John L. McKnight

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An ABCD Visionary - The Transformation of the Functions of Communities and Police: A video interview with Retired Chief Mike Butler, Longmont, Colorado

user image 2021-07-15
By: John L. McKnight
Posted in: Reflections and Ideas

In my lifetime, I have met two public officials who had an incredibly different vision for their organization. The first was Jerome Miller who was responsible for the Massachusetts Juvenile Reformatories. He decided that his reformatories not only did not reform, they were the worst thing you could do to youth to stop them from reforming. Therefore, he closed his reformatories and placed the youth in all kinds of community settings. As a result he enabled communities to be responsible for people called “troubled youth” and achieved incredible reforms in the lives of thousands. His story is in his book titled, “Last One Over the Wall.”

The second great visionary is Mike Butler, the now retired Chief of Police of Longmont, CO. He has a vision for the role of police and communities that has been much more effective than most of the current police reform efforts. Our recent three-part interview with him is linked below. I know it it lengthy, but his vision and its implementation can be a great guide for leaders of any institution. Therefore, I really encourage you to take the time to listen because I think you can use this as part of a training for institutional leaders of every sort.

Just to tempt you a little bit Longmont is a City of about 70,000 with one third of the residents being Latinx. Mike Butler’s vision includes a shift of police away from the criminal justice system and toward being community members. While most police departments hire people with police or military experience, Mike’s department hired only one person with police experience out of every eight hires. He had master officers who worked directly in neighborhoods and were paid more than any other police in the department. And that’s just a start.

Mike Butler, the recently retired Chief of Police of Longmont, Colorado, is interviewed by John McKnight of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and Dr. Albert Dzur, professor of Political Science at Bowling Green University. The interview is divided into three sections for ease of listening. However, the revolutionary nature of Chief Butler’s activities depends on watching all three.