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Chief Scott Booth was highlighted in the publication of the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s (IACP) Police Chief Magazine. The IACP is the world’s largest and most influential professional association for police leaders and is committed to advancing the safety of communities worldwide. This prestigious organization has more than 32,000 members in over 170 countries. This association has been serving communities by advancing leadership and professionalism in policing worldwide since 1893. The Police Chief magazine is the leading periodical for law enforcement executives.
Chief Booth dedicated this publication in memory of Hakim Abdullah, a friend, and community voice, who passed away on April 29, 2022.
The link to the article is available here: The Future of Policing is in Our Shared Vision
Please cite as:
Scott C. Booth, “The Future of Policing Is in Our Shared Vision,” Perspectives on the Future of Policing, Police Chief 89, no. 9 (September 2022): 54–55.
The article is quoted below:
“Let’s start with something that we all can agree on—both the police and the community want safer neighborhoods. Safer schools. Safer highways. What we don’t always agree on is how to get there. Since the summer of 2020, we have experienced widespread public opinions for reform in the law enforcement profession. Policing tactics have not kept pace with societal expectations. Critical issues such as homelessness, the opioid epidemic, and mental health response now require a different approach—we can’t just sweep them away or lock up the problem. Police accountability and transparency are front and center. Communities are demanding more from those who are sworn to protect and serve them, but we cannot do it alone. More collaborative and creative solutions are needed. So how do we get there? As with most complex problems, leadership is the key. As police leaders, now is the time for us to step up and, alongside our community partners, exercise transformational leadership. In The Leadership Challenge, authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner outline a template for transformational organizational change that I find particularly relevant as we chart our path forward.1 The model consists of five fundamental components: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart.
Model the way. Police and community leaders need to be clear about our own values and expectations. Our behavior should set a personal example for our officers and community members, and we should follow through on our promises and commitments. Common values between the police and the community should be constantly emphasized and affirmed in everything that we do.
Inspire a shared vision. We must create a compelling vision of what our organizations and communities can be. We must visualize positive outcomes and communicate those outcomes to all of those who are involved in our mission of shared public safety. Only by doing this can we challenge others to upend the status quo and move our profession and our communities to the next level.
Challenge the process. Communities and law enforcement organizations must be willing to change the mindset of “this is the way we have always done it” and step into the unknown. This includes being willing to innovate, grow, and improve. We must become exploratory leaders who are willing to experiment and try new things—to take risks, with the end goal of making things better. The best leaders learn from their mistakes as they go.
Enable others to act. Strong leaders build trust with others and promote collaboration—in other words, they work well with people. We must listen to diverse points of view and keep dignity and respect front and center in our conversations. Leadership should be spread throughout the organization and the community, decentralizing decision-making, and supporting others’ decisions. Officers and community members should feel good about the work they are doing and understand how that work fits in with the greater community’s shared goals.
Encourage the heart. It’s important to reward others in the organization and the community for their accomplishments. The most effective leaders understand this and are willing to praise officers and community members for a job well done. Create communal forums that allow for authentic celebrations that not only show appreciation but also encourage others to excel. When law enforcement organizations and the neighborhoods are in this together, it encourages a collective identity and community spirit.
Law enforcement organizations and communities have a symbiotic relationship, one that consists of both leadership and followership roles. These roles change depending on the situation and the environment. Transformational leadership is particularly relevant because of this relationship, since it is considered a process that changes and transforms people and is concerned with emotions, values, ethics, standards, and long-term goals.2 Transformational leadership can also be viewed as an exceptional form of influence that moves participants to accomplish more than what is usually expected of them. Arguably, now and in the future, there has never been a more appropriate time in our profession for law enforcement agencies and communities to exercise transformational leadership. As I write this article, I think back to a community/police forum that I was involved in several months ago. This forum was based out of a prominent university, and we were one of five jurisdictions that were invited to participate. Our stated goal was to have a courageous discussion on reform and how we could move our communities forward. Our group consisted of several officers as well as community members, one of whom, Hakim Abdullah, a vocal activist and member of our faith-based community, was sitting next to me. As we watched the kick-off presentation on the history of policing, Sir Robert Peel’s Principles of Policing flashed on the screen. Hakim leaned over to me and said, “The police are the public and the public are the police—that is what it is all about. That is all any community could want.” We as a profession and those communities that we serve must embrace a system of policing that accentuates our shared values. After all, we are the community.”