We interviewed Dr. Erik Fritsvold, Director of the Master in Public Safety Leadership program at the University of San Diego. We discussed the many issues facing policing, explored the Capitol attack and discussed leadership development.
We interviewed Dr. Erik Fritsvold, Director of the Master in Public Safety Leadership program at the University of San Diego. We discussed the many issues facing policing, explored the Capitol attack and discussed leadership development.
[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.
[00:00:42.350] - Steve Morreale
Well, hello, everybody, this is Steve Morreale from Boston, and you're listening to The CopDoc Podcast today, we are talking to somebody on the opposite side of the United States on the West Coast in San Diego.
[00:00:53.180] - Steve Morreale
And we have Dr. Eric Fritzvold, and he is the director of the master's program in criminal justice. Good morning in San Diego. How are you?
[00:01:02.270] - Eric Fritzvold
I'm doing great. Dr. Morreale, great to speak with you. I appreciate the opportunity to join you here from sunny San Diego.
[00:01:07.730] - Steve Morreale
Rub it in sunny San Diego. So. So tell the audience about yourself. How did you get involved in criminal justice? How did you end up working at USD, the University of San Diego? How did you end up developing and working on the program? That is so it is so well renowned, especially in California, focusing on police management and police leadership. Tell us about that.
[00:01:31.460] - Eric Fritzvold
I appreciate the opportunity to tell the origin story myself. I was an engineering major as an undergraduate until my junior year when I took one criminology class and just fell in love. The ability to look at social problems using the power of research methods and science was just really, really liberating and exciting. So I changed. My major had an inspiring professor, my senior year as an undergrad and being twenty two and unsure what to do with my life. I grew up in a construction family.
[00:01:59.450] - Eric Fritzvold
I thought I'm going to try to do what he did. So I was fortunate enough to earn a PhD at UC Irvine and Criminology, Law and Society and thereafter landed an assistant professor position at a liberal arts teaching centric institution here in San Diego at the University of San Diego, spent 13 years in a pretty traditional undergraduate role, served as a department chair like yourself, an interim associate dean, and about twenty thirteen had the opportunity to spearhead. What was frame to me is a real unique opportunity to do something different and to provide an academic centric service to the law enforcement community, but one that had real strong practical elements.
[00:02:37.940] - Eric Fritzvold
And I did my due diligence, I did my homework and I drafted a curriculum. And I was very proud of it, Steve. It was research methods, Tavey. It was statistics heavy. It was theory heavy. It was much like the PhD training I had received. And to my Dean's credit, we went out to the law enforcement stakeholders in the region, presented them the curriculum. And in short here, Steve, did they eat it up?
[00:03:01.720] - Eric Fritzvold
I often I often say, if you're looking for candid feedback, law enforcement is a good meeting for you. We threw it away and started over after three meetings and we spent the next two years. Fifty-five sit down interviews, essentially with a blank slate asking how can we best be of service to you? And the themes that we were told came across loud and clear. And each of those things became a class in our curriculum. And so we ended up with an innovative practitioner-centric but academically sound and rigorous program that we were a little nervous.
[00:03:31.580] - Steve Morreale
So let me pose a question about what you just said. That's an awfully long road to deliver a program and getting feedback from stakeholders. And unto itself. That is a great lesson in maybe the way police should be acting sometimes to ask what it is that the people that they serve want, understand and perceive as what's good and what's bad. So that had to be a valuable lesson for you. Fifty- five sitdowns.
[00:03:58.730] - Eric Fritzvold
It was tremendously valuable and really practical. And so we wanted to respect that time, effort and insight that we were given by building the best program we possibly could, not listening to folks in some symbolic way, but in a true collaborative effort to provide the best service that we possibly could. And to be frank, our university deserves a lot of credit for giving us an administrative vehicle and a structure that allowed for such flexibility as well.
[00:04:25.070] - Steve Morreale
The program is quite robust and I see things because I follow you and in San Diego and Matt O'Deane and some of the players and watch the feedback that you get from people when they're so proud to have graduated and working with other organizations and having curriculum responsibility myself. I think the challenge is, is to keep things fresh and to encourage feedback from the people that we are trying to serve so that we can meet the need. And so I wrote down two things, Eric, because you were talking and that was that difficult process that we go through to say, is this theoretical enough and yet is it practical enough?
[00:05:03.290] - Steve Morreale
And I think it requires balance. And you talked about rigor and I talk about academic rigor all the time. All the time. And when you open up a course, you know, one of the things that that strikes me is I'm not going to teach you everything about this, but what I want to do is open your mind to new ideas, open your mind to reflection about what you've done in the past, what can be done in the future, and to learn that you are not the smartest person in the room.
[00:05:28.070] - Steve Morreale
You hire people for their intellect, in their capacity. Why aren't you asking them for your own agency to get new ideas, to move it forward, to get buy in? And certainly that's what you did just to. A jumpstart, this program you're talking about. So what do you call it, what's the name of the Masters? It's one of our universities only online degrees. It's a master of science degree in law enforcement and public safety leadership.
[00:05:53.360] - Eric Fritzvold
So 99% of our students are sworn law enforcement professionals. And I'd respectfully suggest the best part of the program is bringing professionals from across the country with different agencies, different lived experience, different job descriptions to engage the issues of the day and share best practices. So the compare and contrast between what's happening in New York, in the Midwest and Texas and California probably leads to the most robust conversations that happen. So if the theme in our discussion is about the value of collaboration and co creating knowledge, I also think it's our responsibility as as academics to provide a space like you suggested.
[00:06:32.270] - Eric Fritzvold
That's not dictatorship approach to education, where you are telling people what they need to know, but rather truly coming together to listen to one another and share best practices and share expertize and as you noted, realize that sometimes you don't know what you don't know and that collaboration is the best way to succeed. And what do they say? Iron sharpens iron that we can all enhance our skill sets by working collaboratively.
[00:06:55.520] - Steve Morreale
Do you see yourself as a teacher or a facilitator?
[00:06:59.280] - Eric Fritzvold
Wow. I wasn't prepared for the introspective psychology part of the interview. That's a good, good, good question. And I'm going to dodge it a bit by saying both we both the faculty team of about 50, that includes about a dozen chiefs of police. We have several Marine colonels and lieutenant colonels who led squadrons overseas and been deployed. I mean, from a leadership standpoint, my resume clearly doesn't have those kind of elements. I'm clearly a facilitator. And clearly, I'm sure in both of our roles, we talk a lot about servant leadership.
[00:07:29.420] - Eric Fritzvold
I think more than anything, I see myself as a servant leader that needs to position these heavyweight experts around me to succeed when I'm in the classroom. I'm a facilitator. These are adult working professionals with well honed critical thinking skills who bring a lot of academic and practitioner experience to the table. So it's a great way. And if and if we're kind of comparing institutions, law enforcement, academic, it's a great way to think about collaborative knowledge and facilitation in a group setting.
[00:07:57.830] - Eric Fritzvold
So I'm hedging and I'm saying both, but probably leaning towards servant leadership and facilitation.
[00:08:02.300] - Steve Morreale
Well, I would also say as a facilitator and even as a teacher, very often if you're sitting down with your faculty, sometimes just asking questions, looking for teachable moment. I was just at a sergeant's event yesterday where I did have my first face to face in a year. We were talking about leadership and these are sergeants from all over New England. And one of the things I said was reflection is very important. You may you may not be doing enough of that, but being a mentor for others and not necessarily slapping a person who may have made a mistake, but giving them the opportunity to learn from it, using it as a teachable moment, is that something you're doing with your faculty sometimes to say what's working, what isn't work and sharing among your words, using the model that you're taking in the classroom and driving those concepts through faculty meetings, if you will? What do you think?
[00:08:49.040] - Eric Fritzvold
Absolutely. And strong support for that mission. Again, even though I have quite a bit of experience working with law enforcement, ultimately I'm an outsider looking in. So if I didn't create whether it's faculty meetings or the trainings we do in advance of every semester, it would be wholly inappropriate if I did anything other than what you just described. So I think probably like any academic institution and academic endeavor, faculty are the heartbeat of that endeavor.
[00:09:15.530] - Eric Fritzvold
And I think in my administrative capacity, it's imperative to provide formal structures. And I rarely make a big decision or push our program in a direction without getting thorough input. You don't always have to go on majority rule, right? Sometimes you have to make the tough decision and go the other way with the sound transparent rationale. But an inclusive approach to the future of the program I think is the only way that we or anyone else would be successful.
[00:09:38.420] - Steve Morreale
We're talking to Dr. Eric Fritz of the University of San Diego, and we're talking about the development of a program, a master's program that he runs with the now nationwide involvement focus almost specifically on law enforcement and public safety leadership. But when you talk about the preparation for this, the development of this, the discussions that you have in your courses, at the beginning, you told me that you were teaching something on community engagement. What are some of the other classes that you are either teaching or that you offer?
[00:10:07.670] - Steve Morreale
You're trying to develop this innovative academic foundation with an application centric focus where folks can learn stuff on a Monday and bring it back to their agencies on a Tuesday class that we just finished is one of my favorites. It's called Public Safety Law in a Dynamic World, and it looks at the legacy of disproportionately US Supreme Court cases and the right to privacy and how those constitutional precedents are going to apply to new technologies and law enforcement. So what and the legal landscape in many states is not quite clear.
[00:10:39.380] - Eric Fritzvold
It's not entirely clear. California, what's the legal landscape going to look like for facial recognition technology, Alpay? Yes, sir. Yeah. So in the end,
[00:10:49.510] - Steve Morreale
You just said I didn't mean to cut you off, but you just said you have to. Right, exactly. Drone drone footage and such, right?
[00:10:55.810] - Eric Fritzvold
Absolutely. Cell site location information. As we're asking more and more of law enforcement professionals in some of this technology is becoming not only more affordable, but more effective and potentially can be a tool for a more equitable enforcement legal landscape. If you talk about the challenge of keeping a class up to date, of course, that has to match the rapid pace of technology and then the slow pace of the legal system to regulate it is really a difficult challenge. And to your point about collaboration, we brought in an attorney who's on our faculty who actually worked on some of these original case precedents of the Supreme Court level having to do with smartphones.
[00:11:33.610] - Eric Fritzvold
And we brought in a captain of the San Diego Police Department whose primary role is to work on legislation and with legislators and with community advocacy groups on just these privacy rights and technology issues. So we try to get the academic legal foundation, we get the modern and applied, and we end up with a crash course on constitutional law and technology for law enforcement, other courses.
[00:11:55.820] - Steve Morreale
And what's the focus of some of the courses, because I think that begins to make people understand. So, look, a master's degree in and I just finished talking with a young group of people in my capstone and many of them and not all of them feel prepared at first about master's level study. And I remind them you can do it. It really a master's degree in many cases is another major just at a higher order.
[00:12:19.960] - Steve Morreale
And do you have a finance course? Do you have a human resource course? In other words, is it modeled in some way like it would be an MBA for policing or an MBA? Yes, I've seen your head shake. The audience can't see it, but go ahead and talk about that.
[00:12:34.180] - Eric Fritzvold
It was like you are in our faculty meeting. So we are launching the program. Steve, it is absolutely an MPA for law enforcement or an MBA for law enforcement. We have a budget and finance course for law enforcement leaders where their capstone project is. We give them real world. They learn the theories, they learn the techniques, and then we give them real world budget data from a local agency. And we, of course, give them the demands of local stakeholders, the mayor, community groups, and we give them crime data from the previous year and priorities.
[00:13:05.860] - Eric Fritzvold
And their project is to make the tough budget decisions because, of course, there's far more items to purchase than there is budget. So they have a real world decision making position, as if you were a captain overseeing a budget division. So there's a budget class to your human resources point. We have a conflict resolution course that is essentially a soft skills for law enforcement managers. Course, interpersonal communication, resolving conflicts between infiltrate every department here in the world.
[00:13:31.810] - Eric Fritzvold
You take this course as well, resolving conflicts at work, managing up, managing down probably one of our most hands on practical class. But really the cornerstone of the program is leadership. And two of our eleven classes are explicitly leadership focused where, of course, we cover the leadership theories and best practices. But we work a lot from case studies, from the military, law enforcement, the corporate world. And again, the challenge is we operate on the carousel model.
[00:13:57.970] - Eric Fritzvold
So we offer a new course every seven weeks. So every seven weeks we are doing an after action report, tearing down and starting over to try to do our best to keep up with the pace of law enforcement. No small task.
[00:14:09.130] - Steve Morreale
No, it isn't. It's a full time job unto itself. And that's one of the ten full time jobs that you have sometimes when you're running a program. So let's focus in. Actually, yesterday, I had an opportunity to talk to two lieutenants from the Gainesville, Florida Police Department, and they have started a leadership. Seminar or a leadership program for 15 to 20 of their own people. Nobody from the outside, they're now reaching sort of mass experience so that one hundred people, one third of the people have been through the program and we were talking about leadership.
[00:14:41.220] - Steve Morreale
And so, yeah, it is fascinating. And and yet it didn't get a lot of traction on a lot of people are watching. And I think it's a great thing to consider. But when we talk about leadership and when you talk about leadership and you're talking to leaders now or in the future or people who have that come up and saw the interest in bettering themselves, some lifelong learners, what are the things that you're talking about in terms of leadership?
[00:15:03.960] - Steve Morreale
When we talk about leadership, the elements of leadership? What comes to mind almost instantly for you?
[00:15:08.910] - Eric Fritzvold
I think leadership is one of those terms like law that is something like over five hundred definition. I think for whatever my humble opinion is worth, the crux of leadership is introspection. And this goes back to a point. You made a few questions ago that any leader who's not doing a rigorous self reflection about areas in which they're strong, areas in which they could develop, I think is probably doing their subordinates and their superiors a disservice. So I know if the three hundred and sixty degree feedback model is the most effective, that's one.
[00:15:38.790] - Eric Fritzvold
So I think leadership is about rigorous introspection itself. First, because I firmly believe what is the literature? Tell us about leadership. You need this array of characteristics and experiences to be effective, probably chief among them being a good listener, as you suggested. But you need the technical skills so you can relate to your subordinates about whatever the tasks are that you're trying to achieve. But you also need administrative skills. You also need motivation, skills, and maybe along with introspection.
[00:16:08.280] - Eric Fritzvold
I respectfully suggest, especially in the modern landscape of law enforcement. And this is where education has a real role to play. The studies tell us that officers with advanced degrees are more well-positioned to adapt to change. And if there's anything that's going to define the modern era of law enforcement, it's probably change. So all of our abilities to adapt, I think, is something we need to consciously and deliberately work.
[00:16:30.390] - Steve Morreale
One of the conversations I had yesterday in the session is helping people understand the nuances between management and leadership and a lot of cases it's misunderstood. You know, I'm a leader. No, you're a manager. And I think so many accept that the most highest levels have to do both and have to find some balance. You have to manage the day to day or at least delegate the management of the day to day and oversee it to a small degree. But leadership is more long term in a lot of ways or developing others.
[00:16:58.620] - Steve Morreale
So how do you introduce that concept to classes about understanding the differences?
[00:17:04.080] - Eric Fritzvold
Steve, I'm getting a little suspicious now. Apparently, you were in the phone call. I had one of my faculty yesterday. He's developing our organizational leadership course that will run this summer. He's a retired chief from a local agency here. And the unit we were talking about was the management and leadership. And here's how we tackled the key assigned some cornerstone academic literature on management and leadership. He assigns Harvard Business Review piece on management and leadership. He reflects on his own experience, both in a large agency, in a tactical role and also in a smaller coastal agency and a chief role.
[00:17:38.130] - Eric Fritzvold
And then he brings in experts for on camera interview. So he brought in a fellow chief from a different agency to give us her perspective on the differences between management and leadership. So I think that encapsulates the approach we take in our program. We have an academic foundation, we have a practical foundation, and then you get multiple perspectives from people in the field who have lived that and can talk about how they've experienced in this cases the differences between management and leadership.
[00:18:04.650] - Eric Fritzvold
But I think that's our our secret sauce and our format.
[00:18:06.740] - Steve Morreale
And clearly, what I want to see my my first degree a long, long time ago, it was an applied science associate's degree in it. And I remember as simplistic as it as it seemed, the motto was learn by doing. And so in essence, that's another way of saying applied learning. Right. So it seems to me that what I'm hearing you say, that education being so important that it's trying to figure out how to interpret what's being done by some other discipline.
[00:18:32.220] - Steve Morreale
And the challenge is for somebody at a master's level is to adapt and to understand and interpret and adapt. So in other words, we can become single dimension if we're only looking at police organizations. But there's so much to be learned from health organizations, insurance organizations, I mean, on and on and business organizations that could be applicable. But it's our challenge to go and find that material. Don't just read police books, you know, like you, you said our books and articles can be important, but how do you weave in this applied learning?
[00:19:03.390] - Eric Fritzvold
That's a great question. It's largely through leveraging the collective expertize of our faculty. So we have really the privilege of working around such accomplished faculty that any time that I have a curriculum need and our program has a curriculum need, I know just who to ask. And I can ask a half dozen people. And when a few tell you the same thing, that's obviously good evidence. You should go in that direction. So it's like I said, more than a full time job, it is more than a full time job to make sure that the service we're providing and the education you're providing, is it Silow and that you're just not reading law enforcement publications that you are drawing significant lessons from?
[00:19:41.980] - Eric Fritzvold
We do a lot of work with the military and private sector. One of our courses has an excellent leadership case study from the Home Depot. Everything from manufacturing to vision. Right. It has those management elements about day to day nuts and bolts, but also long-term vision. Leadership elements as well, to be frank, don't have a good system for how to systematically gather good resources in cases except to ask the people who know much better than I do.
[00:20:07.300] - Eric Fritzvold
And that's our faculty team and frankly, our students from a management perspective, we're also really fortunate students and faculty regularly without prompt pass along rate elements from trainings. They've attended great resources. Their department has circulated great things that they've read or experienced in their off time. And so I have a folder with hundreds and hundreds of recommended files. That's, I think, one of the main tools I use to try to keep us as contemporary as I can.
[00:20:30.850] - Steve Morreale
So let's shift away from development, talk about three things that you think public safety is facing and needs to deal with today.
[00:20:38.620] - Eric Fritzvold
Great, great question. Obviously, the defunding narrative is one that's gotten a lot of traction in public and political discourse. I'd like to talk about that for a minute. True community engagement in the context of a twenty-first century engaged policing organization I think is a second and maybe use of force. Graham v. Connor, those constitutional standards being under the spotlight, maybe, maybe more so than at any time since they were passed. Maybe that's the third. But there's probably ten, ten big ones. But I'd start there for you, Steve.
[00:21:06.490] - Steve Morreale
So January 6th, come and gone. We all were drawn to the television. And I know that I was shocked, having been a law enforcement officer for thirty five years or so, to see what those at the capital were subjected to. What was your take on that?
[00:21:23.230] - Eric Fritzvold
I share your shock and just disillusionment. Everything you saw on the TV screen that day, some of the scenes were reminiscent of country that, at least in my mind, was a lot different than the United States. I mean, our democracy. I mean, you could argue our democracy was fundamentally under attack. And it's it's a challenge with the freshness of the wound to talk about lessons learned. But one of my main takeaways, largely from listening to students and faculty in my program is that siloed information, which we assign an article about intelligence and September 11th.
[00:21:57.980] - Eric Fritzvold
And I know you and your agency had a role in the aftermath of September 11 that siloed information and lack of proactive cooperation were major factors in both of those tragedies. So, again, I share your shock and it was a disheartening moment for me and I think a disheartening moment for the country. I think unearthed some of these siloed information challenges, data that apparently continue to rear their ugly head.
[00:22:22.310] - Steve Morreale
I wrote a few things down as your talking, and one of the things I just wrote down was systemic racism. The challenges out there and the gantlet has been thrown down to assert that there is systemic racism. And the police are pointed to as one of the players in that systemic racism and not looking necessarily for your agreement or disagreement there. How do you drive that through the conversation in class?
[00:22:49.330] - Eric Fritzvold
Great question. I think as educators and academics, we have a moral imperative to lean into the tough conversation. And academia should be the true marketplace of ideas where and I think, quite frankly, this is there are fewer and fewer avenues for this in modern society. Academia should be the place where we come together, talk about the tough issues like systemic racism. And many others respectfully disagree that we can build rapport through our respectful disagreement. And what's our role as educator?
[00:23:20.680] - Eric Fritzvold
Let's bring sound science to the discussion. Let's bring sound methods to the discussion in academia should be the truly apolitical place in the country to have these discussions. But let me give you a more tangible answer. We have a critical issues in modern law enforcement, of course. And one of the assignments we studied, the tragedy associated with George Floyd, and we have every student play the role and they study some best practices and look at some examples, including from the former FBI director and others.
[00:23:48.130] - Eric Fritzvold
And they write a nationwide address that they do deliver from the University of San Diego School of Law. Right. Got away the company flag, but they deliver a nationwide address on the topic of race, racism and policing and twenty, twenty one America. What does it mean to them? What messages would they communicate to their law enforcement constituents? What messages would they communicate to the country? So we don't try to deal with these issues in a symbolic way, but we try to empower our students with sound methods and sound science to then put themselves in the role of a national leader and wrestle with them, with their constituents that are the.
[00:24:25.180] - Steve Morreale
What a great. Experience, that is, and I'm certain when you give that assignment that it unnerves a great number of people. Here's my opportunity. What am I going to say when I'm going to miss my going to hit the mark? Am I going to be off the mark? And so there's a lot of wrestling in the preparation of that. That's a fascinating and quite interesting assignment. I certainly like that. Do I like it a lot?
[00:24:45.510] - Steve Morreale
I like it a lot.
[00:24:46.140] - Steve Morreale
Teachable moments. I know we talked about that a few moments ago, but how important is that for a discussion in certain courses about taking on the George Floyd incident or taking on a chase that ends up in an accident that leads to serious or deadly injury and working to avoid that from happening by, again, what you said, leaning into those tough things to try to avoid it from happening, impugning your organization. Is that a practice that you talk about in courses?
[00:25:19.140] - Eric Fritzvold
Yes, and it starts with our preparatory faculty meeting for each course. And we're really trying to find a balance here. By coincidence, the last time our budget, of course, was running, it was probably at or near the peak of the national discourse surrounding DEA funding the police. And so, of course, it's a teachable moment with real substantive value to weave in DEA funding the police material into a course about budget. It would be irresponsible to ignore that that was happening.
[00:25:47.760] - Eric Fritzvold
On the other hand, we can't have the funding hijacked the course, right. You still have to teach the fundamental budgetary skills. So thankfully, our online platform allows us to build on the fly with a lot of our I.T. people don't like because I do this so much. But I have an obligation to we're going to add an additional reading. We're going to add an additional discussion board. We also have a student lounge, part of our online discussion board that essentially we open up for discussions of of current events and topics that do not have to be bound to the course material.
[00:26:19.020] - Eric Fritzvold
And so, again, I think in a contemporary program like ours, we have an obligation to responsibly weave in the issues of the day. Right. If you're doing a Graham v. Connor use of force unit and you're not talking about George Floyd in a program for law enforcement, I think I think that's wholly inappropriate. So we have to lean into the tough conversations and to reiterate what a great place to nurture and develop these skills in the low stakes world of academia.
[00:26:44.430] - Eric Fritzvold
Yes, you're getting a great but how great to practice before you're standing in front of your unit talking about an issue or you're dealing with a municipal stakeholder on an issue. Let's practice here. Let's nurture some skills. So when you go out there into the community, it won't be your first time. It'll be your 12th time.
[00:27:01.620] - Steve Morreale
Very impressive. It really is very impressive what you're talking about. Let us wind down with a couple of questions that get a little more, I guess, personal in a way. What's on your to do list and consider your to do list at work and at home. What's on your to do list?
[00:27:16.050] - Eric Fritzvold
Sure. I'll start with the home one because that's well, it's easy conceptually. It's hard to execute, I think carving out that work life balance that is so elusive for many of us. You know, I have a daughter, a wife and a great dog and finding the balance between investing in the people you care about professionally and investing in the people you care about personally, I think that's something that's elusive for many. So that's the home goals continue to be to be cognizant of that on the work front.
[00:27:41.430] - Eric Fritzvold
We've been humbled by the way this program has been received in the law enforcement community. I can tell you personally, if you I think you get into education probably for many of the same reasons that you get into law or that you do want to make a tangible benefit for others. And so I think we share that mission and obviously operationalized in much different ways. We've been so humbled by our response that really the question for us is now about what's next.
[00:28:05.940] - Eric Fritzvold
We're actively working on a bachelor's degree version of our master's degree, trying to do some related trainings. So kind of the more tangible answer. But big picture here, Dr. Morreale. One of the things that I need to find out a way to do is I had this profound experience working with law enforcement and I went into running this program just as the average person. And I studied criminology, which is, you know, is you look at crime as a social problem, which has something to do with policing policy, but very little to do with actual police.
[00:28:33.120] - Eric Fritzvold
So, again, I think I just went into this job as the average person and working with hundreds and now thousands of law enforcement professionals, their forward thinking and their embodiment of 21st century policing. I think many of the folks I have the privilege of working with are doing so many of the things so well that the country is calling for. I think I now have a mission to help America get to know the law enforcement professionals that I've had the privilege of getting to know a little bit.
[00:29:00.750] - Eric Fritzvold
I don't know what form that takes, but I think citizens academies make a difference. Coffee with a cop makes it different, but I think the national narrative could be reshaped if folks had the opportunity to have a similar experience like I do to work day to day with the men and women of law enforcement to see the human being behind the badge and to see how they wrestle with these issues and many of the same way that the community does. I think the national narrative would be a lot different than it is.
[00:29:24.030] - Steve Morreale
What strikes me about law enforcement. And I keep my finger on the pulse, as you do, is that even with covid and even with the issues in the slaps and the punches and the generalizations and the broad brush that so many agencies have been painted with, that they continue to go to work and they continue to do their job and they continue to have to make arrests, even though it might not be what they want to do. And and so we have to honor that because it's a very difficult job, as we know.
[00:29:51.230] - Steve Morreale
And too many things are thrown on the laps of police, given that they're called on so many social issues. And there are other agencies that are responsible in some small part to deal with those social issues. But they're not on 24/7. They're not available on the weekend. We don't have overtime to come to have somebody come and pick up the baby from the couple that you arrested for drug dealing. So you're going to have to babysit them for a while until we're back to work on Monday morning, which is a ridiculous thing.
[00:30:20.810] - Steve Morreale
In essence, social services have been underfunded for years and it's been dropped on the laps of police and now they're being painted with their inefficiency. Given that we're just throwing everything. I mean, just react to what I was just saying about that. Do you see that?
[00:30:33.980] - Eric Fritzvold
I couldn't agree more strongly that it's the evidence here is quite plain, that law enforcement is the only institution that can't say no. So you take a problem like homelessness and law enforcement has a role to play there. But I'd argue homelessness is not a policing problem. Homelessness is mental health and military service and PTSD and housing and the economy and individual choices. Right. It's all of those things. So the idea that law enforcement alone has to share the burden of inherently complex and longstanding social problem is really an unfair expectation.
[00:31:06.470] - Eric Fritzvold
So in my view, Steve, we shouldn't be defunding the police if we want to improve anything. And I'm stealing an argument from a chief of police from Ithaca, New York here, Dennis Naor. If you want to improve your home or your health or your academic performance, what do you do? You invest in it. The idea that you can invest less and expect more just defies the gravity of common sense. So in my view, what I hope the next area of policing looks like is that society not only gives law enforcement the resources and support, both tangible and intangible, that they've earned and deserve, but also understand that complex social problems.
[00:31:42.050] - Eric Fritzvold
Public safety is a team sport. Complex social problems are going to need a law enforcement response to keep everybody there safe. But it's going to need psychology professionals who, you know, what are on twenty-four, seven, and it's going to take social services and it's going to take mental health and drug abuse counselors. My wife was a social worker before we had our daughter and used to visit the homes of of girls on probation. And you can imagine some of the homes that she walked into were really nice and others had a meth lab in the back and quite literally.
[00:32:12.230] - Eric Fritzvold
And she was partnered with probation. She's a trained social worker. Right. She gets down on one knee and looks the kid in the eye and does the things that she's trained to do. But she needs someone there to keep her safe so she can do her job. So the idea that we're going to reimagine policing in a way that removes law enforcement from some of these situations, I think is not a prudent approach. So, again, I hope the next hour of law enforcement is one where we not only invest heavily in the police with correspondingly high expectations, that's fair.
[00:32:39.980] - Eric Fritzvold
But also realize that social problems need a multiplicity of agencies to respond. And law enforcement is a piece of that puzzle. But we can't expect them to solve every century long problem that our country has ever had by themselves.
[00:32:53.540] - Steve Morreale
And it rides the back of police even to this day. So let me wind down with a final question.
[00:32:58.940] - Steve Morreale
With all you do the reading that you do, the studying that you do, the focus on improving the programs that you're involved in, who given the chance would you like to talk to dead or alive? You'd love to pick their brains, somebody famous or infamous, a politician. It doesn't matter who it is who comes to mind.
[00:33:17.090] - Eric Fritzvold
That is a great question. Immediately, Sir Robert Peel, I know that's a cliche answer, but many of the core principles that he discussed about modern policing, I would respectfully suggest, are as applicable today as they were the day that he conceptualized that. I agree. So I would like to get the 2021 version of the Peelean Principles, and I think we'd all be shocked that many of them would be quite consistent. But that be my answer Steve.
[00:33:42.110] - Steve Morreale
Great. So before we leave, first of all, thank you for chatting with us. We've been talking with Dr. Fritzvold and he's the director of a program master's program in law enforcement and executive leadership and public safety leadership in San Diego. Before we leave, let me ask you this. Are you listening to podcast? Besides this podcast? Where do you get your news? Those are a couple of questions I'd like to ask.
[00:34:05.900] - Eric Fritzvold
Absolutely. I listen to podcasts in part because at least pre-covid, I had one heck of a cameo. So that's a good way to better yourself in an otherwise worthless endeavor of commuting. I think with the polarization of modern media, the only way, the only responsible way to dissect news is to try to identify on every issue. I try to listen to one. From a left leaning outlet, one thing from a right leaning outlet at one that at least claims to be centrist.
So and this is sometimes a challenge because sometimes you read that first piece, it matches with your worldview. You reaffirm that you're on the right side of the issue and you move forward. That's the temptation. And I don't think we can do that. I think you have to actively seek out a multiplicity of perspectives. Right. Unfortunately, modern America doesn't have a Walter Cronkite. We don't have, in my humble opinion, truly disinterested way of consuming the news.
[00:34:55.030] - Eric Fritzvold
We don't have an apolitical news organization. So I think then the responsibility becomes we have to seek out quite deliberately a multiplicity of sources, some of which are international, to really have a holistic understanding of an issue, especially if we're going to be educators.
[00:35:08.650] - Steve Morreale
Eric, thank you very much for your time, for your energy. And I wish you great success in what you're doing. We're coming into our spring, and I know the weather out there in San Diego is almost always perfect. And so I wish you the best of luck. And thank you so much for your time. I appreciate.
[00:35:22.630] - Eric Fritzvold
Steve, this was an exciting opportunity. I'm honored and humbled that I would make it on The CopDoc Podcast really a highlight for me. So I appreciate your time here, Dr. Morreale. Congratulations. And I'll be listening actively on the other end.
[00:35:34.600] - Steve Morreale
Appreciate it. Thank you. OK, you've been listening to The CopDoc Podcast. This is Steve Morreale from Boston, Eric Five-fold in San Diego. Make sure you listen to other episodes and reach out to us with any ideas, any comments, any thoughts at The CopDoc Podcast dot com or by email at The CopDoc.Podcast at Gmail. com. Thanks very much. Have a great day. Hi, e
[00:36:00.620] - Steve Morreale
Everybody, a few things before you leave. First, thanks for listening.
[00:36:03.500] - Steve Morreale
Hi everybody, 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.
[00:36:29.540] - 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 our 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 in 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.
[00:37:01.700] - 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.
[00:37:15.940] - 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.