Our community – rightfully so – wants an explanation for recent police actions, but I cannot explain the inexplicable related to the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. The nine minutes is inexplicable, and so is the lack of response from the officers present. I am disgusted, and these actions at the Battle Creek Police Department would be unacceptable.
Understandably, we hear calls for police policy review. Policy has never changed culture; if an agency with great policies suffers from an out-of-date culture, it will not achieve the results communities demand and deserve. An agency with dated policies, and a poor officer development program, performs even worse.
Policies should be fluid, dynamic, and reflect the community’s values, to uphold the highest levels of ethics and professionalism, while protecting the community and its police officers.
Just over one year ago, in March 2019, the BCPD became one of only 16 law enforcement agencies across the state (24 agencies today) to achieve full state accreditation with the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. This two-year process affirms that the BCPD voluntarily meets best practice standards, and complies with 105 MACP required professional standards.
During this process, we modified department policies, developed necessary procedures, and provided evidence to the MACP to show that the BCPD meets the required standards. They result in great accountability within our agency, reduced risk and liability exposure, increased community advocacy, and more confidence in our ability to operate efficiently and respond to our community’s needs.
To keep our state accreditation, we review our policies each year. We engage our community through programs like the Citizens Police Academy, Police Explorer Program, Cops and Clergy meetings of our faith-based leaders, Neighborhood Planning Councils, and others. Unfortunately, some of these programs are on hold, as we face budget challenges related to COVID-19. We know we need further and continued review by our community.
We have created excellent programs to serve our community outside the criminal justice system, like the Crisis Intervention Team for mental health crises, the Fusion Center, Trauma Informed Policing, the Domestic Violence Unit, and the Victim Advocate and Violence Intervention programs.
Our openness remains one of our greatest strengths, as well as our willingness to learn, grow, and try new and innovative approaches. A discussion about police use of force requires more discussion than a statement. I look forward to an open dialogue continuing in our wonderful Battle Creek community.
Chief Jim Blocker