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Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).
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What's Missing from the National Narrative on Improving Police Community Relations

No one seems to want to take responsibility for the real causes of tragic encounters between officers and members of the community.

May 29, 2015  |  by Ron Martinelli

It's amazing that no federal, state or municipal political leader; no police administrator; and certainly no media talking head has come forward to ask why only ONE side of the police-community relationship should change.

The clear theme that is evident in ALL of these police-involved citizen deaths is that a history of bad life choices made by citizens creates a confluence of circumstances resulting in unintended consequences that unfortunately have led to the deaths of those portrayed in the media and by uninformed activists as "innocents."

Bad parenting, no parenting, the irresponsibility of young males to impregnate young naive females and then abandon their parental responsibilities; failing to embrace the benefits of education; failure to develop meaningful job skills; drug abuse; gang involvement; embracing and glorifying gangsta rappers who forward a destructive narrative of drugs, crime, and disrespect/violence against police are all factors in these incidents.

Nearly every so-called "victim" of these recent police-involved deaths had a history of criminal arrests; was fleeing from detention and arrest on foot and/or in vehicles; had verbally and physically resisted detention or arrest; had assaulted police with weapons; was in possession of weapons; and/or was under the influence of drugs during the encounter and altercations.

Where is the public's ownership of these poor life decisions? Why aren't the parents, the political leaders, the community activists, the media talking heads, celebrities, nationally prominent athletes and the jet-setting, race-bating civil rights "activists" such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton extolling our children and citizens NOT to make these very obvious and poor life choices?

Why do some communities seem to have an overwhelming number of violent crimes, high levels of gang violence and drug abuse and interactions with police - and others either very low or almost no such instances? And why aren't the obvious differences in these communities discussed?

Why are the false narratives such as "Hands up. Don't shoot" perpetuated by the media, street activists, and our political leaders? Why are some segments of American society more intent upon assigning blame to the police; rather than accepting responsibility for their poor life choices?

The police are not psychologists, sociologists, criminologists and mental health practitioners. They are "first responders." Police respond to society's problems; they can't fix them. Police officers come from our communities; not from distant planets. They are us and we are them. Police get the training that YOU provide them. Can they be better trained? Of course. Do they want and ask for better training and equipment? All the time, but YOU don't want to pay for it. Do police need to be smart and better educated? Of course, but the problem is that agencies can't find qualified officers because many who apply lack even the most basic education and personal skills to pass the tests to become a police officer. How are these issues the fault of police? Yet the public, politicians and the media consistently heap criticism on them.

If you want a dramatic national change in police-community relations, begin by first looking into the mirror as citizens and as a society and ask yourselves what are YOU willing to do to bring about this needed change? When will YOU begin accepting responsibility for YOUR actions? When you take this first step, you begin the journey upon the road toward positive change between yourselves and your police.



Dr. Ron Martinelli is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist and police expert with a national presence who investigates and independently reviews high-profile police-involved death cases at:

Comments (16)

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16

kevCopAz @ 5/30/2015 11:12 AM

BRAVO DR! Did everyone read the Obama commission report? ALL blame on the police, NONE on anyone else. Did you read all the lines about reflecting the community and such none sense and then look at the make up up of the commission who made up this dribble> ()% "people of color" only a few white males at all. Does that represent the "community"? What a waste of time and effort and tax payer $ spent on something that will do ZERO good in the end. This is the result of a "community organizer" as the President and an ant white racist A.G. in office. I call for ALL local LEOs to slow down, do NO on-view aggressive policy or, take the reports, be nice and even give warnings instead of tickets, especially to p[eople of color. Then when its like the wild wild west out there perhaps people will come either to their senses or to supporting the police. We all know that the real victims of this all ware and will be the poor in the inner city, they are the victims of these thugs and libs!

Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:25 PM

Finally a Criminologist. Instead of hearing from biased lawyers (who know nothing about policing) on the news we should be hearing from some Criminologists on this topic. I have been saying this exact thing for several months now. There needs to be some onus on the side who think it is OK to fight the police. Even if the police are wrong it is just dumb to fight them in the street. Fight them in court. I cannot tell you how many times I was flat out hated for just being white and a police officer. Even though I was there helping victims of battery, rape, and murder. No one cared what I was doing. All they saw was white police; let's hate him. But I think the answer this article and the rest of us will get is that the whole world (including fellow black officers and black prosecutors because they are viewed as sellouts) is somehow racist against them. I do not think it is racism for the most part, however, there is also a lot wrong on the police side too.

Continued below

Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:29 PM

Continued from above.

This article lost some credibility to me when this line showed up: "Do police need to be smart and better educated? Of course, but the problem is that agencies can't find qualified officers because many who apply lack even the most basic education and personal skills to pass the tests to become a police officer." I have heard this line for at least 15 years and I know there are at least 50 guys lined up to take any LEO spot as soon as it comes open. Hence why many agencies don't care about you. You can be easily replaced. Also, if this is the case why was it so hard for myself and others I know to get hired anywhere in the first place?

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Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:31 PM

Continued from above.

My own personal story blows up this statement. I graduated with honors from one of the top Criminology departments in the country with a bachelor's degree. I passed several different police tests like the POST, TEA, FBAT, etc with 100%. I worked at internships with law enforcement agencies and put myself through a highly ranked police academy. I also kept my background squeaky clean. However, after all of that I still had a very hard time landing my first police officer job. I applied to dozens of places. Many just flat out rejected me right off the bat. I guess they did not like my application? The very few who gave me interviews weren't much better. I was usually greeted by hostile and rude interviewers who did not want to be there and they treated me with contempt the entire time. They frequently asked inappropriate questions and played on their phones. The whole thing was just a joke.

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Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:32 PM

Continued from above.

I smiled and played the game though. Even though on more than one occasion I should have gotten up and walked out. It took me years to get hired. During that time I saw other academy classmates get hired by these same departments who rejected me because they were related to someone who already worked there. These classmates did not have a fraction of the resume I did and some even had felony criminal records. I finally got hired by a respected department and had a great time while I was there before moving to the Federal government.

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Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:34 PM

Continued from above.

I also can't tell you how many times I have met people in law enforcement who are anti-education and anti-intellectual. I have met cops who are straight up jealous and hate college educated people. I have actually read things were cops are arguing against being educated. This is the only profession that I have come across where this happens. Can you image if a doctor would say they are against medical school? Would you want a teacher who did not go to school teaching your children? This is a problem too if you talk to prosecutors. Prosecutors have told me that they have had to drop cases in the past because of a lack of education on the officer's part. The reports were written so badly and the officer could not put a coherent thought together that the prosecutor was not going to take that to court.

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Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:36 PM

Continued from above.

Working in law enforcement is part of the legal system. You have to work with and sometimes for attorneys. You have to testify in court. What you write will wind up in court read by judges, attorneys, and the press. Attorneys have at least two college degrees. But for some reason it is OK to have a cop who never set foot on a college campus and the last thing he wrote was some two page paper in high school on the topic of what book he read last summer. Law enforcement education standards need to get with the 21st century. There is a reason in order to even apply to most Federal law enforcement jobs you need to already have a bachelor's degree.

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Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:38 PM

Continued from above.

There are also too many people in law enforcement who are there for the wrong reasons. I can't tell you how many cops I have met who just became a cop so they could carry a gun. Or the many cops who just want to dress up and play G.I. Joe. Wearing camouflage in an urban environment with NO police markings and a skull mask is ridiculous and childish. I have also met LEOs who are on a power trip or were total losers prior to their career. Giving people like this a badge and gun does not make things better, only worse.

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Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:41 PM

Continued from above.

Law enforcement agencies across the country need to up their standards in many categories. Starting with the people they hire.

They need to hire people who at least have a bachelor's degree in a related field. Get rid of the anti-education crowd.

Stop veteran only hiring policies and practices. I have actually seen agencies out there who will only accept applications from veterans. All others need not apply. That is really blocking a lot highly qualified candidates. I have actually seen these agencies hire bad candidates with unrelated military experience while ignoring other MORE qualified candidates. People need to understand the military and police are two very different things. Just because both sometimes use force and have firearms does not mean they are the same thing. A former Seattle police chief said it best when he stated, "Soldiers are supposed to follow orders. Police are supposed to make decisions."

Continued below. 9

Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:42 PM

Continued from above.

Hire people who are there for the right reasons. Get rid of the I just want to carry a gun and dress in camo crowd. Hire people who actually want to make communities better, who actually want to arrest real criminals, who are interested in putting criminal cases together and make their town, state, and country safer. As opposed to people who are just getting stats to advance their careers. Hire people who actually believe in their oath and in respecting and defending the Constitution and working within its set parameters. I actually had a cop tell me once the whole oath thing "was something you tell chicks to try to impress them" and that I was full of BS. Really? Hire people who view their gun as just one of many tools of the job and not some cool new toy they get to carry around all the time and "fight crime" like a super hero.

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Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:44 PM

Continued from above.

Get rid of the stats. Robert Peel said, "The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them." Those quotas out there and those stats that drive the whole agency is just bad and lazy policing. I have actually seen time and again how agencies solely focus on the stats and in doing so do not even accomplish what they are really supposed to be doing. Sure on paper it looks like they are busy and justifying their jobs. However, in reality they are just picking the low hanging fruit and making cheap and easy cases to get stats. These stats and arrests have no bearing on anything. And the crimes and criminals that are smart or really need to be brought to justice never are because, well, that would require actual police work that might take months or even years. Heaven forbid, we can't wait that long. We need stats now!

Cont below. 11

Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:46 PM

Continued from above.

Furthermore, those stats that LEOs and especially supervisors focus on are people. They might just be a number on paper but behind that number is a person whose life is potentially turned upside down and ruined in order to get that stat. So screwing up someone's life permanently to get a cheap stat for the month to further your career while ignoring far worse criminals because that would require hard work is pretty wrong. Especially those LEOs who lie to get them.

Training needs to be standardized across the country. The general public thinks all police are the same and receive the same training. When in reality there are vast differences especially at the state and local levels. There is a reason why most Federal law enforcement is trained together at the same place.

Continued below.

Mark @ 5/30/2015 2:47 PM

Continued from above.

I am not saying all of the above will fix policing in America or even do anything. These are the things that really were a major problem that I and others saw during my law enforcement career. There is definitely wrong on both sides. My time in the law enforcement profession was an entirely negative experience. It was negative from the public side and negative even from fellow officers. Whenever I see all the coverage of the police on the news today I can't help but think how all the negative bad stuff I saw as a cop from both sides is now coming to a head and spilling onto the front page.

Gregory Stanford @ 5/30/2015 5:53 PM

Dr. Ron Martinelli's piece on police-community relations is right on target. I'm a 38 year law enforcement officer and now a Chief in a small town in SC. I just wanted to shout "THANK GOD SOMEBODY GOT THIS RIGHT" and had the intestinal fortitude to say it in public. Thanks Doc!!!

jungleshot01 @ 5/31/2015 6:35 AM

Dr. Martinelli, Thank you very much, for showing the other half of the "Big Picture".

Sgt. Mike @ 5/31/2015 10:01 AM

Preach it brother!

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