Policy point--Counterpoint: Mandating law enforcement to receive annual certification in cultural diversity through critical thinking.

AuthorSereni-Massinger, Christine

Policy Point--Counterpoint: Mandating Law Enforcement to Receive Annual Certification in Cultural Diversity through Critical Thinking

Moderator: Christine Sereni-Massinger

Law enforcement officers are experiencing growing challenges within their communities as a result of the expansion of multiculturalism. The opinions held in many of these diverse communities are increasingly negative in regards to law enforcement. (1) Cross-cultural leadership is a skill that law enforcement need to protect their communities and themselves. Traditionally, this topic has been taught substantively in the academies. However, substantive training is ineffective. (2) As the role of police expands from the role of paramilitary to the role of community advocate, education provided to these officers must also expand. This education should begin in the academies and extend annually through mandatory certification training.

The evolution of the police officer's role requires competencies in decision-making and problem solving. The questioning of assumptions and biases is a learned skill through critical thinking and lends towards a law enforcement officer's abilities in decision-making and de-escalation. (3) Current studies show that less than 1 percent of sheriff's offices and police departments require a four-year degree. (4) Police academies are often the entryway into a law enforcement career, yet these academies currently utilize a paramilitary approach in training. (5) Critical thinking geared to de-escalation, discretion and decision-making should be initiated in the academy and continued annually throughout the law enforcement officer's career. (6)

POINT: Joseph Bawden

Critical Thinking Is an Effective Approach to Cultural Diversity Training for Law Enforcement

Critical thinking is the ability of an individual to think about what it is they are thinking, why it is they are thinking what they are thinking, and the ability to separate themselves from their initial thought processes in an attempt to analyze and produce a more equitable outcome. (7) Critical thinking has been studied and applied in numerous occupational settings, including nursing, business, and investigations. (8) Philley applies the standards of critical thinking to incident investigations. Philley further describes critical thinking as thinking in a logical manner with conclusions derived from evidence and facts rather than from subjective sources. Philley iterates four steps to assist investigators in interjecting logical conclusions in their investigations. Those steps include: identifying causes which are credible and possible to have produced the outcome, evaluate or refute supporting evidence for the possible causes, identify when the necessity arises for specific evidence to refute or support the possible cause, and select the cause most appropriate to the scenario. (9)

The outcome of structured critical thinking is "to prevent erroneous and premature conclusions, inaccurate assumptions, and inaccurate cause determinations." (10) Another way of thinking about the results of critical thinking is that it produces in its user a greater level of self-regulation, "applying skills in analysis and evaluation to one's own inferential judgments." (11) This ability in self-regulation is also called metacognition. (12) This type of structured thinking has obvious benefits for investigators. The possibility exists for this structure to have greater influence and usefulness in police work than simply in investigations. Teaching these patterns of thought to new officers, specifically teaching them to apply critical thinking structure in regard to their own thought processes, in addition to investigative purposes, will afford officers more options to resolve difficult situations, and will lead to better interactions in multicultural situations. (13)

Every interaction between people of different cultures is an interaction of differences. These interactions are between two or more people who have not been exposed to the ideas, practices, and customs of the other. Law enforcement has the difficult task of bridging the gap between their culture and the culture they are presented. Self-regulation will facilitate these types of verbal transactions. Self-regulation is applying the cognitive skills of critical thinking toward...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT