For the Blue – Andy of Mayberry or SWAT?

This site is not just for feel good stories my brothers and sisters in Blue. It is to gain lessons that are happening everyday that promote better relations between citizens and Police. This in the long run helps the profession of law Enforcement in more than a few ways.

Having seen decades of changes in Law Enforcement and society in general the trends have been clear. We went from a society of of small Town middle America “Andy of Mayberry” and “Adam 12”,  “S.W.A.T.”, “Hill Street Blues” to “COPS” showing perhaps the most violent encounters and worst sides of Police Citizen interactions possible.

The change has been slow but steady showing American Law enforcement Officers going from being ordinary people working with their communities being just part of the community trying to help everyday people with everyday problems to being outsiders of society who simply enforce laws.

In part the job and society has changed and the workload has increased dramatically to a point that most law Enforcement officers are no longer afforded the opportunity to actually enjoy the decent people that they serve and be part of the community on duty. Patrol officers routinely are running calls from one to the next and have a dozen calls backed up waiting to clear each before being dispatched to the next.

Detectives and Investigators in many departments are forced to take cases and determine solvability factors pushing off many cases that would be just too time consuming in favor of being able to close many others. They become buried in endless paperwork, especially in some states where Supreme Courts hold higher standards than others on paperwork. Officers from New York can attest to exactly what I am writing about now.

As the perception of what Officers do has changed and society has changed the role of Officers has necessarily adapted over the years to conform to society as well. While Officers once got out of their patrol cars with only a duty belt and a smile they started getting out with their hats on to appear more “professional”.

After that they started getting out of the car with nightsticks. Then they were issued black jacks, though those were always kept in their back pockets or in a separate pocket and out of view.  Then the advent of pepper spray, PR-24’s collapsible batons and now tasers. We have gone from no vests to level II or II body armor inside the uniform to armor outside the uniform. We have gone from uniforms to BDU’s. Constantly escalating from “Andy of Mayberry” to every officer being their own S.W.A.T. officer themselves.

As time has gone on the streets have been more or less dangerous like a pendulum swinging depending on the political atmosphere and how well efforts have paid off in individual areas regarding particular operations. Nothing lasts forever. But what does have long term benefits are community relationships.

Have you ever noticed that some officers are able to solve more difficult crimes easier than other officers? Have you noticed that some officers are able to gather confessions from suspects easier than others? Some officers actually are able to always get confessions? Have you ever met the officer that tends to seems to get along with just about everyone outside the station even though they may not do so inside the station?

Have you noticed that they have a book of informers or know just about everyone on the street and all the street people regard them as a friend? Have you wondered how they do it? They have been part of the community and they will ALWAYS solve crimes easier than most any other officer because they have earned the trust of the community.

There is another mindset involved here with these few officers. It is not hard to develop but one that is worth the time that it takes to do so. Anyone can do it and it will make your job much more rewarding and fruitful.

I am not suggesting that anyone forgo safety measures at all. An Officer safety should always come first and foremost. What I am suggesting is that from experience I learned when people see Officers bring articles out of the car such as a nightstick their first reaction is “What are you going to do, hit me with that?” When I heard things like that I thought, “if I don’t draw my weapon unless I am going to use it, why would I bring a nightstick unless I am going to use it?”

It is amazing what you don’t use when you don’t have it and how you can learn to use what you do have when necessity dictates. Whet you do have is your brain and your mouth. If you did not have back up coming how would you talk to individuals? would you talk t them differently than you do now? Would you give them more space? Would you treat them differently? Would you handle even the simplest traffic stop differently?

These are questions to ask yourself and in answering them you can begin to find solid plans for de-escilation techniques that will result in less confrontation overall with many people. Will it work all of the time? Of course not, we have that 1% of the population that is not going to cooperate under any circumstances what so ever.

However there is about 3% of the population that can go either way and our actions and re-actions to them are where many conflicts arise that could be avoided. These confrontations or even agitations also make gaining information from these subjects more difficult. In other words it makes your job that much harder.

You presentation, is their perception from the moment that they meet you. What is the first impression that you are giving?

Are you showing them that you are ready to help them or do battle? Because I can guarantee you there is a percentage of the population that will respond in kind.

WBL

Officer Talks to Citizen
Officer Talks to Citizen
Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes
Andy of Mayberry
Andy of Mayberry
Adam 12
Adam 12