A few years ago, I was walking up the steps to Madison Square Garden in New York City. A cop turned around to stare. What caught his eye was my two boys with shoulder length hair, one with a vintage Who T-shirt and the obligatory denim. We were entering the fabled Garden to see the legendary British invasion rock group The Who. Thus, the cop’s comment seemed appropriate.
“Aren’t you guys supposed to be on stage by now?” Certainly I, and probably my sons, will forever love New York cops because of this experience. It’s been reinforced a few times as I ask directions, inquire about their use of mopeds and so on. The cops in New York engage in a helpful, friendly way, I’ve found. And, yes, I’ve seen, heard and read occasional news reports to the contrary.
But back to the nice experience with cops in a city. In business this kind of experience might be called a “defining moment.” It’s the moment you use to define an organization–service, quality, speed and so on. If the food doesn’t come quickly at a fast food restaurant, it loses reputation.
According to author Anil Anand, police officers have a huge impact on social attitudes and social policy via these kinds of moments. Don’t many of us have impressions of Georgia through interactions with the highway patrol there? I guess that’s another story.
Anand has written a book called Mending Broken Fences Policing an Alternative Model for Policy Management. Who better than a 30-year veteran cop who rose to senior management, took part time graduate degrees in law and business, and is now trying to fix a lot of stuff that’s broken as a consultant, trainer and speaker.
Like a good cop he questions everything. I can just hear Joe Friday from the old TV show “Dragnet” saying, “Really…how’s that…are you sure…just the facts, mam.”
Well, the facts include the fact that the much praised “zero-tolerance” strategies end up alienating entire neighbourhoods and causing cooperation with police and the reporting of crime to go down. Anand also notes that we are more fearful, despite less crime, and notes there’s little correlation between poverty and crime.
This book uses business techniques to show that police services lack normal checks, balances and metrics to judge efficiency and effectiveness. And a typical cop’s day–perhaps 18% of calls are about crime and 40% of days is spent on crime. So what are they doing? The average cop must have the “competence of nurses and social workers [and] …paramilitary commandos. Oddly the officer is “…alone in dealing with citizens when making emergent des icons, with very little guidance and almost no supervision.”
Other than this, all is well in our police forces.
This is a good little book on a big, big topic.
Oh, as for the Who concert, Zak Starkey played drums. Ringo’s kid is a good drummer and replaced the remarkable Keith Moon who played drums as if they were lead guitar. I’d been to many earlier and iconic concerts over the year—Cream in Paul Sauve Arena in Montreal, Zepplin, Creedence, The Beach Boys, Sedaka, and the Monkees in Vancouver, and Dylan in Toronto. This Who concert was the only one I’d been to with Champaign service in the seats.
Times have changed. But the cops made the night as much as anything.
The Anand book is available here and on Amazon, Indigo, and other on-line resellers.
Being a cop, Anand does his own security, and he apparently does his own bookings. He’s no longer undercover and can be reached at email@example.com.