Return our police officers to their roots as PEACE OFFICERS. As a result of my study and career in the high-tech industry, I know about the power of words. It is time to go back to the fundamentals. What is the real name for cops? They’re PEACE OFFICERS. That’s what the law usually refers to them. PEACE OFFICER is the one unifying notion that ties all cops together. So how do we actualize this as a nation? We use the ethos of PEACE OFFICER for our police and sheriff’s deputies. If we commit to this as a nation, we can change police culture and one day even bring about non-lethal policing for all of our departments nationwide.
Aspart of our series about 5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Broderick.
Lisa Broderick, a former high-tech executive, has decades of experience in how communication impacts society and changes behavior. From her start at Apple Computer in its early years, she went on to head one of the first e-commerce companies on the Internet and has served as CEO of numerous high technology companies. Lisa has frequently found herself at the forefront of applying “disruptive technologies” to societal problems through the use of language and radical thinking. Today, Lisa serves as Executive Director of Police2Peace, an organization devoted to reshaping policing in America. Lisa holds a BA in Economics from Stanford University and an MBA in Global Finance and Management from Duke University. She has taught at the grade school and college levels as an experienced speaker and presenter and has appeared on numerous television broadcasts.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Both of my parents were techno-geeks, and I mean that in the best sense of the word. My father was a computer-science trained electrical engineer and my mother was an economist. They were New Yorkers, but in the 60s the family relocated to Arizona for my father’s work in the new computer industry. Later, in Silicon Valley, both my parents became computer industry entrepreneurs. The professional experience and the values of my parents, especially the emphasis on science and education, inspired me to attend Stanford and study economics. Silicon Valley was in its infancy then and I learned about using communications to shape society and disruptive technologies to solve big problems.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Tao of Physics came out in the 1970s and it opened my eyes to the idea that the world around us is much more than what we see with our physical eyes. With this as a belief, I tend to excel in the face of adversity. Because of what I learned from The Tao of Physics, what someone else might perceive as adversity or danger, I learned to see as an opportunity for growth.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
After watching the early 90’s movie, Defending Your Life, starring Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks, I came up with this life lesson quote: “Be generous, live with courage and have fun.” By applying those simple ideas to everything I do each day, my life is filled with meaning, purpose and a richness of experience.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is the ability to articulate a shared vision and inspire people to mobilize toward a common goal. Gandhi was a great leader; he embodied a vision and inspired millions of people through his words and actions. With non-violent protests, Gandhi and his followers achieved the miraculous emancipation of India from British rule.
In life we come across many people, some who inspire us, some who change us and some who make us better people. Is there a person or people who have helped you get to where you are today? Can you share a story?
Even as a child I was aware of Dr. Martin Luther King. I admire his capacity for compassion in the face of systemic racism and inherent hostility; his refusal to return hate for hate. Dr. King is the perfect example of a leader whose words inspire and mobilize others. I strive to be the sort of peacemaker Dr. King would smile on.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a series of unprecedented crises. So many of us see the news and ask how we can help. We’d love to talk about the steps that each of us can take to help heal our county, in our own way. Which particular crisis would you like to discuss with us today?
The crisis of lethal policing in America is the issue I am now devoting my life to. Due to the confluence of various trends, policing in America has a quasi-military culture. It provides inequitable policing in communities and is riddled with racism. Many police officers have either forgotten or strayed alarmingly far from their original role: As peacekeepers. My mission is to reshape policing in America, employing the disruptive idea of law enforcement returning to its original mission as PEACEKEEPERS and PEACE OFFICERS — including everything those words might suggest or inspire.
Why does that resonate with you so much?
I believe this crisis can be solved using a very simple notion: Return our police officers to their roots as PEACE OFFICERS. As a result of my study and career in the high-tech industry, I know about the power of words. It is time to go back to the fundamentals. What is the real name for cops? They’re PEACE OFFICERS. That’s what the law usually refers to them. PEACE OFFICER is the one unifying notion that ties all cops together. So how do we actualize this as a nation? We use the ethos of PEACE OFFICER for our police and sheriff’s deputies. If we commit to this as a nation, we can change police culture and one day even bring about non-lethal policing for all of our departments nationwide.
This is likely a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?
The urgent, domestic public policy issue of lethal policing reached a tipping point in May with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the resulting protests in cities around the country. As evidenced by the significant decline in the public’s trust in police in the past decade, hostility and mistrust in the police is widespread and visible on every platform of media today. Citizens feel unheard in their expression of uneasiness with the way they are being policed, especially ethnic groups and people of color. And citizens’ mistrust of police is not without truth. The fraying of the social safety net has meant fewer social services leaving citizens with fewer options other than a call to the police. Police officers are increasingly being called in to fill a social services void. Because the officers are responding to these calls instead of social workers, the possibility for hostility and polarization increases, and this is what we are now commonly seeing on our streets. Communities feel over-policed, leading to anxiety and chronic stress of citizens, and diminishing livability. Inequitable policing in some communities is blatant. Constant hostility is dimming many officers’ memories of why they entered the profession in the first place — to serve their communities for the greater good. I founded Police2Peace in response to this national crisis of hostility and polarization. Together with our board of advisors and directors, we at Police2Peace envision that lasting change can occur if police and communities are brought together. This makes peace and safety a collaboration of departments and communities. Combine that with changing police culture to embody the ethos of PEACE OFFICER and we can re-shape policing in this country for a fair, just and equitable society for all of us.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience either working on this cause or your experience being impacted by it? Can you share a story with us?
The Police2Peace organization anticipated this moment of crisis in our society. Since 2018, we have rolled out PEACE OFFICER and related programs in multiple civil jurisdictions around the country. The PEACE OFFICER program inspires codes of conduct and trains officers in how to apply them. The ambition of Police2Peace is to change the way law enforcement sees itself, how the officers see themselves, and how people see them. In so doing, the objective is to change the behaviors of law enforcement and their perception of individuals’ behaviors in our communities. This, combined with changes in training, culture, reward systems and reallocation of resources, is how we seek to bring about a future where lethal policing is a thing of the past. One story is of an officer whose vehicle was marked with the words, PEACE OFFICER. She reported that before seeing those words she considered her job to be tamping down on problems — but after the addition of those words which she sees every day on her vehicle, she now sees herself as a keeper of the peace.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps That Each of Us Can Take to Proactively Help Heal Our Country”? Kindly share a story or example for each.
- Become involved in how your tax dollars are spent on policing in your city or community by knowing what the police line item amount is and what it is being spent on.
- Ask your police chief or sheriff if they are aware of the Six Pillars of 21st Century Policing released by the Obama administration and whether they adhere to them.
- Support political candidates who believe in federal oversight of police conduct, national databases of officer conduct and department practices such as the use of chokeholds.
- Support legislation that requires departments to provide statistics on police complaints, and the disposition of those complaints.
- Vote for political candidates that support more resources for police training other than tactical training (such as resilience, de-escalation and mediation), and resources for mental health professionals to join with the police as appropriate to handle mental health crises, drug addiction and homelessness.
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but what can we do to make these ideas a reality? What specific steps can you suggest to make these ideas actually happen? Are there things that the community can do to help you promote these ideas?
These ideas are actionable at this moment and for every citizen. Community members can also recommend our charitable work at Police2Peace to their local departments for the purpose of culture change, bringing about an ethos of peace, and associated training/tools which can help bring an end to lethal policing in America.
We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?
If we focus on the goal of achieving non-lethal policing by the end of this decade — an idea originally articulated by Chief Jim Bueermann (ret.) past president of the National Police Foundation in Washington DC and founder of Future Policing Strategies — we can succeed. Why not? In 1961, President Kennedy announced the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade and, through laser-like focus, our nation realized that lofty goal. Today, we too can achieve a lofty goal. We can commit to the end of lethal policing within the decade. It will take similar resolve and focus, commitment and working together as a nation. It will require resilience and compassion for those being asked to change. I am optimistic that, together, we can solve the crisis of lethal policing.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
If you have a dream, especially a dream for a better world, pursue it. I formed Police2Peace as a result of seeing a vision of the words, PEACE OFFICER on a police vehicle on a beach in the summer of 2016. At that moment, I knew this was mine to do. If something like this occurs to you, then ask these questions: “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Barack Obama is someone I would like to share my ideas with. His vision for 21st Century Policing was a wonderful start. If we add to his body of work the goal of non-lethal policing by the end of this decade, then we will have truly changed the course of this nation.
How can our readers follow you online?
Police2Peace appears on all social media accounts; follow us Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!