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Journal of Public Management & Social Policy

Abstract

Critical incidents like the Martin-Zimmerman encounter prompt us to examine not only the specifics of a particular episode, but also broader questions that hopefully illuminate a path leading to meaningful change. This reflective piece draws on the professional experiences of a highly effective and respected African-American Police Chief to examine some of these broader questions. Chief Joseph H. Lumpkin is a 43-year law enforcement veteran who was recently appointed Chief of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department in Georgia. Before moving to Savannah he served as Chief of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, an agency that solves violent crimes at a rate 15 to 20 percent higher than the national average. In 2014 the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police named him Chief of the Year. Drawing from Chief Lumpkin’s extensive experience and connecting his reflections to the academic literature on community-oriented policing as well as that on representative bureaucracy, this article identifies important implications for practice and scholarship using the Martin-Zimmerman encounter as a critical incident for understanding.

 

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