News Blues Can Use

Clint Rand

            Police Can Wear Body Cameras in Joint Ops with Feds

This past week DOJ announced that it will allow local and state police officers to wear body cameras during joint operations with federal law enforcement agents. The logic for not allowing cameras to be worn when working with the feds was that the recordings could compromise sensitive investigations as well as undercover agents, witnesses and informants. The logic for the change was not provided.

Philadelphia to Stun Armed Individuals with Mental Health Issues

            After police fatally shot a man threatening the officers with a knife, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said that she plans to form a behavioral health unit and to provide officers with a directory of mental health resources available 24/7. She also plans to equip all 4,500 officers on the department with Tasers. The mayor would rather that the police take some individuals suffering from mental illness or addiction to a treatment facility rather than to jail.

McFarlin, Christopher L. “Police Reform Requires Raising Educational Standards.” Police Chief, October, 2020.

            In the referenced article the author asks, “Is Law enforcement a profession?” but never satisfactorily answers the question. It’s important to examine the differences between professions  and occupations for several reasons but importantly in order to define the academic and other requirements and the responsibilities of the practice. One criterion that appears in all of the characteristics considered as essential for an occupation to claim professional status is that members achieve a level of higher education. The profession must be controlled by a governing body which in professional matters directs the behavior of its members. This is not the same as a union.

            “Profession” is an honorific title, something that is highly valued by the individuals who are in the occupation and who work hard to turn it into or to maintain it as a profession. It indicates integrity, trust, ethics and expertise. Professionalism is not a one-way street; it is a continuum on which occupations are moving to degrees of professionalization or in the process of deprofessionalizing. This establishes a rationale for constant improvement and continued learning.

            One definition is: A profession is a group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing a special knowledge and skills in a widely recognized body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others. These standards are enforced by the profession and are acknowledged and accepted by the community.

You be the judge if policing is a profession.

            Comment: I feel that every medium and large city police department should have a full time research officer with a higher education degree that includes a proficiency in research and statistics.

            I plan to spend more time on several issues related to the topics of higher education and police training in the near future.

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