Op/Ed: Restoring the Guardians to Their Posts!


Restoring the Guardians to Their Posts! The world is hemorrhaging experienced law enforcement officers and the rising tide of violence is the result.

The mass exodus of seasoned officers began following the killing of George Floyd in 2020. Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin violated police protocol and used force that was disproportionate to the threat. He was convicted and sentenced to more than twenty-two years in prison. This incident was a triggering point for what has led to our unsafe cities, extremists’ views, lowered police hiring standards, and hatred of the police.

The hatred flames were fanned by social media disinformation, and political pandering which painted the police as evil seeking to kill arbitrarily. One lawmaker traveled from California to Minnesota to encourage protesters outside the Chauvin trial, saying, “We’ve got to stay on the street and we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational.” It got the attention of media and those predisposed to hate the police. Such incendiary language leads to stereotyping of law enforcement but prior to Chauvin’s conviction, between 2005 and 2020, forty-two officers involved in on-duty shootings were charged but only five convicted of murder, most (11) were convicted of manslaughter.[i] With over 18,000 state and local police departments, it appears that officers do not fit the stereotype. Murder by law enforcement or anyone is unacceptable, but considering their dangerous work, and that they are only human, subject to fear and emotions, they should not be depicted as beasts. Firefighters are more likely to get burned than citizens, because they contact fires more frequently. Police officers and soldiers are more likely to encounter a life or death decision involving weapons and violence.

Since society today fails to search for the truth but chooses to follow the sound bites of the most vocal activists without verification, we all have to live in fear.  The professional guardians had enough and those that could leave, left.

Police Officers
Police Officers

The most recent attack on the police profession came after Memphis police officers beat and killed Tyre Nichols. This incident alone proves that police have lowered standards of hiring, and bypassed hiring protocols. The results are devastating.  According to Front Page Magazine, a source within the Memphis PD revealed to them that, “the 5 charged officers weren’t hired through the usual structured PD hiring process.”[ii] Presumably the defund and dismantle the police movement had taken its toll on the Memphis Department and diverse hiring was also an issue. Memphis is a city of about sixty-five percent (65%) black, the department is fifty-eight percent (58%) black. Even so, the activists and politicians are seeking to use Nichols’s death as a tool to shore up their base and virtue signal along race.

On January 27, 2023, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation released a statement that said that Nichols death was the result of state sanctioned violence. They further attempted to turn the death into a race issue, stating “Anyone who works within a system that perpetuates state-sanctioned violence is complicit in upholding white supremacy. Assimilation into a system that is anti-Black is one of the most dangerous weapons stemming from white supremacy.”[iii] They go on to speak against diversifying law enforcement agencies and eliminating traffic enforcement by police. President Biden and the members of the Black Caucus have scheduled to meet to again discuss police reform. The indication is that race is the issue.

FBI: Most violent crime happens between acquaintances.

Recruiting new officers to fill the void is difficult at best. After all, who wants to take a job where you walk into the job on day one hated and maligned by society? Who wants to join a profession that has seen officers ambushed while simply sitting in their car such as occurred in 2020 in Los Angeles, or having your home attacked by gunfire as occurred in New Jersey the same year?

Recruiting quality officers is difficult not because of poor pay, as some would have us believe, but because of unfair stereotyping of officers, and the ease at which citizens are swayed to turn on the protectors. Cities which were among the first to push defunding and dismantling the police are among those struggling now to fill vacancies, Memphis was among them. The need is greater now than before the cries for defunding because now officers must combat the growing violence trend. This trend resulting from, at least in part, the lack of available experienced officers is likely to harm the poor communities most. The anti-police cities are now seeing the chickens have come home to roost. Candidates are not lining up to join and standards are being lowered to fill a need.

Police Officers
Police Officers

As crime surges in cities and willing recruits are few, they have become desperate. In desperation blind political leaders are again making mistakes. They are trying to hire quality officers, which cannot be done. They must be called. Bodies to fill a position may be found, but quality results from those who have a passion to serve. The desperate solutions for recruitment that are being used will lead to a less professional officer, not a more professional one.

The dominant recruitment effort, especially in larger cities with high crime where officers were first vilified, is to offer signing bonuses. Portland, Oregon is offering $25,000 signing bonuses for experienced officers and Washington, D.C. is offering $20,000 for new recruits. This effort is an insult which demonstrates the lack of understanding and ongoing disparagement of police.  It says you are a soldier for hire, a mercenary, you can be bought! Mercenaries have a reputation for their gun, not their ethics.

Officers deserve a decent wage. We are not demeaning sound fiscal measures in recruiting, such as recruiting certified officers by paying them more than the starting salary. With a certified officer, you don’t have to invest the time and money into training, and you get a seasoned officer on the street much quicker, but to offer the amounts that are being offered for an untrained warm body will not produce what they desire.

The collapse of law and order: 12,353 police employees left law enforcement – along with 1,361 State Police

Those that decide to enter the field of law enforcement for money will NOT be dedicated to the principles of policing fairly and equitably through self-sacrifice. They will not view the profession as a calling to serve. If you can buy them for money, then others can probably buy them as well. Signing bonuses will be more likely to produce what the antagonists say police are; uncaring bullies with no regard for those they serve. These “guns for hire” will not stop the lack of respect for police but exacerbate it.

Another solution that is being attempted is to focus on “diversity and inclusion” in recruitment. This so-called solution is not new. It was tried in the 1980s and again in the 1990’s. There is certainly nothing wrong with diversity and inclusion in the ranks, but the focus further divides by giving tacit agreement that the police are racists or white supremacists.

Police Officers in Training
Police Officers in Training

The bad news is that to achieve this so-called goal, departments recruit those who have no taste or skillset for the job, but represent a quota of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual preference.

Finally, the most recent idea is to offer to re-hire retirees, allowing them to keep part or all of their pensions and work part-time. This sounds like a great idea because a police department would get experienced officers back who can quickly be back on patrol. This begs the question, what did the protests and defunding accomplish if we are bringing back the same officers who will do the same job? Nothing, and that is the point. The officers that left because of poor treatment and demeaning language are not likely to beat down the door to return for more. If things were so bad that they left a job that they loved, they are not likely forget that quickly. Some dedicated officers may return, and I hope they do, but if poor treatment and disparaging commentaries are still present, their time on the job will be short-lived.

Police Motorcycle Officers
Police Motorcycle Officers

Not all news is bad news, just that which makes the headlines. The answer to improving police recruitment and professionalism is currently demonstrated by many successful agencies. They are not short of officers; they do not have officers leaving in escalating numbers. Their officers are outgoing, friendly with the community, and have the professional servant attitude that one has come to expect. Why? Their community respects them. They don’t believe that what happened in Minneapolis or Memphis is common, and don’t expect it will happen with their officers because they know the officers, they know the agency, and they are willing to wait and see any evidence of misconduct before judging.

Law enforcement can return to full strength, crime can be addressed and again decrease, but not by hiring a mercenary, creating a divisive program, or asking those that were mistreated to return for more. Instead, we must adapt a community first philosophy in the agency and the community must be engaged with, not against the police. We must focus on establishing trusting community relationships through partnerships not platitudes. A new psychological examination that seeks to identify officers with a desire to serve and willingness to work with the community is a great beginning.

Politicians must stop using law enforcement to garner votes and stop judging local officer’s actions which should be the responsibility of the local law enforcement executive, community, and government. The localities should be accountable for what happens locally, not the federal government, agenda driven activists, or media. Finally, we must stop the lies through investigative and fair reporting and prosecute those who spout misinformation about police to enrich themselves as fervently as we in law enforcement seek to prosecute those officers who tarnish the badge.

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[i] https://www.statista.com/statistics/1123386/convictions-police-officers-arrested-murder-charge-us/

[ii] https://www.frontpagemag.com/memphis-cops/

[iii] https://blacklivesmatter.com/black-lives-matter-global-network-foundation-statement-on-the-murder-of-tyre-nichols/

Op/Ed: Restoring the Guardians to Their Posts!

About the Author:

Richard Arrington is a retired police lieutenant from a mid-sized city, crime prevention expert, published author, and retired Virginia prevention subject matter expert and program manager. He has more than 40 year experience in law enforcement, crime prevention, community policing and as an instructor. He is the owner and lead instructor of the Crime Prevention Center for Training and Services, LLC, which focuses on proactive policing solutions. He  is on several national advisory board regarding crime prevention.

Curriculum Vitae

Richard “Rick” Arrington holds a BS degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the North Carolina State University Administrative Officers Management Program. He is a former U.S. Army Military Policeman who later served for over 26 years in various capacities at the City of Roanoke, Virginia Police Department, a city of about 100,000 population.

During his time with Roanoke, Mr. Arrington oversaw the community services unit, which was developed under his leadership as a lieutenant, and included all School Resource Officers, D.A.R.E. Officers, the Crime Prevention Unit, and the Community Policing/Problem Solving Unit, as well as the Mounted Patrol. During this time Arrington leveraged grant funds and partnered with the city schools and Dr. James Unnever of Radford University to conduct an early study using the Norwegian-Swedish clinical psychiatrist, Dan Olweus bullying survey in middle school bullying research.

He served in various leadership roles with the state’s crime prevention association and led to the creation of the Safer by Design committee within the association to move the concept of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) forward.  After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Mr. Arrington drew on his knowledge and experience and created an interactive computer-based instrument to assist crime prevention practitioners in conducting security assessments in several different facilities. He later developed a school specific tool and provided training regarding its use through his small Consulting Company, Armor. He trained assessors of the Bureau of Indian Education in West Virginia in 2007 and the tool was to be used to evaluate vulnerabilities in the over 6,000 tribal schools.

Police Officer Killed, Shot Multiple Times

Rick retired from the Roanoke Police Department in 2006 as a Zone Commander overseeing one fourth of the city. Less than a week later he was recruited and hired by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services to serve as the Crime Prevention Programs Manager and crime prevention subject matter expert with the Commonwealth of Virginia. In that capacity he provided technical assistance, developed, and presented training on the topic of crime prevention in Virginia. Arrington has been a Virginia certified Crime Prevention Specialist since 1996 and was the fourth in the nation to receive the National Crime Prevention Specialist Level II certification.

In 2013, as a subject matter expert in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), he became the principal architect in designing the current Code of Virginia mandated “School Security Checklist,” and has trained hundreds of school staff and School Resource Officers in how to conduct vulnerability assessments within schools. As part of this four-day training a local school is assessed under his oversight.  In 2013, as part of a subcommittee of the Virginia Governor’s School Safety Taskforce, he worked with fire officials, architects, and engineers in developing standard consideration for new school construction.

Rick has published numerous articles on Crime prevention Through Environmental Design and other prevention applications in various trade periodicals. In 2007 he published his own text entitled, Crime Prevention-A Law Enforcement Officer’s Practical Guide (Jones and Bartlett Pub.), which is currently being used by many in the proactive policing field as their desk reference to addressing crime and developing better relationships within their communities. Having presented seminars related to safety in faith-based organizations for numerous years and recognizing a marked increase in the request for this topic in September 2015 Rick published a small text entitle, Securing the Faithful (Sunset Institute Press) for Faith-Based organizations.  Most recently he was cited in the 2018 released text by Lawrence Fennelly and Marianna Perry, CPTED and Traditional Security Countermeasures- 150 Things You Should Know. (CRC Press)

Rick opened his full-time training and consulting company in 2018 and with several associates, also experts in their fields, offering training in proactive policing methods, leadership, and certification in CPTED.

Rick provides consulting services in security assessments and engages in site plan review for schools, businesses, trail systems, and government facilities.

He is one of less than a dozen professionals to serve on the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries’ (ISRI) National Law Enforcement Advisory Committee to address metal theft.  Arrington has served on the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Crime Prevention Committee since 2018 and served on the IACP 2018 School Liaison Working Group to review past model policies, concepts and issues and make new recommendations. He also served on the National Fire Protection Association’s committee on premises security in the recent past.

Op/Ed: Restoring the Guardians to Their Posts!

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