EPA Words Matter

Words and Mindsets: Law Enforcement to Peace Officer; Warrior to Guardian; Use of Force to Response to Resistance; Retreat to Strategic Repositioning

Words Matter

Law Enforcement to Peace Officer; Warrior to Guardian; Use of Force to Response to Resistance; Retreat to Strategic Repositioning

Law Enforcement vs. Peace Officer. When policing organizations describe themselves as law enforcement agencies and their officers as law enforcement officers it reinforces the view that the mission of the agency is almost exclusively limited to law enforcement. Another aspect of the law enforcement mindset is the description of police officers as crime fighters and rhetoric about a “war” on crime contributes to the perception of officers as soldiers or warriors. Many believe that these mindsets contribute to a disposition toward the use of force and treatment of certain segments of the community as the “enemy.”

Since the concept of “peace officer” is more consistent with public expectations and needs than the narrower notion of “law enforcement officer”, the Exemplary Policing Agency framework adopts the broader and more modern concept.

Warrior vs Guardian. The Exemplary Policing model also adopts the proposal in the Final report of the President’s Task Force on Policing in the 21st Century (May 2105) http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/taskforce_finalreport.pdf  to place greater emphasis on what they call a “guardian” mindset rather than a “warrior” mindset that views the officer as as soldier in a dangerous battle. In fact, both mindsets have a place in policing but the militaristic “warrior” perspective tends to promote fearful and hostile predispositions that can result in overly aggressive, callous enforcement that diminishes legitimacy.

Use of Force to Response to Resistance. No issue is more central to the challenge of modern policing than the “use of force.” While this terminology will always dominate discussions and training, the exemplary policing model suggests that training and other communications recast the problem in terms of “response to resistance” so that force is only one option.

Retreat to Strategic Re-positioning. As policing agencies place much greater emphasis on deescalation and other strategies as a prerequisite to the use of deadly force the option of retreat or withdrawal must be considered. Because many officers find the concept of retreat to be culturally unacceptable, some agencies have changed the terminology using the phrase  “strategic re-positioning,” a much more acceptable concept.

 

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *