Select Page

The Requirements To Credible ‘Police Reform’

The Requirements To Credible ‘Police Reform’

When members of a recent grand jury put themselves in the shoes of Baltimore cops to better understand the complexities of police work in one of the nation’s most violent cities, they came away with a distinct impression: that the officers deserve sympathy — and better pay.

The jurors reached that conclusion after attending a “Lethal Force Seminar” where they were placed with fake firearms in “realistic simulators” that mimicked scenarios police officers confront, including a person trying to commit “suicide by an officer” and a call for an aggravated domestic assault.

[sc name=”Article Mobile Ad” ]

“For those of us who participated, we agreed that we were actually nervous about using our firearm. Each time, we contemplated whether we should use our gun or not, but we surely did not want to be harmed ourselves,” the jurors wrote. “We realized at that moment that we did not do as well as we would have liked. That experience made us consider that in many cases, police officers really do not have much time to think, especially in life-threatening active situations where a hostage may be in danger.”

The experience by this grand jury mimics similar reactions across the country when civilians and activists participate in police scenarios.

This is the exact reason that most people that call for “police reform” will never participate in such exercises or sit across a table and have a reasonable dialogue with law enforcement.

To do those things would be courageous and difficult because it may change one’s view on the issue.  Facebook rants are much easier.

Law enforcement is the only profession where someone that knows very little about it can insist, and sometimes get, oversight into the profession.

It would be like going to a doctor, not being happy with what happened, and then demand that the policies and training all change within the profession.  Before you say that isn’t a good comparison, doctors kill between 100,000 and 400,000 patients a year by the mistakes they make. Doctors generally agree on the 100,000 number and independent research puts it at around 400,000.

No doctor or lawyer or any other profession, except law enforcement, would ever consider a civilian dictating policy or training.

It sounds silly because it is but since we are past silly in law enforcement, here are 5 things that are mandatory before any citizen should be able to have oversight of any police officer, anywhere:

  1.  Citizens must be required to attend a Citizen Police Academy including scenarios.  This will give them the basic information on the profession.
  2. The citizen should be a ‘decent’ citizen.  Is it fair to let felons dictate police practices?  Probably not, but people can change so I would say that anyone wanting involvement needs to have a clean background for the last 10 years. The vast majority in any community will be able to qualify.
  3. They must attend a one day training on the major cases from the United States Supreme Court that dictate the rules that law enforcement must undergo.  ‘Stop and Frisk’ is legal (Terry V. Ohio) and police can shoot ‘unarmed’ individuals (Graham V. Connor) depending on the situation and let’s not forget the fact that the ‘Miranda Warning’ (Miranda V. Arizona) is not mandatory just because someone is arrested.
  4. All decisions by the citizen must conform to case law.
  5. Lastly, a citizen must ride with a police officer for 40 hours.

Keep in mind, this should be the minimum and by someone agreeing to do this, it shows that they are serious about their participation.  It’s easy to run your mouth but it is much harder to dedicate time and energy to a cause.

Personally, I would welcome anyone’s involvement if they showed the level of interest that this would require.

At the same time, I am insulted by the suggestions of those that know nothing about the profession that what I do is completely wrong.  I have dedicated my entire life to the profession that I am in.  From a young age, I began to live my life in a way that would give me every opportunity to be hired by an agency.  I minored in Spanish in college, even though I couldn’t stand it, because I knew that skill would help me in this profession.  I obtained a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and have gone to thousands of hours of training since then.  I spent 3 months away from my family at the FBI Academy (#227) to further hone my craft and every day I continue studying.  My actions are the norm by each police officer in my profession so yes, I get a little irritated when the so called ‘community organizer’ is the police expert.

I’m not asking those that want involvement to do what I did, but a couple of weeks should be the least they dedicate to it.  Then and only then should they have an opportunity to serve in the only profession that would even consider it, law enforcement.


Facebook Comments

About The Author


Travis Yates is the Director of Training at Law Officer. An ILEETA Trainer of the Year, his Seminars in Risk Management, Officer Safety & Leadership have been taught across the world, including 47 States. A current Police Commander, Major Yates is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and a current Doctoral Student in Strategic Leadership. He is the Founder of the Courageous Leadership Institute (, providing leadership consulting and training to law enforcement around the world.

Share This