Strategies for Introducing Students to Law Enforcement in the United States

The first day of your program is the most important. It will set the tone of the entire program.

Your cadets will not only be sizing you up, but they will be forming opinions about law enforcement in general.

What follows are  strategies for getting the Academy off to a dramatic start.

The text below is written in the voice of the instructor.

Each  provides the framework for a  compelling narrative.  Ultimately, it is  the story of your profession,  so make the presentation your own.

Presentation  materials are or will be  available for all 10 Strategies in the form of  Powerpoints. They can be  downloaded through the Leadership Forum. These  resources can be  customized as you see fit.

[As  only one of these strategies can  used on Day One, we encourage you to  incorporate the others into the  schedule to introduce various subjects  in the course.]


Introduce yourself….

Good morning cadets. My name is Officer Sam Jones, I serve as a School Resource Officer with the Smithville Police Department.

Like No Other Profession on Earth

Imagine it’s your job to uphold the law fairly and firmly.

You must strive to prevent crime.

When a crime is committed, you must pursue and bring to justice those responsible.

You need to be professional, calm and restrained in the face of violence and apply only that force which is necessary.

You must protect, help and reassure all members of your community, striving to reduce their fear of crime. 

In  doing these things, you must be compassionate, courteous and patient,  acting without fear or favor or prejudice to the rights of others.  

You must act with integrity, common sense and sound judgement in all that you do – while on-duty and off.

You  will experience life like no other profession on earth. You witness the  best and the worst behavior in your fellow citizens. You must deal with  good people on their worse day and bad people on their best.

People at their extremes – not from the comfort of a classroom – but in your face or worse yet, just over your shoulder.

As a police officer, you don’t read about history, you are an eyewitness, sometimes a participant.

You must possess good judgement and display character. Why?

Because  you are entrusted with enormous power: to deprive a fellow citizen of  their liberty. As a police officer you are entrusted with the power to  take into custody citizens – by force if necessary.

On rare occasions, you may even have to use lethal force and deprive a citizen of  their life.



The Pillars of Democracy:

As enforcers of the law, police play a crucial role in upholding democracy.

In  democratic societies, citizens grant increased authority to police in  order to live in a safe community. They give police the power to detain,  search, arrest citizens, and lawfully use physical force when  situations dictate.

This  authority is unlike any granted to other members of the government. In  this sense, police officers are the very pillars of a democratic  society.

There is a social contract between citizens and law enforcement officers. This Trust is critical to a functioning democracy.

In  the United States, our rights are set forth in the United States  Constitution. They are the rightful heritage of every citizen.

In a very real way, day in and day out, it is a police officers’ responsibility to safeguard a citizens’ constitutional rights.

The way that police officers talk to citizens;

The way that they interact during a traffic stop;

Every sentence that they put together; every comment that they make to the community…

All have a profound impact on how citizens view their government at large.

Every time a police officer has contact with the public, the citizen who is involved makes a judgement.

And  studies have shown that the single most determining factor for how a  citizen evaluates that contact is not “did I received a ticket”, but  rather “was I treated fairly.”

How  a citizen answers that question will renew or erode their confidence in  democracy and the fairness of our system of government.

Life is Not Fair. But I Am

 The  police are the most visible pillars of a decent, harmonious society.  When they act with predictability, restraint, and fealty to the rule of  law, ordinary people gain faith in their government.

When  the most dispossessed person in the poorest neighborhood receives the  same treatment as the rich man living high up on the hill, civil society is strengthened and the police are ennobled.

The Guarantors of Personal Dignity

No  doubt some will protest that human dignity-centered policing is a  simplistic solution to a set of complex, often unique police challenges.  But as the most visible public institution that is charged with  maintaining justice, the police in their ordinary duties has the power  to be guarantors of personal dignity and even-handed treatment — truly  heroic figures in their own right.

These duties are a professional calling. They cannot be outsourced or privatized.


In the Junior Police Academy you will learn what police do and how they do it.

Knowledge  and insight into the world of policing is something that is important  to me; it’s important to this community; and it’s important to this  country.

Why is that so important?


It’s  important because everything I do, everything my fellow officers do,  everything the sheriff’s department and the state police and the FBI and  all the branches of law enforcement dowe do in your name.

And your name. And yours.

Public safety is ultimately the responsibility of the entire community.

In a democracy, police officers draw their power from you.

What I do, I do in your name, and your father’s name, your mother’s name and every member of the community.

As  a police officer, you are entrusted with enormous power. I can detain  you and, at least temporarily, deprive you of your liberty.

How that power is applied is ultimately a reflection of the community, of you, its citizens.

So understanding what I do, is essential if you are to exercise your citizenship with wisdom and sound judgement.

Advanced Citizenship

Almost  every country in the world has some kind of fundamental document, a  constitution, if you will. A crucial part of any written constitution is  the guarantee of citizens’ rights. In America, this is called the Bill  of Rights.

It  is in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution,  that the most basic American freedoms are guaranteed — like the freedom  of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press. Americans  sometimes feel dissatisfied with the policies and practices of those who  govern.

But in fact, American citizens are ultimately responsible for protecting their own rights.

“In  the United States, we need the citizens to be educated so they can do  their part when there are elections. You need citizens who understand  the role of each branch of government because young people don’t inherit  the concepts through the gene pool, every generation has to learn it.

And  that’s true around the world — you need education, first and foremost  about the system of government and how the citizens can play a role in  it, and I think this is of critical importance.”

Justice O’Connor

Who You Gonna Call?


From space it is an oasis of calm and tranquility.

Let’s pretend for a moment that this is the first time you have seen our planet.

You have traveled to Earth because you have heard our ideas about freedom and democracy and you are Earth’s future leaders.

You are determined to be enlightened leaders, using these words as your guide and inspiration:

establish  justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and  secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

These  words, from the preamble to the United States Constitution,recognize  the rights of each person to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

As our future leaders, you are determined to live up to those ideals.

As a law enforcement officer, I was proud to swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. So I commend you on your principles.

I should warn you however, those ideals are also ambitious.

As Earth’s future leaders, you need to understand that Earth only appears tranquil from space.

Beautiful, but Deadly

To  really understand what you have inherited, you must come down to Earth.  You will see a world that is beautiful, yet complicated and dangerous.

And while much of the Earth’s inhabitants live in relative freedom, free will comes at a price.

Many free individuals who do not respect the rights of others.

They  cheat, steal, act recklessly and prey on others. Some willfully or  negligently contaminate our resources. They exploit, abuse, subjugate  and kill others out of greed, passion, prejudice, malice and madness.

The  Earth is also a place of horrific violence. Danger springs out of  nowhere: animals turn aggressive, boats capsize, people lose their way.

It’s not only people who are dangerous, nature too has the power to kill and devastate lives.

Given  all these factors, there are some who claim that your commitment to  freedom is not possible – not if we are also to be safe. They claim that  free will is simply not compatible with the dangers and complications  of life on Earth.

In  fact, throughout history, governments, acting to insure domestic  tranquility, have time and again denied the blessings of liberty to the  living. Citizens are told that freedom is too dangerous.


You,  however, are committed to providing both safety and liberty. And you  have a magnificent resource at your command:  American law enforcement.

Spread  out across the country and the world, these are the people who serve  justice, while preserving the rights of of every man and woman to live  in freedom.

Here  in the Junior Police Academy you will be provided insights into how law  enforcement and our system of criminal justice works. And, how it is  different from other countries.

In  fact, police departments the world over face no greater challenge than  fostering humane and ethical policing which puts the common good at the  center of all that they do.

You  will learn that law enforcement in the United States aspires to these  standards not only because they are enlightened, but also because we  learned long ago that fighting crime and public safety is better  achieved with the support of our citizens


10.18.69: A Day Without Police

I have a question:

Police. Who needs them?

What would happen if tomorrow there were no police?


It just so happens, this hypothesis has been tested.

Ask the citizens of Montreal.

Thursday, Oct. 17, 1969

Montreal, Canada

A  decision is made that would thrust the city into chaos and answer the  age old question: What would happen it there were no police.

Earlier  this same month, Montreal’s provincial government proposes to  effectively cut the benefits of the city’s police officers in half while  doubling their work load.

Thursday, Oct. 17, 1969, Montreal’s police force, numbering some 4000 officers respond.

They will all be taking a day-off  to consider the offer.  Metropolitan firefighters join in solidarity.

That evening, the citizens of Montreal are told that as of 8:00 A.M the next day, all police services would cease.

Friday, Oct. 18, 1969

8:00 AM., There are no police on duty.

To the citizens of Montreal, the morning seemed like any other. Then, it started.

By 11:20 A.M. the first bank is robbed.

By noon most downtown stores closed because of widespread looting.

Shop owners, many of them armed, struggle to fend off looters.

  1. As night falls on the city, twelve fires are set.
  2. Taxi drivers, unchecked by police, burn down the garage of a limousine service that competed with them for airport customers.
  3. Rioters brake into several hotels and restaurants.
  4. A doctor shoots a burglar in his suburban home.  
  5. And amidst the melee, one fatality, plainclothes police corporal Robert Dumas – is killed by an unknown sharpshooter.

City  authorities finally call in the army and the Royal Canadian Mounted  Police to restore order. Before it’s over, 108 are arrested, six banks  were robbed and more than 100 shops are looted. The city is in a state  of shock after what newspapers call “a night of terror.”

So again I ask: police, who needs them?



Begin your story….

The year is 1829.

The place is London.

Crime  is out of control. Most murderers go unpunished. Law enforcement is  left to night watchmen and unpaid constables who are often corrupt or  privately employed.

In steps Sir Robert Peel.  

Peel does something that at first is unpopular. He established the Metropolitan Police Force for London based at Scotland Yard.

1,000 citizens are hired to work for the Metropolitan Police Force. They are called constables.

Three things happen very quickly.

The constables cut crime in a city plagued with lawless behavior.

The idea of maintaining a police force wins public approval.

Over time, the constables are affectionately nicknamed  ‘Bobbies’ after Robert Peel.

It  was in 1829 that Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force for  London based at Scotland Yard. The 1,000 constables employed were  affectionately nicknamed ‘Bobbies’ or, somewhat less affectionately,  ‘Peelers’ (both terms are still used today).

Although  unpopular at first they proved very successful in cutting crime in  London, and by 1857 all cities in the UK were obliged to form their own  police forces.

Defining the perfect police officer.

Peel  is known today as the father of modern policing, but his greatest  contribution was that he took the time to establish some ground rules  for police officers within a free and just society.

  1. Every  police officer should be issued a identification number, to assure  accountability for his actions. (Discuss how principle is still used  today.)
  2. Whether  the police are effective is not measured on the number of arrests, but  on the lack of crime. (Discuss the dangers of measuring success by  number of arrests.)
  3. Above  all else, an effective police officer knows trust and accountability  are paramount. Hence, Peel’s most often quoted principle: The police are the public and the public are the police.

Now  let’s talk about modern policing. You might be surprised to learn that  the essential code police uphold has not changed much.

Oath of Honor

The  following Law Enforcement Oath of Honor is recommended as by the  International Association of Chiefs of Police as symbolic statement of  commitment to ethical behavior:

        On my honor,

        I will never betray my badge,

        my integrity, my character,

        or the public trust.

        I will always have

        the courage to hold myself

        and others accountable for our actions.

        I will always uphold the constitution,

        my community, and the agency I serve.

Discuss what the oath means and what the practical implications of upholding the oath are on the street.

  1. Honor means that one’s word is given as a guarantee.
  2. Betray is defined as breaking faith with the public trust.
  3. Badge is the symbol of your office.
  4. Integrity is being the same person in both private and public life.
  5. Character means the qualities that distinguish an individual.
  6. Public trust is a charge of duty imposed in faith toward those you serve.
  7. Courage is having the strength to withstand unethical pressure, fear or danger.
  8. Accountability means that you are answerable and responsible to your oath of office.
  9. Community is the jurisdiction and citizens served.


Discuss the moral standards police must adopt, not only on the job, but in your personal life as well:

A.  Demonstrate impartiality and neutrality in decision making.

Police  agencies are a shared social resource. They must provide fair access to  their services while avoiding favoritism and neglect.  All citizens  have a right to the services of the police based upon relative need.  

B. Demonstrate absolute honesty and never abuse power or authority

Through  a social contract with the government citizens surrender some of their  own power and freedom to authorize and empower police to act on their  behalf.  Citizens trust their police to use this awesome power with  restraint and for the public good.

C. Maintain Objectivity

Police  Officer’s must put personal feelings aside when serving the public and  avoid the polar extremes of cynicism or over-involvement.  Police are  often called upon to serve as society’s referee and therefore must  maintain a non-partisan attitude.


Our Secret Weapon in Crime Fighting (it ain’t CSI)

The cooperation of the public is critical to effective policing.


Commissioner Ed Davis with the Boston Police Department explains it this way:

“A  good homicide detective will tell you that we don’t solve homicides  through CSI.  CSI is helpful; evidence is something that we have to be  looking at.  But we solve homicides because people tell us who did it.  

“If  people don’t trust us, then they will not tell us who did it, no matter  what the case is.  Every encounter that they have can either make or  break the reputation of the police department.  It can establish a good  relationship or not with someone who may be a witness to a homicide,  with someone who may hold information that is crucial to the biggest  case that the police department works on in a particular time frame.”  

“Terrorism  cases, homicide cases, kidnapping cases, they all hinge upon our  ability to establish a trusting relationship with the community and  getting that community to reach out to us when they have information




That  is the percentage of  health-care workers in the New York region would  report for work in the event of a radiological event, according to a  survey by the Red Cross.

In other words, almost half of a hospital’s staff stays home.

Now, what percent of police officers would report for duty?

FACT:   It would fall upon public safety to answer the call of duty and  shoulder a large part of the burden in the event of a catastrophic  disaster.

Assisting people in need is a huge part of what police do.

Police  officers must be willing to make personal sacrifices, even risking  their own well-being. This is a quality essential to building a better  nation and improving living conditions for our families, and their  posterity.

Discuss the idea of a social contract.

Additional Information:

Radiological Dispersion methods can be:


“Dirty Bomb” = Explosive method of dispersion

Explosion produces radioactive and nonradioactive shrapnel and radioactive dust causing:


  1. Radiation contamination, commonly
  2. Radiation exposure only in certain circumstances
  3. Physical injury
  4. Burns
  5. Panic, fear




Based on a True Story

These  are the “Skills Critical to a Good Police Officer”. Review them with  your cadets, investing your own experience. How did mastering (or not  mastering) these skills impact your professional duties.

Critical Thinking

Using  logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of  alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

“Something’s Wrong Here”

The  ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It  does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a  problem.

Straight Talker

The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Listen Up

Giving  full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to  understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and  not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Reaction Time or Quick and the Dead

The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.

Frame the Facts

Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

Problem Solved

Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

People Skills

Ability to deal directly with the public.

Conflict Resolution

Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Want to Make a Difference

Actively looking for ways to help people.


Welcome to the world of American criminal justice.

Behind all the acronyms, heavy equipment and cutting edge technology, American criminal justice ultimately is about people.

More  than 900,000 of them. That’s the number of sworn law enforcement  officers now serving in the United States, which is the highest figure  ever. About 12 percent of those are female.

You will have an opportunity to meet some of these individuals over the course of this Academy in the form of guest speakers.

Why do we need so many?


That’s  the estimated number of violent crimes committed in the United States  in 2008, as well as an estimated 16.3 million property crimes (according  to the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the Bureau of  Justice Statistics).


Measure Success

Violent  and property crime rates in 2008 remain at the lowest levels recorded  since 1973, the first year that such data were collected. The rate of  every major violent and property crime measured by BJS fell between 1999  and 2008. The overall violent crime rate fell 41 percent and the  property crime rate declined by 32 percent during the last 10 years.

Lower Crime Rates Come at a Price

Crime  fighting takes its toll. Since the first recorded police death in 1791,  there have been over 19,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line  of duty.

Currently, there are 19,298 names engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

A  total of 1,626 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during  the past 10 years, an average of one death every 53 hours or 163 per  year. There were 116 law enforcement officers killed in 2009, the lowest  annual total since 1959.

On average, more than 58,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted each year, resulting in approximately 16,000 injuries.




DAY ONE: 10 Strategies for Introducing Students to Law Enforcement in the United States

Like No Other Profession on Earth

The Pillars of Democracy:

Why Should I Care?

Who You Gonna Call?

10.18.69: A Day Without Police


Our Secret Weapon in Crime Fighting [it ain’t CSI]


Based on a True Story