Where Is Law Enforcement Leadership?

Calibre Press

Sometimes I think I’m living in an alternate universe, one totally askew from reality.

Or maybe I’m just in the Twilight Zone. I don’t know.

What I do know is that a preponderance of prejudiced pundits and predisposed politicians, as well as the many biased media and countless narrow-minded activists, have clear agendas—agendas that find them ignoring reality and inconvenient truths. Truths such as: who the real victims of crimes are and who are the true victimizers.

I expect them to ignore reality. I don’t condone it, but unfortunately as we find out every single day, way too many politicians will say whatever it takes to get elected. Damn ethics. Damn the truth. Damn the consequences.

But when it comes to top police administrators—that’s another story. I don’t have the patience or understanding for some of the things that are coming out of those ranks.

Police Admins

They should—and I’m sure do—know better.

For example.

  • They must know why there is suddenly a rise in violent crime in many urban areas.
  • They have to logically understand why crime really dropped so drastically after 1991.
  • They must recognize that the howling about prison overcrowding being a result of “nonviolent drug offenders” being incarcerated in record numbers is absolute, complete and utter nonsense.
  • If they have a modicum of common sense they surely realize that demonizing, restricting and over-regulating their officers will result in less proactivity and therefore a precipitous drop in arrests, leading to more emboldened criminals and more innocent victims.
  • And they certainly have to be aware that if they don’t back up their officers and the profession they supposedly serve when those ranks deserve to be backed up, bowing instead to political pressure, they will lose the ability to lead their personnel.

I speak to thousands of police officers a year. I have hundreds of conversations: in class, during breaks, and sometimes over beers. And the cops are out of their minds about the state of law enforcement right now.

The vast majority come into the profession with the desire and intent to help others. They are willing to deal with the degenerates. The perverts. The maniacal and the supremely confused. These cops run into burning buildings, jump into raging rivers and daily and routinely put themselves between victims and predators.

And what are they hearing from way too many of their leaders?

We don’t trust you. So we’re going to appease the loudest screamers (despite their patent ignorance) and we will regulate your actions and create a bureaucracy like you’ve never seen.

Example: Illinois passed a law that came into effect on January 1 of this year.  Basically it says this: If a police officer stops a person because they have reasonable suspicion that the person is committing, has committed or is about to commit a crime (Terry v. Ohio) and that leads to a pat-down, then they have to fill out a report, give a copy to the person stopped, describe the person by race, immediately explain and articulate their reasons for the stop and provide a phone number so they can complain about the officer doing the stop.

Chicago has taken this even further because of an agreement with the ACLU.

From the Chicago Tribune: “The Chicago Police Department announced it will simplify forms for reports that officers must file whenever they stop someone on the street … After hearing feedback from officers about new stop reports, interim police superintendent John Escalante worked with the city’s Law Department and the ACLU to simplify the forms … Instead of being two pages, the new stop reports will be reduced to 1 ½ pages.”

Got that? Every time a police officer makes a proactive stop in a high crime area they have to write a 1 ½-page report?

Let me go on the record: Ain’t gonna happen.

Those of you who aren’t cops won’t understand this, but how much time do you think the police would spend off the street filling these things out? I mean every single time they approach some would-be criminal, the officer is going to have to then stop and fill out these forms. And if they approach a group of would-be criminals? Say five to seven? That’s 10 pages of bureaucracy to deal with.

No thanks!

This is simple psychology and common sense: The cops will just stop making the stops. You know, those things that let criminals know that the police are more than just driving around. The thing that says: “I will arrest you if you step out of line.”  The thing that says: “I know who you are, I’ve looked you in the eye, and you know my meaning.”

We used to call that “good police work.”

It’s only been about two months since this requirement came into effect. The result? Contacts have dropped by over 80%, while there are more than twice as many homicides in the city as there were last year.

More than double!

And you know what some are saying? The ACLU: “We don’t believe fewer street stops is causing the rising murder rate.”

The Interim Supt. of Police John Escalante?  “Um … I don’t think there’s a direct correlation. I mean it’s something we have to be concerned about and we’re looking at.”

Politicians? They are the reason it’s called the “Windy City.”

Conclusion

I’ll end with this: Police officers are human. We don’t train enough and in the right way. We make mistakes. But, statistically, it’s not those in blue doing the harm and victimizing the poor and helpless. It’s the gangs, the criminals, the perverts, the psychopaths, and the sociopathic.

If politicians want to prattle on about economics or the lack of education and opportunity, I concur: Thriving communities don’t suffer the way the poorest do. We need to work on that too. But that’s not what cops do. What dedicated cops do is stop crime. Now.

So demonize them. Over-regulate them. Pass laws that tell them, “We don’t trust you.” What’s the worst that could happen? Twenty-three people were shot in Chicago this weekend. Eight of them died, one of whom was a child.   

And as my father told me when I made sergeant: “If you’re in a leadership position for crying out loud then lead!” Preach the truth. Follow the stats. Hold bad cops accountable. Dedicate yourselves to better training. Back up good cops when they deserve to be backed up.

Simple stuff, right? And all too rare.

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Jim Glennon

Lt. Jim Glennon (ret.) is the owner and lead instructor for Calibre Press. He is a third-generation LEO, retired from the Lombard, Ill. PD after 29 years of service. Rising to the rank of lieutenant, he commanded both patrol and the Investigations Unit. In 1998, he was selected as the first Commander of Investigations for the newly formed DuPage County Major Crimes (Homicide) Task Force. He has a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Law Enforcement Justice Administration, is the author of the book Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement.