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"The best police in the world are the police who learn"

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The best police in the world are the police who learn.

There is a common thread running through Adang's career as a lecturer: he has always looked for ways to learn better. This is how he did it for the subject of public order. But for example also with ways to learn in practice. Such as a peer review or knowledge mobilization. "It is important to ensure that there are accessible ways to learn in and for practice. There must also be a safe learning environment outside the Netherlands Police Academy."

Amongst others, Adang conducted research into a specific learning point of the police organization: learning how to use force by Police Officers. In 2019, the procedure changed if a Police Officer has used force. "There were two reasons for the change. The Netherlands Police wanted the principle that the Police Officer acts out of professionalism. Then it is strange that you become a suspect of a criminal offense if you use violence in the performance of your profession. In addition, there was the recommendation from the Ombudsman and scientists (such as myself, but also others) that the police can learn more from the use of force. The procedure has been adjusted accordingly. With the idea that more emphasis will be placed on learning. And that that process is separated from accountability as much as possible."

The research showed that there is still much to be gained from learning from the use of violence. "There are good examples, but you could see that the culture is not ready for it yet. More is needed to create a learning culture. It now focuses mainly on the individual. And it is precisely collective learning that is lagging behind. This has to do with the role of the police organization in how learning is organized. But here is growth. The project group for the system revision has started working on the recommendations."

In this research, Adang and his fellow researchers used the peer review methodology. Various teams exchanged how they deal with accountability and learning from the use of violence. "The challenge was to ensure a safe learning environment, despite the larger investigation. We had to think about that. A team will still have the idea 'we are the subject of research'. An anonymized summary of the reviews from eight different teams made a valuable contribution to the analyses."

(Continued) learning is the wish for the future

Adang wants to encourage learning with his research. "That professionals are talking to each other about their profession again. That's what I've been trying to do. Looking for connections, bringing people together and allowing them to reflect on their work." What makes learning sustainable? What is important to learn? Adang also looked at this with educational experts. He searched for the core elements you need to learn together. "Those six elements are crucial if you want to be a learning organization."

That is also Adang's wish for the future: keep learning. "The best police in the world are the police who learn. He wants to learn and continues to learn. That is still my wish. There is still a world to be won."

"It wasn't just a job"

Adang will say goodbye, but will not radically abandon the subject. "The process of letting go has now taken me a year and a half. That doesn't happen automatically, you really have to do it consciously. And that process will continue for a while. But a new generation must arise. I don't have all the wisdom. The connection with the subject will remain. It is also partly yourself, what I have done all these years. It wasn't just a job."


Otto Adang, lecturer in Public Order and Hazard Management, will say goodbye in March 2024. He has been a lecturer at the Netherlands Police Academy since 2004, making him the longest-serving lecturer. His career has included controversial social questions and research. From the corona riots and football hooligans to the introduction of the electroshock weapon and deployment of the Riot Squad.

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