Recent events in Baltimore, Maryland; Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere have brought national attention to the connections among police practices, violence and community progress. How can police and communities stop entrenched patterns of conflict? In this interview, Megan Price (MP), Director of the Insight Conflict Resolution Program at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and Bruce A. Blitman (BAB), longtime mediator and Florida Bar member, discuss Insight Policing and the innovative ways in which it can improve police-community relations for the safety of the public.
1. BAB: What is Insight Policing?
MP: Insight Policing is a community-based, problem-solving, communication skill set for officers of all ranks. It is based on the principles of Insight Conflict Analysis and Resolution that recognize that conflict behavior—those fight, flight, freeze things we do when we feel threatened and choose to defend ourselves—is often at the base of criminal behavior, whether that criminal behavior is violent assault, petty theft or noncompliance with a police officer. At the same time, Insight Policing skills help officers recognize and temper their own impulses toward conflict behavior, so they can maintain a controlled and engaged presence with community members that doesn’t escalate. What is unique about Insight Policing skills is that they position officers to identify, deescalate, understand and productively manage conflict behavior in civilian encounters, thereby enhancing trust and legitimacy.