Instagram Combined Shape quotation Created with Sketch. 69

The SUNY Potsdam Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI) was founded in the principles of The Potsdam Pledge and expands on that guiding campus mission in the following Statement of Principles, affirmed by the LETI Advisory Board and Director Sonny Duquette:

  1. We believe that policing must take into consideration the social, political, legal and economic environment in which it operates. These environments will change over the course of the careers of our cadets, at times in rapid and unpredictable ways. Our cadets need to understand the structural and systemic issues that influence law enforcement agencies in order to address issues in the community as well as in the profession.
  2. We are committed to training thinking members of the law enforcement profession. As policing becomes increasingly information driven, individuals who can think critically, create evidence-based practices, and respond to the nuance and complexity of policing in a diverse society will be in greater demand within the field of law enforcement.
  3. We believe one of the most critical skills in policing is the ability to communicate and work with diverse groups of people in a respectful manner. Due to the increasing diversity of communities across the country, individuals entering the law enforcement profession must be able to listen and respond to individuals and groups from backgrounds different than their own. Respectful communication is of special importance when dealing with historically disadvantaged social groups, including those marginalized because of their race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation/expression/identity, religion, national origin, age, or physical or mental health status.
  4. We commit to teaching de-escalation techniques as a significant foundation of every cadet’s communication skills. Our cadets will be trained to empathize with the public and their need to be heard in their dealings with the police. By training our cadets to hear and acknowledge the concerns of the public in all interactions, our cadets will be able to present legal alternatives to those in need. By training cadets to demonstrate empathy for community concerns and genuinely engage with the public, they will have the opportunity to be trusted partners who can guide the public through those processes.
  5. We are committed to the development of leadership potential in our cadets to prepare them to not only secure employment but to be prepared to address the leadership challenges they will experience over the course of their careers. While we recognize our cadets will also have to demonstrate followership as they build their careers, we believe it is important for them to begin development of the skills needed to step forward at the appropriate time and seek evidence-based solutions to the many challenges law enforcement agencies face. Our cadets will not be bystanders in their own careers and profession, but leaders who shape the future of law enforcement.
  6. We commit to providing a training environment that is respectful of the diverse backgrounds and life experiences of our cadets. Further, the respect given to the cadets will serve as an example of the respect they should carry forth into their interactions with the community.
  7. We affirm the importance of compassion as part of the profession, for themselves in the face of the stress inherent in the career; and for the community and the varied and nuanced circumstances which bring them into contact with law enforcement.
  8. We believe the community and the police have a mutual responsibility to engage in the endeavor of creating public safety and seeking justice. To that end, we affirm that individuals who become police officers are citizens who are employed to give full-time attention to activities that are the responsibility of every individual to promote the welfare of the community and society. Therefore, we recognize that law enforcement officers experience the same views, beliefs, and values that are part of our larger society as opposed to some unique set of values only subscribed to members of the profession.
  9. We commit to championing an ongoing belief in professional development and learning. While expertise can be developed, realizing that experience or education alone will not provide all the answers to challenges our graduates will face in the field, they must commit to a willingness to constantly develop and recognize limitations in their knowledge.
  10. We strive to exceed the minimum standards set forth by the New York State Department of Criminal Justice for police academy training, utilizing the experience and knowledge of our instructors and state of the art equipment that allows for the most realistic simulations possible in which to train skills and develop instincts.
  11. We believe that the public is not our opponent but our partner. Therefore, we strive to address the negative elements of police culture and the fallacies and stereotypes which have contributed to opposition between law enforcement and the public.
  12. We support the idea that individuals are capable of change regardless of their group membership. Therefore, we believe in the importance of assisting our cadets in addressing their limitations by recognizing them, reflecting on them, and working to change them. We strive to help them acknowledge this is true of themselves, the profession, and the public.
  13. We acknowledge that sound, just, and humanitarian principles are an essential part of police practice. The presence or absence of those principles can shape the role of law enforcement in society, which can be positive or negative. The actions of police have the potential to cause harm as well as improve the circumstances of individuals, communities, and society. We place freedom above all other political values and strive to respect the rights granted to all members of our society by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
  14. We pledge to address miscarriages of justice as a key topic in our curriculum so that our cadet graduates continue to improve the field of law enforcement, their communities, our society, and themselves. This requires a humble acknowledgement that law enforcement officers and agencies make mistakes, can protect bad actors, and that the criminal justice system has flaws. This critique is intended to improve our cadets, the profession, the criminal justice system, and our society.
  15. We commit to teaching the values of accountability and apology. Law enforcement agencies are granted significant powers to affect the lives of the people they meet. Our cadets should take responsibility for their actions, behaviors and decisions and the unintended consequences that may stem from them. Apologizing serves two functions, one of which is the acceptance of responsibility. The second is an expression of empathy which should inform their actions when interacting with vulnerable groups.
  16. We believe safety for all individuals is an integral part of the profession. Safety for our cadets in their training environment, in preparation for their role as law enforcement officers, and for potential medical and mental health emergencies when engaging in their public duties. Safety also includes watching other officers in the performance of their duties and teaching cadets their duty to intervene in the event of wrongdoing against the public and the profession.
  17. We recognize the unique challenges faced by individuals with mental health challenges and other disabilities and differences and train our cadets to recognize these individuals and avoid seeing their behaviors as being non-compliant. By acknowledging the potential to incorrectly identify behavioral cues of individuals with mental health issues or other disabilities and differences, we pledge to be respectful in our dealings with the public in all scenarios to reduce the potential of harm.
  18. We affirm our commitment to using reasonable force only. Cadets will be taught not to induce jeopardy into their dealings with the public by exercising de-escalation and communication when it is safe to do so. This means understanding when to use force and the extent of force required in a situation. We commit to achieve this understanding through reality based training, examination of improper use of force events, exceeding training standards for use of force, and using the latest technology and extensive use of force options to equip our cadets with a variety of use of force tools to prevent unnecessary harm to the public and to themselves.