Some answers to a citywide call for input on the next police chief
The city recently posted a survey for the public to offer input into what values and characteristics citizens would like to see in the next Columbus Chief of Police. It even had a Hip Columbus™ hashtag: #ChiefandMe. I couldn't decide if the hashtag was the worst bullet point from a horrendously conceived marketing plan or just infantilizing. In the spirit of public stewardship, I've opted to share the answers I'd have given if I were ever bludgeoned in the head and thought taking such a survey was a good idea.
1. Name 3-5 words that come to mind when you think of the ideal police chief.
Understands civic accountability isn't illegal.
2. What core values are most important to you in a police chief? Select only top three [of 12] choices.
The problem with this question is that, if the results work like every other HR Department attempt to cover a company's deficiencies, they'll only do what I say I want and dump the rest because it's the least they have to do to be in compliance. So if I have to choose the three that will best aid in my not being killed for driving with an expired tag, I opt for “Justice,” “Human Dignity” and “Equality.”
3. In hiring a police chief, which of these skills are most important to you? Select only top three [of 17!] choices.
If you admitted that 14 out of 17 common skills weren't a priority at your job you'd be fired. I want to pick “Commitment to Law and Order” but police think that's what they're doing now and it's not exactly working out. I need answers they cannot misinterpret. I hold my nose and choose “Community Centered/Service Minded” (bare minimum), “Cultural Competency” (suggests they will have to interact with a person of color at least once) and “Transparency” (no more accidental erasing of the bodycams).
4. How many years of experience in law enforcement should your next police chief have?
You want someone with experience, yet don't want someone who has been infected by an abusive, power-drunk institution. Split the difference: 15-20 years.
5. What should the primary focus of the next police chief be?
Not allowing officers to get away with abuse. People have been writing in “stop killing us,” but there's a lot of unheralded suffering before the killing parts, so I'm taking my shot.
6. How important is it for the police chief to collaborate and work with other city officials, faith leaders, business and community groups?
Very. I'm less convinced it is at all important to the two more powerful groups not listed here: the police union and city developers. I mean, if we're talking raw power here.