This episode features Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe, a professor from Temple University. Jerry is a former British police officer, author of many articles and books on Reducing Crime and Intelligence-led Policing. He is the host of the monthly podcast, Reducing Crime.
We spoke about the state of policing, leadership, the future of policing and the good work done by police agencies.
Hope you find the interview witty, interesting, and informative.
This episode features Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe, a professor from Temple University. Jerry is a former British police officer, author of many articles and books on Reducing Crime and Intelligence-led Policing. He is the host of the monthly podcast, Reducing Crime.
We spoke about the state of policing, leadership, the future of policing and the good work done by police agencies.
Hope you find the interview witty, interesting, and informative.
[00:00:02.640] - Intro
Welcome to The CopDoc Podcast. This podcast explores police leadership issues and innovative ideas, the cop dog shares thoughts and ideas as he talks with leaders in policing, communities, academia and other government agencies. And now please join Dr. Steve Morreale and industry thought leaders as they share their insights and experience on The CopDoc Podcast.
[00:00:44.210] - Steve Morreale
Hello, everybody, this is Steve Morreale from Boston, and I have the pleasure of talking to Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe, who is sitting in the Philadelphia area.
[00:00:51.800] - Steve Morreale
Jerry is a former British police officer, a professor, consultant and the host of his own podcast called Reducing Crime. You works at Temple University, and we're glad to have him.
[00:01:01.130] - Steve Morreale
Good morning to you, Jerry.
[00:01:02.270] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Nice to see you, Stephen. You've given the game away because, you know, I always think that my accent really tells people that I'm clearly from the Philadelphia region, the south side of village.
[00:01:13.100] - Jerry Ratcliffe
That's right. Yeah. So suddenly, suddenly eagles green, apparently.
[00:01:16.250] - Steve Morreale
Yeah, that's a good one.
[00:01:18.350] - Steve Morreale
So talk about yourself, if you wouldn't mind, just to let the listeners know what your trajectory is. You know, where how you came to the United States after being a police officer, know what's your past? How did you become a police officer and why did you leave? And what are you doing now?
[00:01:32.150] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Well, the best way to describe it is I kind of fell into this career and I use the word literally correctly for once in that I grew up in Glasgow in Scotland and ran away from home when I was 17. I joined the police because the circus wasn't in town, but found that pretty much people in leadership positions had about the same ethos but loved the job. I joined the police at 17. I was a cadet for a year and then went to training school and then found myself on the streets of East London.
[00:01:56.750] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And within 20 minutes of joining my shift on my relief, the guys that I would work with for a number of years, I found myself in a nightclub full of pepper spray and people getting assaulted. And I thought, I love this job. This is the best thing ever. It's fantastic. And I loved policing, but I also like traveling and seeing a bit of the world. And I was actually big into ice climbing. And in my late 20s, I was ice climbing in the Scottish Highlands.
[00:02:20.720] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And a little known fact, the gravity in Scotland is much stronger than anywhere else in the world. And I managed to slide off a cliff edge and fell about three or four hundred feet and landed feet first on rocks, snapped my finger in half, and it took me a year to learn to walk again properly without like a walking stick or a limp. And that was pretty much the end of my policing career. So I did 11 years in the police service.
[00:02:42.140] - Jerry Ratcliffe
I spent five or six years in the east end of London. I spent a couple of years in central London doing Rolton Diplomatic Protection. I worked intelligence for a while, but after 11 years, that was it. So I got myself an undergraduate degree. I was invited to stay at university and do a PhD, so I did a PhD in spatial and temporal crime analysis technique. And the nice thing about academia is that, well, there's two nice things about it.
[00:03:03.530] - Jerry Ratcliffe
First, nobody shoots at you and then that's a plus that we really have to appreciate. And the second is that you can travel. So I love traveling and I managed to get myself a job in Australia and working in Australia was fantastic. I taught crime intelligence, the New South Wales Police College with Charles Sturt University run the National Strategic Intelligence Course for the Australian government. But it was a long way from home. It was a long way from family.
[00:03:25.580] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And I want to go a little bit closer. And I also studied high volume crime. And Australia is really not a lot of crime in Australia. That kind of lucky in that regard. I thought, well, where could I go to where there's lots and lots of crime. So for the last 20 years, I've been in Philadelphia
[00:03:38.000] - Steve Morreale
Because there's crime there, Gerry.
[00:03:39.200] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Once, just a little bit at the moment, unless we can get a handle on it, we're on track to have the highest number of homicides this year. It's still early March, but we're on track to have the highest number of homicides the city's ever had. So that's not a good sign. It's a challenging time right now.
[00:03:53.510] - Steve Morreale
So you're at Temple University, which is in Philadelphia, and you travel and you become engaged with so many different departments, both here and abroad. Talk about that work and how it feeds into your teaching.
[00:04:04.820] - Jerry Ratcliffe
There's a great deal to be said for having the capacity to see other places and to bring ideas from one place to another. There is a little bit of a tendency in police departments to be a tad myopic when they're looking around for an idea. They kind of look around who are the neighboring police departments and what are they doing? And that's about as far as people tend to reach, as you know yourself, Steve. So it's nice to be able to I love getting in front of people and talking to them, and I love working with police department.
[00:04:30.020] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And if I got a chance to work with the police department for a day or two, I'll always going to ride along with spend time on the streets with them if possible. I learn more from just sitting in a police car with a cop for a few hours. Then I often do it in management meetings, management meetings. Do you get the showy this is what the public front, what we want people to see. You sit in a police car and some of the back streets in some cities, you get to see and hear what it really is like.
[00:04:51.290] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But it's nice to be able to bring them things from different places. So, you know, one of the safest countries, one of the best police departments in the world I've ever seen is New Zealand. But you can bring them concepts from New Zealand. And then I can also speak with with a little bit of knowledge about places like El Salvador, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, where the challenges for policing are huge and the risks to police officers are huge.
[00:05:12.320] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So you can bring a whole range of these different ideas. And it's nice to be able to cherry pick specific strategies and tactics and ideas. If you can see from a range of places and tailor those to a department that I work with or, you know, that's really nice to be able to do that. And you can only do that if you get out and actually go and see these places.
[00:05:29.930] - Steve Morreale
Well, Covid has impacted both of us and not being able to travel right now. So I'm sure we're both antsy to get to a different place to do some of those things, even around the country. Well, talk about your academic side or your teaching side of. Are you teaching now and what if so or in the last little bit, what are you teaching
[00:05:47.460] - Jerry Ratcliffe
At the moment I'm teaching in this used in law enforcement class to graduate students. And it's really interesting because I've taught it on and off for a number of years.
[00:05:54.690] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But the change in policing, the change in the public's perception of policing post George Floyd and the change, especially in younger students. So people who are in their early 20s who don't necessarily have a long Jabateh, a view that goes back 20, 30, 40 years is really interesting because they teach the recent situation as not a change, because it's really as much as they've known in their adult lives the last few years. So what's been interesting is to to track with the students and work through and think about what the short term implications of some things are and to think about where the long term is.
[00:06:31.740] - Jerry Ratcliffe
It's very interesting, if challenging, to be talking about policing right now. So we've seen a massive pendulum swing. And it yeah, there's certainly this is one of the first times in a long time when we're really having interesting discussions around how much policing we want and in some more extreme cases, whether we want policing at all. And there's a tendency, I think, to think that those are you know, they can only be good things. But, you know, when we're thinking in terms of talking about victimization and talk about the number of victims, there are crime and the protections they need and the justice that we should help bring to their lives.
[00:07:07.110] - Jerry Ratcliffe
I think a lot of the people who are discussing, for example, abolish policing or different policing haven't really thought about the possibility that those things could that could be what we call iatrogenic. That could actually be harmful. And I don't think that's coming up in conversations enough. Always a good time in a democracy to talk about policing and to be aware of the problems that we have in policing and definitely have to address. But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
[00:07:30.930] - Jerry Ratcliffe
You know, think about what we might want to improve and enhance rather than necessarily abandoned communities that need the police most to to their own devices, because that could be tragic.
[00:07:41.280] - Steve Morreale
So the police are under fire now. And certainly what we ask people to do who are in uniform is difficult you're called to situations that are in the worst times, and many of them are social issues. And so we start talking about, well, maybe we could put social workers, let them respond or maybe have a co-response. So what's your feeling about that? In my estimation, one of the things that has caused this is that social work that all of a sudden seems to be sold as a panacea is not a 24/7 job.
[00:08:09.660] - Steve Morreale
Very difficult for police to call somebody from child or family services on a Friday or Saturday. They inherit that problem until they come back. So I think we have defunded or underfunded social services and now we want to shift money from one to the other.
[00:08:23.400] - Steve Morreale
What's your thought about that? If somebody came to you and say, hey, they're talking about this in our department in New York or Philadelphia, Chicago, what would you say? What kind of conversation would you say to the leadership about how to handle how to respond to that?
[00:08:37.350] - Jerry Ratcliffe
That's a really good question. And there are lots and lots of components to this. The first is that at least an initial take is ideally, I think, a lot of people in policing. Yeah, that's a great idea. Please take away a lot of these cases because, one, we shouldn't be dealing with them. And two, we don't want to be dealing with. That's the ideal. But then you hit the reality, which is for decades we've underfunded social services across the United States and in many countries.
[00:09:01.320] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So, you know, it's a great idea. Let's defund policing it. You know, it sounds great and let's put the money into social services.
[00:09:09.030] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But while you're defunding policing now, it might take a decade to get those services up to the up to speed up to the capacity so that they're responding. You know, it's great to say on a Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 in the afternoon, let's see if we can find a social worker. You come out in the snow at three o'clock in the morning on a January day, you know, and you can hardly fight down in a snow ridden roads and there's a blizzard taking place.
[00:09:30.930] - Jerry Ratcliffe
You know, it's damn difficult to find somebody willing to take on a job, you know, and of course, the appeal of it is we probably pay them less as well. There's some work I've been doing in Philadelphia right now. I've been working with the transit police in Philadelphia, and I've with my graduate student, Hayley. We've been doing over three hundred hours of ride along and we just showed released a video. So your listeners can if they Google Oscar one, it's the Kensington Transit Corridor Overdose Response Study.
[00:09:57.330] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And there's like it's a 40-minute documentary that shows responses and quotes and in interviews with police officers who are trying to deal with social issues in the largest open-air drug market in the United States. And it shows the complexity of the issues. There's a lot of right along footage. There's a lot of video. You can actually see what Kensington in Philadelphia looks like, the worst drug market probably in the country.
[00:10:19.950] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And the challenges are huge because it's difficult to find enough social work support. But also there are a lot of people there who are comfortable living on the streets and OK with being involved in the drug market. It's not a simple question of providing more resources. It's a challenge of getting people to want to engage with and take, but engage with those resources and that. Lee moved to shelters and moved to facilities, so it's not as simple as people think.
[00:10:48.230] - Jerry Ratcliffe
A second thing. I've also been working on and just recently published a short paper on policing and public health rules for service in Philadelphia. Again, if you Google that, it's an open source, open access paper. It's only five pages long, but it shows one year of all the cat. The cat calls for service in Philadelphia. That's one point zero seven million calls. And those are just the calls that the public called and the police officers are dispatched to.
[00:11:13.610] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And that's over a million calls. And I pull out the public health one. But what's interesting about them is when you look at the ones that end up with, say, a mental health outcome, a third of those calls didn't originate as a health call. So you could think, OK, for the health calls that come in, we have a health public health crisis type call. It doesn't seem to be violent. We can send a social worker in theory.
[00:11:33.170] - Jerry Ratcliffe
That's a great idea. But the reality is when I looked at the dispositions and how these calls ended, what you can see is they start as a whole bunch of other things. Nobody really knows what the call is. So in the end, you have to send a police officer. And I think that's one of the challenges. And I kind of summarize it by saying, you know, sometimes the only way to tell if you need a police response is to send a police response.
[00:11:52.970] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So the complexity of just saying, oh, will send social workers, that's really not that easy. The transit police in Philadelphia, SEPTA Transit Police, actually have a pilot program at the moment where they're sending police officers out with social workers. And I've spoken to the social worker and I've you know, for each one of them, I've spoken and interviewed as part of the project and said, you know, would you like to go and do this on your own?
[00:12:12.290] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Oh, no, no. It's really nice to have a police officer there because we're going into some sketchy area.
[00:12:18.320] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So, again, we've got this complexity, the simplicity of the idea and the sound bite. And it sounds great on Twitter and the reality when you actually spend time on the street. And I think more people would know that if more researchers and more academics actually spent time on the streets.
[00:12:32.480] - Steve Morreale
I think that's fascinating what you're talking about, the fact that you're involved in action research. In fact, Gary Cordner, who I've interviewed for this has not yet been released, but he indicated sort of the same thing. But use the word ambiguous that so many calls are ambiguous. That's exactly what you're saying in that paper, that we don't know what we're going out to until, you know, who knows how the call came in. Any number of calls come in.
[00:12:53.220] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So I appreciate that point of view. Go ahead. Yeah, there's the chart that's in the paper.
[00:12:57.350] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Again, it's free access. It's as though it's from the journal Crime Science. But there's the chart that I think people will find useful. And it's got three colors in gray. You've got public health calls coming in at one end and public and being disposed of as a public health code blue. You have calls that come in as public health and end up as something else to end up as crime. They end up as a community incident. They end up as traffic calls.
[00:13:17.000] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And then you've got in red, you'll see other calls that come in as something else, suspicious activity. And it ends up in the health court. The complexity around policing is lost on people who have no experience of the job. Yet people seem very happy and easy to communicate their thoughts on the matter without really understanding it. And I think that problem is getting worse with open data source. It's now open data sources are great. We should have more transparency in all of our government.
[00:13:43.070] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So this is not a critique of that area, but it's now just too easy for academics and researchers, especially in fields that are not directly related to the criminal justice system, to download the data set, do some fancy analysis and publish their thoughts on the matter without really understanding that each one of them contains the context for my graduate students.
[00:14:02.480] - Jerry Ratcliffe
They get advanced and they go out and they go and write longs because they have to understand that it's not just a dot on a map. It's a victim of crime. Crying their eyes out on the shoulder of a police officer in their life savings have been taken all one hundred and fifty dollars, or that one piece of item that was had huge sentimental value from that was robbed.
[00:14:22.280] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And it's too easy to see that as just a data point or as a as a dot on a map or one of an aggregate data set. But having done the job for 11 years, I can still remember so many of the victims of crime and some of the scenes and the places I went to where it was just devastating for those people. And they never recovered from that. And I tried to make sure that at that context comes across to the students and the people I work with.
[00:14:45.800] - Steve Morreale
Well, Jerry, you impress me as a person who is a Pracademic.
[00:14:49.310] - Jerry Ratcliffe
That's rare, I don't genrally impress anybody, mate.
[00:14:51.200] - Steve Morreale
Well, you're doing a great job. YOu're doing a great job!
[00:14:54.290] - Jerry Ratcliffe
That's all smoke and mirrors, my friend.
[00:14:56.390] - Steve Morreale
But what I find interesting is I think you have used you have you sort of leveraged your experience, as I get to do, having served myself and to and to take a look at it from the perspective of the police and the community. And I think that gives you a complete and you're also providing your students a great glimpse of what really happens and the feeling that you have when you're out there, the fear sometimes that you have the uphill battle that police officers find themselves in, sometimes as a single person showing up for a call and to expose your students to that is it's amazing and interesting.
[00:15:31.880] - Jerry Ratcliffe
You mention that because in the Oscar 1 video that's available on free online is there is there's a knife, there's a knife fight in it. And this is one of the other complexities that you only really understand when you're. Actually spend time out there because the knife I ended up is just being an assault record, OK? But otherwise you would ignore that, but have actually been there. I was there with the officer who's doing the social work on the on the Oscar one detail when this guy came falling down the stairs of the train station saying to stop each other up there and there was another officer present.
[00:16:02.930] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But this is something that gets lost on this rush towards compartmentalizing into things like social work is that if there been social workers there, they wouldn't have dealt with a knife fight. I don't think it's reasonable to ask them to do that. But when police officers who I still think do a decent job around social work, it's not like they do a bad job. But when they're not dealing with the social work aspect of the job, they're also available to go and deal with the knife fight and to stop somebody getting stabbed to death.
[00:16:26.670] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And I think these are the contextual parts that is lost in so much of the discussion. We'll just move all of this stuff to social work. That's great. And I'm sure they will do a better job when they're not doing that. What else are they doing? And they're not dealing with the knife fights and they're not chasing the burglars down the street. And they're not reassuring people that the train station is safe.
[00:16:46.320] - Steve Morreale
You make such sense, and I'm so glad to be able to talk to you. So you've written some some pretty interesting books and many articles. I know one of them is Intelligence-led Policing. And I think you served as a leader internationally on that. Talk a little bit about how that came to pass. How did that become an area of interest to you?
[00:17:04.950] - Jerry Ratcliffe
I spent a little bit of time when I was with the Metropolitan Police in a divisional intelligence information unit, and we were low on intelligence and not doing much better in terms of information either.
[00:17:16.620] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But I remember thinking there are some things that there are some tools here. There are some knowledge that exists in what used to be called the collattor's office, which is a terrible name, because you end up doing is collecting information. It should have been called the Disseminators Office, and then we would actually be giving it out.
But there's a lot of knowledge that's tied up in this and none of that. When I started working in academia and I started spending, I was lucky enough to start spending time in the executive offices with police leaders. And I think all that knowledge that's over in that office is not making its way to the decision making environment. And there was a tendency to think, well, criminal intelligence is just my detectives. Right, to help them solve cases. And I think, you know, it's to help you make better strategic decisions.
[00:17:55.890] - Jerry Ratcliffe
You've got crime analysis that tells you what's going on, but criminal intelligence tells you why. And you need both to make that kind of a decision. So I started working with the National Strategic Intelligence Course, doing some training on that, which is an Australian as a nationwide course in Australia, really enjoying that and interacting with people who had the capacity, people in law enforcement to have influence at the highest levels of government. And so I wrote the book to try and support that.
[00:18:21.030] - Jerry Ratcliffe
That being said, for that book, I learned my lesson from the next one because I remember reading the critics. I try to write everything I knew about the subject in the book. It became this massive term on intelligence-led policing. And I learned my lesson for the next book, which is OK, if I'm going to write for a police audience more than an academic audience, I need to restructure and rethink how I'm conveying that information. Because as you get older and you get wiser and you learn, OK, I have audiences that work in different ways, just like you understand with a podcast, people can listen to a podcast in a patrol car on the drive to and from work.
[00:18:50.700] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Your podcast, my podcast, The Reducing Crime podcast. We have to reach professional practitioner audiences is in a different way more. It's not reasonable to just throw academic stuff out.
[00:19:00.960] - Steve Morreale
Here's what I find interesting with what you just said to having the experience in the UK, having experience in Australia and myself spending an awful lot of time in Ireland with the Garda. It strikes me that those organizations have been involved in policing for many, many years. And sometimes we in the United States have a tendency to think that, you know, everything, we can do things the right way. We know there's some sharing that goes on.
[00:19:26.730] - Steve Morreale
But what are this what are the lessons that you're finding from your experience at the Met, in Australia that can transcend into the United States and vice versa?
[00:19:40.880] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Look, I think there are many lessons that are available, you'll pick up some things from the you go, that's really interesting you. I never thought about approaching it in this way. And I see people involved in training and I'll be up front. I've got some training programs. I run a three day police commander's crime reduction course.
[00:19:58.220] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But the key message that I can make to that is, look, I'm going to bring you I have had the opportunity to travel to more than half the planet. It's about 80, 90 countries, something like that, and policing in many of them. So I'm going to bring you things from a range of places, not just across the United States or Canada or Britain, Australia, but from a range of places. Your job is to cherry pick the things that you think will work in your environment and if need be, to tweak to make it work.
[00:20:22.700] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But I think it's just exposure to different ideas. I think a lot of people in policing have a tendency to kind of think that's a bit radical. Is it OK to think that way and try something that's really different?
[00:20:33.500] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And what I think is nice, if somebody perhaps like myself or yourself comes along, says, look, they are a different country, they are a different police department, they're dealing with the same problems that you're dealing with and they tried this. Now, how could we tweak that to make it work in the legal and the community context? And one of the lessons for me was when I went to Northern Ireland so that you're doing a great job in the south, up in the north, obviously, things are pretty different.
[00:20:57.920] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And I remember the first time I went and I was still a police officer and I went to the north and you go and see these police stations with 50 foot high mortar netting and police officers are leaving the police station run jogging down the street because of the possibility of snipers and all the older, even the basic cars, the armored cars. And you think, well, this is a completely different environment. But you know what? They're still dealing with the same problems.
[00:21:19.760] - Jerry Ratcliffe
They're still dealing with burglars. They're still dealing with people stealing cars and selling drugs down on that corner and that pub that keeps being the place where you go to to buy stolen credit cards. They have the same problem.
[00:21:32.630] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And I think that's the key, is to find the universality, which is the connection across, you know, that brotherhood of policing is not just in terms of wearing the blue and feeling part of that team, but it's also, hey, we have to deal with the same shit you have to deal with.
[00:21:46.460] - Jerry Ratcliffe
It just looks different or the temperatures different, you know,
[00:21:48.680] - Steve Morreale
And I think the adaptation and that ability to adapt and to understand. So you're just saying how can we tweak it for your perfect, perfect lesson, like about your more current book, Reducing Crime Pinyon for police leaders. What drew you to that?
[00:22:01.850] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Well, one of the nice things about getting promoted to the level of full, professor, is I have no career aspirations after this. And if my university management follow my Twitter feed, I pretty much guarantee I've got no career aspirations.
[00:22:14.150] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But the appeal of it was, you know, sort of think, OK, I've made full professor. I've done as far as I want to in academia. I've still got a mortgage to pay. So what I want to do with the rest of my career, unfortunately, having tenure and reaching full, Professor, I thought, OK, I would I'm much more interested in seeing if I can help the field more than necessarily just publish another Journal article in the Bangladeshi Journal of Sheep Stealing and Criminology that nobody's ever going to read.
[00:22:38.160] - Steve Morreale
So was it tough to get into that? One reviewer, too, is still a buggar. Yes, go ahead.
[00:22:46.010] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And one of the challenges is you look around and you say, well, look, most of the academic stuff is not written for practitioners, but also just the amount of time I'd spent working with practitioners. I saw that one of the forgotten levels of the organization is we do a nice job, you know, on the whole, not a great job, but not a bad job at police academy training new officers. If you're an executive and a police leader, you get to go to swanky seminars and the IACP conference.
[00:23:11.390] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But the people who do the leadership roles all in the middle, that's from sergeant and lieutenant and captains and majors. The people who actually do the bloody work don't get any support whatsoever. So suddenly you're thrust into a leadership role where you're given the responsibility of being in charge of an answerable the crime in a geographic area of your town or city or jurisdiction. And we've given you no training and no support. Had to do that. You passed an exam, OK, and you maybe got recommended because you're a good detective, which means you are good at solving individual cases.
[00:23:42.470] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But now you've got a completely different role, which is to be in charge of a geographic area. And the strategy for, what, 20, 30, 50, 100 officers in the bigger cities are doing and there's nothing available.
[00:23:53.960] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So I thought, well, why don't we take what we've learned and have a sort of enhanced SARA model and just expand on that, but give it what police want. So I talk to a lot of police officers around the world about their experience of problem oriented policing, because it's a very effective strategy. And they said it's great, but it's academic and it's a little bit too abstract. So, you know, can you just tell us what you want us to do?
[00:24:14.660] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So I redesigned the model. I have checklists for each stage and I wrote a book that I hope the readers find is in English that short it's paperback size. It's half the size of a normal academic book and it's not academic. And there are vignettes in it and there are diagrams and there their stories. And it's written to be something that people actually pick up. And, you know, nobody's enthusiastic about anything in policing, but I hope they read it and go.
But this didn't completely suck.
[00:24:38.300] - Jerry Ratcliffe
It was written for police officers. And a lot of all the stories are by police officers that was written for police officers, by police officers, but it's taking an academic concept that works for crime reduction, but it turns into something that approximates English that can actually help them do the job, I hope.
[00:24:53.480] - Steve Morreale
Jerry, what is very interesting to me is the work that you're trying to do that is interpretive and that is action oriented, which is very, very important, I think. And that's what a lot of a lot of police say. Just tell me what to do. Give me a go by. And that's exactly what your newest book seems to do with checklists and stuff. Everybody wants a checklist. But let's talk about January six and what you saw when you were sitting and watching and drawn to see what was going on in AACAP.
[00:25:22.730] - Steve Morreale
Having been around the world with the kinds of things that happened in other countries, it was I suppose it caused you to scratch your head because it certainly dropped my jaw when I saw it.
[00:25:31.340] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Yeah, it's really interesting to know how to interpret what's going on. And when you see on the back of going from George Floyd and how people feel about policing, what you saw is how people feel about policing in the initial reactions to January 6th. And in so many of these incidents, some are easier than others. You know, the awful death of George Floyd is fairly obvious to interpret. But the the January 6th was much more challenging because it was on a much larger scale.
[00:26:01.460] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And we saw these cherry picked video moments that just reinforced what everybody already felt about policing. That in hindsight tended to often be the wrong take. Because when you think about the death of Brons technique, the police officer who was murdered know you have this situation where the reality is the initial takes tend to be often the wrong one.
[00:26:22.310] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And there is an unwillingness at the moment when we look at incidents and we see incidents play out, the people are unwilling to go, let's pause for 48 hours to see what else we learn about what's taking place and then make a judgment around those kinds of areas.
[00:26:36.110] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And it speaks to a much larger problem about how people are interpreting the job of police. So we're now, you know, most people don't encounter policing in a significant manner. But what we're now doing is there is so much video available. Everybody has camera phones, a CCTV footage, the body one camera footage, and everybody's interpreting it through a lens of how they all want to feel about it. And so what you can get is you can cherry pick individual incidents.
[00:27:03.560] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And I think a lot of people do. A lot of people you I ask my students name half a dozen people who have been killed in really bad circumstances, you know, definitely bad shoots, bad sometimes in cases of murder by police officers. And they can reel off half a dozen names without any problem at all. So. Right. And these incidents are so rare. I would argue that so rare. We can actually name the individual people so much because they have such a drastic effect on us.
[00:27:30.170] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But then you think conservatively, police officers are interacting with the public in the United States more than 75 million times a year.
[00:27:37.520] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And the vast majority of those, of course, go, well, we should be thinking long and hard about addressing a lot of the use of force issues is definitely a problem that we have to address. But we now have whole communities who are determining their perception of policing on the basis of three incidents of four incidents that they might see a year. Looking at a backdrop of a conservative, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates about 75 million public community interactions a year.
[00:28:04.880] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But that's what people remember, not the day to day. Hey, how's it going as you chat to a police officer, as you're walking into the train station or the officers oh, excuse me, the tiny thing. So you're probably looking at least double that. Hundred hundred and fifty million interactions. You know, police officers, I'm on ride along every week pretty much outside of covid in Philadelphia. And you've got police officers interacting with people every hour, every half an hour.
[00:28:28.640] - Jerry Ratcliffe
None of this gets documented because that is just these micro encounters. But people are making just decisions and now policy decisions about policing on the basis of a few videos they see online that are obviously outliers, because we remember the victims names and we've seen the videos and we can remember what they look like. And that's a really terrible way to make good policy.
[00:28:49.460] - Steve Morreale
Well, you know, that's interesting because almost immediately when that happened, I started to get some phone calls from the university and so and so wants to talk to you about your perspective, your criminal justice expert. I suppose that's what they think we are. But your perspective and first thing I say is, listen, I can't make a judgment based on that. I need evidence and that's how we're trained. Show me the evidence and the evidence is going to come out for a while.
[00:29:12.410] - Steve Morreale
I'm thinking this is what might happen, however. And so I think that's very, very important. I want to change the direction that we're talking about. Because what you're talking about, Jerry, is too many people generalize based on based on a particular incident. And everybody is painted with the broad brush. And so many chiefs that I run into saying that happened 2000 miles away. Please don't think that this is the way we act. I can't tell you it will never happen in the product police department.
[00:29:38.150] - Steve Morreale
But here's what we're doing to. Try to avoid that from replicating in our area. That's really important,
[00:29:45.080] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And I think people also have to understand that we are going to see these things again and again.
[00:29:49.870] - Jerry Ratcliffe
The reality is that you can't have 75, 100 million interactions between police officers, 800000 police officers across the United States and the most heavily armed civilian population in the world without some things going wrong on a regular basis.
[00:30:05.560] - Jerry Ratcliffe
I don't know any field, any field that is able to have 75, 100 million interactions, events between members of the community, human being without some of them going wrong. I mean, if you think policing is bad in terms of, for example, implicit bias or racial disparities, I can't wait to find out about health care and the statistics around population based mortality. I mean, the racial disparities that are terrible and getting worse. So policing may have some things to address, but it's transparent, it's out in the open.
[00:30:39.010] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And policing, I think, is trying to do something about it.
[00:30:42.160] - Steve Morreale
You know, Jerry, you just said that in health care. And I think there are so many mistakes that happen in surgery and a doctor goes bad, but we don't stop going to see doctors. We don't defund. So it's almost
[00:30:51.580] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And there's no call to have body-worn cameras on doctors.
[00:30:54.130] - Steve Morreale
Terrific analogy. You do a podcast and it is called Reducing Crime. And I've had the pleasure of of listening. And one of the pieces that you started a few episodes in was music.
[00:31:04.540] - Steve Morreale
So let's talk about that and how you how you came to that idea of running old music that comes from police procedural movies and television shows and bringing us down memory lane. That's just an amazing thing that you do. Talk about it. And I was put it in the show notes so other people can find it.
[00:31:22.210] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So a chunk of that was I was looking for a theme tune. I I'm I'm you know, it's my conversations are with police leaders and crime and policing researchers, something thinking with researchers.
[00:31:35.050] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Do I need to have a theme tune that's kind of super exciting. And I probably don't. I kind of think I wonder if a really adventurous, exciting, upbeat theme tune was a little overselling what the podcast might be. So the original podcast theme and one I'll probably go back to, was the outro from an old policing show from the from the U.K. called The Sweeney. It was one of the first I remember it had old school cops kicking in doors and, you know, lots of banter, which I really missed from my policing days from the 1970s.
[00:32:02.350] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And of course, nobody knows it. So it was like a nice deep cut for a few of the initiated, you know, just a few people got it and appreciated it. But then I was chatting about the podcasts and chatting about the music because a couple of people thought it sounded like elevator music with my girlfriend, Shelly. We were saying, well, what about having some other tunes? And of course, we started going through all these old police shows and then I decided to make a game of it.
[00:32:24.650] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So for the last few episodes, I've been listening to old police themes and bringing them up. And each week you have to try and guess what it is. And then each month, sorry, you have to try and guess what it is. And then I reveal the answer the next month when I'm coming up with another one. And so what's been really nice and I've forgotten some of these old police shows that I'm sure you and I both watched as kids, you know, this was the best thing on television.
[00:32:48.610] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And just the chance to listen to these old themes brings back so many memories of your early sort of exposure to some concept of policing. Yeah. So it's been great to explore some of these really going to the streets of San Francisco, theme tune, for example, or Hill Street Blues,
[00:33:04.270] - Steve Morreale
SWAT, TJ Hooker. I mean, you just go on and on.
[00:33:06.830] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Oh, T.J. Hooker, what a shocker. Shocking program and shocking. But as soon as you hear the music, it's like, oh, I remember how bad this was. That's right.
[00:33:14.840] - Steve Morreale
Well, even Dragnet, I mean, you go back to Dragnet, CHIPDs, and Emergency just they just go on and on.
[00:33:20.950] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Right. And it sparks a memory, doesn't it?
[00:33:22.990] - Steve Morreale
[00:33:23.050] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But I think also for the most recent one, I'm going to give it away. Whenever you're releasing this episode was Brooklyn nine one one is coming up in the future episodes today. I've given a given away what that one is, but I think there are a couple of interesting shows that are much more current. So they're not classics from the 70s or the 80s, but they certainly spark a kind of cognitive link that makes you think about what the show was about.
Yeah, some of the themes tunes were really well written, you know, who cannot hear the original theme to Hawaii 5-0 and not immediately be transported somewhere. Right.
[00:33:55.870] - Steve Morreale
And now it's back again and it brings it right. And I was watching it back in the 70s, the 80s. Right. With my parents and friends.
[00:34:02.320] - Steve Morreale
So, Jerry, what's a hobby that you have that takes you away from your work?
[00:34:07.030] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Well, I don't have kids, so I have the capacity to spend all of my income on myself. So. Well, outside of covid, I do like a little bit of scuba diving, but my real love is flying. So I've got a pilot's license. I'm an instrument rated seaplane pilot, actually partially built a seaplane that I had a few years ago. So I enjoy flying. And it's what's nice about it is when you're taking the controls of an aircraft and flying up and down the east coast of the United States.
[00:34:32.320] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And I've flown from Florida to Philadelphia and back again is that it's one of those times when you genuinely have something where you can only. Think about flying the aircraft and your mind is empty of everything else, and you are just one with the aircraft flying the aircraft, just trying and just enjoying what you're doing, but also fully immersed in it. And it's a little bit like yoga. It's just enough of a distraction that you forget all the other things that are going on.
[00:34:55.360] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And so that's something I really enjoy.
[00:34:57.120] - Steve Morreale
The focus is, I suppose, on safety and getting where you're going and taking in a couple of the sights, right?
[00:35:02.190] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Yeah, but there is also analogies to it that I've actually found useful. So in the Reducing Crime book, I learned a lot about structured, systematic processes of dealing things because of flying, because even the pilot checklists and the pilots and surgeons and people who have complicated job use, checklists and policing in the 21st century is incredibly complicated. It's not reasonable to expect anybody to have a compendious knowledge and to be functioning 100 percent every single day for 30 years.
[00:35:31.320] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So why don't we make life easier for them? Why don't we have checklists and think about. So, for example, in the reducing crime book, I give people the VIPR checklist and the checklist is, OK, you've got to think about different strategies for dealing with this crime problem. What are you doing about V is victim support? What are you doing to fill your intelligence gaps? What are you doing for prevention? And that's generally trying to think of something problem onto this, not policing the is what are you going to do about enforcement?
[00:35:56.280] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Are there enforcement options? And then the answer is reassurance. What can you do to reassure the community that we're on this and it's not as bad as one, which I hope it is. And that's just a nice, simple checklist that goes through. OK, I've got a problem. Why don't I think about one thing that addresses all of those? And often the most important thing is the intelligence gap. We may not solve the problem the first time around, but the filling, the I the intelligence gaps may help us actually make a better decision about this problem next time.
[00:36:22.080] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So just simple checklist, something I learned from flying.
[00:36:25.140] - Steve Morreale
What about books that take your mind off of things? What kind of books do you choose to read when you're not preparing for a book or for an article? What are the things that kind of take you to a different place?
[00:36:36.240] - Jerry Ratcliffe
I'm afraid I am a massive fan of the John Le Carre spy novels, and I've read every single one of them, some of them more than once. And I think what I like about them is the subtlety in the nuance.
[00:36:47.100] - Jerry Ratcliffe
It's not big action themes of people kicking in doors and snipers shooting and assaults taking place. It's about conversations with people and the smallest details, tiniest parts of a conversation. I mean, you have to have some patience with John, some of the John le Carre and one of them. He doesn't even discuss my work for 100 pages. But by the time he gets around to it, the whole story been set. And you think, oh, of course, that makes sense.
[00:37:11.610] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Of course, he would be a spy master as a result of this or whatever.
[00:37:15.420] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And also just to understand the nuances of conversation about how to think about how we have conversations with people would pick up on the signs and the signals that they're telling us. What are they telling us that they're not really telling us with their word? There's some wonderful nuance and subtlety to it. And it's cerebral work. Fascinating. He deals with some big topics as well.
[00:37:33.330] - Steve Morreale
Thank you for that. And that's very interesting. And I'm glad that you find that as a note. What's on your bucket list in the next few years?
[00:37:39.280] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Antarctica, I've been to probably a little I haven't counted recently, but probably about nineteen ninety something countries. And I've been to every continent and I've lived in Australia and lived in Europe.
[00:37:48.570] - Jerry Ratcliffe
I really want to visit Antarctica. It just holds a fascination this last part of the planet where you can't find people. Well, it's not too many that say there's more of them down there, but just that this last wilderness and I've read a chunk about people who who were going there a hundred years ago and just exploring this continent and trying to find out really get to the heart of it and understand this last great wilderness space that we have left on the planet.
[00:38:15.360] - Jerry Ratcliffe
It's a little fascinating to me.
[00:38:16.570] - Steve Morreale
Great. So if you had a chance to talk to anybody famous, dead or alive or infamous, who would you want to sit down with and pick their brain?
[00:38:25.850] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Well, I want to sit down with all the founding fathers and ask them about the Second Amendment thing, because we still have a significant homicide problem in this country.
[00:38:34.380] - Jerry Ratcliffe
I think it would be to keep up with the theme of the podcast because I could come up with a bunch of people. But I really would like to sit down with the first commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, my old force. And I still have when they were renovating the old Scotland Yard, that was the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police when the first officers walked out the door on the 29th September 1829, that's still owned, but that was at the time owned by the Metropolitan Police.
[00:38:59.280] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And they were renovating the building. And this is I'm going to confess to a crime at this point, I should warn you.
[00:39:03.990] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But I'm wandering around the.
[00:39:04.940] - Steve Morreale
Well, wait a minute, I think the statute of limitations has to have run out.
[00:39:08.790] - Jerry Ratcliffe
So I'm wandering around the building and I see a sign and it's a brass plate that says unisex shower. And it's the only thing that's left in the building because it's being completely gutted. And I pull out my penknife. So I'm having that. So I do have a brass plaque from the oldest police station in the world.
[00:39:24.030] - Jerry Ratcliffe
But I would like to speak to the original commissioners. It'd be great to sit down. Have done with Peel and Rouen and Main. Tell me how you got here and what your hopes and intentions were, because I think if they could see what they created and what it had done for public safety and. Where it had gone from their initial ideas, I'd be fascinated to know what their initial ideas were, you know, they they should sleep well in their graves, having made that contribution to communities and public safety, because policing has a lot to deal with.
[00:39:52.830] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And there were a lot of challenges. But there's no denying how much safer communities are as a result of police officers being out there every day.
Well, Peel's Principles, one of the things that when I'm teaching first, things I ask people to read.
[00:40:04.960] - Jerry Ratcliffe
Yeah, I mean, they were actually written by a historian called Reeth in the 1950s, but he interpreted them from a broader range of writings. So they weren't originally written by people, but they understood that.
[00:40:17.400] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And they certainly pick up that ethos. And there's a lot to be said for them. I think it would be it's good to go back and think, OK, how do we do? We want to retain some of these and we want to think about how they've changed moving for the 21st century. I think it's important to keep tradition, but we shouldn't be welded to it. And so I think that, you know, this is this is a challenging field.
[00:40:36.600] - Jerry Ratcliffe
And the wonder of it is it keeps changing and we have to keep having discussions, which is why, you know, for example, your podcast is so relevant.
[00:40:43.170] - Steve Morreale
One of the last things I'll say is that as we look at it, I think it is so important for our leaders today to challenge the status quo and to use their intellectual capacity to improve things. I think that's what you and I and many of the leaders we work with are trying to do. We've been talking with Jerry Ratcliffe, Dr Jerry Ratcliffe from Temple University today as you sit in the Philadelphia area. I want to thank you so much for being on.
[00:41:07.770] - Steve Morreale
[00:41:08.430] - Steve Morreale
And I would recommend to listeners to listen to Jerry's podcast. It's called Juicing Crime. I'll put something in, show notes. Thanks so much for your time and for being here. My pleasure, Mike. It's been great fun. Hi, everybody.
[00:41:21.210] - Steve Morreale
A few things before you leave. First, thanks for listening. I'm so gratified to see the downloads rising in the last few months, not only from the U.S., but from across the globe. It's surprising and humbling to find students, colleagues and practitioners listening. We have a growing number of listeners in Canada, Ireland, England, Northern Ireland, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Colombia. We appreciate your time and energy and welcome feedback. Please feel free to reach out to me by email at The CopDoc Podcast at Gmail dot com.
[00:41:49.770] - Steve Morreale
That's The CopDoc Podcast at Gmail dot com. Check out our website at The CopDoc Podcast dot com. Please take the time to share podcasts podcast with your friend if you find value in the discussions. We've had so many amazing guests and more to come who have shared their wisdom, their thoughts, their viewpoints and their innovative ideas. Most importantly, a huge thank you to those of you who show up for work in policing every day, not knowing the kinds of calls that you'll be sent on or the kinds of situations you'll find yourself in, you risk your lives for people, many of whom you don't know.
[00:42:21.930] - Steve Morreale
And for that, we owe you a debt of gratitude. A big thanks. Hope you stay safe, healthy and look forward to hearing from you and hope you'll continue to listen to upcoming episodes of The CopDoc Podcast. Thanks very much.
[00:42:34.500] - Outro
Thanks for listening to The CopDoc Podcast with Dr. Steve Morreale. Steve is a retired law enforcement practitioner and manager turned academic and scholar from Worcester State University. Please tune in to The CopDoc Podcast for regular episodes of interviews with thought leaders in policing.