MAPLE was honored to have Ruben Galindo as its guest speaker at this year’s general membership meeting. As a retired Major with 30 years of service on the Miami Dade Police Force, which included six years as District Commander of Miami’s “Liberty City”, Ruben Galindo has learned some very difficult, but critical lessons about policing. During that time, he obtained two Master’s degrees, one in public, and the other in business administration. He is currently the Deputy Chief of Police of the Northeastern University Police Department. Deputy Galindo shared his keen insight into the challenges facing American Police leadership in the 21st century. His presentation was very direct, passionate and no nonsense.
The Deputy found a receptive audience, when he declared that American policing has “failed to evolve”, charging that the police profession continues to retain attitudes, and outlooks rooted in the past. This legacy has prevented the profession from adapting to meet a future, that will place ever- increasing demands on officers and police leaders. This past must be confronted and overcome if the profession is to move forward. Basic to his argument was the question of “what do members of a police department value ?” Galindo said, that a Department values what it celebrates. If officers celebrate brutality, for example, the Department will reflect that. He warned that dehumanization is a strong tendency in policing. Too many officers view the public as comprised of two groups, those worthy of police services and those who are not. This attitude even extends within Departments. Some officers are regarded as “workers”, others “deadbeats”. He asked; what created this division? Everyone started with a positive attitude, how did it deteriorate ? This division carries over to perceptions of police leaders. Many police supervisors are viewed as “headhunters”, looking only to catch subordinates doing something wrong.
Galindo said that the police service must change these attitudes. A culture must develop that values people across the board. No longer can officers look at someone as “just a junkie”. They must look at an addict as someone’s son or daughter. He offered an anecdote about a training experience he directed. He showed a film of an arrest in which a suspect, a cop-killer, was kicked by several officers in the face, after he had submitted to arrest. This resulted in the loss of one of the suspect’s eyes. Galindo heard someone in the training class chuckle at the film. He asked why they thought it was funny ? He acknowledged that the suspect was despicable, but he asked, what was the justification for the brutality? He went onto explain how the act had the effect of shifting the public’s revulsion from the suspect, toward the police. The suspect, despite his act, was someone’s son, or brother. He also was a member of a community. When he was kicked, the officers were in effect kicking the suspect’s family and his community. The action had one effect, to further alienate the police from the community. Galindo said that without support from the community, the police cannot succeed in their mission.
Improving training and instilling an appreciation of the importance of “procedural justice” were cited by Galindo as critical to making the changes that are needed. However, no improvements can move forward, unless and until, a Department’s leadership is able to value its personnel and energize them to get “excited” about helping others. Galindo described this as the roadmap for leading the 21st Century Police force. He said, that it was the responsibility of police leadership to ensure that officers have a safe, supportive and appreciative environment in which to work. He along with Northeastern University Police Chief Mark Davis, were given an opportunity to demonstrate the validity of these new concepts and ideas. Northeastern University has entered into an agreement with the Cambridge Police to serve as the Cambridge Police training academy.