This first appeared in The Havok Journal on June 11, 2020. The issues discussed in this article remain just as relevant today.
The new viral phrase going around, is “Let’s De-fund Police.” You have political leaders voting on it. The Minneapolis Police Department is getting dismantled. You have protestors chanting it. But is that really the answer? Will that solve societal problems? Will that end the “racist” criminal justice system? What would you replace police with? Security? Community patrols? Will they respond to violent crimes? Murders? Shootings? What will their role be? One thing I’ve noticed, between the noise, is talk of trimming police budgets and reallocating tax-payer money to social programs and other services.
You’ve all heard the stories, seen the articles, and the videos of people losing their minds over a meal order at a fast-food chain. All of sudden, the irate customer calls the police. The officer gets there, one thing leads to another and the person who called the police is either arrested or summonsed to court for tying up emergency services. The other stories are parents calling the police because their child won’t get ready for school.
I’ve personally had to respond to a 911 call, where it appeared to all of us that the person was being murdered. Multiple units arrived, and it turned out the reporting person was grounded to their room and they didn’t like that. So, they called the police instead. This was a 20-something-year-old. We left shaking our heads and our adrenaline through the roof. We thought the worst was happening.
These types of “emergency” calls occur every day. They are even more prevalent now with “Social Justice Warriors.” Police calls for service (CFS) range from neighbor disputes, mental health emergencies, children not listening to parents, active shooters, homicides, stabbings, fights, and this day in age: terrorism. Is defunding the answer? Rather than defund, I propose we refocus policing.
I believe the cuts in mental health, drug counseling, and other social services have strained police departments. We not only enforce laws but also act as social workers, drug counselors, and wear many other hats. As a result, officers are tied up with more social problems than emergencies. Police departments across the country had to adapt to the rapid change in societal needs, enforcing the law and being more proactive with the community. Now with the added threat of terrorism in the U.S., Police departments had to evolve if they were to truly protect and serve their communities.
There is a difference between “proactive” policing and “reactive” policing. Proactive policing allows officers to be more engaged with the community. We are out there on the streets protecting, preventing crime, and serving the community. Reactive policing is just that. Police respond to emergencies. Which kind of police department do you want? One that is active in the community, preventing crime? Or a reactive department where the crime is occurring, and the police simply respond.
Police focus on the issues truly plaguing the city. We build relationships with private and public sector social services. We refer individuals to various mental health clinics. We reach out for help with certain individuals in the city. Instead of constantly arresting, summoning, or dealing with individuals with specific issues, we get people who are trained and educated with mental health, elderly health services and so much more. What we constantly hear is how there aren’t enough beds for drug addicts to get treatment, not enough mental health facilities to help those in need, and their budgets are trimmed by state or federal governments. So as a result, again police departments had to evolve and adapt.
My proposal is to “refocus” rather than a “defund.” A method of policing that is gaining steam in the law enforcement community is Problem-Oriented Policing. Problem-oriented policing (POP), coined by the University of Wisconsin–Madison professor Herman Goldstein, is a policing strategy that involves the identification and analysis of specific crime and disorder problems, in order to develop effective response strategies.
I was part of that unit at my police department before I became a detective. In the unit, we established relationships with various public and private sector social services in order to allocate the right services for people in the community. The focus of the unit ranged from helping those with drug addiction and neighbor disputes to individuals generating the most calls for service, active criminal hotspots, and other functions.
The POP unit began meeting with defendants at the house of corrections prior to their release back to the city. We were not there to discuss their case, because that is a 5th amendment issue that we do not violate. Our purpose was to give guidance and contact information for various social services available in the city.
There were numerous flop houses owned by slum lords who could care less about the caliber of individuals they rented to. Some of these slum lords got to the point of taking EBT cards from the person paying rent as a form of payment. These houses plagued our police departments with numerous complaints from neighbors, drug overdoses, and other crimes. These slum lords would not cooperate with the police department, no matter how many times we tried.
One day, there was a stabbing at one of the houses. Multiple units responded, including me. I walked around the house and noticed several building code violations, such as master locks on the outside of the bedroom doors. I spoke to one witness, who was living in the bathroom and plagued with various illnesses, including MRSA, which is a highly contagious disease. I ended up calling a number of organizations in the city, including health services. The sick individual was immediately admitted to the hospital. In the end, the house was shut down by the city. The slumlord was given a laundry list of required changes to be made if he was to open up the house again. A neighborhood problem that plagued the neighbors, the city and the kids who played outside was now gone. Multiple families thanked the police department for their assistance.
The unit accomplished a lot of good in the city. The public took notice and saw the change in their neighborhoods. The unit became a model of policing in the area. So instead of defunding, why not refocus, and join the ranks of the police? Be the change you want.
Below are the 9 principles of Law Enforcement written by Sir Robert Peel, known as the “Father of Modern Policing.” These principles should be what every police officer in the country strives toward.
9 Principles of Policing
- To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
- To recognize always that the power of the police to fulfill their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions, and behavior, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
- To recognize always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing cooperation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
- To recognize always that the extent to which the cooperation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
- To seek and preserve public favor, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by the ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by the ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humor, and by the ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
- To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public cooperation to an extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
- To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
- To recognize always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
- To recognize always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.
Ayman is an Army Veteran who was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and became a police officer in 2007 after 8 years of military service. He has worked in the patrol division, in a plainclothes anti-crime unit, as a Metro-SWAT operator, and as a detective in a major crimes unit, as a narcotics task force detective with the DEA, and as an operator with the DEA Special Response Team (SRT). He also helped organize SRT operations in Southern New England.
As an assistant team leader, he assisted and coordinated the planning of operations as well as conducted various aspects of training. He has investigated high-level drug traffickers, gang members, and conducted numerous operations. He is currently the Officer in Charge of the Problem-Oriented Policing Unit. Ayman is a law enforcement firearms instructor, a less-than-lethal weapons instructor, a certified use of force instructor at his police department Ayman’s hands-on experience with law enforcement operations at many different levels coupled with his compassion to save lives has brought him to coordinate “Project Sapient.”
This initiative is a joint effort comprised of law enforcement professionals of all levels combined with the Special Forces philosophy of winning hearts and minds. Ayman has found that to reach more officers and departments, it is important to share his experience with media outlets that reach law enforcement.
He regularly contributes to The Havok Journal, writing articles that provide insight into current law enforcement trends and methodologies to help officers become better equipped to handle an ever-changing work environment.
Project Sapient is currently a Podcast. Ayman’s vision of Project Sapient is to eventually train other law enforcement officers and civilians alike in stress inoculation. Something that is sorely needed in the Law Enforcement profession. In his writing, Ayman draws from his hands-on experience as both a law enforcement professional and his military service.
For years, Ayman has seen the trend in lack of training policing. Whether it’s budget cuts, political enemies, or ineffective policy, Ayman has made it his mission to bring innovation, unconventional policing methods, and to have those tough conversations and instruction to assist law enforcement to better relate with and advise communities.
He sees firsthand the need for better training and tools for law enforcement to serve their communities most effectively. A better-trained officer is what policing a free society requires.