The Futures Working Group will identify and promote innovation for the future of policing.
A Brief History of the Futures Working Group
The rudimentary idea for what is now the Futures Working Group found its birth over 35 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.
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.
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. It became apparent there was a need to create a working group of law enforcement, academics, and those in the private sector to examine future challenges of policing. Shortly thereafter, the tragedy of September 11th was the final catalyst for the formal creation of a Futures Working Group (FWG). The FWG was established to assist law enforcement in dealing with the current and future issues relevant to the profession.
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.
The purpose of the Futures Working Group (FWG) is best described as developing and encouraging 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.
After its creation in 2002, the FWG pursued research resulting in various 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.
Due to shifting priorities and funding constraints, the FBI ceased its formal involvement with the FWG in 2016. The Futures Working Group continues to operate as an extension of Police Futurists International. Its members remain committed to advancing the study of emerging and future issues of significance for crime, communities, and the police. They generate written products, provide consultation services, and deliver presentations and training to a variety of public safety, government, and education audiences.
A variety of research and training efforts continued under the auspices of the Futures Working Group. 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. The FWG continues to identify and promote innovations in policing. The goal of such efforts is to provide strategies and tactics that will enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of law enforcement. The FWG seeks to create content that will help the profession prepare to protect and serve the communities of the 21st century and beyond.