On March 8th, Deb Kirby and I headed up to Ann Arbor, Michigan to begin our assessment of the Ann Arbor Police Department (AAPD) and help them define a model of civilian oversight. After meeting with the Chief and Department’s command staff, we were thrilled with their openness and eagerness to bring about positive change. We also attended a meeting convened by the city’s Human Rights Commission (HRC). Deb is a vibrant leader in our Law Enforcement Consulting practice and is just as passionate as I am about inspiring local government, police agencies and communities to collaborate in order to advance constitutionally correct policing that reflects what every subset of the entire community wants from police. We really anticipate great things in Ann Arbor given the positive reception we received from the city, the Police and the HRC.

An Independent Audit

On March 5th, the Ann Arbor City Council approved the decision to have the Hillard Heintze team conduct a comprehensive review of AAPD’s services to all communities within Ann Arbor and develop recommendations for a model and implementation plan for civilian oversight of the Department. As part of our proposal, we stressed that traditional adversarial civilian oversight would not bring about the positive changes they were seeking. As we see it, the events that have shaped law enforcement over the past several years mandate a change in approach. At Hillard Heintze, we have adopted an approach that has been coined Co-Produced Policing – in which police and the community come together with equal voices to determine how their community will be policed. A complicated, but worthwhile approach that I will cover in future blogs.

The Importance of Direct Community Engagement

This meeting with the Human Rights Council was one of many we will be conducting in the months ahead with stakeholders offering different perspectives on this initiative. Deb and I – and virtually every single member of our Law Enforcement Consulting practice – consider these exchanges and discussions an absolutely critical component of reform in policing.

Reform in community policing is impossible without direct engagement from the community. At the same time, police departments that truly embrace the process of self-examination are the ones that deliver the best possible services to their communities and provide officers with guidance and recognition for doing so.

We are excited to be partnering with the City of Ann Arbor and their Police Department. Ann Arbor is known for setting the example for community-involved government and I believe they are on their way to demonstrating real and lasting change in policing. Deb and I will keep you posted in future blogs.