The six pillars of 21st Century Policing
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The six pillars of 21st Century Policing

Derrick Peterson, Captain , Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office

Derrick Peterson, Captain , Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office

The year 2020 will join historical reference points, specific to social reform issues, spurred by the pandemic and a call for social justice changes brought on by excessive use of force incidences against people of color by police officers. The Corrections profession must embrace these issues as a harbinger for further reform as the issues surrounding police directly apply to and impact Corrections. Law Enforcement, the umbrella of multiple professions underneath it, cannot afford to ignore these issues for all our actions collectively affect the success of each other.

As Corrections firmly steps into 2021, reforms to the profession must mirror our police partners with a focus on the six pillars of 21st Century Policing, which are:

Building Trust and Legitimacy

Policy and Oversight

Technology and Social Media

Community Policing and Crime Reduction

Training and Education

Officer Safety and Wellness

Building Trust and Legitimacy

Corrections must increase transparency as to what transpires behind the four walls of correctional facilities. This harnesses and nurtures trust and legitimacy. It is important programs built around the involvement of corrections officers, which is why it is critical that officers are equipped with various behavioral and educational backgrounds withpractical application. As staff work with adults in custody through transformative programs, organic mentorship relationships tend to develop that subvert the warrior mentality to guardianship, which corrections has actively and successfully addressed for decades.

Policy and Oversight

The review and creation of policy should be collaborative allowing communities the opportunity to access, read, and give constructive input into shaping what should be a living document. While policy should be reflective of community values, it must challenge staff to engage it on an ethical continuum that promotes moralbehavior. It must inspire staff to embrace it, not just as guidelines, but also to be incorporated as tenets that permeate their actions, beliefs, and intents as a part of alife style. Policy must be an active construct and not just words, inspiring staff to cultivate higher standards that are applied continuously.

Technology and Social Media

Up to date technology helps to ease anxiety and create connectivity to the community that the adults in custody are a part of. It will be essential those in custody are given increased education and vocational opportunities. Technology changes quickly, which puts pressure on innovation in a profession that historically is behind when it involves outdated electronic systems for staff and those in custody. As new generations of adults enter the corrections system with experience in new technology, it will be important corrections finds ways to meet their needs in a budget-conscious environment, which should include forms of social media. Conversely, staff will need to be encouraged to use social media in a constructive way that highlights the good works taking place.

Community Policing and Crime Reduction

While Corrections is regarded as a profession housed behind four walls, its foot print has continued to increase into the community as technology has introduced ways to effectively monitor and supervise in the community. As initiatives continue to reduce jail and prison time and push supervision out to the community,structures supported by sustainable funding must be created as a way to keep those in the system connected socially.It will be important that constructive community-based opportunities are readily available to promote positive change and allow deeper engagement in a meaningful/constructive way. The establishment of this type of supervision will be key to long term change and reduction in crime.

Training and Education

Training and education must be designed to go deeper than just the surface. It must challenge staff and the public to have uncomfortable conversations and identify and address deficiencies in character and challenge belief systems that contribute to poor decision making and faulty assumptions. If we are not learning, we are not growing. It is important staff are challenged to overcome the status quo and strive to be productive with a heart for humanity,that engages in a way that brings about positive change.

Corrections is one of the most regulated professions in Law Enforcement as we are entrusted with the care and custody of those temporarily removed from the community through the judicial process. This requires staff to be trained and to maintain certifications in a number of critical areas, such as PREA, Use of Force to include de-escalation training, and various diversity classes to name a few. As expectations change and training increases, it is imperative forward-thinking ideas meet community and professional standards in an ever-changing environment.

Officer Safety and Wellness

As expectations increase and components of the six pillars interact over system changes, unanticipated incidences will occur, which will increase pressure on staff. This will call for flexibility and intentionality when addressing officer safety and wellness. Reactions to the pandemic along with calls for social change stemming from negative police interactions with the public has put unanticipated pressure on staff. This has been compounded by the pressure of family life everyone in the country has endured. The result is a deep fatigue that has challenged the resolve of officers to stay committed to a profession facing immense pressure and scrutiny. Correction leaders must be intentional about addressing safety and wellness issues with staff that directly influence not only the profession, but the community.

In the case of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, this was compounded by nightly protests as staff faithfully fulfilled their commitment as essential employees coupled withresidual effect of unanticipated issues as they dealt with ingress and egress issues getting to and from work settings, faced hostile crowds, exposure to munitions used to disperse unlawful gatherings, and endureddamage to their vehicles.

Law Enforcement is known for its stressors and the sometimes-crippling effects on family, life, and work. Staff wellness will need to be approached from a holistic approach not just for them, but for their families as well. Introducing a health guidance professional tasked to engage staff by formulating individual health life planswill be pivotal in maximizing productivity, longevity, and retainment in an effort to deliver quality services to the citizens and adults in custody.

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