In the wake of the guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, members of the PERF Board of Directors shared how the decision was received in their agencies and communities and how they’re now planning to lead their departments forward.


Baltimore Commissioner Michael Harrison

We tried to gauge some of our officers’ opinions today. Most responses were, “We kind of figured it was going to go this way.” I haven’t heard any officer say anything negative. We all saw it and knew it was bad when it happened. So I think this verdict was expected.

Moving on from here, how do we manage our officers so they go out and perform every day? I think it’s about making sure our training is sufficient and our policies align with best practices and don’t have disparities built into them. And the engagement we expect our officers to have with the community is not 100% enforcement. It’s a blend of enforcement with community engagement in a community policing framework. It’s the kind of engagement where relationships and trust can be built. It’s not just enforcement to catch people committing crimes, but also engagement to prevent people from committing crimes.

My top priorities now are to reeducate our officers about our policies and double down on both our policies and training. We probably have the most robust use-of-force policy in all of America under our consent decree. We want to make sure that the officers aren’t just trained in it, but that they actually police and practice in accordance with the policy and training. And we have mechanisms for accountability, so we can audit what’s happening and know when they are, or are not, acting according to the policy and training.

My task is to make sure supervisors are inspecting and auditing what officers are actually doing. I need to keep the communication from my office, down to the command staff, down to the supervisors, and down to the officers clear and concise, so that it’s not misconstrued. We want our officers to know what we expect of them, then to go out there and do it. And there’s a feedback loop from the community to let us know if officers are actually performing to standard.

That’s a lot. You have to have systems built to produce all of that, and many departments don’t have that. But some do. I think we have to focus on our front-line supervisors to make sure officers are engaging, and doing it in the right way.


Irving, TX Chief Jeff Spivey

The employees and community members I’ve spoken with since yesterday afternoon were not surprised by the verdict. I think everyone looking at that video saw what they perceived to be a criminal offense. Although we did not sit through the trial or hear all the evidence, I think many of our officers and community members fully expected that a guilty verdict would come from that video. We saw something that we knew was wrong and that no policy would ever support. So we felt that justice was ultimately served.

Moving forward, I think we continue what we started almost a year ago, which is looking at our policies, procedures, and training. We’ll continue to work with our community members to understand their expectations for their police department. We’ll continue to ensure that we’re hiring the best and brightest people we can, and are providing them with the best training we can.

This is what many police chiefs have been doing long before last May. Coming out of Ferguson and other incidents in 2014 and President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, I think a lot of chiefs began looking at policies, procedures, and training.

Locally, we’ve reinforced our officer safety and wellness program. We’ve instituted ABLE (Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement) training, and are about halfway through having all of our officers trained in active bystandership. Moving forward, officer safety and wellness will continue to be one of our top priorities, especially the mental health and wellness of our police employees. We’ll continue to build programs to provide outreach and oversight to our employees.

I think our profession will continue to build upon the changing expectations of our community. And we’ll continue to look for ways to do our jobs better, be more professional, and ensure that we’re providing police service that sets us apart from the policing of the past.


Clearwater, FL Chief Dan Slaughter

I was pleased to get feedback from some officers yesterday afternoon and saw some texts between officer teams. Some were very quick to say, “That’s not us. We don’t do it like that here, and we never would. We have the community’s support.” Other comments were very pointed. One officer stated, “If one officer would have stepped up, this wouldn’t have happened.” I was happy to see that statement because we recently completed the ABLE training, so it reinforced that the message was received and is becoming part of the culture.

So I think the verdict was expected, and there’s an optimistic view that this is potentially behind us so we can move on.

I’m looking to continue supporting peer interventions. I’m not making it a disciplinary environment, but rather looking out for each of our officers. We recognize that we employ human beings, and their emotions are going to be in play at certain times. It’s going to be up to us to look out for each other and correct behavior that’s potentially harmful.

And we’re doubling down on the police-community relationships. I was worried about officers wanting to go into a turtle shell a little bit, not engage with the community, and be fearful that they’re going to bear the brunt of complaints. I think it’s more important than ever that we continue to talk to the community and double-down on our community engagement.

Locally, we tried to migrate away from a model of assigning certain officers to community outreach, with that being their narrow focus. I’m trying to spread that out, so everyone has an engagement role. Then the relationships are with the entire department, not with a small group of specialized employees.

I want to spend some time reinforcing the officers’ confidence, and encouraging them to trust their training. We are fortunately very well resourced in Clearwater, with a very supportive council and community. Sometimes these national events can cause officers to have a little lack of confidence in what may happen if they make a mistake. So I want them to be confident that they’re well trained and good people. We hire really, really good people, train them well, give them the best equipment, we trust them to do their jobs, and we hold them accountable if they don’t. I think reinforcing that confidence is important.

We’re implementing ICAT training, and we look at that as another step in the right direction towards continually improving our training.

I’d like to focus these calls for continued change into identifiable action items. Watching some national reactions since the verdict, there are a lot of comments about how this didn’t change anything. I’d like to work towards the action items that people would like to see. I think we have very good policies and training, and we need to continually improve in those areas. But I think we also need to work on the messaging. These are very isolated incidents of police misconduct and brutality, and, by and large, there are many people doing a very good job. We need to identify those action items and continue to push forward. And not just the low-hanging fruit, but those items that the community is laser-focused on, so we can make some bold improvements.


Aurora, IL Chief Kristen Ziman

I haven’t spoken to everyone in my department, but one reaction that struck me was an officer who said they’re angry at Chauvin for what he has done to the policing profession. That comment resonated with me, because I think there is some of that. I haven’t heard from a single person who was surprised there was a guilty verdict. But I found it interesting that the officer thought, “This officer did this to all of us.” This caused unrest all over the nation, and that one individual caused that ripple effect.

Moving forward, we’re doubling down on our already robust training. We do far more than the state asks of us. We’ve included de-escalation, and a couple years ago we started using a training scenario where an officer in uniform is committing an act of excessive force. We send officers into the room to watch what they do and whether they pull him off. One part of this Chauvin case that has been different from others is having police officers testifying against him. I think we’re giving permission in our rank and file to act when we see something wrong.

In addition to this case, we’ve been dealing with the Adam Toledo case. We’re right outside Chicago, where the police officer shot the 13-year-old. It’s very different – no one was surprised by the Chauvin verdict, but in the Adam Toledo case you have a 13-year-old in a dark alley with a gun. We’re starting to look at some of our training. We’ve always been taught to just say, “Drop the gun. Drop the gun.” In this instance, after being given that command, this kid moves his arm to throw the gun over the fence. The officer shoots because he doesn’t know what the kid is doing. We’re looking at what we could do differently. Perhaps that means saying “don’t move” instead of “drop the gun.”

I use that example to illustrate that we need to continue to diagnose issues, and then pivot. In these instances we need to look at what we can do or say differently. We should be a learning profession, and, quite honestly, that’s where our profession has been subpar. Sometimes that feedback loop, with an after-action report, can take a long time. We’re going to diagnose all these incidents.

Finally, we need to instill confidence in our officers. It didn’t happen in our city, but they’re feeling the effects of it. I watched a video from comedian Trevor Noah. He’s talking about the “bad apples” in our profession, and he rightly asks, “Where are the good apples?” As I was watching his video, I was frustrated, because I thought about how the good apples are everywhere. There are thousands and thousands of contacts every day where the outcome is that no one is harmed. It’s a positive outcome even if an arrest is made. I sent that video to all my officers and said, “You are the good apples. Now is the time to go out and prove that you are.” I think this case shined a bright light on police, and I think the best thing we can do is stand in the light and prove that we are the “good apples.”


LAPD Chief Michel Moore

I think the reaction from officers was similar to the reaction from the general public: Justice was served. This was a murder trial for a cop who tarnished the badge, plain and simple. I believe the officer-involved shootings over the past two days give us concern that we aren’t done, and protests are still going to be occurring. We want to avoid any missteps, maintain a softer approach, engaging the public. Our added deployments are smiling, talking to people, and sharing a moment of relief that a small measure of justice was served. We believe our agency is a leader in policing, but we know we have further reforms and are committed to those.

30 years ago was the aftermath of the Rodney King trial in Los Angeles. After that jury verdict of “not guilty,” we saw the city erupt into civil unrest, riots, and devastation. That spread across the country and globe. This time we saw a similar effect, but it was one of positivity. It was people affirming that the criminal justice system can work, and it can work for all Americans.

Our ongoing strategy is continued community engagement at both the neighborhood level and up through to my office. We’re available, responsive, and working to build trust.

In Los Angeles we have three after-action reports about the events of last summer with a whole series of recommendations, many of which revolve around training. We’re trying to take our master training calendar to add the sets and reps necessary to invest in our people. We think we have some of the best academy training in the world, but we think we don’t spend enough time with in-service training on perishable skills, to ensure our officers stay highly proficient in all the various demands of policing in the 21st century.

Violent crime must continue to be our focus. We’re coming into our budget season, and ensuring sufficient staffing in this organization is critical.

Finally, for the past year there’s been talk about redefining American policing and finding effective alternatives. In Los Angeles and other parts of the country, law enforcement needs to demand more and better of our leadership to find those alternatives. Law enforcement is often tasked with finding those alternatives, but this is an area where, in my view, social science and practitioners outside of law enforcement have not built the next model. I believe that task is incumbent upon them as well; otherwise, it’s just another policing solution.


Volusia County, FL Sheriff Michael Chitwood

We recently engaged in a series of community forums. The minority community really puts a lot of faith in the 21st Century Policing report. They view that document as what American law enforcement should be striving to move toward. When they took a survey about what they thought most important, wellness and officer safety came in first. Policies, training, and community engagement followed, and all were tied. That was a survey of 50-60 residents of an area that’s challenging for us to police.

One issue we all face is that you can’t get rid of the “bad apples” until something like George Floyd happens. Something makes the national media, and everyone says, “You disciplined him 19 times and didn’t get rid of him.” They don’t understand the arbitration system and how our hands are tied by arbitrators consistently returning the “bad apples” to the force. Going forward, I think that’s something we have factor in, without throwing out the baby with the bath water and getting rid of qualified immunity. How does somebody like Chauvin stay in a department?


The PERF Critical Issues Report is part of the Critical Issues in Policing project, supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.


PERF also is grateful to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for supporting this work.