Time For a 'Tectonic Shift' in Policing

It’s time for a ‘tectonic shift’ in policing, says former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper. With the recent tensions between police and the American public, Stamper has been heard on CBS news, Fox Business News, NPR and on radio stations around the world sharing his insights and talking about his new book, To Protect and Serve: How to Fix America’s Police.

Stamper reminds us of difficult realities of the current police force and believes that the fundamental problem with American police isn’t a few or even a lot of bad apples on the force. It’s the entire bureaucratic system which over-arms police, paramilitary-style, but under-trains and under-supports them.

Stamper offers a refreshingly psychological understanding of the role of fear in escalating violent interactions between police and members of the public. Officers routinely interact with people who are agitated and combative, mentally ill, and intoxicated. “A scared cop is a dangerous cop,” Stamper says.

Despite his sobering indictment of the system, his book is remarkably hopeful. Anyone looking to indulge in finger-pointing will not enjoy Norm’s suggestions. He aims to trouble us all with questions about our shared responsibility for public safety.