In Defense of the Police

In Defense of the Police
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2024-01-25
Unit 1 Presentation Materials: In Defense of the Police
Unit 2 Transcript: In Defense of the Police
Unit 3 Workbook: In Defense of the Police
Unit 4 Recording: In Defense of the Police

This webinar explores contemporary issues in law enforcement and criminal justice from gaps in the public’s perception and the reality of the profession and critical concepts and considerations that are central to policing.

Leading the discussion is Justice Clearinghouse regular, Dr. Jeff Fox. He’s served for almost three decades in criminal justice – starting as a military policeman, then working as a town police and rising through the ranks. He served as a field lieutenant and assistant training director with the state police, and the statewide incident management program manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Specifics presented in this session include:

  • How reviews on the policing profession through the years revealed the importance of continuous training and education of officers.
  • The disconnect between the public and the police’s operation and perception particularly in terms of honesty, ethics, and trustworthiness of police officers, and bridging this with discretion.
  • Factors to take into account when it comes to how the public perceives the policing profession especially as it relates to use of force cases.
    • How human error must be considered especially since given that the medical field has committed these at a much higher rate than policing does,
    • Intent and whether the mistake is that of the mind or the heart.
    • The alleged systemic racism and how such claims are statistically not sensible.
    • Policing styles that police have to apply depending on the circumstance.
    • Underlying sources of police discretion which make decision-making tricky.
  • Critical concepts worth delving into better understand the space police officers are navigating when it comes to use of force.
    • The rule of law, how it intersects with the public’s liberties, and the need for police to treat everyone equally.
    • How police officers are entitled to due process and must not be subjected to mob rule.
    • Breach of duty which mandates that police officers do their job or otherwise obstruct justice or commit misfeasance or malfeasance.
    • Civil actions that officers may be subject to and the different forms of immunity they’re afforded.
    • Standards set by key policing organizations, partners, and stakeholders serving as benchmarks by which officers and agencies are evaluated upon.
    • Training and education that must be continuous.
    • Criminal charges for police and factors like intent, good faith, and procedural guarantees and rights that influence this.
  • Use of force: The continuum that the public rarely is aware of, the expectation to de-escalate, and how the media sensationalizes use of force cases.
  • Data that illustrates how rare use of force is utilized in calls for service.
  • The two case laws that serve as the basis for what police officers are held to when it comes to use of force.
  • Officer survival that must be paramount to the use of force situations.
  • The concept of resiliency which looks into the community’s ability to bounce back following a use of force case.
  • Factors that impact how use of force cases are handled which look at the community, agency, the office, critical incident management, investigation teams, and political will.
  • The role of leaders, politicians, communities, media, and officers in shaping a better discourse and management of use of force situations.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • Source of statistics and studies referenced.
  • Officers’ legal obligations and sworn duty.
  • Implicit biases in policing.
  • The outcome of a case study provided.
  • Challenges with cookie-cutter law enforcement policies.

Resources and Handouts:


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Audience Comments

  • “Excellent topic and current issue.”
  • “The presenter’s passion for the topic was evident, although he was talking awfully quickly, so I am glad he was willing to share his presentation.”
  • “Jeff’s insight and data were phenomenal. His presentation resonated with me as a retired officer with 25 years of service and now teaching in higher ed. There was much that I was already aware of since I now have some 40 years of involvement in criminal justice in one way or another. His message is essential and needs to be spread beyond the choir. By choir, I mean those who are involved in the system and those who usually attend your fabulous webinars. I would love to see someone like Jeff present.”
  • “Great knowledge of the topic.”
  • “Very knowledgeable and well presented.”


Additional Resources
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