While employment equity programs should primarily be viewed as supporting the rights of minority group members to employment, there are also other sound reasons for adopting such a policy. The same will be true of recommending services for victims of crime. For example, while most younger Aboriginal people do speak English, they may not fully understand everything said to them by non-Aboriginal police.
What role for experience in evidence-based policing? I recently received an illustrative lesson in the challenges of evidence-based policing. I was asked to sit in on a meeting where a number of senior managers were pitching an idea to their commander. It required the redistribution of patrols, and they were armed with evidence that the existing beats were not in the best locations and so were not as effective as they could be.
And at that point the meeting ended. Experience trumped data and evidence, as it often does.
All the evidence available suggested that the commander made a poor decision. When I was learning to be a pilot I heard an old flying aphorism about decisions. Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.
Unfortunately, the profession of policing cannot lurch from an endless cycle of bad decisions as new recruits enter policing and learn the business. The modern intolerance for honest mistakes and anything-but-perfection precludes this.
Therefore how do we develop and grow a culture of good decisions? And what is the role of experience? In praise of experience Policing is unique in the liberal level of discretion and absence of supervision given to the least experienced officers.
As a teenager when I started patrol, I can testify to the steep learning curve on entering the job. Experiences come at you thick and fast.
In some ways, we learn from these experiences. My colleagues demonstrated a style and tone and I learned from the experience they had gained over time. We should also recognize that the evidentiary foundation for much of policing is pretty thin. We simply do not yet know much about what works and what good practice looks like.
So practitioner judgement may help fill a void until that time when we have more research across a wider variety of policing topics.
Finally, personal intuition and opinion may not be a sound basis on which to make policy, but sometimes it can offer insights in rarely studied areas. This can prompt new ways of looking at problems. By varying experience, we can learn new ways to deal with issues. These new ways could then be tested more formally.
There is definitely a place for personal judgement in the craft of policing. But the current reliance on it prevents us embracing a culture of curiosity and developing that evidence base.Get the latest international news and world events from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and more.
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