What is your conceptualization of terrorism? is it
b. the destruction of the world trade centers in New York?
c. Coordinated team-based attacks such as at Mumbai or, more recently, Paris?
d. Lone wolves (e.g., http://www.lonewolfthreat.com) such as Timothy McVey?
e. the various Al Qaeda affiliates and copycats?
f. ad hoc street gangs?
g. organized (or disorganized) crime by another name?
Have we created too broad a rubric for it to be useful? To what extent should police and/or military be engaged in conflict with these folks, and how? How can terrorism best be impeded or prevented?
What does our future look like in a world where terrorism seems to make frequent headlines?
Consider http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2015/1123/New-Orleans-park-shooting-rattles-city-enjoying-record-low-homicides-video among many others. Some cities, e.g., New Orleans, while not as peaceful as one might wish, seem to be stabilizing in terms of homicide while others, e.g., Baltimore and Chicago and Milwaukee, seem to be experiencing increased violence.
Be the details as they may, and conclusions depending upon which measures one chooses, it’s clear that violence is up in some places and down in others. The core question remains, “Why?”
Criminologists and others have been debating the uneven distribution of crime for a very long time. Police futurists, wonder, naturally enough, what role police might have if we were more effectively to “protect and serve.” At present, police are often recognized as part of the problem. Looking ahead,
- can police become a more effective part of the solution? if so, how?
- what parts of the solution are best addressed by other components of the community instead?
Community policing, by a variety of names, has been around for a very long time. Some would argue that it precedes Sir Robert Peel’s principles (e.g., http://lacp.org/2009-Articles-Main/062609-Peels9Principals-SandyNazemi.htm).
In a more modern context, it has been contrasted with both combat policing and neighborhood-driven policing (http://futuresworkinggroup.cos.ucf.edu/docs/Volume%201/Vol1-NDP-FWG.pdf , p. 9). Many police believe that there are times where each of those models might be appropriate.
In the wake of recent U.S. uproars , in Sanford FL, Ferguson MO, Baltimore MD and a variety of other places and including on or near various college campuses, there has been a re-examination of what is right and proper for police to do. That re-examination is still under way.
The relationship between police and community has never been a stable one, nor should it be. For example, when gang members are shooting at me, I want combat policing to come to my rescue. However, when my neighbors and I disagree about the proper care of our front lawns and the disagreement gets out of hand, it is not combat policing that is likely to produce an improved situation.
All of us at heart want policing customized to the needs we perceive at the time. However, what happens when what I perceive is not the same as what my neighbor perceives? What if my neighbor is of a demographic different than mine? Suddenly the police role becomes a bit more of a challenge.
None of the above is new. What is new is that in the U.S. many police departments and policing associations are engaged in discussion regarding how we might better “protect and serve.” A goal of that discussion is to build futures better than our past. The Society of Police Futurists International has that discussion front and center on its agenda.
This one was developed by the folks at Argonne National Laboratory. It’s at https://vimeo.com/36975812 . It is 15 minutes long. As you proceed through it, consider
- how the police of today could have helped
- how the police of the future will have to be different from today if they are to contribute more to the resolution of the scenario.
- then consider how police might get from where we are to where we would need to be.