Predictions for How Police Reform Will Play Out in 2022

As we reflect on the events of 2021, there is an anticipation of continued change for 2022.

Police agencies looking to be better prepared this coming year have many considerations.

What will be the ultimate impact of the calls for police reform in 2020 and 2021? What new legislation can agencies expect to contend with? Where is the profession headed?

At the close of the year, it seems that the only thing that law enforcement can expect is more of the unexpected. But while change is a given, how law enforcement organizations respond and adapt is still to be determined. Our commitment to supporting our partners in law enforcement remains a top priority and innovation to support these changes continues to be our focus in 2022.

Public safety perspectives

Read on for insights from others in the industry as they reflect on the future of law enforcement. (Curious about how close we were with the predictions for 2021? Listen here.)

Michael Diekhoff, Chief of Police, Bloomington Police Department

My belief is police reform will continue to move forward in 2022.

As departments start to implement recent legislative changes, more focus will be on training and implementing de-escalation in all aspects of training being presented.

You will see police departments looking at current practices and seeing how they can reduce contacts that might cause harm. From traffic enforcement to routine calls for service, I believe you will see departments reviewing operations to look at ways they can cause less harm.

I also believe you will see agencies looking at how they can incorporate co-response teams or social workers into their operations. Social workers can integrate in many areas of a department. From training, officer wellness, and response to calls for service, this is a new and emerging area that will only continue to grow.

Kelly Alzaharna, Director, New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy

What we’re seeing differently moving towards 2022 is an upswing in verbal support for law enforcement. Unfortunately, it may just be the reverse pendulum swing from all the negativity in early 2021.

Major legislative moves and threats of neutralizing law enforcement varied, and we’ve experienced unprecedented support in discussions regarding law enforcement funding in our state.

However, the law enforcement community is skeptical because 2022 is a short legislative session (30-days) and an election year. There’s a desire for a little less talk and a lot more action.

We’re optimistic about increased funding to tackle some of the baseline issues faced by all law enforcement agencies surrounding hiring, training, and certification.

Pat & Rachelle Burns, Caim Coaching

We see big changes coming in the approach to mental health in law enforcement.

We foresee officers receiving more training on how to better interact with those suffering from mental illness, as well as a greater focus on officer wellness.

With the new 988 mental health crisis line going live next year, now is the perfect time to create a new national model that will alleviate some of the pressure on LEOs in this area.

On the officer wellness front, to survive and thrive in this demanding career, officers need training to develop a more balanced life and enhanced mental resilience.

Ideally, these trainings will also involve the officer’s family or external support systems, so together, they can gain insight and skills to support one another.

2022 is the year for us to make strides in reducing officer suicide.

Richard Myers, Chief (retired)

Futurists don’t make “predictions,” but I will make a forecast based on casual trend analysis.

The “defund” movement holds so many different meanings, ranging from “reallocate” to “do away with the police,” that it will mostly fade from the lexicon in 2022. Voting outcomes in the Fall of 2021 showed that residents in many cities would rather have reforms within their existing police agencies.

While there are some trends indicating an increase in police agencies across the U.S. willing to collaborate with mental health services in responding to persons having mental health crises, there will be hurdles to widespread adoption of this. First, when no police officers are sent on some calls, there is a strong likelihood that social worker/mental health professionals may be harmed or even killed. Second, the “replacements” for police solely responding will not likely sustain a 24/7/365 response capability, resulting in police retaining a higher response than many intend.

In 2022, the distinction between agencies that genuinely pursue a strong collaboration with their community and those who don’t will become more evident; the latter agencies will see a continuation of mistrust and cries for reform than those who draw the community into the reform process while increasing community trust.

Peggy M. Schaefer, Program Director, IADLEST National Certification Program (NCP, INCI, IICI)

In 2022, the community groundswell will continue to push our profession to improve law enforcement training by ensuring national “best practices” in all training curriculum.

IADLEST will lead this effort by helping agencies find qualified training providers that will deliver legally defensible and essential continuing education and academy training to meet citizen expectations.  An exciting, collaborative opportunity exists for academia and police training practitioners to develop best practices and evidence-based training using engaging adult learning strategies transferable to positive and proven performance in the field.

We cannot continue to accept or condone less.

Paul Boulware, Lieutenant (retired)

In the next five years, I am not sure that police reform bills will have much impact on the organizations that have been proactive in professional development with accreditation and best practices.

The organizations that are politically driven with resistance to outside scrutiny will continue to struggle.

We are also going to discover that overwhelming law enforcement will exceed expectations over the media perception. The same as we have discovered with the addition of body-worn cameras.

Eric Aden, Sheriff, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office

I believe that law enforcement and policing in general are ever-evolving.

There are certain constants at the core of public safety, but society and technology—as well as legislation—create constant change. It is law enforcement’s responsibility to meet the demands for better, more effective ways to combat and solve crimes and apprehend suspects.

I believe that we will see technology used in ways like never before. There will be things such as Star Chase, traffic light cameras, LPRs, drones, and BoloWrap deployed that will allow intelligence lead policing to help predict and solve crimes as well as create alternative, less lethal means of resolving violent encounters.

From an employment standpoint, I believe that as long as law enforcement’s authority is diminished through legislation, we will continue struggling to attract qualified candidates to careers in public safety.

Can your agency better prepare for the changes ahead?

While change is the one constant, departments and organizations that adopt an attitude of continuous improvement are better prepared to evolve with the changing circumstances they will find themselves in.

Curious to see where your organization stacks up in terms of readiness for 2022?

Posted on Jan 6, 2022