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Wisconsin to Host Midwest Conference on 21st Century Policing

The Midwest Conference on 21st Century Policing, to be held Oct. 7 at UW-Platteville, will discuss the rapid evolution of community police departments into paramilitary organizations. Credit: usdoj.gov
The Midwest Conference on 21st Century Policing, to be held Oct. 7 at UW-Platteville, will discuss the rapid evolution of community police departments into paramilitary organizations. Credit: usdoj.gov
September 30, 2015

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. - The militarization of local policing will be one of the principal topics at the Midwest Conference on 21st Century Policing, to be held Oct. 7 at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. A number of nationally-known policing experts will lead discussions on topics including how policing has changed since the terror attacks 14 years ago.

Since the attacks, police have been losing the trust of the community, said Nino Amato, a UW-Platteville lecturer and moderator of the conference.

"When 9/11 happened, we had the back-door militarization of our police departments, and here lies the paradox," he said. "Instead of going into neighborhoods to find out where the criminals are, and the potential terrorists, we militarized our police departments, and as a result, we've broken that trust."

Amato said that post-9/11, local police took on a role that was once the exclusive job of the National Guard, adopting military tactics that often are at odds with community policing goals. Community trust of police is key to stability and the safe delivery of police services, he said.

The conference, which is open to the public, will focus on ways to adopt the recommendations of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

According to Amato, a number of recent, nationally publicized police events have exposed the rift in the relationship between the police and the communities they serve. He said local policing needs to return to the role it held prior to the terror attacks, when the militarization of local police departments began.

"With it became militarized training - the use of deadly force, versus neighborhood and community policing and the restraint of deadly force and other alternatives," he said, "and we need to get back to where we were before the terrorist attacks, before all the hysteria."

The conference will involve not just policing experts, but elected officials and other community leaders. Amato said the way forward is not a job solely involving changes regarding police policy and procedure, but must include elected officials, a diversity of community leaders, and citizen involvement.

Learn more or register online at improvingpolice.wordpress.com.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI