Re-imagining Our Police Forces: What is it We Need?

Bill Bratton has been the police commissioner of three major cities: Boston, Los Angeles and New York. When asked recently about the value of cops Bratton, 73, said, “They are the glue that literally holds society together. They are an essential element of a successful democracy.” I agree.

But we have come to a place now where we need to decide if police are our guardians or our warriors. The latter is defined as “a person engaged or experienced in warfare, a solider.”

In 1990, Congress allowed the Department of Defense to pass on surplus military equipment, including armored vehicles, high caliber weapons and flash-bang grenades, to individual police departments. Some 11,500 local agencies have gotten over $7.4 billion worth of military gear. President Biden ended the practice, but our police are now quasi-military ready, which gives some the impression that they are more of an invading force than public safety officers.

IL - Kane County Sheriff's Multi-jurisdictional SWAT Team _ Flickr photo by Inventorchris
Military Type Equipment Acquired by Local Sheriff in Illinois

Maybe it is time to try something different?

For many decades American police officers have been trained as warriors, instructed to shoot a perpetrator’s center-mass torso area if they perceive a danger to the citizenry or themselves. Today many cops, especially those serving in crime-riddled major cities, could rightfully describe their work as life-or-death, their workplace as a battlefield. But are they inadvertently adding to the tension?

We should all appreciate that police officers today are asked to be so many things – a guardian, a warrior, a first responder and a mediator between domestic partners, warring gang members, drug addicts and citizens suffering all sorts of mental health issues. Is your job description that vast?

Police Resignations, Retirements and Suicides Are Increasing

Besieged and underappreciated cops are resigning or taking early retirement in record numbers. Violent crime is up in almost every major city. Yet there are still foolish calls to de-fund the police. Something has to change to break this cycle – but what exactly?

Currently, new officers go through an average 6 months of police academy training before they can be sworn in. That time likely needs to increase, and courses added to better train recruits when to choose de-escalation before resorting to deadly force.

Some might snicker at that suggestion, but research shows de-escalation techniques work. Police in Newark, New Jersey didn’t fire a single shot last year after its officers underwent this training. Use-of-force incidents showed significant drops after de-escalation instruction in San Francisco (down 24%), Cleveland (down 32%) and Louisville (down 28%). Instead of responding to fraught events by shouting orders and with guns drawn officers are taught to take cover, talk patiently with the suspect and try to establish a bond to try to reach a peaceful solution.

This will require a whole new mindset for some cops, but the change means fewer injuries and deaths for both officers and civilians.

Police are taught you never give up,” Chuck Wexler, a law enforcement consultant says, but “in some situations it’s OK to back off.”

Also, more attention and manpower ought to be deployed to known high-crime areas. Crime stats show violence tends to be geographically centralized. In Chicago, New York, St. Louis and other big cities just a few low-income Black and Hispanic neighborhoods have suffered the brunt of violence and skyrocketing homicides. More undercover intelligence and precise swat-like operations to combat this should be a top priority. Residents there don’t support defunding police – quite the contrary.

Chief Bill Bratton (ret.) Says Cops “Hold Society Together”

How to help reduce the stress for officers? Studies show a considerable number of 911 calls are for people suffering a substance abuse or mental health crisis. When a uniformed and armed officer arrives at such a scene the situation can become inflamed. So Congress has just approved a $1 billion/10-year federal program to help communities create mental health teams who are trained to handle these unpredictable calls for help. This could go a long way to taking the pressure off police who are frequently ill-trained to handle such situations.

Yes, things need to change and the good news is: they are. Many cities that cut police funding have come to their senses and are restoring it, re-thinking police priorities and hoping disillusioned cops will stay on the force.

Now, one of the best things we the public can do is wave off the horrid rhetoric that police are the enemy. They decidedly are not.



  1. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:08 am

    Ken Sinsel writes:
    Reimagine police?
    Start with reimagining society of the 50’s.
    Our police have only militarized, because we started having a society in which many areas and the people in them, resemble war zones and enemy combatants, more so than they resemble nice neighborhoods and citizen-neighbors.
    Why is it that we vilify police for changing and adapting to societal changes?
    We expect and demand so much of police and continually expect and demand more of officers, but complain when they do what is necessary to ensure their safety and success, in the tasks we assign them?
    Americans have left God, Godly morals and behaviors.
    They continue to spiral downward in their depravity and the acceptance of it, yet still expect society to be orderly and decent, as it was when we were actually attempting to live moral and decent lives.
    It is fool hearted to expect safety and civility, when we now vilify and punish the good guys, while we celebrate vermin, and reward bad behaviors.
    It is insane of us to allow many to get by at a far lower standard of expected behavior, but then be shocked when they live by that lower standard and end up posing a threat to the survival of the society they live in.
    Part of the blame for much of this, resides with you folks who are oh so compassionate and open minded, you allowed your brains and commonsense to fall out of your head.

  2. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:09 am

    Michael E Chrusciel writes:

    Figure out who is committing the crimes? is it geographical?
    Then determine the causes and corrective actions.
    Until it is understood why criminals are committing the crimes you can’t ever expect things to change.

  3. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:09 am

    Cathyquirk writes:

    I hope those mental health teams carry weapons and are trained to use them.
    Mental health cases have got to be the scariest of all to enter.

  4. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Janet Mizrachi writes:

    it is simple, stop breaking the law. show restraint and respect when approached by law enforcement. police are not the problem, pc left liberal Marxism is the problem

  5. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:10 am

    celelas writes:

    The police are like Israel: they get no respect, they are held to ridiculous standards, and they are the whipping boys for every societal ill.

  6. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Chris Robinson writes:

    First of all, this article asks the wrong question.
    Police are not the problem right now.
    The problem is that our law-makers have betrayed us all: citizens and police.
    They have allowed, and even encouraged, riots that took lives and livelyhoods.
    The police were prevented from doing their jobs.
    They were told to stand down, and if they did arrest anyone, well those criminals were let out immediately to keep rioting.
    This was criminal!
    This was treason!
    To answer the question of the article: What we need from police depends on the society they are policing.
    In a society with virtually no crime, I expect the police force to be small and minimally armed.
    In a society with lots of crime (especially violent crime) like we have now, I expect a larger, more heavily armed police force.
    Two changes I do want to see in policing are:
    1. Eliminate no-knock raids.
    They are illegal as no warrant was served.
    2. If police raid my house, my pets lives are of the same value as any police dog and need to be treated as such. Even more so, as my pets are in their own home, defending their own property.
    (A warrant served to the homeowner should allow valid him/her the chance to secure any pets)

  7. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:13 am

    Shirley Black writes:

    Fewer criminals would be the first thing…more respect for authority would be second…parents parenting third and more whole families attending church fourth. Rearrange the list as you wish…just keep in mind that the main problem is this society and not the law officers.

  8. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:13 am

    Old Dog writes:

    Unless you strap on a bullet proof vest and kiss your family good-bye every day before you go to work, your opinion on “reimaging” is meaningless.

  9. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:13 am

    Julie Chicane writes:

    They(police) have been called many names from angels to assholes.
    They are first to have to witnessed humanity in its real raw identity. There is nothing to re-imagine.
    We should have nothing but gratitude and support for them while they go through this difficult time.

  10. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:14 am

    Tim writes:

    PLEASE.. .do not EVER use the MARXIST word “re-imagine” again…
    Thank you….

  11. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:15 am

    Y and A Freedom writes:

    We need to re-imagine society.
    A society where people do not break the law and if they do they are held accountable.
    A society where it is frowned upon to fight the Police, riot, loot or destroy property.
    Only Republicans openly condemned looting and rioting. You would think the democrats would too.
    Their silence makes them part of the problem that will no longer be tolerated.
    There is NOTHING inherently wrong with our Policing.
    All though we should strive to evaluate performance, and make changes if warranted, the overwhelming number of the men and women in Law Enforcement are good hard working people, risking their safety to keep our communities safe.
    They are the real heroes, that don’t get credit for what they do.
    So to the democrats, stop the false narratives about our honorable Police officers because they are the ones that keep your leftist punk assess safe, despite your open distain for them.
    God Bless our Police officers and God Bless the United States of America.

  12. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:48 am

    J.J. Finkleheimer-Schmidt writes:

    I’m sorry but this is just more foolish blaming-not-blaming the police for actions resulting from poor decisions of others.
    You’re expecting the police to change tactics to change results when in reality the results will never change without changing the expectations.
    Cops are not and will not ever be the solution to a society that has lost its way.
    After 35 years in LE I can tell you the primary job of law enforcement is to prevent anarchy. No more. When the culture demands the right to engage in bad behavior more and more, then law enforcement only softens the hard edges and avoids the common.
    Marijuana is a great example. No one figured out marijuana was good. It happened because more people didn’t care that it was illegal. After a while the laws change. You can see it with hard drugs happening.
    With violence it’s easy to blame cops because more people than not in criminally infested areas will defend the violent crook over self control. Now DAs simply stop prosecuting crimes. Cops are also inclined to only act on seriously violent crimes.
    George Floyd? He’s not a repeat offender caught and resisting. He’s just a guy.
    They’ll come up with all kinds of programs to hamstring cops but in the end, when the consultant fees are depleted and crime increases anyway, they’ll hire more cops because it’s what works when society has lost its way. Semi-apologist jabberwocky like this article just tries to buddy up to progressives that couldn’t really care less about it.

  13. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:48 am

    Uppity Female writes:

    We need to be raising our kids better, not taking our precious baby’s side against a teacher no matter how wrong our kid was.
    We need to be rejecting politicians who enable lawlessness.
    We need to stand up for our laws. When we see an election stolen in the middle of the night, we need to be in the streets by the tens of thousands, demanding the truth.
    The police aren’t the problem. WE are the problem.

  14. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:49 am

    Greatbasin writes:

    I respectfully disagree with this statement: “Bratton, 73, said: “They are the glue that literally holds society together. They are an essential element of a successful democracy.” I agree.” This is why.
    The condition of the human is not a matter of enough police, the militarization of the police, shooting for center of mass, or virtually anything you can quantify in a spreadsheet.
    John Adams said – “It is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.”
    How does a cop instill religion or morality? They don’t.
    Maybe they can massage the edges and get a few young men to behave for a time, but to feed the soul in a religious nature is far outside the capabilities of law enforcement or the justice system.
    Where then does this ability to instill morality and religion reside? The home? The clergy? The schools?
    I would postulate that we have abandoned any pretense of serving God, abandon the practice of religion, abandon the sanctity of home and hearth, abandon our personal responsibility, and have delegated such responsibility to the government.
    We ourselves have failed to do what our ancestors did, worship the Creator as king and Savior. It is us that are responsible, before God and men, not the police.

    • Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:50 am

      SteveAmerica replies to Greatbasin:

      AGREED…and I say that as a retired Police Officer….

  15. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Proud Deplorable Texan Chump writes:

    Sorry, but this essay uses the standard poor rhetoric tactics of the left to justify changes to policing which are both unwarranted and dangerous to society. Further, it contributes to the notion that police are the problem, when in fact criminals and violent thugs are the problem.
    We all deserve the right to live in a peaceful, safe society, and elimination of violent crime is essential to achieving this.
    Unfortunately, one particular readily identifiable population cohort is responsible for the majority of violent crime, and that cohort has been given a free pass by the party which controls the big cities and the federal government. It’s almost as if they want to increase violent crime, and crime in general, to drive some policy goal….

  16. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:51 am

    modilly writes:

    How about “reimagining” our society that enslaves a huge number of one particular minority into generation after generation of welfare on the Democrat plantation.
    No one ever addresses that problem but we try to fix all else that comes into contact with the real problem.
    It’s like the “Emperor’s New Clothes”.
    No one is brave enough to address the real problem, at least not many from the majority.
    There are actually some wonderful people working the real problem such as Robert Woodson of the Woodson Institute who is a member of that minority group.

  17. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:51 am

    hutson67 writes:

    Qualified immunity needs to go away. Police officers should be held accountable for their actions just like they are try to hold others accountable. Also police unions should disappear they only champion lazy and aggressive behaviors.

  18. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:51 am

    adlewis27 writes:

    What do you need ?

    You need to uphold law and order in all American cities. You hold the criminals responsible is a great deterrent for more criminality. We need spineless democrat mayors, governors and DA’s to stop pandering to the mob to try to get re-elected and actually do their job which is to keep the city and their citizens safe. Allow the police to do their jobs and quit passing bills restricting their ability to do their jobs effectively.

  19. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:52 am

    Caclegal writes:

    Before we start “reimagining” our police forces, I think we should “reimagine” our government from top to bottom.
    As for training social workers to respond to incidents involving the mentally ill, you do know that there is a reason straitjackets were used for the mentally ill, right?

  20. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:52 am

    rx4piano writes:

    Start educating (if it’s possible) people in high crime areas to do the changing, not the cops. Just abide by the law and if an officer tells you to do something just do it and don’t resist.
    When an officer is called to a drug or mental case situation and the situation escalated its not the cops that are going bonkers, it’s the dopers that need to be controlled.
    And ask yourself: who is pushing to do the reimagining?

  21. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:52 am

    Oldrocker2021 writes:

    Simple answers, citizens abide by the civil laws of the land and follow biblical
    law of the Ten Commandments.

  22. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:53 am

    T Cat writes:

    Police reform needed is minimal. Democrat run cities that are defunding police or otherwise reducing manpower and their abilities to do their job will become bigger cesspools of crime than they already are. Maybe then the people will demand that things go back they way they were.

  23. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:53 am

    RP writes:

    How to make law enforcement better? Get the politics out of it. Remove the dirty mayors, prosecutors and corrupt police chiefs. Enforce the law. Plain and simple.

  24. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:54 am

    Older ThanDirt writes:

    “Reimagining” our Police is not possible without changing the Democratic rule of most American cities.
    This is why I reject the notion that Derrick Chauvin should spend the rest of his life in jail UNLESS his superiors are put in the slammer with him.
    The Chiefs of Police, hired by the Democratic Party Mayors are the ones who HIRE and CREATE these police forces.
    These are the police they want.
    It is a lie to say otherwise.
    Unless politicians and un-elected officials such as police chiefs start being prosecuted for crimes against humanity for the way they treat their own citizens, then no way should the largely blue-class officers pay any price for doing what their job is.
    Officers in big cities (and small) used to “walk the beat”.
    They knew the people.
    When someone was staggering out of a bar drunk they could say “Joe, I’m gonna walk you home so Mary can put you to bed”.
    Now they might just shoot them.
    Whose fault is that really?
    Who changed the rules?
    I guarantee you it is NOT the cop on the beat.

  25. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 11:54 am

    Janet Mizrachi writes:

    it is simple, stop breaking the law. show restraint and respect when approached by law enforcement. police are not the problem, pc left liberal Marxism is the problem

  26. Diane Dimond on June 7, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    Ed Berliner writes:

    I believe there is a fine line needing both. Law enforcement is first and foremost the protector of rights and those who uphold the law as guardians. However, the arming of America, the wanton and careless attitude toward citizens weaponizing, and the cavalier manner which with politicians and lobbyists turn their heads to the militarizing of a portion of citizenry demands they are, when needed, warriors.

    At issue here is when each specific facet of policing comes into play. The Micah Johnson mass murder of police officers in Dallas demanded warriors, as the fight was being brought to them on a public street where anyone and everyone could have been slaughtered. Five officers were killed, nine were injured. This was an individual who had militarized himself for war, and therefore, cops needed to respond in kind.

    I see no issue whatsoever with a properly trained (therein lies a major issue) police force being both guardian and warrior.

  27. MICHAEL HUGHES on June 7, 2021 at 2:09 pm


  28. Diane Dimond on June 8, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Jeffrey Young writes:

    I grew up in a law enforcement family (federal). My dad was strongly against handing over war weapons and vehicles to local police, knowing that they would get used improperly more than once. History has proved him right. I feel the same way. Why does any local police department need a MRAP and heavy MGs?? Who do they think they’re up against? WE are the citizenry, not the enemy.

  29. Diane Dimond on June 8, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Charles King writes:

    Fix the society that makes them pay for its mistakes, puts them in harm’s way, and uses them as the blunt instrument that keeps the dispossessed in order, quiet and out of sight.

  30. Diane Dimond on June 8, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Sharon Rager writes:

    We need to start stacking the law in THEIR favor, which is in the favor of the public instead of criminals. Better policies, better backing from the public and courts. Harsher punishment for brutality against police men and women. More sophisticated defence and MORE of them…. WHICH means MORE pay such as hazard pay. On and ON.

  31. Diane Dimond on June 8, 2021 at 9:25 am

    Cliff Darnell writes:

    Policing would be a lot easier if we had better parenting….

  32. Diane Dimond on June 8, 2021 at 9:26 am

    Guy Turk writes:

    Police are both, guardians and warriors, but that’s semantics. If you want to equate the police to anything military they are more like Special Forces. They should embrace the law abiding community, build trust, and pursue the criminal elements.
    As to a militarized police. Where is that? The average officer wears a uniform and answers patrol calls. That’s a myth. Provide empirical evidence. I don’t see my police driving by in an armored vehicle or wearing Kevlar helmets.
    And FYI ….police have been de-escalating situations for 100 years. The old timers would tell the new recruits everything isn’t a battle. Make your job easy. Some people just want to be heard. Listen, empathize, wait and than walk out. Too bad the public couldn’t see that.
    There are millions of police encounters daily. Very few get any fanfare. There are 1000’s of police chases daily with an armed suspect. Most end without incident.
    The narrative is driven by a few bad incidents and a political agenda. The empirical evidence doesn’t support the rhetoric. Are there officers who should have never been hired? Yes, just like in any profession.
    And isn’t it interesting that there’s always the strategy of putting more police resources into high crime areas, than they use that data to claim the police are racist because of the data they created.
    More training is always better than less in anything.

    • Diane Dimond on June 8, 2021 at 9:26 am

      Diane Dimond replies:

      Thanks for the comments, Guy. Wondering where you live and whether YOUR PD or Sheriff’s office partook in the military equipment giveaway? It started under Clinton and just ended.

      • Diane Dimond on June 8, 2021 at 9:26 am

        Guy Turk replies:

        Chicago Police. Only a few months left.
        Yes, SWAT took advantage. They do not do routine patrol. They do have teams driving throughout the city. When the need arises and you are a citizen in a crisis you’d want that vehicle or equipment to save you. It has happen. It’s reality
        This is a total disservice to the citizenry.
        Look at the LA shoot out. Look at the San Bernardino shoot out and many more.
        There is a need according to the situation.
        If departments are misusing this equipment the naysayers need to provide evidence. They do not drive their armored vehicles to a basic disturbance call? They do not go to a domestic equipped like Navy SEALS ? That’s not their function.

  33. Diane Dimond on June 8, 2021 at 9:28 am

    Cherrill Gay Clifford writes:

    It should not be about “imaging”. It should be about doing what is morally right as God defines rightness.

    I miss the original police department structure. Our police “walked” the beat. We knew “our” police protector. Ours, in Baltimore, MD, by The Johns Hopkins Hospital was Officer Cavanaugh. He was a classic Irish catholic cop who preached whenever he thought it was warranted. He walked around the hospital hundreds of times. He was a diabetic and when he did not show up for work many contacted the hospital to check on him.

    He used to scold the local fortune teller over cheating people, but he’d be looking out for her safety every day. He was “ours” and we were his. Then they removed “our” cops and the police took on the face of a black and white car with lights and gradually little more. Love was no longer direct and our relationship was no longer personal.

    Today, no cop would be allowed to be the great preacher & protector that Mr. Cavanaugh was. I do not have the all the answers as to how to run a police department, but I am very certain that when God’s laws were removed as a major influence in policing, sustaining values that led to good mental health, in general, were lost.

  34. Diane Dimond on June 11, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Paul Bates writes:

    I believe that the police are very important, but there was one case that might have gone better here in Albuquerque. The wife takes the kids out of the house and calls the police saying she thinks her husband is suicidal. Husband tells the police he needs to get some sleep. They pester him until husband shoots over their heads to get them to go away. Husband walks out onto the porch and puts a gun to his head. What was it that the police resolved?

  35. Diane Dimond on June 11, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Paul Bates writes:

    I believe that the police are very important, but there was one case that might have gone better here in Albuquerque. The wife takes the kids out of the house and calls the police saying she thinks her husband is suicidal. Husband tells the police he needs to get some sleep. They pester him until husband shoots over their heads to get them to go away. Husband walks out onto the porch and puts a gun to his head. What was it that the police resolved?

    • Diane Dimond on June 11, 2021 at 1:14 pm

      DD replies to Paul:

      Better training about how to deal with the desperate/mentally ill, maybe? Or have cops accompanied by a mental health professional who would know the best tactics to get through to a suicidal man like that? I don’t have firm answers … my job is to ask questions and get people thinking.

  36. Diane Dimond on June 21, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    Elbert Householder writes:

    This is the best idea I have heard in a very long time, it should be a common practice to have a Mental Health Team. Probably a mass majority of calls to the police are domestic disputes which can be calmly solved, of course though they too should be equipped with tasers, handcuffs, and direct lines to both the police and The EMT because even these cases can quickly escalate to full blown violence. Of course cases like mass shootings and armed robbery still need the police immediately and they still need to be trained to take charge. It is shocking that it only takes 6 months training, it should take at least 2 years, and yes more courses such as those you mentioned should be mandatory but low life Biden needs to put the military weapons plan back into action. Those same weapons are out there, and always will be, where criminals get hold of them. The police need every advantage to bring down these criminals. Of course I stand strong that many laws are NOT inline with The U.S. Constitution and these need to be erased from the books, which would also decrease the pressure on police, but so many dangerous crimes call for hard police action. Complete defunding is the stupidest idea ever.

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