Applied Systems Thinking

Improving Police

Systems-thinking comes from the field of system dynamics and allows people to understand social systems in the same way people use engineering principles to improve mechanical systems. Systems-thinking is particularly valuable in following areas:

  • In complex systems it helps people see the “big picture” in complex systems, not just their part in it.
  • It addresses recurring problems, or those problems made worse, by past attempts to fix them.
  • It identifies problems where actions can effect the environment surrounding the problem.
  • It reveals problems whose solutions are not evident.[1]

The growing concern about police use of deadly force, particularly in communities of color, can and should be addressed through a process called systems improvement. This is how it can work:


  1. DESCRIBE the system.
    1. Police in our society are authorized by law to use deadly force to stop a fleeing, dangerous felon and to stop deadly attacks…

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