I realize I am taking an opposite view of many both in the profession and out. However, it is my belief that this is the greatest time to be in law enforcement. Yes there is a large amount of negativity in many of our communities about police officers, yes there is an extreme focus by the media on police officers and their actions and yes it’s not the greatest of situations. It is not, however, the time to run, not the time to discourage talented people from joining the profession and it’s not time to refuse to change.
I was speaking to my nephew who happens to be a police officer and a generation behind me. His take is that what is going on is just cyclical, a new normal is being established, and in the end the changes will be good. I agree and think that is the key statement, it is the “new normal”.
If we look at history, like every other profession, substantial change occurs at intervals. Some of that change is based on technology, demographics, economics and other factors. Change is certain in every profession and to suggest that law enforcement can continue as it always has is ignoring the changes around us.
Why then do I believe it is a great time to be in law enforcement? If we as a profession embrace the change, engage ourselves in the national debates and not refuse or hide from the criticisms we can as a profession reinvent ourselves. We have an opportunity to change the profession in the way we would like it to go along with how our citizens want it to go. Of course that takes compromise but change is inevitable why not grab the opportunity and make the best of it. We are at the beginning of a “new normal” and to me that is exciting to be involved in developing new techniques that will enable us to do our jobs better and thus serve our citizens to the highest manner possible.
Lastly, not everyone or every group hates the police. Even the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report does not solely recommend changes to Law Enforcement. It suggests that changes need to occur in the Criminal Justice system which takes in all aspects of the system, corrections, courts, social services. That is reflected in the task force overarching recommendations to the President (Task Force Report, p. 1).
When I am asked if I would go back and do it all again, my answer is absolutely. My 18-year-old son just announced that he wants to attend a police academy and I couldn’t be more proud. Even in today’s environment it is an opportune time to be involved in building the reputation of law enforcement with our communities and provide exceptional service to our citizens. We know we already provide that service we just need to prove it. We as a profession need some adjustment, but in the end we will be better for it.