Nominations Being Accepted for 2021 Law Enforcement Design Awards

The second annual Law Enforcement Design Awards program showcases new architectural designs of law enforcement stations and training facilities that represent the very best in security and technology today.

The call for entries is open for law enforcement facilities built after January 2017. Entries can be submitted in one of five categories through Officer.com/2021leda.

  • LE Facilities I—More than 50,000-sq.-ft. facilities staffing law enforcement personnel. Includes standalone police stations, sheriff departments, state police facilities, etc.
  • LE Facilities II—Less than 50,000-sq. ft. facilities staffing law enforcement personnel. Includes standalone police stations, sheriff departments or state police facilities, etc.
  • LE Facilities III—Less than 25,000-sq. ft. facilities staffing law enforcement personnel. Includes police stations, sheriff departments or state police facilities, etc.
  • Public Safety Centers—911 dispatch centers, emergency operations centers, etc. as standalone LE facilities or combined with other agencies or organizations such as fire, police, sheriff, state police or local government offices
  • Training Facilities—Facilities containing classrooms, fire ranges, sim villages, tracks, etc. 

Entries will be edited for anonymity and submitted to a panel of judges consisting of law enforcement officers and architects specialized in law enforcement architecture. No judge will have an entry in the award program.

Law enforcement agencies and architects are encouraged to complete Entry Forms for their projects by September 9 with Portfolios due by September 16. Upon receipt of the Entry Form, a Project Data Sheet will be sent with the guidelines for the Portfolio. The entrance fee includes a full-page feature for entries in the OFFICER December issue as well as digitally on Officer.com.

Awards include Gold, Silver and Bronze for each category. Gold Award winners will have a two-page spread in the OFFICER December issue as well.

Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to contact their architect or construction firm to submit their projects, not only be recognized for outstanding design, but to honor the communities served and to spotlight their architectural achievements.

COPS Releases Publication Suite Focused on Law Enforcement Officer Wellness

Law enforcement officers regularly experience stress and secondary trauma during their shifts and rely on their families and friends as a positive social support network to maintain holistic wellness. 

The purpose of this executive guide, titled “Family Matters: Executive Guide for Developing Family-Friendly Policies, Procedures, and Culture,” is to create a roadmap for law enforcement agencies to develop stronger family-friendly policies, procedures, and organizational cultures to work in collaboration with officer support networks. The publication and companion tools for families and agencies guide professional dialogue around holistic wellness innovations, best practices to support employees, and opportunities within agencies to strengthen relationships with law enforcement families.
 
The executive guide also includes information on employee benefits, family planning, trauma and loss, disciplinary considerations, and retirement planning.
 
Download the free 46-page guide by visiting https://cops.usdoj.gov/RIC/Publications/cops-w0948-pub.pdf
 
The COPS Office publishes materials for law enforcement and community stakeholders to use in collaboratively addressing crime and disorder challenges. These free publications provide you with best practice approaches and give you access to collective knowledge from the field. Below you can find our recent and featured publications, and you can also search the Resource Center or our Community Policing Topics pages for specific issues or call the COPS Office Response Center at 800-421-6770.

Crash Rates Jump in Wake of Marijuana Legalization

Story by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

More evidence is emerging that crash rates go up when states legalize recreational use and retail sales of marijuana.

Crash rates spiked with the legalization of recreational marijuana use and retail sales in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and another by the affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) show.

However, the preliminary results of a separate IIHS study of injured drivers who visited emergency rooms in California, Colorado and Oregon showed that drivers who used marijuana alone were no more likely to be involved in crashes than drivers who hadn’t used the drug. That is consistent with a 2015 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that found that a positive test for marijuana was not associated with increased risk of being involved in a police-reported crash.

“Our latest research makes it clear that legalizing marijuana for recreational use does increase overall crash rates,” says IIHS-HLDI President David Harkey. “That’s obviously something policymakers and safety professionals will need to address as more states move to liberalize their laws — even if the way marijuana affects crash risk for individual drivers remains uncertain.”

More than a third of U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older. The hefty tax revenues those states are earning have others exploring similar legislation, and recent polls indicate that 68 percent of American adults favor legalization. Consumption also appears to be expanding rapidly, with self-reports of past-month marijuana use doubling from 6 percent to 12 percent of those surveyed between 2008 and 2019.

That’s a potential concern for those who care about road safety. Driving simulator tests have shown that drivers who are high on marijuana react more slowly, find it harder to pay attention, have more difficulty maintaining their car’s position in the lane and make more errors when something goes wrong than they do when they’re sober. But such tests have also shown marijuana-impaired drivers are likely to drive at slower speeds, make fewer attempts to overtake and keep more distance between their vehicle and the one ahead of them.

To better understand the net impact on safety, researchers at IIHS and HLDI have conducted a series of studies since 2014 examining how legalization has affected crash rates and insurance claims in the first states to legalize recreational use.

The most recent of these studies from IIHS shows that injury and fatal crash rates in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington jumped in the months following the relaxation of marijuana laws in each state.

Combined, the impact of legalization and, subsequently, retail sales in the five states resulted in a 6 percent increase in injury crash rates and a 4 percent increase in fatal crash rates compared with other Western states where recreational marijuana use was illegal during the study period. Only the increase in injury crash rates was statistically significant.

That’s consistent with a 2018 IIHS study of police-reported crashes — most of which did not involve injuries or fatalities — that found that legalization of retail sales in Colorado,  Oregon and Washington was associated with a 5 percent higher crash rate compared with the neighboring control states.

Insurance records show a similar increase in claims under collision coverage, which pays for damage to an at-fault, insured driver’s own vehicle, HLDI’s latest analysis shows. The legalization of retail sales in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington was associated with a 4 percent increase in collision claim frequency compared with the other Western states over 2012-19. That’s down slightly from the 6 percent increase HLDI identified in a previous study, which covered 2012-18.

Despite those increases in crash rates, studies of whether marijuana itself makes drivers more likely to crash have been inconsistent. The latest one from IIHS — which used data collected from injured drivers in three emergency rooms in Denver, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; and Sacramento, California — showed no increased crash risk associated with the drug, except when combined with alcohol.

Researchers conducted surveys for more than a year, interviewing and drug-testing more than 1,200 patients in total. The results showed that the crash-involved drivers weren’t any more likely to self-report or test positive for marijuana alone than other drivers who weren’t involved in a crash and were at the emergency room for reasons other than an injury.

Just 4 percent of the drivers involved in crashes self-reported marijuana by itself over the previous eight hours, compared with 9 percent of those who weren’t involved in a crash. Similarly, 13 percent of the crash-involved drivers tested positive for marijuana only, compared with 16 percent of the control set.

The reverse was true for the combined use of marijuana and alcohol, with 3 percent of the crash-involved drivers and fewer than 1 percent of the control drivers self-reporting use of both substances and 5 percent of the crash-involved drivers and fewer than 1 percent of the control drivers testing positive.

Those combined-use numbers could help explain why crash rates have increased. Legalization may be encouraging more people to drink and use marijuana together.

Studies comparing the simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana in states where marijuana is legal with states where it is still against the law will be needed to test this hypothesis. But some early evidence has already emerged that shows self-reports of past-month marijuana and alcohol use have increased, while the reported use of alcohol alone has decreased, especially in states where recreational use of marijuana is now legal.

nationally representative survey conducted recently by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also found that drivers who self-reported using both alcohol and marijuana were more likely than those who had only consumed alcohol to say they had driven while impaired and engaged in dangerous driving behaviors such as making aggressive maneuvers or speeding on residential streets.

Other factors related to how legalization has affected the way people use marijuana, rather than the physiological effects of the drug, may also be at play. For example, the larger spike in crash rates in Colorado — the first state to legalize recreational use — suggests a burst of enthusiasm that leveled off as the drug’s new status became more commonplace. The first few states to legalize marijuana even used the legalization as part of their tourism promotions.

It’s also possible that disparities in state and local regulations might be encouraging more travel by marijuana users. For example, marijuana users in counties that do not allow retail sales may drive to counties that do. Their increased travel could lead to more crashes even if their crash risk per mile traveled is no higher than that of other drivers.

 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage from motor vehicle crashes through research and evaluation and through education of consumers, policymakers and safety professionals.

Law Officers: New Federal Gun Rule Ban Good for State

From the News Tribune

Two Mid-Missouri sheriffs agree a state bill banning police from enforcing federal gun rules is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of citizens.

Gov. Mike Parson this past weekend signed the Second Amendment Preservation Act, which would penalize local police departments if their officers enforce federal gun laws.

Under the bill, Missouri agencies that knowingly enforce any federal gun laws could be sued and fined $50,000 per violating officer.

“I was concerned with the first version of the bill because there were a lot of issues with it, and some of them were huge,” Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler told the News Tribune. “With any new bill, there are some unforeseen consequences that we could not support. It is still not a perfect bill, but in the end, the sheriffs were able to work with legislators and fix the language in a manner that we could support it.”

Wheeler and Callaway County Sheriff Clay Chism, along with Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller, worked with members of the state Senate on a final version of the act that made it through the Legislature and on to the governor.

Most state and federal gun laws are the same, and federal law enforcement may enforce gun rules that are only in federal law.

“I think some people don’t realize U.S. marshals can still come in and take away weapons,” Wheeler said. “What this law says is we won’t help them. They can still come in and say they are going to do this, but my agency won’t do it.”

Republican lawmakers who worked to pass the bill have said they’re motivated by the possibility of new federal gun restrictions under Democratic President Joe Biden and the Democratic-led U.S. House.

But Democrats warned the measure unconstitutionally seeks to supersede federal laws and predicted it would be shot down by the courts.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade in a statement described the law as “radical, dangerous and obviously unconstitutional.”

“The new law even allows criminals who violate federal gun law to sue our local law enforcement officers for a minimum $50,000 fine if they in any way assist with federal investigations,” Quade said. “It quite literally defunds the police and gives that taxpayer money to convicted criminals.”

“Contrary to some political and dishonest rhetoric that was disseminated, most Missouri sheriffs, including myself, wholeheartedly support the Second Amendment,” Callaway County Sheriff Clay Chism said. “It was paramount, though, to ensure SAPA was passed to protect law-abiding citizens and not give refuge to criminals who need prosecuted for their bad acts.”

The Republican-led Legislature passed a similar bill in 2013 declaring any federal policies that “infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms” shall be invalid in Missouri. It would have allowed state misdemeanor charges to be brought against federal authorities who attempted to enforce those laws or anyone who published the identity of a gun owner.

That bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat. The Legislature fell just shy of overriding Nixon’s veto.

News Tribune reporter Jeff Haldiman and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Thriving in Law Enforcement

By Dr. John Azar-Dickens for Force Science News

Enter the police profession and risk higher divorce rates, alcoholism, suicide, PTSD, and early death. At least that’s what they told us at the academy.

I’m not convinced this is actually the case, but it is easy to believe when we watch fellow officers gain weight, lose health, drink more, sleep less, increase cynicism, and decrease job interest. We are taught that officers will be challenged just to survive the emotional toll of a law enforcement career—and that’s just the way it is. Except that it’s not.

In this article, I propose we move beyond the expectation that simply surviving is the best we can do. To that end, I offer habits that can dramatically increase the likelihood of surviving and thriving in law enforcement.

The Challenge

There is no doubt that law enforcement is challenging. In addition to the personal danger, officers can see more pain, suffering, and conscience-shocking depravity in one day than most people see in a lifetime. On top of that, it is hard to imagine another profession that falls under such enormous scrutiny from civic leaders, courts, and community groups. Controversial media and anti-police activist groups ensure officers are followed by cameras 24-7. Every word, movement, and decision may be recorded and available for strategic editing to support false and misleading narratives. Low pay, understaffing, politicized command staff, and erratic schedules can create work conditions that leave little time for mental and physical recovery.

Although admirable, the selfless service, duty first culture of policing, coupled with the strong independence of officers, can lead to an unwillingness to accept limitations, or admit when it’s time for help. In the short term, these qualities may allow officers to stay in the fight a bit longer, protect their communities for another day, or catch one more bad guy. But the benefits of selfless service can be short-lived, and the costs too great when officers fail to engage in necessary self-care.

The good news is that by committing to a habit of self-care, officers can not only survive their experiences, but they can also bring the best version of themselves to their community, their agency, and their family. In other words, they can thrive.

Habits of Health    

Exercise for thirty minutes, three times per week.

Physical movement can improve mood and a sense of well-being. While exercise may not always feel great while you are doing it, the psychological health benefits are well documented. You don’t have to train for a marathon or become a fitness model, simply find an activity that allows you to move your large muscle groups at a moderate pace. Aim to work out for a sustained 30-minute period, during which your exertion is greater than resting but not so great that you are gasping for air. A brisk walk is one of the best exercises we can do.

Discipline Your Eating.

Dieting is too often associated with short-term, extreme food and calorie restrictions. Instead of “dieting,” commit to studying how the foods you eat can impact your energy levels and body composition. Learn how your body type and energy needs influence your dietary requirements and then discipline yourself to stay within those limits more often than not.

You do not have to resort to hyper-restrictive, impossible eating regimens. “Yo-Yo dieting” is the weight swing that results from mindlessly overeating after engaging in restrictive, unrealistic diets. It is frustrating and often leads to weight gain that exceeds any weight lost from the diet. It’s not necessary to eat healthy all of the time. Instead, focus on being mindful of your eating and strike a balance between eating what you want and eating what you need. If you hit your favorite high-calorie wings spot for lunch, focus on reduced-calorie vegetables and lean meats in the evening.

Sleep for an average of 6-8 hours per night.

Sleep is critical for the proper functioning and restoration of physical and mental processes. Many of the problems experienced by law enforcement officers have been linked to sleep deprivation, including unhealthy weight management.

For many in law enforcement, getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. Even so, the goal is to average those numbers over a week. If you have to be awake for an extended period, find ways to add those missing hours back into your sleep on the other days or nights. Study the science of “sleep hygiene” and set the conditions that allow you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Engage in activities outside of law enforcement.

Police are frequently immersed in the darkest side of the human experience. It is easy to lose perspective, and that can take a toll. You must step out and enjoy the positive side of life. If you do not have hobbies outside of law enforcement, find some and focus on actively engaging yourself in these interests. Coaching kids sports may be just what you need.      

Monitor your emotions and talk with the experts.

Sadness, anxiety, and depression are normal, even for police. One test for deciding when to check in with mental health professionals is whether you feel these discomforting emotions (sadness, anxiety, anger, fear, etc.) during more days of the month than not. If these feelings are persistent, think of them as you would the “check engine” light on your vehicle. Don’t wait until emotional distress becomes a formal disorder. Be proactive. If you were having shortness of breath or chest pain, you would not wait to have a heart attack before seeking help.

If possible, identify a counselor or psychologist who specializes in work with law enforcement. Be sensitive to the limits of your primary care provider and carefully consider any recommendations that you use medication. Too often, medicine is a band-aid and can prevent you from identifying and implementing the healthy lifestyle habits that lead to long-term resiliency and improved performance. Medicine certainly has its place, but it should not be your only response.  

Schedule an annual consult with a police psychologist or counselor.

Be proactive. Just as you would get your teeth cleaned to avoid cavities, get in the habit of a routine “mental health cleaning.” Take time at least once a year to pause and assess your habits with a mental health professional. Ensure you are continuing to experience policing (and life) in the most productive manner possible.

Periodic health assessments can identify symptoms and risks of cumulative trauma. In addition to the effects of a single incident of trauma, an officer’s psychological well-being can be impacted by the cumulative effect of repeated exposure to traumatic events. Annual consults can help ensure you are effectively managing these insidious issues.

Monitor significant conflict with your family and talk with family counseling experts.

Law enforcement work can take a toll on families. Left unnoticed, the stressors can grow until they negatively impact and degrade relationships. Law enforcement work is hard on police families. Your partner and children know the dangers you face, they know how the media portrays you on a daily basis, and they are concerned about your well-being. Ignoring the problem, hoping it simply goes away, or accepting the harm as a necessary part of the profession is no longer expected or necessary.

If family conflict threatens to get physical or you are experiencing conflict more days out of the month than not, take advantage of family counseling experts. The key is to identify the stressors and conditions that lead to conflict early. It does no good to save your community and lose your family.

Thrive

It is no longer acceptable to view the loss of families, mental health, and physical well-being as costs of serving in law enforcement. Technology and mental health strategies have advanced well beyond helping officers to simply survive their profession. Committing to simple, healthy habits, including making routine appointments with mental health professionals, ensures you’re bringing the best version of yourself to your family and community. Your commitment to serving others should include a commitment to care for yourself. It’s no longer enough to simply survive; it’s time to thrive.

________________________________

About Author
Dr. John Azar-Dickens is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist specializing in Forensic Psychology and a Certified Force Science Analyst. In addition to instructing nationally for the Force Science Institute, Dr. Azar-Dickens provides professional debriefing support and psychological assistance to officers involved in force incidents. A widely published author and active expert witness, Dr. Azar-Dickens continues to serve as a sworn patrol officer with the City of Rome, GA Police Department.

Alzheimer’s Association Provides Free Training for First Responders

A poll conducted from May 20 to June 2 by Police1.com asked:

Have you received training to recognize the signs of and appropriately respond to a person with dementia?

Of the 515 who participated, 51% responded “Yes” and 49% responded “No.”

The Alzheimer’s Association hopes to change that by providing free online training. 

As a first responder, it’s critical to understand how to best approach situations involving someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Approaching Alzheimer’s: First Responder Training program is a free, online training that features high-quality content in an interactive format, developed by the Alzheimer’s Association with input from first responders. It can be accessed:

  • Anytime of day, or night, accommodating for shift work and new hires
  • By anyone with access to a computer and the internet, making it easy to take from home or work

To promote the training within your department or agency, use this downloadable flyer to distribute or post in your breakroom.

The training also includes a downloadable tip sheet, Quick Tips for First Responders. This handy page can be folded to fit in a visor or emergency kit, and includes helpful phone numbers and strategies to help a person with dementia and their family.

Other resources for families in your community:

  • Safety information: Taking measures to ensure safety at all times can help prevent injuries, and it can help people with dementia feel relaxed and less overwhelmed. The Alzheimer’s Association safety section provides valuable information on safety in the home, driving and other safety issues.
  • MedicAlert® with 24/7 Wandering Support: A nationwide emergency response service for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia who wander or have a medical emergency.
  • Alzheimer’s Navigator®: Alzheimer’s Association’s Alzheimer’s Navigator is an innovative online tool designed specifically for families, to create a personalized action plan and linking them to information, support and local resources.

  • For more information on the MedicAlert Law Enforcement Agency Portal (LEAP), click here. The LEAP program provides FREE enrollment into the MedicAlert + Safe Return program for people living with dementia who are registered through a law enforcement agency’s online portal.

More information on the free first responder course

The course has an interactive map that allows you to explore topics relevant to your role. Once you have completed all topics, you can print a certificate celebrating that you are Ready to Respond! Training topics include:

  • Briefing (Dementia Overview)
  • Wandering
  • Driving
  • Abuse and Neglect
  • Shoplifting
  • Disaster Response

Sign up here.

For a video explaining the program, watch this YouTube video.

Unsplash photo by Huy Phan

DEA Museum to Hold Lecture Series ‘Disrupt, Dismantle, and Destroy: Smuggling Stories’

The Drug Enforcement Administration Museum and Visitors Center will present the next installment of its Lecture Series, “Disrupt, Dismantle, and Destroy: Smuggling Stories,” at 1 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. CDT) on June 17.

Join host Josh Edmundson, the DEA Museum’s Curator of Education, for a live, virtual discussion with DEA experts about drug smuggling, a fundamental element of all major drug trafficking organizations’ business models and a critical component of DEA’s work.

Smuggling Stories investigates one of the pillars of DEA’s Kingpin Strategy: disrupting smuggling routes and discovering and seizing shipments of illicit narcotics, weapons, cash, and other goods. The Kingpin Strategy focuses on removing the delivery capabilities of drug trafficking organizations to prevent their products from further distribution in the United States.

The Lecture Series will feature retired Special Agent Tony Placido and Special Agent Nate Jones, who will speak about DEA’s work thwarting the efforts of international drug trafficking organizations and the unique enforcement challenge that is our Southern Border.

As part of the event, Mr. Edmundson will present additional information on smuggling artifacts using objects from the Museum’s collection.

The DEA Museum collects, preserves, and interprets the material culture and artifacts pertaining to DEA and its predecessor agencies, U.S. drug policy and enforcement of U.S. drug laws, and drug education programs. The Museum interprets its collection for the public benefit through permanent and temporary exhibits, programs, the Museum website, publications, social media, and other mediums.

This event is free and open to the public. Sign language interpretation will be provided. Reserve your free ticket at www.smuggling_stories.eventbrite.com.

WHEN: Thursday, June 17, 1 to 2:30 p.m. EDT (2 to 3:30 p.m. CDT)

WHERE: Live-streamed from DEA Headquarters

ACCESS: Streaming link will be emailed to all ticket holders

EMAIL QUESTIONS: During the event, email questions to Elizabeth.P.Thompson@usdoj.gov

CONTACT: DEA Museum (202) 307-3463, DEAMuseum@usdoj.gov or Elizabeth Thompson, Visitor Services Coordinator, Elizabeth.P.Thompson@usdoj.gov

New COPS Grant Funding Opportunities are Open

The COPS Office is pleased to announce that the following grant funding opportunity is now open and accepting applications:

Community Policing Development (CPD) – Full Solicitation Now Open

Community Policing Development funds are used to develop the capacity of law enforcement to implement community policing strategies by providing guidance on promising practices through the development and testing of innovative strategies; building knowledge about effective practices and outcomes; and supporting new, creative approaches to preventing crime and promoting safe communities.  

The 2021 CPD program will fund projects that develop knowledge, increase awareness of effective community policing strategies, increase the skills and abilities of law enforcement and community partners, increase the number of law enforcement agencies and relevant stakeholders using proven community policing practices, and institutionalize community policing practice in routine business.

Portions of the CPD solicitation pertaining to Crisis Intervention Teams and Microgrants previously opened on May 20, 2021.  Today’s announcement opens the following portions of the CPD solicitation:

  • De-escalation Training: Up to $15,000,000 is available for officer training in de-escalation techniques, of which no less than $4,250,000 is for grants to regional de-escalation training centers that are administered by accredited institutions of higher education and offer de-escalation training certified by a national certification program and $8,750,000 is for grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to build and maintain officer de-escalation proficiency.
  • Accreditation: Up to $5,000,000 is available to expand accreditation programs and assist agencies with gaining accreditation to ensure compliance with national and international standards covering all aspects of law enforcement policies, procedures, practices, and operations, of which no less than $1,500,000 is to be provided for small and rural law enforcement agencies for this purpose.
  • Tolerance, Diversity, and Anti-Bias Online Training: Up to $2,000,000 is available for grants to support tolerance, diversity, and anti-bias training programs offered by organizations with well-established experience training law enforcement personnel and criminal justice profes​​sionals.


For these portions of the CPD solicitation, applications are due by July 22, 2021 at 7:59 PM EDT.  Click here for more information on the 2021 Community Policing Development program.​​

Improving Non-Verbal Communications With a Smile

Smiling faces can be especially beneficial to school resource officers. Showing off their smiles are Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officers Dep. Mary Forler (Hillsboro) and Dep. Brent Nanney (Jefferson R-7). 

​Story by Lt. Dan Marcou for PoliceOne

As both an officer and trainer I practiced and taught what I call the discipline of staying positive to help avoid negativity and chronic cynicism.

These efforts led me to discover a simple but powerful tool that is underutilized by too many officers. That powerful tool is the smile.

NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION

You have all have been taught about the importance of reading non-verbal cues of the people you are in contact with. Those same people are also making judgments about you based on your non-verbal cues as well and the smile is a clear-cut non-verbal communication during any contact on the street.

A smile is not an absolute indicator of positive intentions. However, it does generally send an immediate positive non-verbal message when worn on the face of a police officer.

SMILE WHEN APPROPRIATE

It bears stating, there are many times in law enforcement when smiling would be totally out of place. Clearly, at death scenes, serious accidents, while investigating sexual crimes, or while using force to overcome combative resistance.

However, when on foot patrol, entering a business on your beat, or giving directions upon request, willfully smiling as you meet and greet the public you serve can positively impact their attitude toward not only you but also our profession. In contrast, make the same casual passing of someone in the public and ignore them, look uncaring, or even worse, be gruff in your demeanor, and they will instantly judge you as well as our profession harshly.

THE POWER OF THE SMILE

Realize that a contact started with an air of indifference, or even a scowl will likely take a different trajectory than a contact with a smile, a greeting and an introduction.

For instance, “Good evening, I am Lt. Dan Marcou. The reason I stopped you tonight is both your taillights are out and since you can’t see them from the driver’s seat, I thought I should stop you and let you know.”

Starting a legal equipment violation contact such as this with a smile, where a warning is most likely imminent, is certainly acceptable.

THE POWER OF ENDING A SMILE

The use of a smile can also become a tactic to achieve compliance. When you as an officer make a lawful request with a smile such as, “Since you are clearly not happy with the service here, and the owner wants you to leave how about we leave now and you can find another place, whose service you might better appreciate.” All this can be said with a smile.

When the person you are speaking with replies in the negative, I have found that just a pause and transition from a smile to the face of a serious professional can have as powerful an effect on people as any words and eventually actions that will most certainly follow if the person does not comply.

Once mastered, the act of transitioning from smile to no-smile properly timed is almost like a no-impact use of force technique.

CREATE SMILES

As you patrol, when time permits, you can create circumstances that allow you to smile at the public you serve. One such way is to increase your contacts. This allows you to not just cite, but stop and educate people who commit violations that are dangerous bad habits and citable offenses but are minor enough to warrant a warning.

You can stop someone for rolling through a stop sign, a seat belt violation, or even a cellphone violation and give them not only a warning but recite a short pre-prepared presentation. During the presentation explain to them not just how much money you are saving them by warning them, but how what they are doing could lead to a tragedy. Send them on their way with a “Thank you for your courtesy and for listening. Drive safe and be safe,” type of closure.

Caution: Even during these “public safety violation vehicle contacts” you need to use proper tactics because although you will run across mostly good people, at times you will come upon people who are wanted on warrants, driving without a license and/or in the process of committing a crime. Therefore, use caution and proper tactics on all stops since no stop is routine!

DRIVE-BY SMILES

  • You can also conduct congenial stop and talks, or drive-by-smiles, with an open-window wave. Here are a few examples. You can:
  • Stop and give a shout out to kids playing, saying “Nice catch,” or “Nice shot.”
  • Stop to tell a business owner who has made some improvement, “Thanks for making the city a little nicer place to live.”
  • Stop and tell a homeowner working in the yard, “Your roses look beautiful this year.”
  • Kiddingly tell new parents, “You may not be aware of it, but you are strolling in a No Cute Zone, and with those children you are definitely in violation.” (I have used this one more times than I can count and it never fails to get not only a smile but a proud laugh from the parents.)

Adding these and others of your own making to your patrol repertoire takes little effort. It also costs nothing to be nice until it is time to be intense, but the positive impact can be priceless.

CONCLUSION

During these tough times, it seems unrealistic to even talk about smiling while doing police work considering the way some so publicly besiege and besmirch the entire profession of law enforcement. I get that.

However, the reality is, a recent Monmouth Poll revealed that in spite of the onslaught, 71% of Americans still approve of their local police. That’s you!

This shows that not only do the majority of the public you serve, not believe the misrepresentation of the entire police profession willfully orchestrated by some; but it also shows that in spite of these attacks you all must be continuing to serve the public faithfully one contact and one call at a time throughout these challenging times.

Now that’s something to smile about.

About the author
Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. He is a co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters,” which is now available. His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and Destiny of Heroes,” as well as his latest non-fiction offering, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History,” are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.

Crime Reduction: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies

Crime Reduction: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies offers current guidance on effective enforcement and policing strategies aimed at crime reduction.

The course also explores the application of crime prevention as a means of actively interdicting and preventing crime in our nation’s communities. To help connect principles to practice, this course highlights crime reduction initiatives undertaken by law enforcement agencies around the country, demonstrating how policing strategies can be applied in varying contexts.

Through video interviews and case studies, each module presents real-world examples to illustrate the strategies presented in the course.

COURSE RUN TIME: 3-4 HOURS

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About This Course

Crime Reduction: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies is designed to provide participants with an overview of best practices for crime reduction, including guidelines for implementing an organizational model for crime reduction at all levels within a police department. The course offers useful strategies for problem solving in order to develop immediate, short-term, and long-term responses to crime within a community.

Participants should expect to spend approximately 3-4 hours exploring the content and resources in this course. The design of the course allows participants to stop and resume the training based on the demands of their schedule.

This tuition-free online training was developed by the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation (VCPI) and was originally supported by cooperative agreement 2017-CK-WXK-001 by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Primary Audience

This course is intended for law enforcement personnel at any level of experience within organizations of any size.