March 12, 2022

Profiles of courage in Ukraine, and PERF’s international policing program


Dear PERF members,

In last week’s Trending, I wrote about my Ukrainian friend whom I met in 2006 when I went to Ukraine for the State Department to work with their police.  And once again I feel a need to talk about Ukraine, because who can turn on a TV today and not be riveted by the images coming from there?

On one hand, there’s the raw emotion you feel when you see the wanton killings and attempted destruction of a country. But on the other hand, we’re seeing the inspiring stories of the Ukrainian people rising up against overwhelming odds. The dangers seem daunting and insurmountable, but what I see is these ordinary citizens stepping up to meet an overwhelming challenge, fighting back against the armed invaders.

In policing we talk about leadership. And when is leadership and courage more needed than in a time of crisis?  Ernest Hemingway defined courage as “grace under pressure,” and boy, that sure is what we see in Volodymyr Zelensky – a former comedian, an actor who played a high school teacher who got elected President, and then he was actually elected President!  Here is someone with no political background, and he is standing up and inspiring his nation and the world.

On Tuesday, Mr. Zelensky made a video address to Britain’s Parliament, and he invoked a famous speech by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons, when he said, “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end.… We shall fight on the seas and oceans, … we shall fight on the beaches, …  we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall never surrender.”

You can see how President Zelensky must feel that his situation is similar to what Churchill was facing. Churchill gave that speech on June 4, 1940, as France and other European nations were falling to the Nazis, more than 18 months before the United States entered World War II. Britain really was alone in its fight against Hitler. Today, Ukraine has the moral support and financial backing of almost every country in the world, but no one is sending their armies to Ukraine to help with the fighting.

Members of Parliament standing to applaud President Zelensky’s video speech

But every day we hear new stories about the bravery of Ukrainians. Have you seen the stories about Ukrainian ballet dancers in France returning home and taking up arms to protect their country? 

The New York Times gathered many stories like this, including the man who kneeled in front of a Russian tank,

and another Ukrainian who picked up an unexploded mine on a road and carried it away, while puffing on a cigarette.

The latest news is that Russia keeps widening its attack on Ukraine. Let’s hope that the sanctions against Russia and fierce resistance on the ground will push Putin to stop the violence.


PERF hosts International Collaboration on Policing (ICoP) group in Washington, DC

In policing news and PERF news, this week PERF was honored to host the International Collaboration on Policing (ICoP), a joint initiative between PERF and Police Scotland. This program brings together a dozen Police Scotland officials and a dozen police officials from agencies across the U.S.

They’ve been split up into four smaller groups, each of which is focusing on a specific topic: conflict transformation and de-escalation; public health in policing; command, control, and communications; and recruitment and training.

The group has been meeting virtually for the last 10 months, so everyone was very glad to finally meet in person. They visited the U.S. Capitol Police, the Fairfax County, VA Police Department, and the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department, and they participated in the Law Enforcement and Society program at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The group also heard from Baltimore Police Commissioner Mike Harrison, Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee, and David Friedman from the Anti-Defamation League, and many participants did ride-alongs with the Metropolitan Police Department.

In May, the group will visit Police Scotland to learn about the agency’s training, observe police operations during a major “football” match, and deliver final presentations on their topics.

Many thanks to the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Capitol Police Department, the Fairfax County Police Department, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for generously sharing their time and resources with the ICoP group this week.

The ICoP group at the U.S. Capitol


Farewell to an invaluable member of the PERF team

Finally, I want to pay tribute to my colleague and editorial collaborator, Craig Fischer, who, after 15 great years at PERF, is retiring to spend time with his family, including an adorable new granddaughter.

Craig is one of the most talented and brilliant writers and thinkers that I know. I remember when we were looking for an editor back in 2007, and we interviewed Craig. As part of the interview process, I asked him to look at a publication I had been working on. It was attempting to take the groundbreaking work of my friend, Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great and apply it to policing. I wasn’t happy with what we had put together, so as a “test” before we hired him, I gave the draft to Craig to see how he would recommend making it better. I still remember reading his suggested edits during a plane flight and being thrilled at how he made it come alive.  When I landed, I called Craig and told him he was hired.  The publication is still one of our most sought-after resources.

Craig has been an integral part of every major publication and program that PERF has produced over the past 15 years. Beyond being a gifted writer and editor, Craig is a font of great ideas. Back in 2015 and 2016, PERF was in the middle of our work on use of force, and we had a critical meeting coming up in Washington, D.C. where we planned to present a draft of our guiding principles. As we were making final preparations for the meeting, Craig was the one who said, instead of just presenting the guiding principles through a Power Point, why don’t we put together a small booklet and hand it out. So we sat around and word-smithed our now-famous 30 Guiding Principles on Use of Force, which were presented at the meeting and then, under Craig’s guidance, enshrined in our 2016 publication.

Craig is a force of nature who has an amazing work ethic and is gifted in so many ways. He is one of the main reasons that PERF publications read so well and are so influential in the field. Craig has carefully and creatively edited all of them, and he has made each one better.  We love Craig and will miss him. He is one of a kind.

Craig dressed as a “whistleblower” at a PERF Halloween party

I hope you have a good weekend.