A Paradigm Shift in Community Policing from Policing to Self-Protection

Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., CMI-V

Forensic Criminologist/Police Expert

Copyright © July 18, 2016

When I began my career as a police officer in 1975, the turmoil and civil strife of the Vietnam war era where police often clashed with protestors had subsided. The anti-police violence of militant, radical revolutionary groups such as the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army and the Weather Underground had greatly diminished as their leaders were killed in police shoot-outs or imprisoned. Relations between the police and minority communities was improving as more progressive city and police administrators openly recruited for officers within those communities and agencies became more diverse.

Police work back then was refreshingly simple. There were good people and the bad guys. The basic job of policing was to be the “Thin Blue Line” that formed a protective barrier between the two groups. Civil rights law suits, criminal prosecutions and protests resulting from allegations of excessive force were few and far between. The police could generally depend upon the support of their communities who mostly understood the symbiotic relationship between the cops, communities and public safety. This was before the advent of the 24/7 news cycle, #journalism and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Now as a direct result of those three entities; expedient politicians and race-baiting so-called “community activists” like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton; a War on Police has surfaced and America is now tragically caught in the middle of it. Despite what the uninformed media pundits express, American law enforcement officers have suffered more officers killed and injured in the line of duty than in the past thirty years. Without a doubt, we have had more police killed in armed ambushed attacks than we had during the Prohibition and Bonnie and Clyde rolling bank robbers era. The paradigm of police work will now change from community policing to self-protection. What will this mean for police and our communities in the future and how did we get here?

The false narratives – As I have written and predicted in my new book, “The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police,” the Fourth Estate continues to do a horrible job at informing the American public about the forensic facts of deadly officer encounters with suspects – especially those in the minority community. The media misunderstood and falsely portrayed the actual, factual circumstances of high-profile police death cases such as Michael Brown (Ferguson, MO), Freddie Gray (Baltimore, MD) and most recently Anton Sterling (Baton Rouge, LO). The fires of anger against and distrust of law enforcement have been further fueled by the militant, Marxist Black Lives Matter movement that seeks to disenfranchise, diminish, defund and dissolve police who protect the public and our Democratic form of government by enforcing the Rule of Law.

Expedient politicians – at the Federal, state and local level who are either too lazy, racially biased, polarizing and/or under-informed, do our nation and its citizens no favors by having an emotional reaction instead of a patient, informed and studied response to police enforcement actions where minorities are killed during police encounters. They focus on the race instead of behaviors of the subjects that precipitated each unique encounter and use of force.

A failure to “de-escalate” creates the environment of violence – Rather than police needing more de-escalation training; it is the public who need to calm down and control their behaviors. In every instance I can think of where police were provoked to resort to a use of force, it was the behavior(s) of the subject encountered that singularly brought about a forceful response by police; often with deadly consequences. It should be remembered that police don’t create society’s problems; they respond to them. It has become far too easy to deflect and re-direct blame to police for the historic problems that minority communities are either too weak, or too much in denial to address. This has led to a modern genocide in inner city communities such as South Side Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Oakland, Los Angeles, and others. Liberal city administrators, the media, our President, minority community activists and Black Lives Matter surrogates are complicit and the prime offenders in this scheme of denial.

So what are police to do now? American society has created their own conundrum. You have finally managed to put a target on the backs of all law enforcement officers. Now you are going to have to live with the unintended consequences of this unfortunate circumstance. Police officers are not stupid. They are not out there to become targets for cowardly snipers, active shooters and agitated-chaotic “ticking time bomb” lone wolf assassins. They will protect themselves at all costs.

Despite what police administrators might idealistically envision, America is looking at a new shift in policing that will include military-style “force protection” tactics; enhanced protection vehicles; sniper over-watch; more heavily-armed officers responding to high-risk calls; call perimeter security and less time if any negotiating with barricaded armed shooting suspects intent upon making a political statement by killing officers; rather than demands. You are in effect potentially looking at a Second World policing model like we see in Mexico, Central and South America and similar depressed countries where violence against police is endemic.

American society reaps what it sows – Police officers want to protect their citizens. They don’t want to be an “occupying force,” because many reside in the same communities where they police. However, once you put a target on their backs and create fear within the ranks; you will understandably get a police force that disengages from you for its own safety. You are already seeing the rotten fruits of the bad seeds you have planted in Baltimore, Chicago and New York where self-initiated police contacts with suspects and suspicious persons are down almost 90% in some cities where crime, assaults with weapons and homicides have sky-rocketed to never before levels of violence and victimization.

As I have said, the police and their communities have a symbiotic relationship. Both groups can either help each other achieve and maintain a peaceful and productive society; or they can mutually destroy each other figuratively and in actuality. However, in the case of the police, all disenchanted, demoralized, and fearful officers have to do is simply stop responding; look the other way when they see crime and suspicious activity; or simply leave for greener, more supportive and safer pastures. I guarantee you this is happening as we speak.

What the public don’t understand is that police work, like the clergy, or perhaps the military is seen as a higher calling by those of us who serve and have served. Police work is seen by us as an honorable profession that we enter voluntarily to help society. We seek to create a better society; to do something good for our citizens and our country. Police officers with this mindset will run without a second of thought towards the gun fire. They will unselfishly risk their lives for people they’ve never met because they have both the spirit and the moral compass to engage wrong-doers and evil to make their communities a better place to live.

Police are not Supermen and women; they are not martial arts experts; they are not expert marksmen. Police officers can’t solve crimes in 38-minutes sans commercials ala CSI Miami Beach. That’s the public’s ridiculous fantasy; not ours. In reality, cops are human. They make mistakes; even deadly ones based upon incomplete or erroneous information and time compression. Yet, with the impossible “CSI effect” standards that the media and public unfairly hold police to, we are never able to satisfy their immature expectations. So in response, our President pedantically calls us “stupid;” Black Lives Matter advocates scream out homicidal chants against us as they march in the street and a lazy, low-informed and biased news media consistently downgrades our work.

American society’s negative response to police today is enough to make even rational, community caring officers leave the profession. They do now and even more in the future will too. The sad thing is that for every moment where a citizen takes an opportunity to quietly thank a police officer with their service; there are hours of negative media stories; and entire shifts where police in inner cities see nothing but hateful gazes and hear disrespectful comments as they drive through and patrol depressed, hopeless neighborhoods.

Worse yet, when officers do respond to in-progress crimes to protect people and detain suspects; they are immediately surrounded and set upon by agitated, aggressive crowds who stick cell phone cameras in their faces, while screaming provocative threats and insults at them. That’s the environment the public has created and it is more than stressful and depressing. This blatant, dangerous disrespect for police is a common everyday reality that few politicians or the media want to talk about. Why; because it doesn’t fit their false narratives that police are society’s new “bad guys.” The public in the inner cities would rather hold candle light vigils and paint saint-like murals of the likes of thugs and purveyors drug poisons like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Freddie Grey, et al.

The world for a police officer today is upside down. They find no respite from our so-called leaders in federal government because there is no such leadership in the highest law enforcement offices. The sad and frustrating truth is that much of the violent rhetoric, attacks on police and the heinous, planned and cowardly assassinations of our brave officers could be significantly mitigated if our black President and leaders in the black community would strenuously speak out against this horrible and hateful violence against the law enforcement community. But they won’t. It’s just not in their DNA. They are blamers, defamers, deflectors and re-directors. It’s the cops’ fault of course. We have somehow “oppressed” them; even though the vast majority of metropolitan police agencies are as diverse as the communities they serve. Unfortunately, militant Black Nationalist cop-hating groups like Black Lives Matter, the New Black Panther Party, and other Marxist black “liberation” organizations have transitioned what was once a game of rhetoric; to the active ambush killing of police officers.

Well, here is a loud and clear message to POTUS, the media and all of those who lie in bed with the Black Lives Matter movement – police have had enough. The vast majority of minorities in this country are never contacted by police and are respectful of their office.

Members of Black Lives Matter and other hateful groups and supporters need to educate themselves about appropriate behavior in society so there are no reasons to be contacted by law enforcement. Again, the issue we are facing is criminal behavior and not race. The real issue in today’s policing is that a very small minority within the minority population commit a very disproportionate amount of crime. And it is that behavior that causes police to contact them. It’s not “racial profiling;” it’s criminal behavior!

Next the black community and its credible leaders need to do everything in their power to diminish and disempower movements like Black Lives Matter. They need to stop fanning the flames of polarization between the police and their violent communities. If they don’t, cops will leave their violent towns and cities for those where the populations support their work. Then these polarizers will be left to their own devices and will finally have no one else to blame their problems and violence but themselves. They will have plenty of time to ponder and discuss how they got to where we are today. Quite frankly, I think that’s it’s high time that that conversation takes place. When the only card you have to play is the race card, you simply “got no game.”


Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist and police expert who directs the nation’s only multidisciplinary Forensic Death Investigations and Independent Review Team. He is a retired San Jose (CA) police detective. His book, “The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police” is available on Amazon.com.                    Dr. Martinelli’s forensic and law enforcement site is found at www.DrRonMartinelli.com.