ILSEP’s objective is simply to change the world. The effective implementation of its goals will change the world, and make it a safer, more trusting place for all of us.
It is no secret that there is a trust problem between law enforcement and our communities. A report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that about 44 million people have contact with a law-enforcement officer each year in the United States, and approximately 700,000 of the contacts involve some degree of force applied by an officer. Of those citizens, 75% of them felt that they had been subject to excessive force, and 87% did not believe police acted appropriately during the face-to-face interaction.
Meanwhile, police are confronted with potential violence at every turn. While many citizens may view a traffic stop or domestic violence incident call as “routine” police action, the fact is that there is no “routine” law enforcement activity; some of the most violent and at times deadly interactions with citizens start as seemingly minor calls for service. In recent years, right here in Minnesota, we have seen the tragic deaths of officers from the Aitkin, Mendota Heights, Cold Spring and Lake City Police Departments. Around the country, police officers have been killed, sometimes by ambush and sometimes on seemingly normal calls for service, in places like Dallas, Texas, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Palm Springs, California.
Some studies, including those by the Center for Disease Control, have found disproportionate use of force by police against minority populations. In contrast, other studies, including a 2016 analysis by the National Bureau of Economic Research, came to the conclusion that there were no racial differences in police shootings. A 2010 paper by the Southwestern Journal of Criminal Justice reviewed multiple peer-reviewed studies, some of which found that there was a correlation between race and police shootings, while others did not. A 2014 Gallup poll established that fewer than 50% of non-whites had a great deal of confidence that police can protect them from violent crime.
Whether a clear correlation can be clearly established or not, it is certain that media coverage and public perception of police use of force incidents imply a racial bias and unsafe policing practices. Coverage that had been critical of police use of force against minority populations has included the deaths of Rodney King in 1991; Amadou Diallo in 1999; Rekia Boyd in 2012; Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket in 2013; Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, Ezell Ford, Akai Gurley and Tamir Rice in 2014; Antonio Zambrano-Montes, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray in 2015; and Philando Castile in 2016, among many others.
It is time to reverse the trend of perception by reinforcing our communities’ trust in law enforcement through expert and specialized training and projecting that positive change to the media. A 2007 study in Criminal Justice and Behavior, “Police Education, Experience and the Use of Force,” found that officers with more experience and education may be less likely to use force, while a review of case studies suggests that specific training programs and accountability structures can lower the use of violence by police departments. Enter ILSEP.
ILSEP’s objective is to improve policing toward citizens, including those of diverse races and those in vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill, the elderly, and minors. The Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, dated May 2015, included recommendations and action items specifically directed toward improving police force training and accountability systems, the very aim that ILSEP is designed to achieve.
ILSEP will meet these objectives through law enforcement training that follows three fundamental precepts:
Lawful. Current legal guidelines help inform not only what is constitutionally acceptable policing, but also sound law enforcement practices. Tat legal foundation is fundamental, and indeed essential to safe police practices.
Safe. Focusing on the safest way for police to engage in an encounter with a citizen is critical. This need is highlighted when an officer encounters a vulnerable citizen.
Effective. We cannot lose sight of the fact that effective policing is necessary, and that an officer’s job in inherently difficult. ILSEP trainers do not have blinders on -- we seek to demonstrate practical, effective and real world policing techniques that recognize the challenges that law enforcement officers face.
The three precepts are not numbered -- that is deliberate. A fundamental tenet of ILSEP is that these three areas -- Lawful, Safe, and Effective policing -- are not in contravention of one another, but rather that each informs the others. Neither is more or less important.
Only when all components are viewed together can we reach the objective of the execution of the very best policing practices, both in the field and administratively.