The nature of police work must ensure that is as adaptable, sophisticated, networked, and transnational as the criminals and terrorists it fights. A modern approach to policing must contain elements of traditional, mainstream efforts to fight crime along with a set of tools for carrying out an effective community policing approach. This paper provides a brief discussion about what such a hybrid model looks like in practice and touches on elements of complexity of police work in an increasingly global arena.
Addressing Escalated Threat Levels.
Some dynamics of society seem inevitably linked, moving in tandem as though some invisible lynch-pin had been driven through their respective cores. Poverty and crime. Violence and counter-violence. Wealth and indifference. Frustration and destruction. Fanaticism and irrationality. Naturally, there are exceptions. Some Buddhists live in poverty but are peaceful and law-abiding. Where culture or religion calls for acceptance of one's fate, where the resources to change one's station remain unattainable, or where the penalty for self-elevating action is too great, there is little ongoing struggle between people in different socio-economic groups. Certainly this is not an inexhaustible list of factors that influence the ability of people to make social and economic changes in their lives, but the list is relevant to conditions in the U.S. today. These shifting dynamics, whether named or implied, pose increasing risks to police officers.
When visiting other countries, in Europe, say -- or less developed countries -- a tourist's first reminder that they are not in the U.S. comes from the police stationed at the airport. Police in foreign countries are substantially armed, and their demeanor is qualitatively different from their peers assigned to airports in the U.S. The tourist will have no sense that the policeman is their friend who can be asked for casual directions or is any way concerned with their individual well-being. There is everywhere the sense that, at any moment, dangerous conditions could prevail. Of course, the venue has a lot to do with the stance taken by a policeman working in an airport -- a place that has become a gateway to incidents of terror. Depending on where the tourist goes after leaving the airport, this experience of heightened watchfulness could fade into the past, or it could be underscored no matter where the tourist ventured. But the bottom line is that policemen in other countries have become, on the whole, more watchful and more cautious because they have had to be.
Bombing incidents take place with greater regularity in Europe than they do in America. And European society has adjusted because of it. For instance, in the U.K., it is nearly impossible to find trash cans on the sidewalks. A person can walk around with a crumpled treat sack or sandwich wrappings or take-away coffee cup for a long time before finding a place to toss the trash. The reason is evident -- a trashcan makes a perfect place to stow a bomb. People naturally put items into trash cans so most trash-tossing behavior goes unnoticed. But you can still find trash cans on streets in every city in the U.S. -- we throw away more trash than Europeans who are staunch recyclers -- because we don't want to be inconvenienced.
Escalating threats in the U.S. call for changes in the way Americans address day-to-day safety, in their own country -- not just as tourists -- and they especially point to needed change in the way our policemen do their work in the world. The death of four policemen in Parkland, Washington, at the hand of a paroled felon is telling. These policemen were sitting at their laptops in a coffee shop, catching up on paperwork at the beginning of their shift. Ostensibly, they were pre-occupied and relaxed -- they were doing just what ordinary citizens do every morning of every working day. This was a deadly mistake, yet it was in alignment with the conventions of community policing, a practice that has become more difficult to defend with the growing number of attacks on police officers.
Each time a policeman is killed on duty, something is learned. The way officers address their beat changes, or can change. In analyzing just the single incidence that occurred near Tacoma, a number of changes with the potential to increase officer safety in community settings emerge.…