Transparency increasingly vital as police wrangle with use-of-force issues
- Written by Amy Dinsmore
- December 15 2015
Law enforcement agencies face mounting pressure to justify every incident in which officers exert force to resolve a situation. While use of force is an unfortunate necessity of police work, it can also create considerable tension between officers and the general population. To that end, agencies are facing mounting pressure to become more transparent and open in the way they operate, particularly when it comes to equipping officers to use force appropriately at all times.
The FBI has become more aware of the growing need for transparency among law enforcement organizations, and is adjusting its tracking efforts to more adequately meet current needs. According to a Washington Post report, the FBI will replace its current use-of-force event tracking methodologies by 2017 and begin documenting and investigating a far greater number of incidents from that point forward.
Understanding why use-of-force tracking is up
According to the news source, the FBI has decided that its current policy of only tracking fatal police shootings is inadequate to contemporary demands, and will move forward to track any incident in which an officer causes serious injury or death. Stephen Morris, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, explained that increased public scrutiny is making new incident tracking efforts by the FBI essential.
“We are responding to a real human outcry,” Morris told the Washington Post. “People want to know what police are doing, and they want to know why they are using force. It always fell to the bottom before. It is now the highest priority.”
Morris also told the news source that the FBI will be gathering more detailed data about use-of-force incidents, with the need for improvements stemming from a year in which negative national attention on police has made increased attention necessary. Because the focus is on creating a more transparent law enforcement industry, the FBI will also be working to make information pertaining to investigations available to the public fairly quickly after incidents, with the goal being to accomplish this in almost real time.
Preparing for a new reality around use-of-force situations
The added attention going alongside police use of force is creating an environment in which agencies need to be prepared to be placed under a microscope and come out looking good. This requires end-to-end procedural analysis and regulation to ensure that every policy you have meets the needs of your officers. Cost-efficient document management software systems are emerging as a key tool here, as they let you revise policies digitally and distribute them through a Web app. You can even use regulatory modules to put official regulations beside your policies to make sure every line on your documents are up to requirements.
Creating the right policies is the beginning of withstanding scrutiny. You must also train your officers to follow those guidelines with precision and consistency. Modern document management systems feature advanced training modules that let you integrate video, quizzes and similar tools to create engaging training systems. On top of this, digitizing your policies and training systems makes it much easier to track who has completed different modules and ensure internal compliance. All of these capabilities come together to position agencies to handle the attention that comes with use-of-force incidents in the best way possible.