Saturday, February 6, 2016

PERF - The Police Foundation - and Peer Intervention

PERF -Police Foundation - and Peer Intervention

On January 29, 2016 the Police Executive Research Forum published: Use of Force: Taking Policing to a Higher Standard - 30 Guiding Principles. (PERF, 2016) There is a lot of online discussion about the force policies. I must admit I have no argument with any of the principles, in theory. It’s hard to be critical of a more reasoned approach when we have created the problem ourselves. With the unreasonable shootings and deadly force incidents documented in the social media how can we expect to be able to carry on as usual? Our loss of legitimacy is compounded daily by some of these events.

Now the Police Foundation has released an infographic on police use of force that does a very good job of outlining when coercive force is reasonable and legal. (Use of Force Infographic, 2016) However, it does not deal with the legal responsibilities of bystander officers. Are we afraid of that subject?

Policy item # 6 in the “PERF 30” shows the same reluctance. It reads: Duty to intervene:  Officers need to prevent other officers from using excessive force.  Officers should be obligated to intervene when they believe another officer is about to use excessive or unnecessary force, or when they witness colleagues using excessive or unnecessary force, or engaging in other misconduct. Agencies should also train officers to detect warning signs that another officer might be moving toward excessive or unnecessary force and to intervene before the situation escalates. (PERF, 2016)

This type of peer intervention policy is important but it does not go far enough. Agencies are losing officers to misconduct at a documented rate 100 times greater than the officers being lost to felonious assaults. (Cato Institute, 2015) There are many more undocumented losses of cops retiring or resigning while under investigation. The cost to agencies in legitimacy and dollars is astronomical. Peer Intervention offers police officers the opportunity to intervene, not just in those instances of excessive force, but in any instance where another officer’s actions or inactions puts them at risk of dishonoring themselves, their family or the badge. Peer Intervention must include “Permission” to all officers to intervene and allow the intervention.

Chevron has been using the permission model with great success and law enforcement can learn from it.

The Stop Work Authority pocket card encourages and enables every single worker at the refinery, regardless of rank or expertise, to stop any work if they believe that it is not being done safely.

All refinery workers must respect an exercise of Stop Work Authority when someone raises a safety concern. It has the full backing of the Richmond Refinery Management Team, and the pocket card issued to employees and contractors includes my signature. Employees are both encouraged and celebrated when they use their Stop Work Authority.

After the work is stopped or paused, a conversation about the concern follows. Next, the person in charge of the work is notified, and we involve the right people in reviewing the situation, sometimes even technical experts who can offer the best knowledge about the situation. (Kory Judd, 2015)

Chevron’s stop work authority gives every employee, from the janitor to the CEO, permission to protect other employees.

I have talked to officers across the U.S. and Canada. I always ask for officers to raise their hand if they have never done anything that could have cost them their job. I have seen one hand go up in 10 years. In that instance the other CLEOs in the room just rolled their eyes. Cops will make mistakes and sometimes they will deliberately break the law. In most cases other cops know about the conduct but decline to intervene. They decline because their training never included the idea of peer intervention or permission to intervene in another officer’s behavior, but it should.

The IELTB training has an oath that is based on the second sentence of the law enforcement oath. It reads:

I promise that I will always have the courage to stand by you and for you.

I promise that I will never allow, through action or inaction, any act that dishonors you, your family or the badge.

I ask that you promise to do the same for me.

With 30 years in law enforcement I understand when cops read the oath and say “Yeah, sure.” Then I ask them to do this simple exercise: Write a letter to the spouse and children of the officer who just went to prison for something you witnessed or were aware of and could have stopped. Tell them why you didn’t have the courage to protect that officer when they clearly needed your help. Sign your name to it and then imagine delivering it in person.

PERF and the POLICE FOUNDATION both need to step up and mandate Peer Intervention, in all its forms. We are our brother’s keeper and Peer Intervention is about Officer Survival. Survival of your career, your family and your freedom.

Michael W. Quinn

Managing Partner

International Ethics and Leadership Training Bureau, LLP

February 6, 2016