Category Research

Sheldon Greenberg, a professor in the Division of Public Safety Leadership, led a discussion in June on the need to restructure police recruiting and selection practices at a White House briefing on Advancing 21st-Century Policing.

“Our system traditionally focuses on recruiting everyone the same way regardless of his or her experience or circumstance,” said Greenberg. “We need to rethink our approach to attracting veterans and career changers to the field. We can’t continue to treat them as if they are career starters.”

The briefing provided an opportunity for approximately 50 leaders from public safety, academia, labor organizations and professional associations to discuss progress stemming from the report of the President’s Task Force on 21st-Century Policing. The task force, formed to recommend ways for fostering constructive relationships between law enforcement and communities, released its findings in May 2015.

“We have to move beyond hiring the ‘least worst’ on the assumption that people with the cleanest backgrounds will make the best police officers,” said Greenberg. “We have to develop new models that focus on hiring people who have the greatest potential to meet the challenges and complexities of modern policing. There are great candidates out there who made mistakes earlier in their lives and advanced beyond them. There are other people out there, particularly in our cities, whose arrests for minor offenses were driven by zero-tolerance policies. We need to be receptive to letting them into the field.”

The briefing focused primarily on four areas of importance: advances in use of data by police agencies; officer safety and wellness; implicit bias training; and the impact of social media.

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