Common Purpose and Alignment: Changing the Culture of Policing in the U.S.
Challenge Statement: Redefining the role of policing in the United States
- There has been a movement and societal push to “defund” police forces in the U.S. after several recent public incidents of police misconduct, and while that idea has hit a wall, there is an opportunity to rethink the role of police.
- Law enforcement has typically followed a top-down structure – gain information and act on it to stop crime. The effectiveness of this system hinges on the system “knowing what is best”, and fails when there is deep distrust of the police.
- There is a widespread sense that law enforcement is culturally misaligned with society.
- What if we could reframe the role of police from “warriors” to “guardians”?
Key Discussion Themes:
- How do you make a cultural or procedural change that seems ‘revolutionary’ safe-to-try?
- One good example comes from Barack Obama’s work with the Chicago Police Force when he was a State Senator. CPD was very resistant to videotaping statements (which was not a standard practice at the time), but Obama negotiated a series of exceptions that made the practice safe-to-try. Ultimately the change eliminated a significant burden on the police force and became a best practice nationally.
- Similar experience at a firm that had just experienced a merger of two companies with distinct cultures. While one leader was in charge, the members of that leader’s legacy company were reluctant to change their approaches to build trust with the other legacy company. When ultimately the other legacy company’s leader took over, it created a mandate to change.
- It takes a long time to build trust but it can be eliminated quickly (similar to the concept we discussed in Week 1 Module 2 – trust is built in droplets and eliminated in buckets).
- Taking a broader view of the role of police (or any actor) in a system allows people to work together more effectively, but requires you to reconcile missions. Compromise is key!
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