From Warriors to Guardians: Recommitting American Police Culture to Democratic Ideals

Source: Sue Rahr and Stephen K. Rice, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety (2008-2014), New Perspectives in Policing Series, April 2015

From the summary:
The first recommendation from the interim report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing states: “Law enforcement culture should embrace a guardian mindset to build public trust and legitimacy. Toward that end, police and sheriff’s departments should adopt procedural justice as the guiding principle for internal and external policies and practices to guide their interactions with the citizens they serve.” The term “guardian mindset” was used as a succinct description of officers who focus on protecting over conquering. The report states further, “Law enforcement cannot build community trust if it is seen as an occupying force coming from the outside to rule and control the community.” ….

….In a new report released today by the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety (2008-2014) and funded by the OJP National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Sue Rahr and Stephen K. Rice make a case for addressing both the internal and external culture of police agencies in order to create a culture that supports a guardian mindset. The old adage “So the station…so the street” describes how the values demonstrated inside the organization have a powerful influence on police behavior in the community. The way leaders exercise their power inside the organization signals to officers how they are expected to use their power on the street. Strict military structure and protocols in many police agencies and training academies are at odds with the concept of internal procedural justice. …..

….In From Warriors to Guardians: Recommitting American Police Culture to Democratic Ideals, the authors offer concrete ideas and outline a specific example of transforming the organizational culture of a police academy from a military ‘boot camp’ model designed to ensure strict compliance with rules and orders, to a culture based on developing critical-thinking leaders and institutionalizing procedurally just values – toward the mindset of a leader as a guardian. ….