Peace Officer Promise Sign On
Like the oath officers take about upholding the Constitution and protecting the people of your community, Peace Officer Promise is a declaration by policing organizations to their communities which conveys the nobility of policing. It reads:
Peace Officer Promise™ is a community policing tool which helps an agency build public trust and confidence by making a public reaffirmation of its commitment to serve and protect. Like the oath officers take about upholding the Constitution and protecting the people of your community, the Promise is a declaration by policing organizations to their communities.
As a curriculum, Peace Officer Promise serves to both build public trust and confidence in the police and highlight the nobility of policing. It does this by training officers and the community about the possibility of harm which may occur as a result of unintended consequences of some policing strategies And it states a pledge to seek to do better.
In this way, Peace Officer Promise is like policing’s Hippocratic Oath. Similar to the oath which physicians take to do no harm, this oath which acknowledges the notion of harm reduction by the police redefines, reimagines and advances policing.
The National Event consists of agencies around the country each embarking on the training and making their own Peace Officer Promise to their communities. It began during the Summer 2022 with the first agencies making their promises to their communities in live local events. The month of May was chosen for its announcement because it’s the month when we honor the Peace Officers of this country who fulfilled the promise they made to their communities, including risking and ultimately giving their lives. Because we honor these Peace Officers during the month of May, it seems appropriate to honor all of the officers of this country who, day in and day out, are doing their best to serve their communities in a fair and just manor.
Peace Officer Promise is a community policing approach that has support both from the community and from the police. And that’s where many of the policing reform issues have fallen short. Some reforms work for the community, but they don’t work for the police. Others work for the police, but they don’t work for the community. And the essence of Peace Officer Promise is powerful because it relates directly to the culture of policing and the notion of harm reduction by the police. And it works for both sides of the issue.
Suggestions for a Hippocratic Oath for policing aren’t new. John Jay College’s The National Network for Safe Communities has included “do no harm” in their guiding principles for years. And articles have been written in the past, including: Why It’s Time for A Hippocratic Oath for Policing, The Hippocratic Oath for Criminal Justice and Hippocratic Oath for Policing. What is different this time, is that we’ve operationalized how to actually do it.
A Hippocratic oath for policing. Medicine’s Hippocratic Oath exists so that physicians “do no harm” while trying to cure their patients. Policing has its own need for such an oath. While the overwhelming majority of police officers in this country are diligently trying to serve their communities to the best of their abilities, there continue to be unintended, collateral consequences of their well-meaning actions. We are still struggling to understand the nature and extent of the harm some policing practices have inflicted – and continue to do so – on the very people the police are paid to protect. Policing is struggling to regain the trust and confidence of many communities.
A significant step we can take in strengthening, or repairing, our personal relationships is to promise to do better as a friend or loved one and make amends for past actions that may have hurt those close to us. This is also true about the relationship the police have with their communities. The police ask community members to trust them, yet, many times fail to understand that without an acknowledgement of past harm or the promise of rightful policing in the future, the trust and confidence they seek is not forthcoming. Here is where Peace Officer Promise provides a critical connection between the police and the communities they serve. It states:
“We, the members of the Anytown Police Department promise that while doing our best to control crime, we will do everything in our power to do no harm to the communities we serve and protect.”
These are not simply flowery words. This is a solemn oath taken by a community’s guardians to fulfill the fundamental purpose of policing – protection without causing harm. It speaks to the true purpose of policing. And it articulates the spirituality and nobility of policing that honors the sacrifices so many police officers have made while protecting their communities.
Peace Officer Promise implies cultural change within policing to ensure there is alignment of organizational values and practices. Recruiting, hiring, promotions, reward systems, discipline, training, policies, standard operating procedures and the police use-of-force must comport with the vision laid out by Peace Officer Promise. Conducting organizational audits, community listening sessions, creating community advisory bodies and honest reporting of the current state of the organization and its progress toward operationalizing Peace Officer Promise are crucial to enhancing the public’s trust and confidence in policing.
Peace Officer Promise offers policing and communities the opportunity to repair strained police-community relationships and co-produce trust and confidence in the police to produce safer neighborhoods. It is a sustainable advance in policing. And quite simply, it is rightful, respectful and exemplifies the way all of us want to be treated.
Over the last four years, Police2Peace has grown from the idea of introducing PEACE OFFICER wording into police agencies and communities into the Peace Officer Project. Peace Officer Project™ is an organizational mindset along with tools which focus agencies on resolving problems in their communities. The first tool of the Peace Officer Project is Peace Officer Promise.
Unlike anytime in our past, community members, policy makers and police leaders are keenly aware of the need to enhance trust and confidence in policing. In many parts of America, there is a widespread societal belief that the police are biased in their enforcement activities and use-of-force. One of the great ironies of our time is that this is true, despite the tremendous advances and reforms in policing on the last 50 years. Undeniably, policing is significantly better in almost any metric one chooses to use. But that is not how many people perceive policing.
Peace Officer Project is intended to identify and operationalize the commonality in desired outcomes as viewed by various policing stakeholders. It represents a cultural shift – in the form of “nudging” the policing culture – that is agreeable to community members, policymakers, policing leaders and cops themselves. It ensures that police organizations, political systems and community members understand their roles in ensuring that policing is effective, empathetic and just. It is these three components, coupled with the Peace Officer Project’s fundamental underpinnings – the peaceful facilitation of conflict, the effective control of crime and an intention to reduce harm caused by well-meaning policing strategies – that represent a commonality of interests among policing’s stakeholders.
The Peace Officer Project toolkit is designed to provide the concepts and tools required to operationalize the notion of “cops as peacekeepers.” It includes:
Here are some ways you can get involved: do mediation in your community, organize an event with police and community, or start a community police relations group. Send us a message or give us a call. We will respond within 24 hours with the tools you need to get started.
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