Dr. Lavery is Chair and Professor for Pace University’s Criminal Justice & Security. She has two forthcoming books on officer wellness and sociopolitical risks in agencies. She has published in: Frontiers, Journal of Behavioral. Health, and Journal of Law Enforcement. Her research includes officer wellness and resiliency, IPV, sex crimes, humane criminology, social media & violent crime, and human trafficking. Dr: Lavery regularly appears on radio and television news shows for commentary on criminal justice issues.
Cathy was previously the Chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Iona College.
Dr. Lavery received her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, specializing in Forensic Psychology and Ethics from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. She is a certified mediator with the New York ABA.
Dr. Lavery serves on various advisory boards and currently consults on issues of Title IX and sexual discrimination, cultural sensitivity, and trauma.
We talk about officer wellness, the impact of Social-Political Risk in Criminal Justice, and the value of exposing students and officers to options for enhancing wellness.
[00:00:02.750] - Intro
Welcome to The CopDoc Podcast. This podcast explores police leadership issues and innovative ideas. The CopDoc 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.
[00:00:34.150] - Steve Morreale
Well, good morning. Hello, everybody. This is Steve Morreale. This is The CopDoc Podcast. Thanks for listening again. Today we're talking to a colleague in New York, just north of New York City. Her name is Catherine Lavery. Dr. Lavery. She is now the chair at Pace University in Pleasantville and New York City and was previously the chair at Iona College in the Westchester County area. Good morning, Cath.
[00:00:57.130] - Cathy Lavery
Good morning, Steve. How are you?
[00:00:58.890] - Steve Morreale
I'm great. Thank you very much. Thanks for joining us. There's so many things going on. Just before we started we started, we were talking about the issues of Covet and the mental health issues that are going on throughout society, including on campus. Today we want to talk about compassion, fatigue, about you, about covet and the impact of COVID on criminal justice. And I'd also like to wander into the things that we're working on with social political issues and the impact on criminal justice. So to start, why don't you tell us about your past and what got you into academia?
[00:01:30.810] - Cathy Lavery
Well, I guess what got me in academia was Silence of the Lambs, Steve, if I'm going to be completely honest, yeah. I was caught up in the early 90s with the whole criminal profiling issue, started to work on my master's, and after finishing that was given a class to which I was recommended to start my PhD program. So I went to the Grad Center and completed my PhD focusing on sexual violence on College campuses and then moved on. Had previously taught at Sacred Heart University and then at Iona for 15 years and now at Pace.
[00:02:05.690] - Cathy Lavery
But my research, I think it stems from the fact I was trained as a generalist that I have a myriad of ideas and issues that I research on a continuum. So I know sometimes when I talk to you, you must think this girl is like she's got her own mental health issues, jumping from one project to another. But I find that what I have found with my research is there is a running theme, even though some of the projects are really separate, there's still this overarching theme of justice, social justice, and trying to make the system better.
[00:02:39.880] - Cathy Lavery
As we've moved in the 25 years I've been in the field, the system has changed radically on all levels, from courts, from Victims Assistance services, corrections. And I guess the past year and a half two years it's been probably at its most challenging with the pandemic and how we've had to respond and cope with crime rate victimization rates going up all the way through to how do we monitor offenders. One of the issues that I look at is dealing with officer wellness, because we've seen that really radically change.
[00:03:11.010] - Cathy Lavery
Even before the pandemic, we started to see a huge increase of police suicides and suicide attempts. And for some reason, the system still, law enforcement agencies still don't jump and respond quickly to what is happening. And I don't know what challenges you're facing with students, but more and more I'm seeing students say, I don't think I want to go into policing. I don't think I can trust it. I have students who were very successful who are leaving the field because of a lack of a support.
[00:03:39.950] - Cathy Lavery
So I think this is actually one of the best times that we have now, because I find that criminal justice can spring into action as a system and an entity at the worst possible time. And I think this could be a real pivot for real positive change.
[00:03:57.260] - Steve Morreale
A couple of things that are going on. I want to go back for a moment because you talked about the Grad Center for those who are not from New York City, talk about what that means.
[00:04:04.480] - Cathy Lavery
So the Graduate Center is one of the City University of New York Grad program schools. They actually house all of the graduate schools. And there is one for criminal justice. And most of our classes were done either at John Jay, which is the College for Criminal Justice under City University of New York. And you also took classes at others. I took classes at Hunter. I took classes right at the Grad Center, Baruch.. And the idea of the program at the time when I started in the mid 90s, was to give a real comprehensive view of the criminal justice system.
[00:04:39.680] - Cathy Lavery
I was very lucky with many of my professors, in which I was able to get internships, research assistance positions. And I was also teaching. And so it really gave me a very constructive view of what's right with the system as well as what was wrong with the system. So when I was coming up, reentry was very new. The issue of restorative justice was in its infancy, and now it's commonplace to use the terminology all the time. We see social justice weeks on college campuses. We see a lot of programs that are geared to it.
[00:05:15.290] - Cathy Lavery
But the first thing that I noticed when I was doing some work at Rikers was the issue of mental health and how mental health was dealt with both for the offenders and for the practitioners. So that's always been an underlying concern for me as I've done a lot of research in the area.
[00:05:33.000] - Steve Morreale
Well, you know, going back to what we were talking about in the beginning, you talked about being a generalist, and I understand and sometimes what happens for people who come in. You've been at this for a long time, but when you get our age, it's almost like you're feeling like I'm running out of time to be productive. And I want to touch this and this and this and this and I find myself doing exactly the same thing. So this idea of being a generalist is not such a bad thing, but what's been happening since George Floyd and certainly before that was the issue of reform.
[00:05:59.440] - Steve Morreale
And it has not hit a state any harder than in New York, where there have been reforms, both with criminal justice, sanctions, release of people, bail reform and changes in laws and all of them having an impact on policing the first line. And that's troubling. So I keep an eye on what's going on in the city and other places, and you see the leaders saying, hey, we're doing our job. This is a revolving door. This person should never have been let out this Liberal view of defendants and releasing them and not having bail is really having a deleterious effect on our city.
[00:06:35.660] - Steve Morreale
And crime is rising. You're seeing it up close and personal. Your office when you're in New York City is right downtown, talk about that and the impact.
[00:06:43.910] - Cathy Lavery
Well, I can only speak to my opinion with bail reform. I think the principle of bail reform is very good. I think there are a number of people who are placed in incarceration who should not have been. The issue is the execution of it and how it's done. And I think there was such a rush to do it. We had to. And this is where I think, and I'm sure you agree with this. Criminal justice and politics are very incestuous. They're really interwoven together, and one can't move without the other.
[00:07:14.080] - Cathy Lavery
So sometimes the political agendas go first, and they don't really think about the impact of the criminal justice system. So with bail reform, I think that was a perfect example. We wanted to rush to show that we were changing. We wanted to show that we were doing really good, positive things, but nobody thought of what the backslide would be from it. So, for example, we've had numerous cases of individuals who are given bail automatically in an appearance ticket, and they're arrested 6 hours later with a knife or a gun.
[00:07:48.920] - Cathy Lavery
They come back, there's another appearance ticket, and then they end up stabbing somebody. So now we have to DEA with bail. Nobody really consulted people and what I mean by people, I mean, not just criminal justice practitioners. It's one thing to call up and say, oh, by the way, what is your opinion? It's another thing to do, a series of referendum meetings and policy analysis to say what's going to work and what's not going to work. And unfortunately, I think with a lot of politicians, it, look, I got a reelection soon, I got to hit the ground running and nobody thinks about it.
[00:08:20.450] - Cathy Lavery
I think one very unique example that we saw was with domestic violence. How many domestic violence aggressors ended up getting no bail and would return home and we had another crime occur already with the Pandemic, we saw a huge increase of domestic violence and child abuse and child sexual abuse because people were trapped with their aggressors. In fact, could you imagine when the police were called and they were not allowed to come in because of the shutdown rules? And so this was all kind of converging at the same time, it was almost like the perfect storm in New York.
[00:08:55.040] - Cathy Lavery
And now we're left picking up the pieces, which is going to take a lot more time. I'm a little hopeful with the change in government next year. I really do hope we'll be able to do things. My hope is, though, that the politicians will go slow and not rush it and really look at what the long term and short-term impact is going to be for victims as well as for families of offenders and for the law enforcement officers and probation officers that have to supervise these people.
[00:09:24.400] - Steve Morreale
You're right. And I think as you're saying that and you and I have talked an awful lot about sociopolitical issues. And it seems to me there's so many unintended consequences, and that does not seem to be part of the policy analysis. And I think that that's a big mistake. What's going to happen if we look at this from a 360-degree perspective, how is this going to help? How is it going to hurt? Who is it going to hurt? It's those kinds of elements. And when I'm saying politicians, they rarely reach out, at least that's been my experience recently, to the players, to the people who say, how might this impact?
[00:09:54.760] - Steve Morreale
This is what we're thinking, how might this impact it happens on college campuses, decisions are made. And I will say, in my little world, can you tell us what you're thinking before you do it so that we can weigh in instead of making a policy, promulgating that policy, implementing that policy and then having to go back and change it because there are mistakes that we the players, the daily players would have seen so that you're not making these decisions unilaterally.
[00:10:20.050] - Steve Morreale
I agree. And I think if the Pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we've seen in slow motion. What can happen when there is a virtual shutdown. We've seen what panic has done, and we can be honest about it. We've seen with the rise of social movements around the United States for the past several years on both sides or multisite. If we look at it, from me to black lives Matter to other types of protests, the practitioners, the criminal justice practitioners and law enforcement are stuck in the middle.
[00:10:50.070] - Cathy Lavery
And you're right. The politicians have a bird's eye view and say, oh, wow, the people aren't happy. Let's fix the people without really realizing that a lot of the people don't understand the nuances and the mechanisms that are going on to go back to bail reform. One of the critical issues with bail reform is they were giving no bail to I'm not going to quote, it was over 100 different types of arrests. Almost 55% of them were either indicators to escalation of violence or there was still a weapon involved.
[00:11:23.780] - Cathy Lavery
Now, I understand in New York, as opposed to smaller municipalities, we do have a revolving door, and we do have a comorbidity issue with many offenders where they are addicts as well as mentally ill. And our jails have served as mental hospitals, which is wrong. But to just make a list and say, Well, we think these are the not so bad crimes. Well, how do you know they're not so bad? How do you know that if somebody's breaking into a house with a knife that we're dealing with just a burglary and not a sexual burglary, that's going to lead to sexual assault or something worse?
[00:12:00.220] - Cathy Lavery
So it's that kind of view that I believe has kind of let us down this crazy rabbit hole that we really need to climb out of and reexamine, especially as we start opening up, hopefully soon opening up and going back to some sort of a normal lifestyle.
[00:12:17.120] - Steve Morreale
So one of the things that you do an awful lot of work on this compassion fatigue. But as we're talking, it seems to me that there's so many more variants since we talk about COVID and variants, but variance of fatigue, fatigue from the incessant overreach by politicians. I'm trying to do my job. Imagine showing up. I'm going to arrest them. But now I shouldn't arrest them because nothing happens when they go to court. So why bother? And it wears on people both in the courts and corrections, and certainly most importantly, in policing.
[00:12:48.990] - Steve Morreale
What's your thought on that?
[00:12:49.970] - Cathy Lavery
Well, I think when we look at this is how I find crazy. When we're looking at stress factors. I remember going into the field. There was post-traumatic stress disorder. That was the new work. Now we have vicarious trauma, we have intermittent stress. We have compassion fatigue. They are all overlapping. They are all interchangeable, and we kind of graded on exposure and intensity. But if we backtrack and we look at law enforcement, law enforcement officers have always cited four general areas of stress, the first being the organizational factors.
[00:13:24.460] - Cathy Lavery
So what happens with senior management, upper level administration? How are they treated? The second is danger and the idea of danger and threat of danger. There's only so much we can prepare a person for danger in the Academy versus the street. Another area is monotony, was always cited like, oh, I have to write a report. Nobody told me that if I make an arrest, that's like 40 pages of writing and I have to take copious notes, because if I go to trial, I'm going to have to testify.
[00:13:56.470] - Cathy Lavery
So they're not used to that. But I think one of the newer ones is public scrutiny. And media scrutiny, and they're not sure how to deal with it. And you brought up the sociopolitical risk issues in this book I'm editing with Kurt Angaman and Jeannie Zaino on sociopolitical risk. One area I look at is social media and this conflict that here is a police officer that wants to put up pictures and wants to express an opinion that doesn't really seem to understand that that opinion goes much further than my opinion does if I post on Instagram or Facebook.
[00:14:35.530] - Cathy Lavery
So there's nobody there teaching them. And I think what we've seen and you obviously speak to so many other people of leadership and practitioners in the field on a regular basis. We've seen the gap with the organizational factors. More officers feel they do not have the support of senior management. They feel there's no connection, there's no interplay or dialogue, and they feel kind of forced out and on their own. And I think this is the interesting part that we don't take into consideration a lot. And this goes back to compassion fatigue and trauma and stress.
[00:15:11.050] - Cathy Lavery
Every officer, every criminal justice practitioner experiences stress differently. And whereas some people can really think they handle it, but then they go take it out and they start drinking or they're taking bad care of themselves health wise, or they projected on their families, projected on victims. There's no real measurement because we're all built differently and all of us can deal with certain traumas. Now I was thinking today is the anniversary of Pan Am 103, and they just made another arrest last year on that. I mean, they're still going through this terrorist activity and still investigating.
[00:15:50.000] - Cathy Lavery
And I was thinking of all of the officers in Lockerby that were dealing with this for the past 33 years and how many of them left their positions feeling unfulfilled because they couldn't solve it. Think of the victims. We have to think of everybody involved, and that's what we're missing. We're not looking at the whole picture anymore. And even when we're looking at compassion fatigue, what are the risk factors that are involved? Because I think the risk factors range, your risk level is going to be different if you were in St. Louis versus La versus New York versus Miami. But Steve, only about 29% to 30% of departments have any sort of built-in officer wellness program. Only 30%.
[00:16:34.500] - Steve Morreale
Yeah. Imagine that. It seems to me that when we talk about compassion fatigue. And by the way, we're talking to Dr. Catherine Lavery, who is now the chair of criminal justice at Pace University in New York City in Pleasantville, New York. When we talk about compassion fatigue, it seems like exactly what you were saying. So many people go to work and feel helpless. In other words, I tried to help. I tried to fix something. The system doesn't allow that. And that does wear and great on you.
[00:16:59.930] - Cathy Lavery
It does. And I think that's when we look at compassion fatigue. We have to look at the amount of exposure and also with the years on the job, the amount of trauma. I think it's really interesting if you look at the Department of justice in October, they announced they're going to do increased funding for officer wellness, and they specifically identified law enforcement agencies, the tribal law enforcement agencies, the local and the state. And my first thought was, what about the federal law enforcement officers? What about the task forces?
[00:17:31.130] - Cathy Lavery
What about officers that work on cold cases or on special victims? What about those who are working in cybercrime, on sex trafficking and human trafficking? Those stress levels are very different. The feelings of helplessness or hopelessness are going to range greatly depending on what your units are. And so, for example, if we take a task force where you have multi agencies involved and two of them have officer wellness programs that they're available for. And you have three officers on the task force who have nothing. How do we balance the stress out when you've got three officers that keep saying things like, I can't believe what I'm seeing or I can't believe there's just no consistency.
[00:18:15.750] - Cathy Lavery
And I think every Department needs to have officer wellness techniques. I think Arizona as a state and Tucson has done a great job in looking at it. They've taken a holistic approach. They look at shift formations, they look at work inequity and case inequity. They really promote healthy style living mindfulness. They have a peer support group so that officers can feel comfortable going to talk to someone. I mean, Steve, you know more than anybody that officers don't like to share their feelings. And the threat of sharing feelings openly may be my gun gets taken away, and I'm reminded to administrative work until somebody feels I'm better, so they're less likely to share.
[00:19:00.830] - Cathy Lavery
And so I think setting up certain programming like this is beneficial. Of course, as a social scientist, I want to see it measured. I want to see how they are and how they respond to it. But if we look at the nation overwhelmingly, we're seeing rates of 40% of anxiety, depression. And this stress can formulate into bad cognitive judgment, to memory lapses, to sleep deprivation. How on Earth can they perform effectively if they're feeling like this and worse if they feel nobody around them cares enough, their family can care.
[00:19:40.660] - Cathy Lavery
But if they don't feel it at the organizational level, if they don't feel it with their peers, you're kind of lost. You're like a ship in a storm, all alone.
[00:19:50.660] - Steve Morreale
Well, so often, you know that the old Adage is suck it up. That's the job. You just got to do it. And certainly you and I are seeing a rise in anxiety in people on our campuses. And it is not unusual for us to believe that it is on the rise in both corrections and police criminal justice overall. I mean, think about the many changes that were required on short order to adapt to covet exactly what you said. We don't want anybody inside. Don't make any car stops unless it's absolutely necessary.
[00:20:20.510] - Steve Morreale
Keep your 6 feet distance. You want to minimize contact so that we're not impacting the entire squad with the sickness. And this has been a roller coaster for so many people. And so you've done some work, as you said, on compassion fatigue. Let's ask this question. What are you teaching over the last couple of years? What are the courses that you gravitate to?
[00:20:39.620] - Cathy Lavery
Well, I've been looking at one course I've been teaching is comparative criminal justice. And so where I look at what's happening in Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia, in the United States, and usually I will formulate a New York, NYPD, mostly, obviously, or Chicago versus another law enforcement agency and how they work, that's one teaching corrections classes. Obviously, COVID has been the real theme and what the Cos have gone through. Remember, Besides policing having its highest level of suicide, so have correction offices. We haven't seen this in the history of policing or corrections.
[00:21:20.730] - Cathy Lavery
We've never seen these rates. So I try to do a lot of mental health within all of my classes. I try to incorporate it, even if I teach a class like Profiling, which students, of course, gravitate to because of criminal minds and all that. I don't talk about. You and I both know we've profiled everything we don't need to profile anymore. But what I do is I talk about interview techniques, and I talk about how to be compassionate and empathetic to the victims and how to talk to families and what you need to be aware of when you go into a crime scene and you see a terrible homicide or multiple homicides.
[00:21:58.030] - Cathy Lavery
So I've noticed over the years I've shifted more instead of just teaching an instructional Socratic method into more of a dialogue and discussion and to talk about my own experiences, counseling, my experiences with 911, my experiences with my colleagues, and I find that becomes a more open discussion. And also one thing I've noticed is that students then begin to realize there are many different avenues in the system I can take. I don't just have to be a lawyer. I don't just have to go into corrections. I don't have to just go into policing. A lot of them still don't know probation and parole and the amount of responsibility that those practitioners have an impact in the field. So I think that's been one of the things I've done. I started a new course, which you, of course, guessed on looking and examining social and political risks that I team taught with a practitioner because I feel that is necessary. The academics can only go so far, no matter how many ride alongs I've done. It only goes so far.
[00:23:04.500] - Cathy Lavery
And that's been a wonderful blend, because the feedback I've gotten from my students this semester is I never thought about blank. I never thought about the impact of social media and criminal justice. I just assumed that everything I read was true. This Gen Z, everything comes from the phone, blogs, Reddit. There's no deciphering what The New York Times says versus the Washington Post, the New York Post. They don't even know what the Guardian if we look at things specifically. So it was really kind of getting them to look at different angles and how your reputation is important in this field and how you have to hold yourself to a higher level.
[00:23:46.290] - Cathy Lavery
When I taught criminal justice ethics, Bowie said that all College students are on one certain line. They shouldn't plagiarize, they shouldn't cheat, they should go to classes. They should do what their professors say. But I always say to my criminal justice students, you're much higher because I'm going to get a phone call about recommending you to have a gun. I just break it down that easily. So that's my expectation of myself. And I expect them to ask questions. And I expect them to challenge because that's the only way we've ever seen really good reform is through challenging it.
[00:24:20.080] - Steve Morreale
I think what you're saying is that you consider the questions. What are the questions? What are the questions that we should pose? And what are the questions that we should seek an answer.
[00:24:27.770] - Cathy Lavery
Challenging and asking questions.
[00:24:30.050] - Steve Morreale
Oh, and asking questions. Yeah, well, about reform or any of the issues that are out there. Why do we do that? And I'm sure that's a lot of what you do, teaching research methods. The first thing we want to know is what do we want to ask? What do we want to find out? What do we want to measure? And so I think that's pretty darn important. And in the classroom in a lot of ways, it sounds like you're trying to replicate real life in your classroom conversations that are had around boardrooms and board meetings and comp stats and those kinds of things.
[00:24:59.280] - Cathy Lavery
Yeah. I think that's very important for the students to have an understanding that this isn't just the type of job where you go out on patrol, write tickets, arrest people, process them, and then do it all over again that there is this necessity to have a comprehensive understanding that everything you do has an impact in the long run, how you approach a victim, for example, how you present yourself when you're on the job, how you present yourself on social media, how you present yourself if you're being interviewed, it all comes back, I think, to a reputational issue.
[00:25:35.010] - Cathy Lavery
And I think one of my successes with former students has been that was one thing I always told them, you don't just carry yourself. You carry your department, you carry your professors, you carry everybody. And if you remember that and you act on that, you're going to do a good job. And also I think it also minimizes stress as well. If they go into it, understanding, they will be dealing with very complicated issues and a lot of situations that are not going to end up positive cases get dropped, victims don't get justice, witnesses hide cases, get mangled and confidential informants turn on police.
[00:26:16.570] - Cathy Lavery
We see this all the time, but if they are aware of it, it minimizes, and it can minimize the impact. As long as that phrase that's been tossed around for the past few years. Mindfulness, yes, mindfulness is. I know we associate it now solely with therapy and with meditation and understanding your purpose in the world. But if we go back to its original definition of being aware of yourself and then change that's, the most important part of being a good police officer is adaptability. And to understand that right now is probably one of the most difficult times to be a police officer.
[00:26:56.340] - Cathy Lavery
The public scrutiny, the commentaries, the cases that we've seen.
[00:27:01.970] - Steve Morreale
The continued videos that we see. Here's another one,
[00:27:07.010] - Cathy Lavery
And they sometimes get edited. Sometimes they don't. There's always a discussion of these bad apples. We saw that a lot with the Mollen Commission, the Knapp Commission, these bad apples. We have a different culture. Now. We have citizens that like the millennials, the Gen Z. It's a very different lifestyle. They lead. It's a very different belief system than the baby boomers Gen Xers and the Gen Xers. Like myself, there was just an acceptance of what goes on. It was interesting. I was having a conversation the other night and we were discussing issues of abuse, and I gave a figure out of the high levels of domestic violence and child sexual abuse in the homes.
[00:27:50.850] - Cathy Lavery
And there was a real kind of no, that doesn't happen. No, it happened. There's stranger danger. That was 1980s. But instead of getting shocked by it, there has to be a discussion to minimize the stigma of it, like with mental health and stress. I think for a police officer to say that they don't have any stress is more troubling to me than a police officer saying, yeah, this has been a really hard two years.
[00:28:13.900] - Steve Morreale
So interesting, because I think if we come to the point where we realize that there is going to be rejection in our lives, there is going to be some failure along the way that it makes a little bit easier to accept it, that we're not perfect and we're not superhuman. And I'm talking about those who are in policing. But the question I want to ask is that you've been at two schools. Well, more than two. I understand before different schools, and you're still dabbling in a couple.
[00:28:38.020] - Steve Morreale
But historically, if I asked you how many people at Iona or Pace or Westchester Community College are looking to get into policing, what would the percentage be? Roughly?
[00:28:49.160] - Cathy Lavery
Ballpark, I think it also ranges on the school. So I noticed with community College, it's at a higher level, but there's definitely a lack of understanding in terms of all of the intricacies of the job at Iona. I think when I started, it was very much policing, but maybe it was me being there. They started to vary with internships. So a significant I'd say, 30% to 35%, definitely at Pace. It ranges on the campuses, and I'm still new there. So I just noticed in the classes that I've taught, the more the Pleasantville Westchester, I see more law enforcement oriented, and I see more social justice, community based corrections efforts, victims assistance, more in the city.
[00:29:38.570] - Steve Morreale
And this is just ballpark figure. I'd say it's probably in the 30%, and that's what we always talk about. This is not at universities. We're not a cop shop. We're trying to teach you critical thinking, reflective and introspection those kinds of things and to challenge and come up with questions. So at 30%, and it means people are going to law school, they're going into juvenile justice, the things you were talking about, corrections, community corrections, all of those kinds of things. So why are you involved in a book on social political issues?
[00:30:07.400] - Cathy Lavery
I will definitely give a lot of credit to my colleague, Dr. Jeannie Zaino, who said Iona College. She was the one who approached it with me and said, I'm very interested in political risk assessment and what's been done. And we see it in businesses. But what about the social issues and social risks and how does this pertain to criminal justice oriented agencies? Because I don't know anything about that. And so that's where we got the idea to come up with the book and to really examine social and political risks from private, public and nonprofit agencies.
[00:30:42.350] - Cathy Lavery
So we could cover the spectrum of how different agencies and their continuity plans have worked. Genie and I had introduced a course at Iona, and I did a variation of it at Pace, but mostly focusing on criminal justice agencies. And our team taught it with a supervisory probation officer, David Malcolm, who, you know, from the Southern District, and the feedback from the students was amazing. It was getting them to look at different scenarios, like crisis scenarios. Officer involved shootings mass violence, active shooters. They did actual group crisis simulations, and they needed to present on who are the stakeholders.
[00:31:25.260] - Cathy Lavery
How does the PIO work with it? And we brought in a lot of guest speakers. You were one of them. And we also brought in a former Pio from ATF. And we brought in the journalist, Tony Harris, who has done a lot of work on ID and on crime shows and cases and podcasts. And students really opened up to saying, wow, I had no idea. I need to think about this when I go forward in my field and in my nature, I just kind of thought I just become a cop or a lawyer or this or that I didn't realize that things that I do have this type of impact that could not only impact me personally, but my agency.
[00:32:07.640] - Cathy Lavery
So I thought it was a very successful course. We hope we're going to hopefully run it again next year and continue it because I think it is an area we don't pay enough attention to.
[00:32:19.430] - Steve Morreale
I don't mean to cut you off, but as you're talking, I'm thinking, Well, why aren't I writing course like that? You sucked me into writing a chapter on social political impact of issues on criminal justice. And I have to tell you, running down that road and bringing this up at first line supervisor and mid manager trainings that I think it opens up the eyes of the police. They do not necessarily think that they're political, and yet they are. They don't think that social issues play a role in them.
[00:32:49.280] - Steve Morreale
And yet they do. Public health has become very powerful in the last couple of years, where they were on the sidelines for so long. And now all of a sudden, there's a mask mandate and a police officer is being called in to tell somebody to put a mask on, because that's the rule. It's not a law. It's a rule.
[00:33:06.970] - Steve Morreale
It's a policy,
[00:33:08.690] - Cathy Lavery
[00:33:09.920] - Speaker 2
Yeah, and it varies from place to place. And I'm getting called in, and Walmart can say, I don't want you in here without a mask and can call the police. And the next thing you know, I'm saying, Excuse me, Catherine or Ms. Laurie, Dr. Larry, you're going to have to leave. What? Unless you put a mask on it. I have a mask for you if you'd like. Otherwise, you have to leave. What a crazy situation to put police in.
[00:33:30.360] - Cathy Lavery
Isn't it amazing that if you go back 25 years, we were advocating for raping a public health problem and nobody paid attention until Epstein and Weinstein, I think we kind of pick and choose. And obviously with the pandemic, that was something that was right in front of us. It impacted the world. It was a global issue. But how many conversations were jumping off point the diving board, for climate change, for bio crime, for political risk, for social risk. The chapter I did on University standards with sexual assault on College campuses.
[00:34:04.800] - Cathy Lavery
I couldn't believe that. Obviously, we know from being in higher Ed Title IX and the protections of Title IX, but Europe doesn't have any sort of guidelines, and they have a tremendous amount of sexual assault on College campuses. There was a huge uprising, and they were protesting in the UK several months ago because unbeknownst to the public, students were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements if they were sexually assaulted at the colleges. So there's no uniformity. So I found that this concept of risk, it's not just risk assessment with your insurance liability anymore, that we really need to teach this as a fundamental part and core of our profession as we go, whatever selection we make as practitioners, because we are always on.
[00:34:52.500] - Cathy Lavery
I think the January 6 issue with the social media postings and look at all the iron brought and how angry and frustrated people were and saying, Well, how could they have posted it? Well, we have a First Amendment now we got a conflict. And how are we going to solve this when you're the police officer, you're the captain or you're the chief, and you've got a guy who basically makes a comment or a woman who makes a comment that it's okay to do blank. There was one a couple of years ago where a commentary from an officer was, Well, rape is always he said, she said, and we should just believe the guy.
[00:35:28.550] - Steve Morreale
Social media, social media. Actually, it's interesting. It's a double-edged sword. Social media is almost always being used now for investigative purposes. And by the same token, interesting, we have Facebook and others who seem to be creating a censorship of words. And then what happens is the public reacts by saying that we'll just start our own exactly where we'll control it. So I need to wind down. We're talking to Catherine Lavish. She is a professor and the chair at Pace University in New York City. So, Kathy, as we wind down, you've been involved in the criminal justice system in looking at it.
[00:36:06.990] - Steve Morreale
As a social scientist, if you were given the opportunity to walk into an organization, let's say a police organization and make some recommendations about what they should focus on to help improve service, to pull themselves out of the scrutiny they're under, what would you recommend?
[00:36:24.030] - Cathy Lavery
I think my first recommendation would be to reestablish community relations. I think community policing as it stands and broken windows was wonderful at the time, but I think we need to reframe it now. I think officer wellness and really talking to the Chiefs, the captains, the senior managers and say this is a priority. This has to be a priority because you're only as good as the beat officers are and how they handle themselves and how they look in the community. I think the social and political risk assessment needs to be done, and I think we have to really start to break down the stigma of stress and policing.
[00:37:09.170] - Cathy Lavery
If we can discuss stress and higher ed, stress and the medical area stress and politics, why can't we now? So I think those would be four or five of the major areas I would look at. And hopefully that would spawn more discussion to more intricate serious issues like sexual assault or domestic violence or rise in crime or criminal trends, gang violence. And I think it could be a great domino effect.
[00:37:36.900] - Steve Morreale
So as a social scientist, as a professor, as an educator, you're doing lots of reading constantly and most of the time it's articles. But what do you read to get yourself away from work?
[00:37:48.610] - Cathy Lavery
I do like mystery novels. That's good. I do. And I also like historical nonfiction. That's been a new thing for me, but mostly that takes place in other cultures and other countries because I love traveling. That's kind of been the focus. And yeah, of course, Stephen King. I'm still a Stephen King. I'm sorry. That started at twelve. That sticks with you.
[00:38:12.010] - Steve Morreale
So in terms of travel, now that you raised it, where do you want to go when things settle down?
[00:38:17.570] - Cathy Lavery
Actually, I have a list. I have been very fortunate to travel a lot, go to many countries, but I've always wanted to go to Romania. That's been on my list. Croatia, I'd like to go back to Ireland. I haven't been there in a long time in Portugal. That's also on my list.
[00:38:35.430] - Steve Morreale
That's good. You have a good list. Well, we're going to wind down, and I want to thank you for joining us and finally getting the time to chat on The CopDoc Podcast.
[00:38:44.500] - Steve Morreale
[00:38:45.200] - Cathy Lavery
Thank you so much for having me. Steve. This is a great podcast. I've been having my students listen to it, and I use my social media platforms, too. You're doing a great service. I think the more information that's out there, even with differing opinions. Again, it goes back to challenging and asking the questions, and I think that only makes us better.
[00:39:06.440] - Steve Morreale
Well, that's interesting. That's a great way for me to end. This is Steve Morreale. You've been listening to The CopDoc Podcast, and we've been talking with Dr. Catherine Lavery, who is the chair at Pace University. But I want to also say thank you for reaching out and feel free to reach out either by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org. Most recently, I had contact from somebody out in California who said, how can we better control homelessness? It's not a police issue. It's a social issue, but the police are the front lines of it.
[00:39:34.380] - Steve Morreale
And so we're going to be paying attention to that in the near future. I've also been asked by people who are thinking about second careers pracademics, if you will, about going back for a doctoral program. Is it a value? Can I get a job? And certainly it may be a value, but it's a long and lengthy process. And I'm not sure that mainstream schools will necessarily look at you fondly, but we're going to discuss that. And most recently, I've been working on Pracademics and Criminal Justice for a chapter that I'm writing for publication out of Europe.
[00:40:06.430] - Cathy Lavery
So again, Kathy, thank you very much. You know what we're talking about? Those are some pretty hot things that came from people listening.
[00:40:12.080] - Cathy Lavery
Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.
[00:40:15.130] - Steve Morreale
My pleasure. Stay tuned for other episodes. Thanks very much for listening. We'll see you soon.
[00:40:20.100] - 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.