DAY ONE: 10 Strategies for Introducing Students to Law Enforcement in the United States

Like No Other Profession on Earth

The Pillars of Democracy:

Why Should I Care?

Who You Gonna Call?

10.18.69: A Day Without Police


Our Secret Weapon in Crime Fighting [it ain’t CSI]


Based on a True Story


The first day of your program is the most important. It will set the tone of the entire program.

Your cadets will not only be sizing you up, but they will be forming opinions about law enforcement in general.

DAY ONE: in the United States

The following is intended for use with the Junior Police Academy program. JPA inspires young people to be outstanding citizens by introducing them to the vital role law enforcement plays in America.

We welcome all educators to use this material as a way of engaging young people in civics and their role as good citizens.

You are about to take young people on an incredible journey. Law enforcement is a profession steeped in mythology, with larger than life characters. Your job is to not only do your profession justice, you also need to inspire some buy in from your students. They need to understand that they are stake-holders in this drama.

The journey you about to undertake is no slow stroll through history – it is about building a better communities and citizens and law enforcement are equally responsible for creating a safer, more just future.

What follows are 10 suggested strategies for getting the Academy off to dramatic start. If this class is a novel, each of these examples are the “preface”.

Each are written in the voice of the law enforcement instructor.

Each provides the framework for a potentially compelling narrative, but ultimately it is the story of your profession. Make it your own.

Presentation materials are or will be available for all 10 Strategies. Links will be provided when they become available. Each can be customized as you see fit.

[As only one of these strategies can used on Day One, we encourage you to incorporate the others into the schedule to introduce various subjects in the course.]

Introduce yourself....

Good morning cadets. My name is Officer Sam Jones, I serve as a School Resource Officer with the Smithville Police Department.

Welcome to the Junior Police Academy.

In this Academy you will learn about my profession – law enforcement.

Graduation from an actual law enforcement academy, like the one I attended, the Smithville County Law Enforcement Academy, was required before I could be placed on active duty.

Graduation from the Junior Police Academy will not make you eligible for active duty with the Smithville Police Department.  

It does, however, confer on you a certain rank and distinction that we hope will follow you into adulthood.

You will graduate from the academy with a special insight into policing that few citizens possess.

Let me explain.....

Like No Other Profession on Earth

Imagine it’s your job to uphold the law fairly and firmly.

You must strive to prevent crime.

When a crime is committed, you must pursue and bring to justice those responsible.

You need to be professional, calm and restrained in the face of violence and apply only that force which is necessary.

You must protect, help and reassure all members of your community, striving to reduce their fear of crime.

In doing these things, you must be compassionate, courteous and patient, acting without fear or favor or prejudice to the rights of others.  

You must act with integrity, common sense and sound judgement in all that you do – while on-duty and off.

You will experience life like no other profession on earth. You witness the best and the worst behavior in your fellow citizens. You must deal with good people on their worse day and bad people on their best.

People at their extremes – not from the comfort of a classroom – but in your face or worse yet, just over your shoulder.

As a police officer, you don’t read about history, you are an eyewitness, sometimes a participant.

You must possess good judgement and display character. Why?

Because you are entrusted with enormous power: to deprive a fellow citizen of their liberty. As a police officer you are entrusted with the power to take into custody citizens – by force if necessary.

On rare occasions, you may even have to use lethal force and deprive a citizen of  their life.

The Pillars of Democracy:

As enforcers of the law, police play a crucial role in upholding democracy.

In democratic societies, citizens grant increased authority to police in order to live in a safe community. They give police the power to detain, search, arrest citizens, and lawfully use physical force when situations dictate.

This authority is unlike any granted to other members of the government. In this sense, police officers are the very pillars of a democratic society.

There is a social contract between citizens and law enforcement officers. This Trust is critical to a functioning democracy.

In the United States our rights are set forth in the United States Constitution. They are the rightful heritage of every citizen.

In a very real way, day in and day out, it is a police officers’ responsibility to safeguard a citizens’ constitutional rights.

The way that police officers talk to citizens;

the way that they interact during a traffic stop;

every sentence that they put together; every comment that they make to the community...

...all have a profound impact on how citizens view their government at large.

Every time a police officer has contact with the public, the citizen who is involved makes a judgement.

And studies have shown that the single most determining factor for how a citizen evaluates that contact is not “did I received a ticket”, but rather “was I treated fairly.”

How a citizen answers that question will renew or erode their confidence in democracy and the fairness of our system of government.

Life is Not Fair. But I Am

The police are the most visible pillars of a decent, harmonious society. When they act with predictability, restraint, and fealty to the rule of law, ordinary people gain faith in their government.

When the most dispossessed person in the poorest neighborhood receives the same treatment as the rich man living high upon the hill, civil society is strengthened and the police are ennobled.

The Guarantors of Personal Dignity

No doubt some will protest that human dignity-centered policing is a simplistic solution to a set of complex, often unique police challenges. But as the most visible public institution that is charged with maintaining justice, the police in their ordinary duties have the power to be guarantors of personal dignity and even-handed treatment — truly heroic figures in their own right.

These duties are a professional calling. They cannot be outsourced or privatized.

Why Should I Care?

In the Junior Police Academy you will learn what police do and how they do it.

Knowledge and insight into the world of policing is something that is important to me; it’s important to this community; and it's important to this country.

Why is that so important?


It's important because everything I do, everything my fellow officers do, everything the sheriff's department and the state police and the FBI and all the branches of law enforcement do...we do in your name.

And your name. And yours.

Public safety is ultimately the responsibility of the entire community.

In a democracy, police officers draw their power from you.

What I do, I do in your name, and your father's name, your mother's name and every member of the community.

As a police officer, you are entrusted with enormous power. I can detain you and, at least temporarily, deprive you of your liberty.

How that power is applied is ultimately a reflection of the community, of you, its citizens.

So understanding what I do, is essential if you are to exercise your citizenship with wisdom and sound judgement.

Advanced Citizenship

Almost every country in the world has some kind of fundamental document, a constitution, if you will. A crucial part of any written constitution is the guarantee of citizens’ rights. In America, this is called the Bill of Rights.

It is in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, that the most basic American freedoms are guaranteed — like the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press. Americans sometimes feel dissatisfied with the policies and practices of those who govern.

But in fact, American citizens are ultimately responsible for protecting their own rights.

“In the United States we need the citizens to be educated so they can do their part when there are elections. You need citizens who understand the role of each branch of government because young people don’t inherit the concepts through the gene pool, every generation has to learn it.

And that’s true around the world — you need education, first and foremost about the system of government and how the citizens can play a role in it, and I think this is of critical importance.”

Justice O’Connor

Who You Gonna Call?


From space it is an oasis of calm and tranquility.

Let's pretend for a moment that this is the first time you have seen our planet.

You have traveled to Earth because you have heard our ideas about freedom and democracy and you are Earth's future leaders.

You are determined to be enlightened leaders, using these words as your guide and inspiration:

"...establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

These words, from the preamble to the United States Constitution,recognize the rights of each person to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

As our future leaders, you are determined to live up to those ideals.

As a law enforcement officer, I was proud to swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. So I commend you on your principles.

I should warn you however, those ideals are also ambitious.

As Earth's future leaders, you need to understand that Earth only appears tranquil from space.

Beautiful, but Deadly

To really understand what you have inherited, you must come down to Earth. You will see a world that is beautiful, yet complicated and dangerous.

And while much of the Earth's inhabitants live in relative freedom, free will comes at a price.

Many free individuals who do not respect the rights of others.

They cheat, steal, act recklessly and prey on others. Some willfully or negligently contaminate our resources. They exploit, abuse, subjugate and kill others out of greed, passion, prejudice, malice and madness.

The Earth is also a place of horrific violence. Danger springs out of nowhere: animals turn aggressive, boats capsize, people lose their way.

It’s not only people who are dangerous, nature too has the power to kill and devastate lives.

Given all these factors, there are some who claim that your commitment to freedom is not possible – not if we are also to be safe. They claim that free will is simply not compatible with the dangers and complications of life on Earth.

In fact, throughout history, governments, acting to insure domestic tranquility, have time and again denied the blessings of liberty to the living. Citizens are told that freedom is too dangerous.


You, however, are committed to providing both safety and liberty. And you have a magnificent resource at your command:  American law enforcement.

Spread out across the country and the world, these are the people who serve justice, while preserving the rights of of every man and woman to live in freedom.

Here in the Junior Police Academy you will be provided insights into how law enforcement and our system of criminal justice works. And, how it is different from other countries.

In fact, police departments the world over face no greater challenge than fostering humane and ethical policing which puts the common good at the center of all that they do.

You will learn that law enforcement in the United States aspires to these standards not only because they are enlightened, but also because we learned long ago that fighting crime and public safety is better achieved with the support of our citizens

10.18.69: A Day Without Police

I have a question:

Police. Who needs them?

What would happen if tomorrow there were no police?


It just so happens, this hypothesis has been tested.

Ask the citizens of Montreal.

Thursday, Oct. 17, 1969

Montreal, Canada

A decision is made that would thrust the city into chaos and answer the age old question: What would happen it there were no police.

Earlier this same month, Montreal’s provincial government proposes to effectively cut the benefits of the city's police officers in half while doubling their work load.

Thursday, Oct. 17, 1969, Montreal’s police force, numbering some 4000 officers respond.

They will all be taking a day-off  to consider the offer.  Metropolitan firefighters join in solidarity.

That evening, the citizens of Montreal are told that as of 8:00 A.M the next day, all police services would cease.

Friday, Oct. 18, 1969

8:00 AM., There are no police on duty.

To the citizens of Montreal, the morning seemed like any other. Then, it started.

By 11:20 A.M. the first bank is robbed.

By noon most downtown stores closed because of widespread looting.

Shop owners, many of them armed, struggle to fend off looters.

City authorities finally call in the army and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to restore order. Before it’s over, 108 are arrested, six banks were robbed and more than 100 shops are looted. The city is in a state of shock after what newspapers call “a night of terror.”

So again I ask: police, who needs them?


Begin your story....

The year is 1829.

The place is London.

Crime is out of control. Most murderers go unpunished. Law enforcement is left to night watchmen and unpaid constables who are often corrupt or privately employed.

In steps Sir Robert Peel.  

Peel does something that at first is unpopular. He established the Metropolitan Police Force for London based at Scotland Yard.

1,000 citizens are hired to work for the Metropolitan Police Force. They are called constables.

Three things happen very quickly.

The constables cut crime in a city plagued with lawless behavior.

The idea of maintaining a police force wins public approval.

Over time, the constables are affectionately nicknamed  'Bobbies' after Robert Peel.

It was in 1829 that Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force for London based at Scotland Yard. The 1,000 constables employed were affectionately nicknamed 'Bobbies' or, somewhat less affectionately, 'Peelers' (both terms are still used today).

Although unpopular at first they proved very successful in cutting crime in London, and by 1857 all cities in the UK were obliged to form their own police forces.

Defining the perfect police officer.

Peel is known today as the father of modern policing, but his greatest contribution was that he took the time to establish some ground rules for police officers within a free and just society.

Now let’s talk about modern policing. You might be surprised to learn that the essential code police uphold has not changed much.

Oath of Honor

The following Law Enforcement Oath of Honor is recommended as by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as symbolic statement of commitment to ethical behavior:

        On my honor,

        I will never betray my badge,

        my integrity, my character,

        or the public trust.

        I will always have

        the courage to hold myself

        and others accountable for our actions.

        I will always uphold the constitution,

        my community, and the agency I serve.

Discuss what the oath means and what the practical implications of upholding the oath are on the street.


Discuss the moral standards police must adopt, not only on the job, but in your personal life as well:

A.  Demonstrate impartiality and neutrality in decision making.

Police agencies are a shared social resource. They must provide fair access to their services while avoiding favoritism and neglect.  All citizens have a right to the services of the police based upon relative need.  


B. Demonstrate absolute honesty and never abuse power or authority

Through a social contract with the government citizens surrender some of their own power and freedom to authorize and empower police to act on their behalf.  Citizens trust their police to use this awesome power with restraint and for the public good.

C. Maintain Objectivity

Police Officer's must put personal feelings aside when serving the public and avoid the polar extremes of cynicism or over-involvement.  Police are often called upon to serve as society's referee and therefore must maintain a non-partisan attitude.

Our Secret Weapon in Crime Fighting [it ain’t CSI]

The cooperation of the public is critical to effective policing.


Commissioner Ed Davis with the Boston Police Department explains it this way:

“A good homicide detective will tell you that we don't solve homicides through CSI.  CSI is helpful; evidence is something that we have to be looking at.  But we solve homicides because people tell us who did it.  

“If people don't trust us, then they will not tell us who did it, no matter what the case is.  Every encounter that they have can either make or break the reputation of the police department.  It can establish a good relationship or not with someone who may be a witness to a homicide, with someone who may hold information that is crucial to the biggest case that the police department works on in a particular time frame.”  

“Terrorism cases, homicide cases, kidnapping cases, they all hinge upon our ability to establish a trusting relationship with the community and getting that community to reach out to us when they have information



That is the percentage of  health-care workers in the New York region would report for work in the event of a radiological event, according to a survey by the Red Cross.

In other words, almost half of a hospital's staff stays home.

Now, what percent of police officers would report for duty?

FACT:  It would fall upon public safety to answer the call of duty and shoulder a large part of the burden in the event of a catastrophic disaster.

Assisting people in need is a huge part of what police do.

Police officers must be willing to make personal sacrifices, even risking their own well-being. This is a quality essential to building a better nation and improving living conditions for our families, and their posterity.

Discuss the idea of a social contract.

Additional Information:

Radiological Dispersion methods can be:

"Dirty Bomb" = Explosive method of dispersion

Explosion produces radioactive and nonradioactive shrapnel and radioactive dust causing:

Based on a True Story

These are the “Skills Critical to a Good Police Officer”. Review them with your cadets, investing your own experience. How did mastering (or not mastering) these skills impact your professional duties.

Critical Thinking

Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

"Something's Wrong Here"

The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

Straight Talker

The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Listen Up

Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Reaction Time or Quick and the Dead

The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.

Frame the Facts

Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

Problem Solved

Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

People Skills

Ability to deal directly with the public.

Conflict Resolution

Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Want to Make a Difference

Actively looking for ways to help people.


Welcome to the world of American criminal justice.

Behind all the acronyms, heavy equipment and cutting edge technology, American criminal justice ultimately is about people.

More than 900,000 of them. That’s the number of sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States, which is the highest figure ever. About 12 percent of those are female.

You will have an opportunity to meet some of these individuals over the course of this Academy in the form of guest speakers.

Why do we need so many?


That’s the estimated number of violent crimes committed in the United States in 2008, as well as an estimated 16.3 million property crimes (according to the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics).

Measure Success

Violent and property crime rates in 2008 remain at the lowest levels recorded since 1973, the first year that such data were collected. The rate of every major violent and property crime measured by BJS fell between 1999 and 2008. The overall violent crime rate fell 41 percent and the property crime rate declined by 32 percent during the last 10 years.

Lower Crime Rates Come at a Price

Crime fighting takes its toll. Since the first recorded police death in 1791, there have been over 19,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Currently, there are 19,298 names engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

A total of 1,626 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the past 10 years, an average of one death every 53 hours or 163 per year. There were 116 law enforcement officers killed in 2009, the lowest annual total since 1959.

On average, more than 58,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted each year, resulting in approximately 16,000 injuries.