Former Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson holds the record for serving as chief longer than any other copper and has established a national reputation among local government leaders.
In an article he co-authored for the August 2020 journal of the International City/County Management Association, Masterson advocated “regular conversations between police chiefs and city leaders. He suggests: There are at least four rationales for regular, structured conversations:
1. To ensure fair and equitable treatment for all residents.
2. To safeguard the rights and justice for victims of crime and discrimination and of those who are most vulnerable.
3. To maintain that ever-fragile trust and confidence in policing placed in us by those we serve. One can argue that confidence in police shapes confidence in local government in general. The police are the most visible symbols of government.
4. Most importantly, to the extent that our policies reflect critical value judgments, they should receive input from and approval by the chief administrator of the city and, in some cases, the city’s legislative body. This is a democracy. The police chief, who is not an elected official, should not be making what can be life-and-death policies for a community without democratic guidance.
When we think about regular conversations between chiefs and their bosses, we do not envision superficial chats but, rather, dialogues that lend insight into how and why policies and procedures exist with the goal of ensuring your office provides the highest level of guidance and direction. Undoubtedly, one reality that needs to be addressed up-front is awkwardness. Local government managers may feel uncomfortable about engaging in these conversations for fear of appearing ignorant about what the police really do or not being able to carry their side of the conversation. Don’t be. Chiefs will be just as nervous about the questions you’ll ask, and both parties will gain comfort over time.
The GUARDIAN suggests that idea can easily be accomplished through a police commission comprised of a cross section of citizens. The commission could be structured to include an office of police oversight as well.
Read the complete article HERE.
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