Four Real Opportunities for Urgent Law Enforcement Reforms

Four Real Opportunities for Urgent Law Enforcement Reforms

The following is an open letter from Robert Cutler, MSc., a commissioned Missouri State law enforcement officer, on ways in which real police reform can be achieved.

Rather than dance around the head of a needle with heated debates on current models of policing and the need for urgent reforms, we must exercise common sense to improve America's public safety.

Fundamentally, without real leadership change and the courage to innovate from within law enforcement organizations, we allow ourselves as officers to suffer worthless initiatives promoted by biased victim advocates, uninformed media pundits and naïve political leaders. Without hiring empathetic police officers, we continue to see an endless deterioration of that thin blue line between chaos and order—ending with the public paying the ultimate price. 

Law enforcement authority is a right granted by the state. All law enforcement hiring and training practices are direct responsibilities of U.S. state governments. It is the responsibility of each state to determine criteria to hire and train continuously for every officer of the law.

State legislatures fail to evolve hiring and retention options to meet the changes in our states and cities. Put bluntly, your elected officials have neglected to lead law enforcement into the present and for the future.

Disappointingly, most states fail to require police psychological testing for emotional intelligence and empathy to hire and retain police professionals—to serve the public with the best outcomes possible.

As a police officer, I urge four learning opportunities to strive for—to result in outcomes that truly make a difference for all.

Four Real Educational Opportunities

  1. Simply condemning law enforcement officers who may not be prepared to enforce the law under today's police job stressors is unfair and unjust. It is the responsibility of each state to determine criteria for hiring, evaluating and training every officer of the law. Demand that your elected state representatives bring practical and professional new practices into the law enforcement arena.
  2. Reform will happen organically when there is an opportunity for public participation in, and understanding of, law enforcement activities. We must transition from "they are keeping us safe" to "we are keeping each other safe." Civilian oversight boards with business and civic leaders and academics can bring valuable resources and insights from their non-law enforcement success stories.
  3. Prioritize and mandate police psychological testing for emotional intelligence, empathy and ethnocultural sensibilities. These instruments are available and more sorely needed today than ever before.
  4. Just as we expect police officers to be mentally and physically fit, the public should be routinely informed on how to respond when engaged by police officers. Our educational and social institutions fail to teach our children expectations that are required when encountering real-life law enforcement interactions. When law enforcement officers ask for identification or make other legal requests for compliance, citizens should be aware of their rights—but also understand the legal rights of law enforcement professionals to legally conduct investigations. Often, failing to comply escalates behavioral consequences from a nonevent to one of potential tragedy. States should embrace an educational initiative to teach citizens how to engage with law enforcement.

Without seriously considering reforms and changes to hold citizens and police officers accountable, we drive away the best from our profession. As an entrepreneur, I built a successful nationally recognized business based on adapting and adopting the best and most practical business practices I could identify. As a law enforcement officer, I urge we do no less.


Robert Cutler, MSc. (Criminal Justice) is a commissioned Missouri State law enforcement officer. At 62 he graduated from the police academy to realize his dream of becoming an officer. Cutler experiences many on-the-job challenges faced by dedicated, tireless professionals committed to upholding public safety. He is working on a book project sharing insights from his "CEO to LEO" experiences.

Source: Robert Cutler


Categories: Public Safety

Tags: CEO to LEO, Real Police Reform, Reforming Todays Police