Last week’s case study raised some critical issues, so let’s try another.
Again, put yourself in the position of police chief. Examine this case study not as an individual of a particular race, but just as a chief who has to solve a problem. Engage in critical thinking from a leadership perspective. This is a recent case that you may recall. A white police sergeant arrested a black professor and the President weighed in, criticizing the police.
The quote below is from a newspaper article:
“Professor Gates is jimmying his own locked door because he left his keys somewhere. Someone calls the police regarding this “suspicious” behavior — probably understandable, white or black. But when the police arrive, Gates doesn’t see a routine investigation by the police. He sees a white police officer assuming the worst in the behavior of a black man. The professor is a black man in America. A man who has seen the worst in racial bigotry — indeed a man who has studied all the aspects of racial relations in America. A man who has hair-trigger assumptions running around in his head based on real-life experiences. He gets angry — not just at this police officer, but at the injustices that relate to racial confrontations between black America and law enforcement.
Sgt. James Crowley is called in to do a routine investigation of a possible burglary. He has unique qualifications in race relations — he taught a class on racial profiling. All he knows as he approaches the house is that somebody tried to enter the house without a key. The man he confronts is black — and as a police officer he understands the inherent suspicion of police in the African-American community. He starts out calmly, but the man becomes angry quickly. It becomes clear that the man is who he says he is, but the belligerence continues and escalates. As a police officer, he must regain control of the situation.
And then there is President Obama. Not just an aloof arbiter of opinion but also a black man in America. And a black man who knows Gates personally. It is difficult not to weigh in on such a situation that the president knows has meaning to the racial norms of a complicated society.”
As the police chief, look carefully at the issues. Go online and learn more. Who was right and who was wrong? What lessons can be learned from this that can be applied to your department? How will you prevent this from happening in your department?
Keep up the insightful questions to your classmates!