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Cleveland Chief: Officers Should See Themselves as 'Guardians,' Not 'Warriors'

June 11, 2015  | 

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said Wednesday that among the challenges he faces in reforming his department in concert with a federal consent decree is training his officers to view themselves as guardians of the community, rather than warriors, reports

"This has been embedded in law enforcement for my entire career – so more than 25 years," Williams said during a City Hall news conference. "Our officers have been trained to survive, to be prepared, to go out in our neighborhoods as if they are in the military. We want our officers to be safe and vigilant and able to protect our community and themselves. But we have changed that philosophy from being a warrior ... to being a guardian."

Williams said officers' training focuses on community engagement, professionalism and respect for the people they serve. And all front line officers have completed a four-hour online training program explaining the tenets and practice of community policing – a first step in getting officers to engage more with citizens and restore public trust.

Officers also will undergo extensive training in cultural sensitivity, crisis intervention and interacting with youth, Williams said.

Mayor Frank Jackson called the news conference Wednesday morning to update members of the media on the city's progress in implementing the consent decree, which city and U.S. Department of Justice officials announced last month to address use of excessive force and other deficiencies in the police department.

Jackson said that after Chief U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. approves the agreement, the city and Justice Department have 30 days to choose a monitor to oversee the reforms.

Jackson and Williams highlighted new computer programs that will track citizens' complaints and flag troubling behavior of officers who could benefit from intervention.

Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

Tom Ret @ 6/11/2015 5:01 PM

The chief says he wants the officers to be safe but then admonishes them for thinking or acting in a warrior or survival mindset or being prepared. The new
police thinking apparently is don't worry about your safety but sacrifice yourself if necessary as it is easier to go to a police funeral than contend with people yelling police brutality and racism. The end result will be that the officers will no doubt be vigilant but not so much about crime. The name of the game will be CYA and being risk averse. Guards don't make arrests, they mostly observe and report.

Mike in Virginia @ 6/11/2015 6:01 PM

I always saw myself as a sheepdog, not a warrior (or wolf).
One federal law enforcement agency I was with wanted to re-train their military reservists when they came back from Iraq/Afghanistan, to get them "de-tuned" from the hair-trigger of combat -- still sounds like a good idea to me.

Jon Retired LEO @ 6/11/2015 7:56 PM

Good Grief Chief your officers are out there dealing with felons and all other kinds of trash. They are not in a helicopter pulling drowning people out of the water as depicted in Kevin Costner's movie. Wake up or you are going to have some dead officers on your hands besides their blood.

xxxxx @ 6/12/2015 10:59 AM

More verbal judo feel good bullshit.

kevCopAz @ 6/12/2015 12:28 PM

Agreed, any officer that is or wants to be successful operates that way, BUT perhaps the community should act as if Police are their Guardians and NOT be at war with US!!! Works both ways Chief.

Louie Marquez @ 6/17/2015 10:47 AM

More PC, officers are & will forever be members of a Warrior Class.

Travis @ 8/18/2015 5:59 PM

Certainly we guard people and we guard property...if that falls into the duties for the day. That being said once our job degrades into a fight situation and it will. We need warriors with badges not "guards." I teach my people that if we must fight and the other person (s) has brought the fight to us then we will fight as warriors. We will fight to win not survive. Survival is just one part of winning. Be safe fellow warriors.

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