Term Paper: Assessment for Training of the Metropolitan Police Department

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¶ … Training of the Metropolitan Police Department

Context of the Problem

Brief History of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Area Police/

Community Relations since World War II

Major Problems Preventing Positive Relations between Communities and District of Columbia

Metropolitan Area Police Force

Can Training Programs Enhance Community

Relations for the District of Columbia Metropolitan

Area Police Force?

What Training Modules Can be Used to Enhance Relations between Surrounding Communities and the District of Columbia Metropolitan Area Police

Force?

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

NEEDS ASSESSMENT for TRAINING of the METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT

Introduction

Context of the Problem

The issue of poor training has weighed heavily on the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department over the last few years. This issue hinders the necessary trust and interaction between police and the communities they serve (see map at Appendix a). Other issues that come about due to poor training are greater numbers of injuries among police officers, which lessens the number of active police available. In some cases, inadequate training has caused additional stress on the small number of active police remaining because they are forced to carry the weight and there remaining officers may be poorly training as well. The credence of every police department should be one that believes that training is one of the most important responsibilities of any law enforcement agency. It is important that they create and/or produce well trained officers that are better prepared to act decisively and correctly in a broad spectrum of situations. In addition, each training experience results in greater productivity leading to more solved crimes and effectiveness, presenting less dismissed cases. Lastly, training fosters team work and cohesion of aim.

Based on observations, surveys, and interviews within the community, officers and administrators, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (DCMP) can improve in various ways. By doing so, the DCMP will decrease incidents of extreme use of force, violation of civil rights, dismissal of cases due to improper search and seizure, faulty arrest and poor community policing. The search for tailored, hands-on training opportunities will bring about adequate resources, higher performance, fulfilled expectations of both community members and police officers, integration of department along the lines of its core values, context, policies and mandated issues. Better or new training of community-oriented police should receive close scrutiny and in this is currently being done; however, the pace of review and implementation remain inadequate to achieve immediate results. The DCMP needs to face this issue with a clear vision of how all of these issues intertwine when servicing a diverse community. For instance, when dealing with performance or lack thereof in mass demonstrations in the area, if the police have not interconnected the training of crowd control and de-escalation in a cultural diverse setting, it may result in troubling experiences for both the police and its citizens and visitors alike. This issue is highly relevant to the concerns regarding the need for DCMP training because of the nature of the communities the organization serves. Washington, D.C. is the site of numerous demonstrations and protests that take place on a daily basis, and in some cases these events become disruptive and even violent. When the police are trained to view each entity as a standalone learning experience the interconnectedness of every issue as it arises is mishandled.

These issues facing MPDC were generated over the years and have been the source of high profile accusations. It is clear that the new leadership of the MPDC recognizes how classroom foci instead of hands-on training adversely affect policing. Although former Chief Ramsey knew the issues being faced by his officers, the poor training provided during this period in the department's history produced little solution to the problems being faced. In a 1998 keynote speech delivered by former police chief Ramsey, he stated that three major issues that restrain many inner-city police from achieving their ultimate goal, which is to maintain law and order in a diverse and dynamic community. The three major issues identified in the speech were: (a) police-community race relations; (b) youth and school violence; and - drug abuse. In addition, other issues identified by the authors of "Training the 21st Century Police Officer" included the need for training in the use of force, search and seizure methods, arrest techniques, community policing, and diversity training were all vital components of proper police training today needed to produce effective and efficient police officers.

Under the leadership of former Chief Ramsey, the MPDC faced very difficult times that were specifically related to poor training in general and a paucity of leadership emphasis on hands-on training in particular.

The strict focus on classroom training permitted many officers to pass courses with flying colors, but a statistical comparison of crimes, crimes solved, and reports of improper police handling will show that the years under former chief Ramsey were deficient compared to the current leadership provided by Chief Cathy Lanier. The present police chief (2007) deployed many senior officers responsible for administrative duties to work alongside junior officers, thereby creating a mentoring relationship that has resulted in the formation of a series, "All Hand on Deck." This series of meetings and brainstorming sessions had discussed ways to avoid increased crime rates during high crime-rate periods, as well as the formation of Operation TIPP (Terrorist Incident Prevention Program), a unit dedicated to coordinated counter-terrorism strategies.

Statement of the Problem

The problem of inadequate or poorly designed training can result in officers who lack the requisite preparation needed to act decisively and correctly in a broad spectrum of potentially life-threatening situations. Training is the key to developing law enforcement officers who are able to respond to such events with the split-second timing needed to save lives and property. Indeed, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, these issues have assumed even more relevance for police forces across the country, but they are particularly significant in the nation's capital which contains countless priceless icons and symbols of the country's heritage and prestige. The attractiveness of the city's historical and governmental sites as terrorist targets was made amply clear with the targeting of the Pentagon and perhaps even the White House itself, and the thousands and thousands of visitors that flock to the nation's capital naturally expect and deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect.

In this challenging environment, identifying opportunities for improving training programs for police officers just makes good business sense because better trained officers will be more productive and enjoy a higher level of morale. Unfortunately, in the past, many of the training opportunities provided by the MPD failed to provide the type of outcomes expected and needed, and a poorly trained officer is poorly equipped to deal with the exigencies that go hand in hand with the job. In fact, this dearth of effective training resulted in unsolved crimes and hundreds or perhaps even thousands of cases that were dismissed because of faulty policing methods. It is little wonder that so much attention has been focused on how to better provide high-quality training programs for police departments today, especially given the high-profile cases in recent years that have adversely affected police relations with the communities they serve. Therefore, additional assessment is needed to understand how poor training has affected the morale of the police community. The efforts of the DCMP have seen an increase in minority citizen complaints, the rise of hate groups, and the inappropriate use of force in some situations.

Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the MPDC needs to develop a clear understanding of its own organizational culture so police officers can practice and represent a unified set of values and beliefs. This process starts with recruitment and selection practices, policies, procedures, training and development, and the actions its officers take when enforcing the law. The MPDC has seemingly adopted a culture that has developed without much thought or guidance. In this environment, there is frequently conflict between the new leadership ideology and the reality of what is taking place in the department. The face that some policies and guidelines are overlooked leads to a higher incidence of misconduct many times. If a significant percentage of the department's police officers view the use of force as an acceptable way to solve conflict, what can be done when the community naturally reacts negatively? What happens when the younger generations see that their parents have little or no respect for those who are tasked with protecting and serving the public, and for providing a safe environment for them? One of the major problems that exists between police departments across the country and the minority communities they serve is the use of deadly force. Over the past few years, the MPDC has improved this statistic, but past impressions remain poignant even today.

The organizational culture of the MPDC is also important because it contributes to the effectiveness of the department. An organizational culture that emphasizes appropriate policing techniques and places a high regard on the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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