The Futures Working Group will identify and promote innovation for the future of policing.
The FBI and PFI have long enjoyed a close relationship. PFI is an outgrowth of the International Symposium on the Future of Law Enforcement that was held at the FBI Academy in 1991. That Symposium was attended by 250 criminal justice practitioners and educators from twenty nations who voted to begin a professional association — The Society of Police Futurists International — dedicated to the future of policing.
In 1999, the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI resumed teaching a futures research course to students at the FBI National Academy. At that time, FBI instructional personnel began an ongoing dialogue with PFI members. From that dialogue grew a collaborative relationship that capitalizes on the strengths of each organization. The tragedy of September 11th was the final catalyst for the formal creation of a Futures Working Group to assist law enforcement in dealing with the issues that will confront law enforcement in the coming decades.
A Brief History of the Futures Working Group
Some could argue that the rudimentary idea for what is now the Futures Working Group found its birth over 25 years ago. In 1982, one of the initial developments that would eventually lead to the birth of the Futures Working group began through the development of a FBI National Academy (NA) graduate course of study entitled “Futuristics in Law Enforcement”. This curriculum was initially developed and offered by then-FBI Supervisory Special Agent William L. Tafoya. The first class to complete this graduate course of instruction occurred in September 1982 as part of the 30th session of the FBI National Academy. Some years later, in April 1991, 60 educators joined 250 graduates of the NA Futures course from around the world to participate in a 5-day event entitled the “International Symposium on the Future of Law Enforcement.” As a direct outgrowth of this symposium, an organization of the attendees voted to begin forming a professional association dedicated to the future of policing which became known as Police Futurists International (PFI). PFI was officially constituted in August 1991.
Several years later, in 1999, FBI Behavioral Science Unit Supervisory Special Agent, Dr. Carl J. Jensen, III reintroduced a course entitled “Futuristics and Law Enforcement: Foreseeing, Managing and Creating the 21st Century” to the FBI National Academy curriculum. In the fall of that same year, the instructional personnel of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI Academy began an ongoing dialogue with PFI members. From that dialogue grew a collaborative relationship that capitalized on the strengths of each organization.
In July 2000, SSA Jensen coordinated a 5-day conference entitled “Futuristics and Law Enforcement: The Millennium Conference” at the FBI Academy. Some of the same speakers and delegates who participated in the earlier 1991 symposium attended this millennium conference. As a result of this millennium conference and the dialogues and collaborations that followed, the necessity to create a working group of not only law enforcement but also academic researchers, private sector security personnel and others to examine future challenges of policing was identified. Shortly thereafter, the tragedy of September 11th was the final catalyst for the formal creation of a Futures Working Group to assist law enforcement in dealing with the current and future issues that will confront law enforcement in the coming decades.
In February 2002, the FWG had its initial meeting. During that meeting, an organizational structure was crafted and a research agenda was initiated. The group became a reality on April 2, 2002 when FBI Director Robert Mueller and PFI President Gerald Konkler signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the parties of the FBI and PFI creating the Futures Working Group.
As a result, the Futures Working Group (FWG) is best described as collaboration between the FBI and the Society of Police Futurists International (PFI). Its purpose is to develop and encourage others to develop forecasts and strategies to ethically maximize the effectiveness of local, state, federal, and international law enforcement bodies as they strive to maintain peace and security in the 21st century and beyond. In doing so, the Futures Working Group’s mission is to identify and promote innovation for the future of policing.
Recent Research Efforts
Since its creation in 2002, the Futures Working Group, along with guidance from PFI and attendant training in the FBI National Academy Program, has pursued a number of lines of research which have resulted in numerous products for distribution to the law enforcement community. These works include, but are not limited to, publications devoted to future adversaries and allies in policing, augmented reality, neighborhood policing, homeland security, and policing in 2020. A full description and delineation of these works can be found by searching for these at this website.
Ongoing and Future Research Efforts
Works currently in development or underway include examinations of mass casualty events, future costs and value in policing, managing trust and transparency in future efforts to successfully police communities, and the changing nature of school violence. Potential future areas also being considered by the FWG include the future of social media as a challenge and opportunity for policing and the issues surrounding training and education in policing.
The Future of the Futures Working Group
All of these research and training efforts continue under the auspices of the Futures Working Group. However, the FBI, as a whole, and the many police agencies around the country look to continually align law enforcement with best practices and lessons learned in policing. Careful analysis and continual examination of the latest trends and issues that the research community uncovers to assist law enforcement in protecting their communities affords such outcomes. As such, it is expected that not only the Futures Working Group, but also efforts throughout law enforcement and the criminal justice community will continue to identify and promote innovations in policing. If even partially successful, such efforts will provide strategies and tactics that will ethically maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of local, state, federal, and international law enforcement bodies as they strive to protect and serve the communities of the 21st century and beyond.