Former Seattle Chief: Are police really 'protecting and serving'?


"This is what people want from their police: They want their police to protect and serve." - Norm Stamper

In a candid conversation, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper acknowledges his own mistakes as an officer and discusses how America's policing is in crisis. Is the title "protect and serve" still valid today? How do we examine the tumultuous relationship between white police officers and young black men? How can a community policing approach work? With an increase in police aggression, militarization, lack of transparency and accountability, plus the racial justice issue: Where do we even start?

"We start by creating national standards for policing," Stamper says. "It's amazing the extent to which one of society's most delicate, demanding and often most dangerous jobs goes largely unsupervised."

The former top cop's latest book is To Protect and Service: How to Fix America’s Police. He details what he sees as the current problems in policing, what needs to be fixed and how to build public trust in law enforcement in these difficult times.

"I’ve seen what doesn’t work and what failures we’ve made as an institution," Stamper says. "I’m just one voice suggesting, here is what does work or can work."

This podcast originally appeared on

Other relevant stories on Seattle policing:

"What is Seattle police were like Scotland's?"

"Time for a "tectonic shift" in policing, says former Seattle chief"

"Locals on police reform: 'We don't have a voice'"

"Police killed his brother. Andre Taylor wants to change how they're prosecuted"

"Reformer's aren't celebrating police union leader's resignation"

"Missing dash cam video raises questions about police oversight"

Featuring in-depth conversations with local and national voices, Conversations With Enrique Cerna delivers insightful and timely perspectives on race, politics, public safety, education, local and global health challenges, important history and the arts. The conversations are lively, revealing, humorous and moving. Listen, learn and enjoy.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Enrique Cerna

Enrique Cerna

Enrique Cerna is senior correspondent for Crosscut and KCTS 9. He joined KCTS 9 in January, 1995. Since then, he has anchored current affairs programs, moderated statewide political debates, produced and reported stories for national PBS programs as well as local documentaries on social and juvenile justice, civil rights issues, the environment and Latinos in Washington State. Enrique has earned nine Northwest region Emmy awards and numerous other honors. In June, 2013, he was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter’s Silver Circle for his work as a television professional.