Restoring Confidence in Police

Confidence in police began to decline decades ago and now is low across all demographic groups. This post presents a practical plan to restore confidence.
Restoring Confidence in Police
By: George Noga – March 12, 2017

      Our September 25th post Crisis of Confidence in Police (online at was highly critical of policing in America and we received push back from some readers. When we criticize, we also like to proffer solutions; hence, we present this 10-part plan – in rough order of importance – for restoring confidence in police.

1. Engage in self-evaluation. In the post Vietnam era, the military was in shambles. Like the police today, they were poorly perceived by the public. They took a critical look at themselves and transformed the military into the most trusted institution in America. Police must perform a similar realistic and critical review to understand why there is such a wide trust gap and then take all the necessary corrective actions.
2. Create a West Point for police. In another lesson from the military, a national police service academy should be created exactly like the others. This would attract many of the best and brightest into policing and provide leadership and professionalism.
3. Enhance professionalism at all levels. Advancement to sergeant, lieutenant, captain and senior levels should require further education and training. This is another lesson from the military, where advancement to each rank requires professional development. To advance to a senior police command position should require graduation from something akin to the War College, required for all military general officers. Under no circumstances should advancement ever be linked to the number of tickets or arrests.
4. Embrace citizen review boards. All jurisdictions should have non-political review boards and then work closely with them to build better community relations. Such boards should not be viewed as inimical but rather as a valuable resource. Use every possible opportunity to learn from community leaders and to build trust.
5. Abolish the us-versus-them attitude. Police form insular cliques, walling themselves off from their communities. They protect each other, even against accusations of wrongdoing, with a blue wall of silence. In the military there is no green wall of silence despite combat situations. Duty to the public always must come before police loyalty to their buddies. Until that happens, police never will earn the full respect of the public. This means that the practice of testilying (police lying under oath) also must end.
6. Use SWAT teams only when absolutely necessary. Currently SWAT teams are used over 50,000 times a year – sometimes to serve routine subpoenas. Such lethal force should be used sparingly and only when deemed absolutely essential.
7. Police should be non-union. It is inconceivable the military would be unionized, go on strikes, engage in job actions or tomfoolery regarding pay and benefits such as overtime spiking. This same paradigm should apply to police. Public unions create enormous resentment among private sector workers, only 6% of whom are unionized.
8. Abolish civil asset forfeiture. This is an incredibly sleazy, self-serving, extra legal practice that likely is unconstitutional. It reflects incredibly poorly on police, creates widespread resentment with the pubic and can’t be terminated soon enough.
9. Clean up the atmospherics. As part of heightened police professionalism, abolish telephone solicitations which grate on the public. Uniforms should be basic, no-frills with high ranking officers wearing civilian clothes; save the five-star general uniforms for rare formal occasions. At public events be modest and avoid self aggrandizement.
10. Use broken-window policing. Implement legal and appropriate measures proven most effective at preventing and lowering crime, regardless of any political pressure to the contrary. This means fully embracing broken-window policing.

   The erosion of confidence in the police to its present low level happened over decades and has myriad causes. The ten-part plan presented herein will not be quick or easy but it will restore the public’s confidence in the police to protect and to serve!

On March 17th MLLG begins its five-part series about climate change