BTL EP 68
Brent Hinson: Hello and welcome to another edition of Between the Lines with Virtual Academy, our podcast going beyond the badge to allow members of law enforcement, public safety, and first response a place to tell their stories and also talk about cases that have impacted their lives.
Brent Hinson: Glad to have you guys along today. I’m your co host, Britt Hinson. We’re going to get to find out what it takes to be chief of police in America’s coolest hometown today in this episode. Plus I’m going to forewarn all of our dear listeners up front. Your host is surely fired up because our guest has a resume.
Brent Hinson: That says U. S. Army right at the tippy top. Allow me to bring in the Simon to my Garfunkel, the hall to my oats. He is Mr. Michael Warren. How are you,
Brent Hinson: sir?
Michael Warren: Buddy, I am doing fantastic today. How are things down in Tennessee? Hot, always hot. Whenever you come here. Have you ever had one of those weeks where you just cannot get it right what day of the week it is?
Michael Warren: I thought Wednesday was
Michael Warren: Thursday
Michael Warren: all day long. So you know what I’m talking about, what the weather has been so perfect here lately, I’m struggling to figure out what month it is the other morning when I went out for my walk, it was like 55 degrees. My favorite time of the year is when you can wear shorts and hoodie sweatshirts and be comfortable that fall like weather.
Michael Warren: Yeah, never, never happens in August, but it did. I just worry what the end of this month is going to look like, what September is going to look like, but for right now, things look good.
John Patrick Clair: Okay.
Brent Hinson: Yeah, it is kind of strange. It’s always hot, but we had some rain come through and it did cool things off. So a few of the mornings have been a little chill in the air.
Michael Warren: Yeah, I love this time of year. And you know what? I love talks like I think we’re going to have today. Well, I’ll wait until he comes on. Then I’ll tell you how I ended up quote unquote meeting this gentleman, but he intrigues me. And I think that, uh, what we’re going to talk about today is going to shine a different perspective on the profession that I love.
Brent Hinson: Yeah, I think it’ll be an interesting talk just to see his, uh, ascendment up the ladder as far as a leadership position concern. And maybe hopefully that’ll
Brent Hinson: inspire some other folks.
Michael Warren: His ladder, his career ladder has been much taller than mine. Mine was a little step ladder, you know, that you could fold up and carry around with you.
Michael Warren: But, uh, uh, why don’t you go ahead and tell us a little bit more about him and let’s bring him on and let’s get this conversation going.
Brent Hinson: All right, our guest today is a third generation police officer and like previous guests, Chip Huth got his start in law enforcement serving as a military police officer with the U.
Brent Hinson: S. Army. After serving in various roles over his six years of service, his municipal law enforcement career began with the town of Dumfries in Virginia in 2007 and by 2013 he started to move into positions of leadership within the profession, first as chief of police with the town of Quantico, P. D. and Then again, as chief with the town of Marion PD in 2018, a position he still holds.
Brent Hinson: And as I mentioned earlier, quote unquote, America’s coolest hometown, please welcome to between the lines, chief John Patrick Clare. Thanks for joining us today. Chief.
John Patrick Clair: Oh, hey, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. You know, I will have to argue with ascending. I feel like I fell backwards into all of it, however you got there, man, just take it.
John Patrick Clair: Yeah. For the purposes of the podcast, I’ll accept it.
Michael Warren: Hey chief, uh, just so our listeners understand how you and I came to, to connect. I love LinkedIn and I think it’s a great place for networking, for professional networking, networking outside of our profession. Part of my feed. There was this guy that kept popping up and it was the chief.
Michael Warren: And a lot of times when you get somebody that starts popping up, it’s not because things are good or they’re doing something really good. But this guy puts out these little quotes and then he’ll put out these videos about books that he’s read and concepts and principles that we need to think about.
Michael Warren: And I’m like, I think I like this guy. So, as I often do, I began to stalk him and, um, and I sent him a message on LinkedIn and said, Hey, chief, I really appreciate the stuff that you’re posting. I’d really love to talk to you about it sometime. He responded back and we ended up talking on the phone. Our first conversation, I thought it was fascinating.
Michael Warren: And so here we are. So, so chief, I’m going to ask you the same question that I asked most of our guests and Brent’s already alluded to it, but why is it you chose this as a career field for yourself?
John Patrick Clair: You know, as I think back, it’s kind of interesting and I was really kind of joking about. We’re not joking about falling into it.
John Patrick Clair: So my grandfather was a police officer in the Dayton area of Ohio in the fifties and sixties and seventies. And my father was a police officer too, which meant that I wanted nothing to do with the profession, right? Having grown up in it, I, it was my last thought, but when I went to join the U S army, I actually wanted to be an infantry man or a tanker.
John Patrick Clair: And I found out I was colorblind. And so I was prohibited from being in combat arms. And I said, you know, What about military police? You know, I’ve got some history of that. I think I could probably do that. So I joined the Army as an MP and went all around. I was stationed in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Republic of Korea.
John Patrick Clair: And then I came back as a canine handler and I was attached to the 3rd U. S. Infantry Regiment. The old guard there at Fort Meyer. After September 11th, I deployed to Guantanamo Bay for a little while and then, uh, was honorably discharged and did some, this is kind of interesting, I did some contract work waiting to get a job in law enforcement.
John Patrick Clair: So I tested with a large agency in Northern Virginia in 2005. And I think I showed up in a room with a couple of hundred people. All taking the test at the same time. And maybe there was 10 or 20 positions and I was just a veteran with a high school diploma. And I guess they had better candidates. So it actually took me a while to get, to get hired.
John Patrick Clair: And I got an opportunity in the town of Dumfries and then worked for Prince William County. And then in 2013, had the chance to become the chief of police of the town of Quantico, which is the only civilian town completely located within a military base. And then in 2018, we got tired of that hustle in Northern Virginia and decided to come down to Southwest Virginia.
John Patrick Clair: But I ended up in law enforcement just out of a desire to do something honorable for my community.
Michael Warren: I talk about it in classes that I teach. I always make sure I recognize veterans because I believe that the two most honorable things that we can do in American society is serving our nation’s military and serve in law enforcement.
Michael Warren: And it’s amazing to me how many people in law enforcement have done both. You’re gonna save our listeners a little bit of time because normally I have to ask, Hey, why did you choose your particular branch of the military? But uh, you chose the right one. So you got the answer, right? So we don’t have to elaborate on that.
John Patrick Clair: Yeah. You know, I thought about all three, but my grandfather was a world war two veteran. He fought with Patton from Africa to Berlin. And so the army was what was in my mind, even though I grew up near an air force base there in Dayton.
Michael Warren: I go down to Dayton, and my dad was an Air Force vet, and a few years ago, and he lives in Southwest Virginia, he actually drove up to Dayton, we drove down, um, me and my two younger sons, and we spent some time at the, uh, National U.
Michael Warren: S. Air Force Museum, and so he was able to pass on to, to my kids some of his history in the military, and it was a fantastic, fantastic time, but, uh, you ended up, uh, and I have to, I have to talk about this, the, the Old Army Home Guard for a second. The old guard. Yes. You know, it is amazing to me how many people think that those are Marines at Tomb of the Unknown soldier.
John Patrick Clair: Yeah. So I didn’t do, uh, those are very special assignments. I didn’t do anything like the tomb or the caisson. So the 3rd U. S. Infantry Regiment has divisions, you know, it has the caisson, it has the tomb, it has some. Uh, artillery divisions, uh, as a military police officer and especially canine handler, I was kind of just doing mission support, but I spent plenty of time standing in Arlington Cemetery.
John Patrick Clair: It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, more so in retrospect, you know, when you’re kind of in the middle of something, you don’t realize how profound it is. And, and later I look back and I think what an amazing honor I had to be. even remotely associated with anything going on there. I
John Patrick Clair: had the privilege of working with a gentleman that actually had been a platoon sergeant with the ones that did the tomb, uh, duty.
John Patrick Clair: And, uh, he ended up going over to, um, ATF once he retired from the army in a civilian role. And my Third kid. I took him to D. C. a few years ago on a surprise trip. And when we went to Arlington and haven’t been able to have the conversations with him about what it represented as a whole, and then going to some of the individual grave sites and talking to him about these people aren’t abstract.
John Patrick Clair: You read about them in books, but these people made real and genuine sacrifices for our country. And I hope that it made as big an impact on him as it did on me sharing that with him. Amen. So, so you make the transition from the military into civilian law enforcement. How was that transition? Did you find it to go smoothly?
John Patrick Clair: Was it challenging for you? Because same job title, but different worlds. Very
John Patrick Clair: different worlds. And at that time, very different training. I think Military police officers now receive far better law enforcement or garrison style training than we had in the past. I was blown away by the civilian law enforcement training compared to what I had received in 1999.
John Patrick Clair: But remember, military police officers in the Army have two pronged mission. There’s that garrison, law enforcement, civilian style, but then there’s also the field operations, which deal with enemy prisoners of war, logistical control, things like that. So we’re doing a lot more and we usually are just kind of rotating in and out of that traditional law enforcement role.
John Patrick Clair: But there’s also a lot of things that are very similar. So it was a, it was a big knowledge jump. When I went to the Prince William County Police Academy from what I had seen seven or eight years earlier at Fort Leonard
Michael Warren: Wood, Missouri. We had a previous guest on here, Joe Willis, who retired as a first sergeant from the army, and he did his career through military policing, and he enlightened me and enlightened hopefully our listeners that that dual role.
Michael Warren: Most people think when they think of military police, they think of the people standing guard at the gates of our military installations. But military police deploy, they have a much broader job. Especially during deployments than perhaps most people know, I think that that type of experience, though, would serve you well in civilian law enforcement.
Michael Warren: Yeah,
John Patrick Clair: absolutely. I mean, I think the diversity of background. So one thing I was going to say is, remember, prior to September 11th, 2001, many. Military installations had an open post posture. So when I was stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas before September 11th, it was open to civilian traffic. So we got absolutely everything you could imagine that existed in downtown San Antonio.
John Patrick Clair: It was only after September 11th that you saw the real clamp down on, uh, security postures for military installations. And I think. Often we have an idyllic view of military people as well. The military has problems. There are people who join our military who commit crimes. Those people end up leaving, but there are crimes that are committed on, on military bases and the military police have a.
John Patrick Clair: Very traditional role and apprehending and bringing those offenders
Michael Warren: to justice. And Brent, you, you know this about me. Okay. In a broad sense, I’m a dork. Okay. We, we, we recognize that, but I’m a huge fan for lack of a better term of our military academies, but, but the chief is absolutely correct. In fact, there was an article that I just saw today where the Pentagon has announced changes that are going to be taking place.
Michael Warren: At our nation’s military academies to curb the number of sexual assaults. It’s not a big number, but those types of things cannot exist in a military environment and expect our military to be ready. And functional and effective. So, uh, when the chief talks about, Hey, the military has these same, same issues, it really is a cross section of society who serves in the nation’s
John Patrick Clair: military.
John Patrick Clair: And you nailed it right there, right? Because just like law enforcement, the military. Is not some special class of people. They’re just normal people who join an organization. They come from every socioeconomic background, every moral and ethical strata that you can imagine. And law enforcement is the same way.
John Patrick Clair: It’s not populated by people who fall from the sky as police officers. They all have normal lives, normal experiences. And so there’s always a process of getting the right people in. If they turn out to be the wrong people, getting them out and getting more of the right people in.
Michael Warren: Again, I am not excusing behavior.
Michael Warren: Okay. That’s not what I’m doing. It’s interesting how kids go off to college and there’s almost an acceptance of their less than stellar behavior. We’ll go with that right there. But those are the same age kids that are going off and joining the military. They’re, they’re going away from home for the first time.
Michael Warren: And in some cases, once they’re done with their training, they may even be deployed overseas. We have to take care of our youth. We have to make sure that they’re directed. When I say youth, these guys may be legally adults, but they’re still youth and they’re still in need of guidance. I think the military is suffering a little bit from what policing is suffering from.
Michael Warren: Are those senior mentors that have been through that process that can sit down with these young folks and have that talk and say, listen, that’s going to get you in a lot of trouble. That’s not the way we do things here.
John Patrick Clair: I think the one thing that we’ve got to remember is that there’s a process of training organization and adaptation in any career field, but there’s so little tolerance for it.
John Patrick Clair: In law enforcement, as if there has to be this beginning point of utter maturity and perfection. And I’m not trying to deemphasize that the stakes aren’t high in law enforcement. They are exceptionally high, but we have to remember that cops are just humans and they have to grow and they have to learn and think about.
John Patrick Clair: Think about this, Michael, everything a police officer has to be to be a police officer. He’s got to be a sociologist, a psychologist, an anthropologist. He’s got to be able to run, shoot, drive, fight, make perfect decisions, always look good, never say anything wrong and be prepared to counsel or pastor any citizen about any issue immediately with perfection.
John Patrick Clair: Absolutely. That just doesn’t happen. It takes time. Let’s look
Michael Warren: at the NFL, for example. When you have somebody who comes into the NFL for their rookie season, most of the time they have been playing football for 15, 16, 17 years of their life, yet they have rookie camps. to acclimate them to this profession, or they’ll ride the
Brent Hinson: bench for a couple of years and be mentored by somebody.
Brent Hinson: Exactly.
Michael Warren: And that’s my point that most of the time, I mean, a rookie making a start is an anomaly in many cases, and it’s changing a little bit now, but they talk about the growing pains associated with having a rookie quarterback. Our folks come out of the police academy and they start right away. They go through FTO and then we throw them in a solo police car and expect them to perform at the same level as the 20 year vet.
Michael Warren: And it’s unrealistic. And I’m not trying to give them excuse for bad behavior, but it’s an unrealistic human performance And
John Patrick Clair: I think we forget too, that we talk about law enforcement. As a profession and we do so rightfully, but authors like James Wilson writing 50 years ago, talked about law enforcement, like a craft, a skill to be learned and honed.
John Patrick Clair: over a great number of years and craftsmanship passed down from one generation to the other. Again, we talk about law enforcement like a profession. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there is some craftsmanship involved with good effective policing.
Michael Warren: Chief, I’m going to call you out right here. All right, because you’re talking my language, but I have to believe that you didn’t always look at policing like that, that when you first came into this job, that was not how you viewed it.
Michael Warren: You probably viewed it like I did was like, I’m the man, right? I want to do good, but my approach was much different at the beginning than it was at the end. Absolutely. Let’s talk about your career for a second if we could, because in our discussions, you shared with me that there was an event, there was a moment in time where you were involved in a significant event, and it literally was the turning point in your career.
Michael Warren: So, so would you mind sharing with our listeners the type of event I think is important for people to understand? How it can impact our officers.
John Patrick Clair: So I started in policing in 1999, but in a lot of ways, I didn’t become a police officer until the evening of January the 1st, 2011. I was working in Prince William County on an evening shift in the Sudley Road area.
John Patrick Clair: And a call came out for a domestic with weapons near Haymarket, Virginia, which is pretty far away from where I’m working, but with calls like that, we often start drifting that direction. Uh, so this man had, uh, taken some shots at his wife. And units were arriving and he fled the scene and it just so happened that he kind of evaded those initial units and my B partner and I were coming into the entrance of a large housing complex just as he was coming out and we had a direct.
John Patrick Clair: confrontation there, and he stepped out of his vehicle, took cover behind the hood, and leveled a 9mm right in my direction at about 25 yards and pulled the trigger. And even though I had been in the military, even though I had been in law enforcement for 10 years before that, that was the first time I had ever been shot at.
John Patrick Clair: And I saw the muzzle flash, and the whole thing, you know how it is, the whole thing unfolded in probably 3 tenths of a second, but it felt like 3 minutes. So when I saw that muzzle flash, I had two distinct thoughts. Number one, you got me. That’s not how this is supposed to work, right? The police are supposed to win these things.
John Patrick Clair: But he had me and number two that my daughter who had just been born would never know who I was and in some way I almost felt like I waited for the bullet to hit me and it never did and I remember pulling the trigger on the shotgun And nothing happening and then I threw the shotgun into the vehicle and drew my weapon and the shooting was over.
John Patrick Clair: What I later found out is I fired all five rounds from the shotgun with no memory of it whatsoever. My body responded through that muscle memory. I returned fire. I thought the shotgun was broken or something bad had happened to it, but I fired all five rounds. Of course, he had good cover, so all those rounds hit the vehicle.
John Patrick Clair: He jumped back in the car and the chase was on. One of my B partners jumped in the passenger seat of my car. And, you know, you have all your stuff in your front passenger seat. So he’s kind of sitting back in the vehicle and he, and he picks up this shotgun. And I said, Hey, something’s wrong with that shotgun, man.
John Patrick Clair: I don’t know what’s up with it. He didn’t say anything. And I looked over and he was pulling rounds out of the saddle carrier and pushing them into the tube. And I thought, man, this is going to get wild. He stopped again. And this finally ended when, when another officer. Returned fire, he fired again.
John Patrick Clair: Another officer returned fire and it actually, the bullet ended up striking the suspect in the hand, right in the gun. Disabled… which I’m sure you know often happens, right? Because we focus on the gun.
Michael Warren: You focus on the threat itself.
John Patrick Clair: Right. And so we’re, we focus on the gun and he, he hit him with a two, two, three round right in the gun, right in the hand, that man was later convicted of five counts of attempted capital murder.
John Patrick Clair: So I learned, I learned a lot there, but later that night I went home and I kind of looked in the mirror and I asked myself if I was really going to do this or not, if I was just going to work as a police officer or be one. And that’s when it all changed.
Michael Warren: Let’s go back and let’s talk about a couple of things here.
Michael Warren: There are many folks in society, and unfortunately there are many folks in our profession who would listen to your story about what happened during the shooting. and would call BS because they don’t have a deep understanding of how the human being works under stress. That’s concerning. Wouldn’t you
John Patrick Clair: agree?
John Patrick Clair: Yeah, absolutely. And I, and I, I’m telling you, you know, when you’re past an event, it’s hard to know, did I really think it then? Or am I thinking. It in retrospect, but I feel like that’s exactly what was going through my mind. I remember him getting out, leveling that gun, pulling the trigger. I’ve got the shotgun and I thought, man, he got the jump on me.
John Patrick Clair: My daughter’s not going to know me. And then I thought, well, wait a minute. It didn’t hit me. I guess I should shoot back right now. Of course. I mean, it took me longer to say that all of that, then, then the whole shooting. But I, I swear it all went through my mind like that, but
Michael Warren: people don’t understand how the brain almost acts like Producers, you know, when they film a TV show and they go back afterwards and they lay this laugh track over it, you know, after the event, but when you view it, it’s like, Oh, well, they were laughing when it happened.
Michael Warren: When you start thinking about number one, how amazing the human brain is, it’s incredible. When you’re thinking about your daughter, to me, that’s when this event. It comes from the abstract world into the concrete world. That had to be, obviously it was, it had to be an incredibly sobering thought for you as you reflected back on the event later on that night.
John Patrick Clair: Yeah. And it was incredibly sobering because again, Um, we become police officers and we go out and we execute the skills associated with law enforcement. We’re taught skills, right? We make traffic stops. We write tickets. We respond to calls for service. We know that there’s danger out there, but usually we feel like we’re ahead of the curve.
John Patrick Clair: On this one, I felt like I was way behind the curve and I probably shouldn’t have been. I mean, obviously I had my shotgun out of the vehicle. I knew there was danger. But I felt like I was behind the whole time. And I was amazed that, like I said, I fired all five rounds from the shotgun with no memory of it whatsoever.
John Patrick Clair: It
Michael Warren: just happened. The thing is, if you would have been given a polygraph. Examination and they would have asked you, did you fire five rounds with using your shotgun? Your answer would have been no, and it would have come back that you were telling the truth because that is what your mind. Remember,
John Patrick Clair: my body just did it.
John Patrick Clair: Here’s another one. I remember walking back to the scene and you know, after a shooting, they say something like, okay, did you guys, you know, who fired? Who didn’t give me your weapons? And I said, I didn’t fire. And they said, well, john, there’s five shotgun shells laying right there where you were. I said, why?
John Patrick Clair: Okay, maybe I did fire. Right? And that sounds ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. And I’ll tell you that bothered me later because I didn’t know enough about the human brain. I didn’t know how it worked. And I, and I bothered me and I thought, you know, was I not paying attention? Was I just. too afraid and I wasn’t processing things properly.
John Patrick Clair: And then I read a book by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman. Uh, and I can’t remember if it was on combat or on killing, but Colonel Grossman talks about the experience of the exchange of gunfire and the human brain’s reaction. And he talks about those kinds of first moments. And then I did some research and I saw that kind of stuff’s not uncommon.
John Patrick Clair: Just that. Subconscious response
Brent Hinson: coming into this recording. I had no idea about that particular story you told But I wrote in my notes that looking at your career now It seems like you tend to get out in front of things before they start to fester up and I’m assuming that’s where this comes
John Patrick Clair: From yeah, I’m gonna tell you that I felt completely Caught off guard.
John Patrick Clair: And again, it sounds naive and it probably sounds silly. And there’s probably gonna be cops that listen to this, that think, who is this clown? But I honestly thought when he pulled the trigger and I saw that muzzle flash, I thought, wait a minute, that’s not how this works. That’s not how this is supposed to work.
John Patrick Clair: We’re supposed to win. You won. I mean, he didn’t, but I fully expected, I fully expected that he was going to. And so that just changed my thinking. That’s when I got serious about training, cognitive capabilities, how we do things, why we do things, what it looks like. That’s when it changed for
Michael Warren: me. I appreciate people who come to that realization that, and I love the way that you put it, you know, am I going to keep working as the police or am I going to be the police?
Michael Warren: This is one of those professions where there are people who don’t take it seriously as a profession and are able to go through their entire career. Right. And not have any issues. And it works until it doesn’t. You recognize that what you were doing before wasn’t working. It wasn’t sustainable for what you needed to do.
Michael Warren: So what did it cause you to do? What were, what were some of the changes that took place in your activity that reflected your change in perspective of the profession? It
John Patrick Clair: happened in a couple of different ways. So first, I started to question the whole police task. I started to ask myself, what are we doing here?
John Patrick Clair: Why are we doing things the way that we’re doing them? How was all this designed? Where did it come from? And I started to genuinely study the role of law enforcement in society. I started to study social issues. I ended up, I got an undergraduate in religion and the humanities, and that opened up some of it too.
John Patrick Clair: So it wasn’t just police, it was society. All of its pieces. What are we doing with crime control? What are we doing in government? How are we shaping society? What is it supposed to look like? What kind of service am I really supposed to be providing? And it really opened up a whole new world for me. So I started doing.
John Patrick Clair: All of that reading, all of that study. And a lot of that is what led me to want to lead a police department. I started to see, hold on a second. It was kind of, thus my eyes were opened and I started to see there’s more I can do here. And I wanted to evangelize other officers into this new way. Of seeing and understanding and you know what I was probably the only one that was that dumb I’ll admit that there’s probably you know All the other cops probably understood all this from day one or whatever, but but I didn’t you know what I mean?
John Patrick Clair: Well, and
Brent Hinson: I’ve asked this of other guests before do you think that? Do officers have to have a moment like you had, or is it something that they can learn by living
John Patrick Clair: through your experience? I think a little bit of both. So I think police officers go through three phases. The first one is idealism, right?
John Patrick Clair: That kind of zero to three year phase where they’re the good guys, the good guys always win, the bad guys always lose. We’re out there helping people and pulling cats from trees and doing amazing things. And then the cynicism starts to set in because they see, wait a minute, I’m a very small cog in a very big wheel.
John Patrick Clair: This doesn’t go how I think it’s going to go. Am I even doing anything productive? Am I really meeting the ideal? All this cognitive tension exists in my life now, but then there’s something that happens. For me, it was that. shooting event for some other people. I think it’s certain responses to crimes or certain victims, but they move from cynicism to truly being sage police officers where they say, hold on a second.
John Patrick Clair: I am this small cog in this big wheel, but I can have an impact with particular people in particular moments at particular times. And that’s the best anyone can ever do, no matter where they are.
Michael Warren: Chief, let me ask you this. We’re speaking in generalities, obviously. Back in the day, if you went and you looked at TV shows or movies regarding police, the police were almost always portrayed as the hero.
Michael Warren: Yes, I think that it primed society and it primed people thinking about coming into law enforcement to see themselves as heroes. Okay. Right. But then there’s a shift. And now we have so many of these shows and we had a previous guest, Jerry Williams, how she talked about how she tries to combat that because she goes, she watches his show and it’s like everything they’re doing is illegal.
Michael Warren: There’s no way that would happen. But now the police are almost portrayed as the villain. I’m on the training side of things. And we talk about how training expectations yields. often have direct impact on how our students perform. If I expect them to do well, the chances are they’re going to do well.
Michael Warren: However, if I expect them not to do well, they’re probably not going to do well. And I just wonder that stereotypical view of law enforcement, if that view is that they’re villains, are we getting people that are living up to the expectation? Or in this case, are living up to the expectations? Down to the expectation.
Michael Warren: Yeah. And
John Patrick Clair: I’ll tell you the impact of pop culture and portrayal on law enforcement is huge. So for me, I grew up and I mean, I grew up in a police household, but I still watched all the same movies. I thought all the police did was drive fast, shoot guns and swing the baton. I had no idea that we did anything other than that.
John Patrick Clair: I was kind of blown away by the cornucopia of law enforcement services that are out there. When we’re portraying things like that as a society, for one, it’s going to push a lot of people away, or it’ll draw in some of the wrong people. And we probably should have been more honest from the beginning about the regular, ordinary nature Of law enforcement.
John Patrick Clair: If you watch cops for any length of time, you’re going to think that’s all that that police department ever does. You don’t realize they filmed it over a year and then pulled all those moments down and do a single hour long episode that you watched
Michael Warren: since that time when they were portrayed as the hero, societal expectations have changed.
Michael Warren: I’ll give you an example here on the correction side. We had a recent guest on here, Mike. Who talked about society expects for them to keep the bad people locked away out of sight and to keep society safe by doing that. If that’s the number one priority, how does that marry up with the expectation that they’re going to be rehabilitated?
Michael Warren: Right. Because it’s difficult to fulfill both of those tasks. And I would propose that it’s difficult for law enforcement today to do the wide scope of expectations that society has.
John Patrick Clair: And you’re exactly right, Mike. Here’s the thing. Society today has to make a decision about what the expectations are for law enforcement.
John Patrick Clair: Even using the term law enforcement, we start to pigeonhole ourselves. Police service has never primarily been about law enforcement. It has been a part of what we do, but it has never been the totality of what we do. And now as a society, some of those other roles are getting a lot of criticism. For example, what you might call order maintenance policing is getting a lot of criticism.
John Patrick Clair: Police interactions with mental health, a lot of criticism. And I feel like we’re in this period where we’re torn between two worlds. Do you want the police involved with mental health response or do you not? And I know a lot of police officers feel trapped too, but exactly right. We have to have a discussion as a society.
John Patrick Clair: about where we want the police and what we want them doing instead of always just leaving it to us to somehow figure out with none of the tools available or the support to do it. Well, it’s like
Brent Hinson: my mom used to say of me, glowingly, you’re the jack of all trades, master of none. So you want us to be all these things, but we can’t be centralized and focused because we’re trying to be everything to everyone, right?
Michael Warren: Absolutely. Chief, one of the things that your journey took you into doing, and I really appreciate this about you, was that you went back and you looked at things from a historical perspective when it came to this profession right here. And it’s interesting that there was a big study that was done back in the 60s.
Michael Warren: They said, listen, we really need to professionalize. We need to make this a profession. And that comes about through better and more training. And we like to think that this call for better training of police is something new, but it’s been around for decades. It’s been around longer than I’ve been alive.
Michael Warren: And that’s saying something.
John Patrick Clair: Yeah. And when you read the history of law enforcement, so I’ve read the Wickersham commission report from right after the prohibition era up to the Kerner report in the late 1960s to the reporting in the early 1990s to the Ferguson report to the president’s commission on law enforcement.
John Patrick Clair: You don’t mean to me to waste airtime naming all those. What I’m saying is I’ve read the all the way back to Sir Robert Peel and everything in between. And every everything is the same. The police need to be professionalized. They need to be free from political pressure, not free from community pressure.
John Patrick Clair: That’s not what I mean. By the way, the police are supposed to be community focused and they’re supposed to be an extension of the community. But free from partisan political pressure that’s focused on gaining votes, per se, and not necessarily creating the flourishing society that we want. But this is nothing new, and bringing in high quality training and leadership training and skills based training, we all know that that’s ultimately the solution, and to be fair.
John Patrick Clair: We’ve come a long way. So we’ve come a long way from James Q. Wilson and the stuff that we read in the 1960s. It’s just, we haven’t had the same progress everywhere at all times in any moment.
Michael Warren: People think that a lot of this stuff is new, when in reality it’s not. And one of the things you talked about there was with the community.
Michael Warren: So Robert Peel talks about the police are the community and the community are the police. The only difference between them is that the police get paid for their crime prevention activities, but the society, the community is just as responsible. Yeah, that’s almost 200
John Patrick Clair: years. Yeah. And I’ll tell you, part of this is kind of the, I don’t know what to call it, the tragedy of American responsibility.
John Patrick Clair: And here’s what I mean. After America’s founding, well the idea of law enforcement as you and I know it didn’t really exist. There were constables associated with courts and sheriffs, but the idea of a public safety professional responding to your ranch to deal with some kind of dispute wasn’t something that happened.
John Patrick Clair: You did that yourself. And then slowly things start to turn and we have a night watchman system that’s out there to kind of watch the community. Maybe they’re watching for disturbances, watching for fires, watching for whatever they’re watching for. But then we entered into periods of social unrest after World War I and World War II.
John Patrick Clair: And we started to see this combination come together of the The kind of classic Minutemen style police services with professional law enforcement services. And now we’ve seen almost a complete disconnect from community responsibility for law enforcement. Again, we don’t want to create vigilantism, right?
John Patrick Clair: That’s not the intent, but the intent is that we’re all supposed to be working to together to create that flourishing society. And now it just all gets pushed off on, shouldn’t someone be doing this? Well, who would that someone be? There’s no, I’ll tell you, Michael, I get upset sometimes when people talk about the government.
John Patrick Clair: And here’s what I mean. The government is not some existential thing. That’s pressing down from the cosmos on people. The government is a collection of people, most of whom you’ve elected. And so law enforcement is no different. We’re just a collection of people that are supposed to be out there with you jointly governing and.
John Patrick Clair: Working together in our
Michael Warren: society, the police, in my view, are almost like an elected official. The elected official is supposed to go off and represent the people that live within their district. When it comes to enacting laws, what the police are supposed to be is the representative of the community. When they’re out there enforcing those laws, I like an extension.
Michael Warren: of the community. There are a couple of things I want to go and I want to talk to you about real quick. Yeah. You’ve identified them in your reading from decades ago. And one of the things that they talked about was the need for improved and expanded training. Now, I was fortunate to speak last year in, in with full Virginia at, at a chief’s training and the attorney general happened to stop by.
Michael Warren: He said, Hey, what can I do to help? What are your biggest concerns? And one of the things, one of the topics that kept coming up was access to training for these agencies that are more rural than others. To me, I’m listening to this and it’s like, well, we already recognize the need for it. Why is there still this problem with access to what we know we already need?
Michael Warren: I’m going
John Patrick Clair: to tell you some of the challenges for small and rural law enforcement agencies. For one is funding, but I’ll tell you, talking about the lack of funding can also be a crutch because there are plenty of ways to get training. I think in the current moment, it also comes down to staffing. So, we just only have so many police officers and there are so many tasks available, pulling those officers out of operational roles to go away from training is difficult and we can only kind of do it little drops at a time and we’ve got to spread it out because the other thing that’s changed generationally is now.
John Patrick Clair: Police officers don’t want to work 80 hours a week. They want to work fairly normal, consistent schedules, and they want time with their families and they want time to do things. And I’m, I’m not being critical of that at all. It’s just something that we now have to try to balance. Even more, but those are some of the challenges that we see now we’ve tried here in Marion to bring some high quality training.
John Patrick Clair: 1. we have a town council who understands how much we need it. And our commitment level to it, and they do fund us appropriately for it. So, really, we just end up kind of juggling staffing, but 1 of the ways that we try to overcome that is by bringing it closer. So, instead of pushing it. You know, pushing our, you know, our staff out all over the place.
John Patrick Clair: We try to bring that training in a little closer, so it’s a little easier to get. And then also the diversity of training. So I think a lot of times when police officers talk about training, I think they’re talking primarily about the use and the implementation of equipment. That is not the whole ball of wax when it comes to training, right?
John Patrick Clair: We need that leadership training, that community training, that engagement training, that crisis training, stuff like that. And
Michael Warren: you use the word crutch. And I think that there are some who use that have these standard answers on why they’re not training. But I appreciate people that put legs. To their solutions and to answer their problems.
Michael Warren: And you did just that because one of the things that you did was that you went to one of your elected officials and say, Hey, how about some funding? And it worked. So, so, so what can you tell us about that?
John Patrick Clair: So absolutely. You know that there was a lot of pressure on law enforcement agencies in 2020 towards better training and better leadership.
John Patrick Clair: One of the primary things I read in the president’s task force report from 2015 was better leadership. So I reached out to Senator Tim Kaine and Senator Mark Warner from Virginia. And I said, Hey, I’m a small town police chief in rural Southwest Virginia. I am. I am studying, I am trying to create the best law enforcement agency I can, and we’ve constantly identified this need, and I’m asking you for help.
John Patrick Clair: I’m asking you to fund better law enforcement training so that our communities can have the same benefits as those who, Are a part of agencies or communities that have more economic growth or whatever it is they have. I’m asking you to do that for us. And to Senator Cain and Senator Warner’s credit, they absolutely did.
John Patrick Clair: They awarded us about 100, 000 in congressionally directed spending, and we’re going to bring a nationally recognized high quality law enforcement program to Southwest Virginia and 25 agency leaders will be able to attend it at absolutely no cost.
Brent Hinson: So, going into that conversation, because I know there’s probably some folks listening, well, that wouldn’t work for me in my area.
Brent Hinson: Did you think it was going to work or you thought, you know what, I got to be the solution to a problem
John Patrick Clair: somehow. So, I at least got to try. Listen, does Patrick Mahomes worry strictly about whether they’re going to catch the pass or does he just throw it deep, man? You know, I mean, I’ll admit it was a jump ball, right?
John Patrick Clair: But it is what it is, right? If you don’t take any shots. You’re never going to win. And so I feel like we made a coherent, timely argument that said, listen, these criticisms are coming and they are coming primarily from our federal government level. It’s something that’s being actively discussed and debated in the Senate and the U.
John Patrick Clair: S. House of Representatives. Be someone who can say. You provided a solution and it’s not just for us, not just the Marion police department. This solution is going to our regional academy that serves something like 50 agencies after it’s over 25 law enforcement leaders in this region. Are going to be better trained on organizational leadership, and ultimately, that’s going to be better for everyone here, and it’s going to have better results.
John Patrick Clair: Be the person who does that. And evidently, they found it compelling
Michael Warren: in addition to that, though, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that just a few months ago, you were a lot of elected, put on, appointed to the Board of Directors for the Southwest Virginia, I think it’s called the Southwest Virginia Regional Law Enforcement or Criminal Justice Academy.
Michael Warren: It’s not only about bringing training, but now you’re trying to influence the training in a positive way. For the people that are coming into the profession because that’s a basic police academy is a basic corrections academy that they have a 911 training going on there, but they also provide in service training.
Michael Warren: It’s real easy to identify problems. It’s much more difficult to try and come up and be part of the solution, but it looks like you stepped up there as well.
John Patrick Clair: I did, and so I had the opportunity to be nominated and start making a difference. So I teach classes at the academy, just a few. I teach a class on Peel’s principles and the core of policing in the first few days at the academy.
John Patrick Clair: By the way, I also go down and run with the new recruits on that one and a half mile initial entry run. I just try not to be last. You know, and from being in the military, you know, the deal, the army at that time didn’t teach me how to be fit. They taught me how to suffer. And so I can, I can run, but I go down and I try to develop rapport with the students during that physical training and then give them the right jumping off point into the profession.
John Patrick Clair: This is the ideal. This is why we’re here. And the Regional Academy is great at then building off of that point the whole way through constitutional law, right up into the rest of everything we do. So as another example, I just got back from the Police Executive Research Forum, Senior Management Institute for Police.
John Patrick Clair: And this is another example, Mike, where you look at the cost of a course like that. And you’re in a smaller rural agency and you think, well, I can never do that. They got a scholarship opportunity. Now I applied for a scholarship and I was awarded it. And that is not something I ever probably would have been able to do.
John Patrick Clair: I wouldn’t even have asked. But since I had that opportunity, I put in for it. One of the big things that was talked about at SMIP was Perf’s use of force model, ICAP, integrating communication and tactics. And I sent that stuff to our Academy director. He immediately flew two people out to Decatur, Illinois.
John Patrick Clair: To see what it’s all about and hopefully they’ll come back and make those changes. But I guess all I’m really trying to say is if what your complaint is, I can’t sit and write a check for all the training I want. I think you’re lying to yourself because there are other creative ways. To get what you need
Michael Warren: and I have to give a shout out here to a director tester from the Academy and speaking with you and speaking with Academy staff.
Michael Warren: This guy, he listens to people. He by no means is one of those people that thinks, Hey, I’m the director. I’ve got all the answers and he has his people looking for additional answers. So, so big shout out to him, but I want to shift into a second topic that came up during that training last year. At least as often, if not, maybe a little bit more often, the chief speaking with the attorney general was the way that Virginia law enforcement has to handle the mental health side of things is putting an incredible drain On the resources available to law enforcement.
Michael Warren: And when I started hearing some of these stories, chief, I thought people were lying. That I thought to myself, there is no way that things can be that bad because my experience in Michigan is much different than that. But can you kind of explain what kind of drain it puts on your resources when you encounter somebody that is in need of treatment?
John Patrick Clair: Yeah. And I’ll tell you, I don’t know. The solution to this problem, I, I really only know how we got here. 15 years ago, we dealt with emergency custody orders and temporary detention orders. It was largely a perfunctory process. It wasn’t something that I was involved a whole lot in. I would do it so inoff and I would forget how to fill out the forms.
John Patrick Clair: It was something kind of rare, it seemed like. And then, Virginia experienced a little tragedy. Senator Cree Deeds, uh, had a son going through mental health crisis. He ended up assaulting the senator and then later killing himself. And part of the problem there. was that they couldn’t find a bed in a facility for his son at that moment.
John Patrick Clair: So, he championed what’s called the bed of last resort law, which says if we can’t find anywhere to put a patient, a state facility must accept them. This was a laudable goal, right? We don’t want people slipping through the cracks. The problem is, kind of fix the end of the process. While leaving a bunch of uncertainty all through the middle.
John Patrick Clair: And that worked out fine, right up until it didn’t. And so then suddenly we have a pandemic that shuts down medical facilities, creates all kinds of pandemonium, results in medical staff leaving, and you, I don’t need to rehash all of that. But what ended up happening is the facilities capacities privately.
John Patrick Clair: And government funded went way down. So then it’s like we have this railroad crash where we have to take these patients, you know, it’s kind of like we have to put them on the train. But there’s no station for the train to go to. So we’re just running back and forth doing a bunch of nothing and sitting at the hospital for days and days and days on end.
John Patrick Clair: Emergency rooms did not sign up for that. The law enforcement are not mental health professionals. These people are in crisis. Now you tell me, Mike, uh, if you were experiencing a mental health crisis, do you think being handcuffed to an emergency room bed for three days would make that better?
Michael Warren: And, uh, oftentimes the only people you’re seeing on a regular basis are the law enforcement officers there.
Michael Warren: Right, right. It just makes the issue worse. Yes,
John Patrick Clair: absolutely. Doesn’t that
Brent Hinson: equate, uh, mental health, you know, with law enforcement? Isn’t that a negative association
John Patrick Clair: there? So this is, yeah, this is the, the point that I tried to make during the kind of high point of the crisis. Law enforcement is continually receiving critique about how we handle mental health interaction and yet continually forced into it.
John Patrick Clair: Which one is it, man? Make up your mind. Are we terrible at it and you don’t want us to do it, but you still force us to do it. This is, this is why at times I call law enforcement the trash can of the general assembly. The general assembly doesn’t know what to do with something. They have the police do it because.
John Patrick Clair: We evidently know how to do all these things. And so you have all these cops too that are in the, are caught in the middle. And here’s what I mean. We have compassion for these people. They are part of our community. They are in crisis. They are not criminals. We want them to get help. We see our role in initiating that process.
John Patrick Clair: We are the part of society paid to initiate that process. But we just can’t keep juggling that forever. There’s got to come to it. So it would get to the point where we would have to make operational decisions. And here’s what I mean, like, you know, we have people out sick or we only have so many officers available.
John Patrick Clair: We’re already sitting at the hospital with two patients for three days. And when the next one comes out, we just have to say, no, we can’t do it. And we have to start making decisions between responding to calls for service or sitting at the hospital. And everybody talks to law enforcement like we’re just supposed to figure it out.
John Patrick Clair: Like I said earlier, right? Like I can just put up a call upstairs and 10 police officers will fall from the sky to do this job. That’s not how it works. It puts incredible stress on agencies and it’s still not been resolved.
Michael Warren: As I understand it, as we’re recording this, you actually have an officer. doing just this activity, having to drive to a different part of the state in order to do this.
Michael Warren: That has to put a strain on your capabilities as a police department in Marion.
John Patrick Clair: We’re like ships passing in the night, right? We have Marion officers driving to Northern Virginia, passing Northern Virginia officers driving to Marion. I’ve said this before, Mike, I’m going to say it again. Nobody that needs to hear it will probably hear it, but please hire someone from Amazon to figure this out.
John Patrick Clair: Amazon, I can order a book and a drone will drop it off at my house in 18 hours and it’ll come from California. Now, how does Amazon do that? Well, because they have very good systems that are technology driven, that let them know where items are and where warehouses are and what my propensity is to purchase.
John Patrick Clair: This is probably a myth, but I’ve heard that once you put something in your cart, But you don’t buy it. Amazon starts moving it closer to you. Anyway, it’s probably a myth. It’s probably a lie, but I believe it’s true. I believe they can do anything so we could probably hire a mid level logistical supervisor from Amazon who could sort all that out in a day.
John Patrick Clair: And for some reason we won’t do it. I don’t know why. I don’t know what it takes. It’s
Michael Warren: one of those things when we talk about these issues, we often forget those aren’t the only issues. So just the two that we’ve talked about right here, the mental health component and the need for training component, both of them have impact on each other.
Michael Warren: I mean, because staffing you, you can’t call the staffing ferry and all of a sudden I have an extra three, three officers with which to work again, I’m not saying I, especially on the mental health side. I don’t have the answers. What I do have is an understanding that what we’re doing. isn’t working very well.
Michael Warren: And we have to be more intentional about it as a society. Going back, going back to Sir Robert Peel, the police are the community and the community are the police. Everybody has to have a role in this in order for it to be handled properly.
John Patrick Clair: Now, I will tell you, it’s not quite as bad in Marion as it is in other parts of the state.
John Patrick Clair: And I think that is solely due to our local community service board, who we have worked with closely, not always. in the most friendly ways. I know you wouldn’t know it from this conversation, but I can have a tendency to be a polarizing figure. So it hasn’t always been in, in the most gentle way, but ultimately they have really stepped up to try to divert as many patients as possible out of the mental health logistical chain by getting them good local services.
John Patrick Clair: good local treatment and ultimately getting them back into the community in a stabilized way.
Michael Warren: Chief is we’re wrapping things up here. Your title is chief of police, but I think you do yourself a disservice because I think that we all shows should include in their chief. Cheerleader for the town of Marion, Virginia.
Michael Warren: Yeah, you do. If anybody and I folks, if you’re not connected with him on LinkedIn, I highly suggest that you look him up. He puts out some amazing stuff and we’re running out of time. I wish we could talk about more of that. The community engagement that you involve yourself in is amazing. Why is that so important to you?
Michael Warren: Why do you invest so much of your energy and time into that
John Patrick Clair: activity? Mike, I’m a true believer, man. I mean, that’s really it. I’m not pretending anymore, right? We talked about that. I’m a true believer. And so I live in Marion with my wife and four children. This is my community. I take the safety and security of the 6, 000 people who lay their heads here every night and the 15, 000 people who visit here every day and the quarter million people who visit Hungry Mother State Park personally.
John Patrick Clair: I lose sleep over it. Last night, we had a young woman go missing. She was in a state of crisis. And we were all up, on the phone, until the wee hours of the morning, tracking her down. We found her, and we got her the help she needed. These are not numbers to me. These are neighbors. And so, I know everybody says that, and many of them mean it, but what I’m saying is, these are not just statistical figures that I see somewhere.
John Patrick Clair: These are real people. The only way that we’re going to turn the tide on police community relations is to do the investment. And it’s going to be vulnerable, and we might say the wrong things, or do the wrong things, or something, you know, some argument might occur, but ultimately, we are dead serious about what we are doing here.
John Patrick Clair: And so, I love Marion. I’ve chosen to move from Northern Virginia and make my life here. I’m all in whether they like it or not. Like I said, I’m dug in, I’m dug in like a tick down here. So I’m going to give it 110% of my personal and professional energy. Until it’s somebody else’s turn.
Michael Warren: I want to refer back to one of our previous guests that Brent has already mentioned today, Chip Huth and his work he’s doing with the Arbinger Institute.
Michael Warren: And what you just said there was they’re not a number. They’re my neighbor. And just to use Chip’s vernacular, it’s seeing people as people, not as objects. Absolutely. It seems to me that your approach is that, Hey, you know, I’m not. Policing the community. I am policing with the community and it’s a completely different
John Patrick Clair: activity.
John Patrick Clair: And, and I appreciate that. And we don’t have time to go through all that. Listen, if you’ve done any reading for me, you can tell, right? I’m against acts of dehumanization. I don’t view. My community as bundled behaviors that are statistically drawn, and I don’t, I don’t put all kinds of numbers on the board.
John Patrick Clair: These are real people with real stories and real struggles who need real solutions. It’s not a mathematical formula that it’s my job to go out and solve. We’ve reduced crime in Marion 45% over five years. That’s the only number that I know and I don’t really care about it. It’s just the one that I have on the top of my head.
John Patrick Clair: We didn’t do that because we went out and tried to lower some statistical category. We did that by community investment in relationships. You made it a part of your culture there. Absolutely. And that’s what changed.
Michael Warren: Again, as we close, culture is about leadership. Leadership is about getting the right people in those positions.
Michael Warren: And then what you’re doing is making sure that they’re trained properly and that they are no longer working. As the police and instead being the police, and I think that’s a great way of looking at things. But, uh, chief, uh, I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your day to day because I know you’re a busy guy.
Michael Warren: You are busier than most. I will say that, but man, I’ve enjoyed our previous conversations and I’ve enjoyed this one. So thank you so much for, for coming on with us
John Patrick Clair: today. I deeply appreciate. You guys having me and I appreciate, can I say one more plug on LinkedIn? You can say
Michael Warren: whatever you want to my friend.
Michael Warren: Here’s the thing.
John Patrick Clair: I’m not buying anything. I’m not selling anything. I’m not really hiring and I’m not looking for a job. I’m just trying to share things that I think are impactful professionally and personally. And I love seeing what other people share that are impactful. So we’re all growing together.
John Patrick Clair: And learning together. I read a post on there the other day about how it’s all fake. Listen, it’s not what you’re seeing for me is not fake. I really do read those books and I really do go to Emory and Henry. I don’t know what part I’m faking, but I’m trying to be very genuine and it is not because I’m expecting some massive gain.
John Patrick Clair: It’s because I. I am successful because of people who enabled me and taught me and equipped me and trained me for no reason of their own. Right. They invested in me for no reason. And so now I want to invest in other people by sharing those things and by offering resources. And I don’t know everything.
John Patrick Clair: Not even close, right? And I’m sure there’s plenty of people who are like, yeah, that guy’s clueless. That’s fine too, right? I’m not going to connect with everybody, but I enjoy connecting with people on there and people like you,
Michael Warren: Mike. You know, Brent, I think that’s a great way of looking at things. Learn from me and let me learn from you.
Michael Warren: And if we do that, we’re no longer, we’re no longer numbers. We’re neighbors, right?
Brent Hinson: And I think that’s the thing that we kind of got out of our conversation today with the chief and even, uh, chip youth. And we had him on, you know, it’s learning about people and why they do the things they do and try to make our little corner of the world.
Brent Hinson: A little bit better. And I know chief, you said this was your first appearance on a podcast, but it is. I think you’re ready to host your own because it’s one of those things where when you’re passionate about something, you don’t need a script in front of you. You don’t need talking points. You just talk from the heart.
Brent Hinson: And that’s what you did today. And
John Patrick Clair: we appreciate you coming on. I appreciate you letting me be, you letting me be on my first one. As you, as you know, I, I’m not, uh, I’m not someone who, who does a lot of those things, but I, but I really appreciate you letting me be