month ago and also his defense of the two white police officers involved in the shooting in Atlanta.
Following the George Floyd incident, Williams’ response was a call for the establishment of several national standards for police. I’ve called for similar measures . These standards are somewhat in line with Senator Scott’s senate bill. I posted them last week in my Blog. My question is where are the National Police Organizations. They have suddenly disappeared and have remained largely silent during this unprecedented times facing their members. I am speaking of International Association of Chief’s of Police (IACP) National Sheriff’s Associations, National Organization of Black Late Enforcement (NOBLE), Police Executive Research Organization, PERF and Fraternal Order of Police, (FOP).
During the Straight Talk on Leadership with Dean Crisp webinar last week (which you can listen to on Spotify or iTunes), I raised this issue: Officers all across this great country give millions of dollars collectively to organizations such as IACP, PERF, FOP, NOBLE, and the National Sheriffs’ Association. Are we getting our a return on our investment? Collectively, they represent a major portion of the law enforcement community and now they are silent. I expected more. I am calling for them to get busy and start leading. Someone has to lead the charge to recapture the narrative of law enforcement and to defend the profession they represent. We need a national task force of police leaders to help lead the charge of cultural evolution and reform. We must seize this opportunity to rebuild the public trust that has been lost due to the actions of a few rogue cops.
The Washington Post on June 28, 2020 published an article entitled “Police chiefs and mayors push for reform”. In this article the Post describes how chiefs and mayors are constantly battling veteran officers and unions when they introduce police reforms. The article made excellent points. This was also discussed in the podcast with Sheriff Williams and other dedicated, true professionals such as the retired chief of police for St. Paul, Minnesota, my good friend, Thomas Smith, the former chief of police for Oakland, California, Ann Kirkpatrick, and Greenville County, South Carolina, Hobart Lewis.
There is a loud cry to defund police and to eliminate qualified immunity for cops. Senator Tim Scott’s bill fell flat in the House of Representatives because it did not allow for qualified immunity. I have a suggestion for Senator Scott. Reopen the debate, call Speaker Pelosi’s bluff on qualified immunity with one twist: include all branches of government to include all appointed and elected officials: judges, prosecutors and legislators. If qualified immunity is bad for cops, then it should be bad for all. I am confident that this will not happen and will highlight the hypocrisy of the eliminate-qualified-immunity movement.
One of the major benefits of membership to the big five police organizations is that they promote advocacy. Advocacy typically means using the power of your membership to drive public policy in a direction that is positive for said membership. It also means that the executive directors and elected presidents of said bodies willingly speak out through the media on the issues of import to their membership. Despite statements condemning the actions of Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, there’s been nothing. Nothing on the accusations against police; nothing on the legislation proposed by Congress; nothing on the multitude of defund-the-police actions in some of the largest departments across this great nation. The lack of leadership from these organizations has created an advocacy vacuum at the most critical time in our history.
Right now, we are on the verger of crime chaos across this country. You have LAPD officers saying that morale is at an all-time low and that “it’s just not worth it anymore.” The NYPD – has had its budget slashed by over a billion dollars and its entire anti-crime division disbanded. The violence in cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle and Minneapolis are driving businesses and residents that can afford to move, to do so. The consequences of a national discussion on this topic is not just a law and order discussion, it’s an economic and community development one as well.
Many, but not all mayors, council-members, civic leaders and the like are all making law enforcement the scapegoat without providing any concrete solutions other than “defund the police and replace with social workers” along with “ issuing stand down orders” rather than allow the police to do their job and control the violence we’ve seen across this nation.
Our President Trump did issue an Executive Order three weeks ago outlining many police reforms with which i agree, but it can only go so far as an executive branch action. We need a national dialogue to help us wade through this difficult time and speak with one unified voice. With over 18,000 law enforcement agencies in this nation alone, I realize that unification is a difficult task. That is why we have the Big 5. Their voice to bring us together is needed now more than ever. If our organizations that we pay to represent us, abandon us in a time such as this, then why do we continue to support them at all? We must demonstrate to local, state, and federal officials that communities without cops are not communities at all. That law enforcement is the guardian of those communities and not just the warrior. This should be a no-holds-barred discussion that addresses all issues from race, to culture, to unions.
I think these are really important issues that deserve an ope dialogue among law enforcement professional. I’d really like to hear from all of you. Take the time to add your voice and to give your ideas and suggestions for a united law enforcement that truly serves our communities. Together we can united we fall. Recapture the Narrative that police are the people and the people are the police.
And together let’s start a dialogue at Leaders Helping Leaders Network and begin to change the narrative. We are setting up a discussion forum on this post later this week on our free band cell phone app at this link here where you can share your thoughts and ideas. Or email me as well at email@example.com. I want to hear your thoughts however you are comfortable engaging.
Remember, even in difficult times, Leadership Rocks.