At the Junior Police Academy, we believe that public safety officers provide an ideal role model for mutual respect, tolerance and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
I hope these strategies will encourage you to catch the spirit of JPA and give reality to a noble historic tradition: police are the public and the public are the police.
Where do I begin?
But that's all.
The magic really happens when our law enforcement instructors completely depart from my poor words and tell their own story. Remember, you have one great advantage over an English lit teacher, your stories of heroic deeds and a quest for justice are true!
And a question to frame the discussion.
Welcome to the Junior Police Academy. My name is Officer__________.
In this Academy you will learn about my profession - law enforcement.
Graduation from an actual law enforcement academy, like the one I attended, the Smithville County Law Enforcement Academy, was required before I could be placed on active duty.
Graduation from the Junior Police Academy will not make you eligible for active duty with the Smithville Police Department.
It does, however, confer on you a certain rank and distinction that we hope will follow you into adulthood.
You will graduate from the academy with a special insight into policing that few citizens possess.
Tell them you will return to the question at the conclusion of your presentation.
Strategies for Introducing Young People to Law Enforcement
Each are written in the voice of the law enforcement instructor.
Like No Other Job in the World
Imagine it's your job to uphold the law fairly and firmly.
When a crime is committed, you must pursue and bring to justice those responsible.
You need to be professional, calm and restrained in the face of violence and apply only that force which is necessary.
You must protect, help and reassure all members of your community, striving to reduce their fear of crime.
In doing these things, you must be compassionate, courteous and patient, acting without fear or favor or prejudice to the rights of others.
You must act with integrity, common sense and sound judgement in all that you do - while on-duty and off.
You will experience life like no other profession on earth. You witness the best and the worst behavior in your fellow citizens. You must deal with good people on their worse day and bad people on their best.
People at their extremes - not from the comfort of a classroom - but in your face or worse yet, just over your shoulder.
As a police officer, you don't read about history, you are an eyewitness, sometimes a participant.
You must possess good judgement and display character. Why?
Because you are entrusted with enormous power: to deprive a fellow citizen of their liberty. As a police officer you are entrusted with the power to take into custody citizens - by force if necessary.
On rare occasions, you may even have to use lethal force and deprive a citizen of their life.
The Pillars of Democracy:
INSTRUCTOR: As enforcers of the law, police play a crucial role in upholding democracy.
This authority is unlike any granted to other members of the government. In this sense, police officers are the very pillars of a democratic society.
There is a social contract between citizens and law enforcement officers. This Trust is critical to a functioning democracy.
In the United States our rights are set forth in the United States Constitution. They are the rightful heritage of every citizen.
In a very real way, day in and day out, it is a police officers' responsibility to safeguard a citizens' constitutional rights.
The way that police officers talk to citizens;
the way that they interact during a traffic stop;
every sentence that they put together;
every comment that they make to the community...
...all have a profound impact on how citizens view their government at large.
Every time a police officer has contact with the public, the citizen who is involved makes a judgement.
And studies have shown that the single most determining factor for how a citizen evaluates that contact is not "did I receive a ticket", but rather "was I treated fairly."
How a citizen answers that question will renew or erode their confidence in democracy and the fairness of our system of government.
Life is Not Fair. But I Am
The police are the most visible pillars of a decent, harmonious society. When they act with predictability, restraint, and fealty to the rule of law, ordinary people gain faith in their government.
When the most dispossessed person in the poorest neighborhood receives the same treatment as the rich man living high upon the hill, civil society is strengthened and the police are ennobled.
The Guarantors of Personal Dignity
No doubt some will protest that human dignity-centered policing is a simplistic solution to a set of complex, often unique police challenges. But as the most visible public institution that is charged with maintaining justice, the police in their ordinary duties have the power to be guarantors of personal dignity and even-handed treatment - truly heroic figures in their own right.
These duties are a professional calling. They cannot be outsourced or privatized.