The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) published 30 Guidelines meant to change police policy and procedure in regards to use of force. As we’ve mentioned in the previous articles on these Guidelines, there are some really good suggestions and recommendations that every police agency should seriously consider. Those applications are covered in Part I – The Good. However, many of the PERF Guidelines were counter-productive, and are simply catering to the latest media trends in coverage. These applications are covered in Part II – The Bad.
This article will cover the most outrageous and misguided Guidelines that PERF presented. They are so bad, their implementation would endanger human lives – both officers and civilians. These Guidelines are so grossly counter to wise police administration that it stretches the mind to believe these words came from PERF’s executive board, which is chaired by Police Chiefs from some of the biggest agencies in the United States. These Guidelines aptly earn the title – UGLY!
PERF’s Guidelines: The Absolutely Ugly!
These Guidelines by PERF reach into the realm of completely absurd, and dangerously inept. These Guidelines are designed to meet the highly emotional “perfect world” standard that does not even exist in a fairy tale, yet are so pleasing to those who solve complex problems by word alone. Our world, and the people in it, are imperfect and always will be. Trying to dictate perfection through words is an act of folly. Instead, the wise seek to establish reasonable guidelines that take into account the complex variables each circumstance presents, and recognizes every situation is different requiring its own evaluation.
This evaluation and sentiment is not BlueSheepDog’s alone. In fact, some of the most well-respected law enforcement training and news organizations are very much opposed to PERF’s unrealistic Guidelines. These organizations also recognize PERF’s Guidelines absolutely abandon officer safety, which then endangers public safety as well.
Professional Law Enforcement Organizations Oppose PERF
PERF’s Ugly Guidelines
Let’s take a look at the absolute worst recommendations PERF has proposed. We’ll break them down to show how absolutely ridiculous and unrealistic they are, and point out how they endanger police officers and the general public by focusing all the attention to the bad guys. Remember to consider the Priority of Life that is widely accepted by IACP and NTOA. That Scale holds the public at the highest value, then cops, and finally suspects. PERF aims to raise the suspects to #1, a move that is so contrary to common sense that it has no sense at all.
- Police use of force must meet a “proportionality” test.
Well the executives at PERF just ensured their ridiculous Guidelines will strike a vibe with the nation’s media, and anti-police community action groups and leaders. They can reap the benefits of catering to the uninformed and gaining widespread recognition, all while wearing the uniform and throwing street cops under the bus!
The PERF “proportionality” test is the absolute application of its merits after the highly tense and often short-lived harrowing encounter is over. In fact, PERF calls for police agencies and officers to ask themselves, “How would the general public view the action we took? Would they think it was appropriate to the entire situation and to the severity of the threat posed to me or to the public?” This dangerous mindset, when enshrined in policy or procedural directive, will have the chilling effect of causing officers to second-guess themselves, to fail to act when action was necessary and appropriate, and ultimately will result in the officer being injured or killed or the officer then using force greater than what they would have used had they simply acted when they should have.
Deputy Kyle Dinkheller, of the Laurens County, Georgia Sheriff’s Department, had recently been reprimanded by his Sheriff for “excessive force”. Fearing for his job when confronted with an obvious deadly threat, Deputy Dinkheller failed to act when he should have (legally and morally) and it cost him his life! This is the “proportionality” problem with PERF’s Guideline, and the ugly truth behind why it is wrong and dangerous. When this scum was asked why he killed Deputy Dinkheller, he stated, “because he let me”.
On the surface that sounds great, and very responsive to the public’s concerns. Underneath the icing is the fact the vast majority of the public do not really understand what, how, or why police officers do what they do. Most citizens will have a handful or fewer physical confrontations in their lifetime
What exactly is “proportionality”? This term will not be found in Federal or State statutes, nor will it be found in the rulings of the nation’s highest courts. That is because the courts, thankfully, realize the futility of matching police force with the force of those who disrupt and reek havoc on the peace in society.
This “proportionality” PERF is advocating is championing the latest buzz words, and should not be surprising the organizations has jumped on board. PERF is seeking to become the nation’s preeminent police leadership organization, perhaps even surpassing IACP, but this catering to media hype does nothing to improve police-citizen contacts, or keep officers and citizens safer. In fact, the “proportionality” concept PERF presents goes contrary to the law (supported by the U.S. Supreme Court), and standard police training that has been vetted for its reasonableness and effectiveness.
Proportionality is an incredibly dangerous call for police officers to engage society’s worst offenders in a macabre dance with an open script. What PERF believes will reign in “excessive force” will most likely cause the exact opposite. There are several reasons police officers are trained to use fast, effective, and overwhelming force to control and apprehend the most violent or resistive suspects.
- Gaining quick control of a suspect establishes order from chaos.
- Effective force leading to quick control protects officers and innocent civilians.
- Overwhelming force is not “excessive force” – it is controlling offenders more quickly.
- Effective and quick control of violent or resistive suspects reduces their injury potential.
PERF takes the novel liberal approach which places intelligent and rational thought on those who are acting out in highly emotional and irrational behaviors. This elitist doctrine espouses that reasoning with someone will necessarily bring them to a mutually beneficial outcome.
Therefore, if the suspect is violent or resistive, officers should simply delay the scenario and use minimal force to allow the suspect to blow off steam. Once that has happened, their rational mind will take over, they will see the error of their ways, and (because the rational suspect wholeheartedly accepts the communal bond of society) they will willingly cease their aggressive behavior and surrender.
Of course, this is absurd! Even devout sociologists recognize that some people have family and community backgrounds deeply inlaid with a system of fractured trust, personal insecurity, abuse, and in some cases outright hatred towards certain groups of people (police officers being high on the list). Compound this with criminal tendencies, incarcerations, drug or alcohol abuse, poor or lack of education, or mental illness, and the theory of “proportionality” quickly erodes into a fanciful farce.
Officers should be applauded for acting quickly to end violence, disturbances of the peace, and resistive behavior that presents a danger to the entire community and not just the officers. By quickly controlling the suspect and scene the officers have re-established order, where rational thoughts and actions can begin to take hold again. Restraining officers from doing this legal function of their duty, and handcuffing their use of force options to appease those in the grand stands, is not only dangerous it borders on being recklessly indifferent.
Nothing here advocates, tolerates, or attempts to justify officers who use excessive force. On the contrary, the BlueSheepDog Crew hold ourselves and the profession of law enforcement to the highest ethical standards. Sometimes officers are faced with horrific threats in short durations of time. Sometimes they see what is unfolding, and resort to what is available or familiar to them rather than other options. The U.S. Supreme Court correctly recognized that the proper legal standard abiding by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment’s restrictions, is to evaluate the officer’s actions based upon their objective reasonableness in consideration of the totality of the circumstances at that time!
People understand this – violence is ugly! Yet, it takes those entrusted with the public’s law and order to use violence (force) to stop those who have abandoned all decency and have placed their own desires above the community’s. It is much better that the force used by officers be quick, effective, and overwhelming, than to let the violent play out their destruction. It is so easy to solve complex problems in the comforts of an air-conditioned board room. It is another thing entirely when you’re rolling around in the dirt and muck while an animal tries to inflict harm upon you.
- Agencies should Create Policies more Controlling than Graham v. Connor.
The “proportionality test” that PERF is championing leads right into the next ridiculous recommendation from the organization for police executives. The Police Executive Research Forum is actually placing themselves higher than the United States Supreme Court in their ability to determine what is more appropriate for the evaluation of officer use of force. This is egomaniacal narcissism at its worse.
PERF calls for all U.S. police agencies to adopt a policy requiring a higher standard and harsher review of police use of force than the pivotal and landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Graham v. Connor (1989).
This is Monday-morning quarterbacking at its worse, and is exactly the kind of perfect “20/20 hindsight” that the U.S. Supreme Court prohibits in its reasonable test from Graham v. Connor. It should not be lost on any observer that the often dissenting High Court voted unanimously 9-0 in its Graham v. Connor decision. Only 3 judges voted to concur in part, but accepted their vote to concur with the overall judgment opinion.
“The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation. The test of reasonableness is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application.” (From Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s majority opinion)
The final sentence in Chief Rehnquist’s opinion is compelling – “the test of reasonableness is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application“. However, PERF seeks to do just that with their “proportionality test”. Trying to lay down a golden standard that PERF can advance for its own credit, and expect every Chief, Commander, the media, and anti-police activist to applaud.
We already have a “proportionality” test established by the U.S. Supreme Court – Graham v. Connor. The test is called “objective reasonableness”, and requires all Courts to view the totality of circumstances to determine if the officer’s actions were within a “reasonable” parameter of what a reasonable officer in the same circumstances would have considered.
Chiefs and Commanders are most often far removed from the violence of the streets. It is likely they have not had to use force on a violent subject in decades, if at all, and instead have become accustomed to the comfort of their leather chairs. PERF seeks to provide these police executives with a “perfect gauge” to cast judgment on an officer’s actions to protect their own image and position.
The PERF Guideline establishes a baseline for Chiefs and Government entities to distance themselves from the ugly reality of the violence on their streets, and to cast all the blame on the officers for causing the media frenzy or complaint. To discount the fact the officer just met the darkest of society in a fight to the finish, and instead use an arbitrary and vague set rules that boils down to “is this going to be problematic for me – then it was wrong“, is morally and ethically reprehensible!
Proportionality is a sliding matrix that is completely in the hands of the Chief, Mayor, Media, or whomever, and is ripe for change without warning or merit at the next “political emergency”. This leaves officers with no sound guideline for what will or will not be allowed and acceptable. In stark contrast to what PERF would imagine this “proportionality test” establishing (a fair and just application of force), this Guideline is a primer to likely cause the exact opposite. When evil is not met head on and conquered, it grows disproportionately so that when the inevitable confrontation takes place it is much more devastating than it would have been.
Departments do need to create clear and detailed Policies or General Orders to establish clear guidance for an officer in critical areas such as use of force. Adequate training must be conducted so officers have a clear understanding of expectations and limitations. These actually provide officers a strength in decision-making, both when to use and when not to use force. Officers following these guidelines should be supported and praised by their commanders, and community.
Leaving their authority or parameters unclear weakens the decision-making process at its most critical time – violent, or rapidly evolving situations. Without a solid foundation of lawful direction, officers are left to make decisions based upon personal experiences. Worse, officers may fail to act when they should, thereby enabling the violent to continue the dangerous action. This spiraling effect not only further endangers officers, but endangers the surrounding public as well. The officers may then have to respond with harsher tactics, because the suspect was not controlled early on. Obviously without proper guidance and rules, officers may respond disproportionately on their belief “order” must be established.
A democracy can only remain strong, when the rule of law is equally applied. A part of the concept of American law enforcement is having elected citizen officials in charge of our police officials. These elected citizens derive their authority from the people, and are the law makers. They determine the rules of society, not the police. The Police are simply there to uphold those laws, in compliance with Constitutional protections. So in effect, the police represent the people through their elected officials and the law.
This very concept is why the law allows police officers to use force equal to, but also above the force being used by law breakers. The reasoning is that those who break the law threaten the rights and freedoms of all, and have violated the contract of peaceful existence in the community. If police were only allowed to use force equal to or less than the law breakers (proportionality) it creates an extremely dangerous stalemate. A situation that could just as likely be won by the law breakers. Society wants its police to win, to overcome the law breakers, to re-establish peace and order. Then the justice system is left to decide guilt or innocence, with several layers of protections, including a trial by a jury of your peers.
Calling for “proportionality” is contrary to U.S. Supreme Court rulings, and State laws throughout the nation. It also creates a dangerous moving matrix, leading to second guessing on the Chiefs’ and officers’ part. This hesitation could actually allow a volatile and dangerous situation to continue longer than it should, or allow the adversary to overcome the police, and therefore continue to be a threat to the general public.
There are times for de-escalation. There are times to employ communication. And there are times to quickly bring a volatile situation under control. Excessive force is wrong – it is a violation of our oath – it is criminal. However, trying to force officers to navigate a complex matrix of “proportionality” in the middle of a fight is absolutely WRONG.
- Replace scene Commanders with CIT trained officers in Critical Incidents.
This is perhaps the most ridiculous and misguided of all the misguided Guidelines from PERF. Are they seriously recommending an officer with a few years of service and a week-long training course in Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), be placed in charge of a complex, dynamic, and rapidly evolving scene over commanders with many years of experience? Yes, sadly that is exactly what PERF is recommending:
“Officers who respond to scenes involving people with mental health problems should be directed to call for assistance from specially trained officers and/or supervisors (e.g., CIT-trained) if possible. As a best practice, those specially trained personnel should be given the authority to manage a scene regardless of rank. All other responding units should be directed to the on-scene manager, briefed on the situation, and directed to follow the on-scene manager’s lead with respect to tactics and especially any use of force.”
The Memphis, Tennessee Police Department went through a series of tragic years where police officers encountered citizens suffering mental illness and exhibiting violent behaviors. These encounters resulted in several police involved shootings, and several fatalities of mentally ill persons. The community responded by demanding a change of course. As a result, Memphis Police partnered with mental health professionals from hospitals, research universities, and community service providers. The final result was the Memphis Model for Crisis Intervention.
This training model has gone international, and is well-recognized as a leading method for police agencies to train officers to handle calls involving mentally ill citizens. My City seems to have a disproportionate number of calls involving the mentally ill. In response we were one of the earliest departments to train on the Memphis Model, and the first in our midwestern metropolitan area to have CIT trained officers.
In the first article, we highly supported PERF’s recommendation to train more officers in the CIT model. However, this recommendation to transfer command at critical incident scenes is a disastrously poor decision. Commanders have the experience and training to see the overall picture and direct the moving parts. CIT officers are specially trained for this particular aspect of law enforcement.
Commanders should be encouraged to bring CIT officers into the Command Post for suggestions and feedback, but Command should remain with Command. Having a CIT officer (preferably a co-trained negotiator) talk with the mentally ill is a great idea, and should be encouraged early into the crisis.
- Changing Training Academy Philosophy
Police Academy training has changed dramatically over the last 100 years, even the last 30 years! However, it has only become more detailed, longer, and more professional. Recruit officers in most major metropolitan areas and State police agencies are spending six or more months in training before they even hit the road for field training. Recruit officers are being trained in more and more highly sophisticated police techniques and tactics.
Even just 30 years ago it was not uncommon for officers to receive as little as 3 weeks of training, before being “on the job”. The entered police work with little more than a cursory understanding of criminal law, evidence processing, and how to use their firearm. Now recruit officers are leaving the Academy with advanced certifications in radar/lidar, CPR, criminal law, crime scene processing and investigation, Taser, baton, OC, specialized defensive tactics, BAC instruments and SFSTs. Most agencies then require officers to go through an intensive Field Training program paired with a veteran Field Training Officer (FTO). Many officers are not released on their own until after 10 or more months of combined training.
Apparently PERF thinks all police cadets are gung-ho, muscle-bound, freaks ready to take on the role of “One Riot, One Ranger”. Therefore they feel the need to “tone down” the police training. Over the last 20 years we have seen the entrance of the “social media” recruit. Many are not physical specimens, many have never used firearms, and many have never been in a true knock-down physical fight.
Trying to “tone down” the Academy is sending the sheep to the slaughter. Critical incident decision-making, pre-CIT (or full course), use of cover, more communication – can all be taught and emphasized throughout the recruits training. However, when it comes time to get physical, use less lethal or deadly force, the officers need to know how and why they are doing so.
PERF completely places the blame and emphasis on the officer’s actions, with absolute disregard for the fact the suspect has a say in how things are going to unfold. We should be placing the blame on the person who was violent or resisted arrests. Again, PERF’s response is, “While sitting at my desk pondering these troubling circumstances, I came up with a great idea”.
- Departments Should Equip Officers with Personal Protection Shields
Honestly I laughed out loud the first time I read this. PERF actually expects that nation’s law enforcement agencies to purchase and equip the over 800,000 law enforcement officers with personal protection shields. So now, in stark contrast to the highly popular movement back towards community policing (get out in your community and interact with them), PERF would like officers to get out on every call with a personal protection shield. Amazing!
Who is going to pay for these shields? Who is going to pay for the shield training? How long is the shield training going to be before officers are considered proficient? Are the shields going to be ballistically rated (heavy), or are they simply meant to deflect sharp and blunt objects? Are they only there to create separation from officer and suspect, and offer no real protection? Does PERF expect every agency to then mandate that officers carry their personal protection shields on every call they respond to? So much for the community policing successes! Instead, officers will need to speak to citizens behind their shields and warn them not to get too close.
Let’s face it, plenty of verbal disturbances turn into knock-down fights once police arrive. However, many verbal disturbances can be quickly resolved through communication and/or separation without the need to even use force. How do you think the agitated citizens are going to react when they see officers arrive with shields? Kinda makes it look like we came with the intent to get into a fight, not just protect ourselves. Where are the officers going to keep them? Our cars are so filled with gear a shield would have to be kept in the back seat where the prisoner compartment is located.
On further contemplation though I do see some merit – in some very limited situations. When large disturbances or demonstrations break out, bringing a shield could be a very good barrier. Police can established skirmish lines, maintain control of the situation, and even sustain some physical contact with the shield, without raising the use of force.
PERF’s Hypocritical and Often Changing Stance
PERF is trying to flex their muscle with a lengthy document of Guidelines to bolster their reputation for “executive” level decision-making and policy changes for police. In the past, PERF has produced some fine research and documentation to do just that. This proposal has several valid recommendations, as previously noted. However, the majority of guidelines are catastrophically naive and greatly increase the risks to officers and society in whole. They are misguided because they do not take into account the actions of the suspect, Instead, they simply place all the responsibility (and blame) on the officer trying to perform their duty under the worst conditions.
PERF tries to usurp the Supreme Court’s wisdom in Graham v. Connor, and create their own fantastical problem solving doctrine. It is a lofty effort. In the end, agencies should be very cautious and selective in regards to which guidelines they choose to pursue or implement.
Interestingly, in a recent review called for by the Tallahassee, Florida Police Department, PERF advised the agency the exact recommendations we have called for in these articles, and absolutely contrary to the demand for “more restrictive than Graham” policies this latest PERF report is advocating.
“TPD Chief Michael DeLeo had ordered a report by Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) following a string of officer-involved shootings, two of which resulted in the death of suspects. In discussing the final report to the city’s commission, Chief DeLeo advised PERF recommended TPD use an “objective reasonableness” in using force. The concept requires officers gauge a suspect’s resistance and the totality of circumstances before responding and then reacting with appropriate force.”
HUH?! Wait a minute. Isn’t that what I’ve been recommending, and what the U.S. Supreme Court advocates? Apparently, when political expediency is at play PERF changes colors more quickly than a chameleon.
Kansas City, Missouri
In a report to the Kansas City, Missouri Police Chief, PERF flip-flops again, this time pushing the new agenda of more restrictive use of force guidelines. PERF even goes so far as to encourage only implementing use of force policies “approved by the community at large“.
In PERF’s own words: “Police cannot be satisfied with use of force actions that meet the “low bar of constitutionality” but can reasonably be judged abusive or excessive by onlookers. “We must aim higher,” the report says, “toward a standard that has broader community support.”
The “low bar of constitutionality”? Sounds like PERF not only wants to dethrone IACP to be the lead executive law enforcement organization, but it claims to be so wise to cast aside the pesky, and ignorant U.S. Supreme Court. Thankfully the High Court Justices see right through this hog wash, and at least have a firm grasp on the concept of violence and legal action against such violence. PERF doesn’t even seem to be existing in the same world we all live in.
St. Louis, Missouri
In St. Louis, following the Ferguson Police shooting and subsequent violent riots, PERF advocated for closing multiple small city police departments, and consolidate police services with a larger police department or the County Police Department. Now just above, in the Kansas City example, PERF expected police agencies to only adopt use of force policies that were “approved by the community at large”. Yet, now PERF morphs itself to fit the political drama at hand to advocate expanding the scope and breadth of community lines, so that smaller groups of citizens no longer have a voice in how they are policed.
We have all heard horror stories of small town police departments setting up dubious speed traps, and conducting business “the good ole boy” way. I do not support that type of policing in any manner. However, there is a bigger question of concern when a Washington, D.C. think tank directs small communities to surrender their self-governance for the “greater good” and larger governmental regulation. The larger a community gets, the less each voice in the community has the opportunity to impact how the community is going to operate (police services included). Something to think long and hard about.
The Scotland Debacle!
PERF sponsored a trip to Scotland for many of America’s largest police department executives (including themselves). Commanders from Los Angeles, New York, and other major cities attended. Here is a video link with a video showing Scottish Police training for a knife wielding suspect. Of course, the Scottish Police demonstration is carefully choreographed to fully express their training styles, and completely avoids addressing a truly motivated suspect – one that doesn’t surrender at the first expression of force by police.
The officer appears to deploy chemical spray or an ECW, which completely incapacitated the suspect who immediately drops his knife. Then four officers move in and very calmly place the suspect into custody – who is now following all of their orders without a hint of resistance. How convenient! The PERF executives are gushing about how well the encounter (fully staged training scenario) unfolded, and are eager to return to America to tell everyone how it really should be done.
Interestingly, they completely avoid addressing their very own recommendation to create Distance, Cover, and Time when making decisions on use of force. You see, the Scottish Police allow the knife-wielding suspect to walk (yes, walk not run) right up to them within 4-5 feet before a less lethal option is deployed. In the background, an innocent civilian (likely the girlfriend/victim of the suspect) is allowed to walk around freely and remain in the threat area. Oh, and the Scottish Police did not use their personal protective shields!
Of course the staged event works out perfectly. Doesn’t that happen to you every time? I’m sure the very first act of force you employ causes the suspect to immediately surrender, apologize, and help you take them into custody. No, usually the first attempt fails, the suspect is now more enraged and dangerously close, the suspect takes advantage of this to increase their level of force, and higher levels of force must be used by the officer to avoid serious injury or death.
A Scottish Police Commander was asked about the appropriate response to a violent suspect’s actions. The Constable’s response was amazingly telling, “An officer that’s uninjured, but somebody’s dead? Or an officer that is injured but somebody’s alive and in custody?”
How much injury does an American officer have to sustain to meet the “proportionality” test PERF is pushing? What if the officer is off the job for 6 months, a year, or permanently disabled and lost? Why would reasonable police commanders consider accepting Guidelines that could leave their communities with less officers available, and higher costs? Why would good candidates consider working for an agency that will not allow them to protect themselves, and instead advocates they allow themselves to be injured on the hope they can save the life of a criminal?
Interestingly, a report by The Scotsman, Scotland’s National Newspaper, reports that regularly arming Scottish police officers is widely backed by Scots. It would appear that after more than 200 years of mostly unarmed policing, some subjects of the United Kingdom are recognizing that officers are facing more and more dangerous suspects. The Chief of Scottish Police said arming 275 officers regularly was necessary based upon intelligence and threat levels.
Hmph! Imagine that!
The American Police leaders were among the most progressive in the United States. Even so, one response by Scottish Police had them all cringing in unbelief. At one outdoor training exercise a Scottish officer acting as a suspect with a knife who suggested he had just killed someone (licking the blood from the blade and proclaiming it “still warm”) ran into a house while other Scottish officers kept a measured distance. Michael R. Moore, a Deputy Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, rightly questioned how a man who demonstrated “a public threat” could be allowed to barricade himself. “What if that building had 15 schoolkids in it?” he said. Apparently, the thought of collateral loss was foreign to the Scotts.
At another exercise, Scottish officers responded to a despondent man with a shotgun under his chin. Dave Harvey, an assistant police chief in Phoenix, observed the response by the Scottish team of armed officers with some dismay, noting, “they’re not behind cover”. Apparently, the Scots did not know that suicidal persons can become homicidal, or if the shotgun went off their officers could be at risk from ricochet or falling shot.
The 30 Guidelines presented by PERF have received enormous pushback from rank and file law enforcement. There are many who actually work the streets who see right through the false hope PERF is pushing, and recognize it for the self-fulfilling bag of hot air it is. Unfortunately, the gullible and all too compliant media are grabbing PERF’s Guidelines like they are the Holy Grail, and thrusting it onto the edgy public like it is doctrine written in stone.
Some of the most well respected law enforcement organizations have spoken out in strong opposition to the PERF Guidelines. The BlueSheepDog Crew strongly support the Guidelines we highlighted in Part I – The Good, and so do the professional law enforcement organizations we’ve noted. Any agency taking advantage of these resources, tools, training, and policies will be doing themselves and their community a great service.
We highly caution agencies from accepting any of the PERF Guidelines mentioned in Part II – The Bad. As noted, some of these can be turned to good if they are properly worded and crafted to ensure officer safety, and keep the suspect or subject at their rightful place on the Priority of Life scale – at the bottom. If PERF does not clarify these Guidelines, we do not recommend their implementation, as they too will erode police services, endanger officers, and create an atmosphere of uncertainty that will leave the community less safe.
Finally, the absolute absurdity and hypocrisy of the Guidelines established in Part III – The Ugly, should cause any agency to highly consider turning away from any recommendation coming from PERF. These Guidelines as a whole have received enormous push-back from some of the nation’s most respected police training organizations; such as, Calibre Press, Police One.com, and Force Science Institute. The dangers of the PERF Guidelines are crystal clear to the street cops of America.
Police agencies should get out into the community (both civilian and other police) and work at establishing partnerships that will guide the training, equipment, and use of force policies that the community can support. Spend time talking with the community and educating them on the hardships of police work, and the dangers.
However, the police should take the lead in these dialogues, walking the citizens through the realities of the job in an open dialogue, but keeping the unrealistic from controlling the conversation. Establish Citizen Police Academies, ride-a-long programs, and extended headquarters tours. Tours that do more than simply show the building and equipment, but take the time to explain them as well. Invite the community to watch and observe your Academy and in-service training. Explain techniques, without going into details on tactics. Show citizens how controlling suspects quickly, actually reduces the chances of injury or escalation. The results will be eye-opening – for both sides!