Transform the Police: A More Integral Approach to Law Enforcement


Mark and Corey are joined by Chris Orrey, a retired police lieutenant with over 30 years of service with the Hayward, California Police Department, to discuss the abuse and resulting death of Tyre Nichols, who was severely beaten by five Memphis police officers after a routine traffic stop. What allowed this tragedy (and others like it) to take place, and what sorts of institutional transformation are necessary to prevent something like this from occurring again?

We were very excited to have Chris join us for this discussion — not only because of her experience as a former police lieutenant, but also because she is leading the Integrative Policing Transformation Initiative over at the Institute of Applied Metatheory, designed to map the fuller complexity of policing in the United States and examine how a transformation toward a fuller guardian model of policing might be achieved. If you are at all interested in supporting this tremendously important and timely endeavor, we encourage you to get in touch here:

One of the primary factors we discuss is how our modern Orange standards of law and justice depend on Amber enforcement agencies being healthy, trustable, and reliable — otherwise the entire system breaks down as the public looses confidence in the police’s ability to serve the community.

Without this Orange-stage accountability and oversight, Amber groups often go bad fairly quickly — we don’t only see this in policing, but also in organizations such as the military, the Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church, and others. Closed-off Amber groups often tend to normalize, justify, and cover for all sorts of abuse within the group — even when that abuse is coming from a small number within the group. There is a natural Amber drive to protect the group at all costs (such as the “blue line of silence” within policing culture) which prevents real accountability from taking place, and which in turn drives more resentment and mistrust between the population and the police in general.

We go on to talk about a number of other critical factors and leverage points in each of the four quadrants, including:

UL (Intentional problems/solutions)

  • Creating more support and healing for officers (e.g. helping officers with accumulated job-related traumas),
  • Training greater emotional intelligence to help with empathy and  de-escalation of violence
  • State training to help officers better regulate and manage intense emotional and psychological states of consciousness (e.g. the natural fight or flight response) in both officers and criminal suspects)

UR (Behavioral problems/solutions)

  • Managing physiological states associated with interior mental/emotional states (e.g. adrenaline, overall physical health of the officer)
  • Identifying multiple skillsets to deal with different kinds of confrontations and social challenges,
  • Recruitment strategies to attract more healthy and ethical officer candidates

LL (Cultural problems/solutions)

  • Expanding officers' sense of "we" to include the communities they are protecting,
  • Restoring trust by creating more connective tissue between police and the communities they serve,
  • Dismantling internal "blue wall of silence" culture within police culture,

LR (Systemic problems/solutions)

  • External social/environmental conditions (overall social violence, proliferation of guns, race and racism, etc.),
  • Outmoded social/systemic patterns, inertias, and karmas from previous policing eras that remain with us today,
  • Rethinking “qualified immunity” that often prevents abusive officers from being held accountable,
  • Various forms of corruption and bias in justice systems,
  • Bringing more Orange-stage accountability to Amber-stage police organizations

This is a tremendously important and in many ways inspiring conversation, as together we try to find a path to a more just, more integral approach to law enforcement. If you are at all interested in supporting this endeavor, we encourage you to check out the Integrative Policing Reform Initiative over at the Institute of Applied Metatheory.


I saw this on YouTube last week prior to joining IL. Perhaps my decision to join here was influenced by the quality of the discussion in this video. I appreciated the constructive, experience-based, non-polemical, non-ideological tenor of the discussion. A few of my friends, relatives, and associates have been involved in law enforcement, and simplistic answers to recruiting, training, and managing police officers are not answers at all. More discussions like this one, more widely distributed, can only be beneficial.


A particularly engrossing, meritorious, and timely episode of IJW; thank you Corey, Mark, and Chris.

*I definitely agree with the specific frame of “transforming” the police and addressing interiority more–of officers, police departments and administration, and the justice system (and also of course, culture as a whole). Big Job, but necessary, and already, I think, we’re on our way, slowly but surely. Some things in policing are in dire need of transformation, such as:

I was struck by the contradiction that while most recruits say “helping people” is why they want to become a police officer, at the same time, per Chris (and others who I have read here and there),
" aren’t interested in psychology." This is a major problem, and a logical inconsistency that needs to be confronted at every step of the way, starting with recruitment. How do you help people in almost any field without some interest and knowledge of human psychology and behavior, including one’s own?

**On another subject but related: yes, there is the “blue line of silence” and there seems to be groupthink and apparent gang-like behavior where peer pressure and peer permissions play a role in some police misconduct and killings. As Bill Maher questioned, wasn’t the Tyre Nichols beating and killing a little like “Lord of the Flies?” I can see or imagine some similarities–lack of supervision, groupthink vs. individuality, emotionality superseding rationality, issues of morality, desires for dominance/power/control, and of course the ‘unreal beast’–given that Nichols was a thin unarmed man against five guys much larger than him armed with weapons and the badge, he was not a threat to them at all.

But one still has to wonder about the psychological make-up of individual officers who commit such acts. I’ve read that some police officials are calling for regular mental health assessments of officers, instead of a typical evaluation upon hiring. Maher interviewed the former chief of police of Minneapolis who basically said there’s been more weight given to “camaraderie (among officers) than to individual character,” which he thinks needs to change.

Journalist Tom Nichols writing in The Atlantic about mass shooters (in the article “The Narcissism of Angry Young Men”) reported on them as having a “stubborn immaturity and towering narcissism.” He used other phrases: a dangerous insecure masculine identity, fantasies of power and dominance, a sense of a special mission, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if some officers who have brutally assaulted and/or (criminally) killed someone in the course of duty were found upon assessment to have similar traits.

***Fortunately, both mass shooters and “killer cops” are outliers. We shouldn’t forget that. But they do have a significant impact on how the population perceives society and governance and law and order, and how safe and sane they feel. A term I’ve recently come across–cultural betrayal trauma–comes to mind. Used originally (I think) by a black feminist to discuss black-on-black rape, it’s also been discussed in relation to the Memphis officers and Nichols’ death. But it’s also a term that can be used unrelated to racial issues, a term that Vietnam veterans relate to, for instance, having returned from war to find so much societal hostility against them. Families of mass shooting victims relate to it, when little to nothing is done to prevent future mass shootings.

Betrayal is no small thing, sapping as it does one’s trust. So getting a handle on these two situations–mass shootings and unwarranted police abusive or murderous conduct–might go a long ways in helping society.

****Again, a great program. It was nice to hear from a former officer who is also integral-identified, quite the rarity in the world! The IAM project on the policing initiative sounds full of “star-studded talent,” as they say, and this discussion seems like it will be very helpful.


Here’s just a hodgepodge of stuff.
Wilber says violence is almost always stopped by greater violence in saner hands. The police are really unique in our society. Green is all about power, but the cops are only ones with flat out, gun to your head power. Well, criminals too.
I remember back in the day Ram Das said he thought the police should be the most highly paid and respected members of society.
I was on a cruise on small ship (maybe 60 of us) in the Galapagos for a week and there was a couple who were law enforcement. She was a detective and he was uniform. I didn’t interact with them much, but one time I was talking to him and I said, “I know our politics are probably very different, but I bet there is one thing we can agree on: Nobody likes the cops.” He laughed and agreed. Even though the cops come from Amber (and very appropriately, with its emphasis on duty, sacrifice, law and order, etc.), I see plenty of TikTok videos of young Amber men (and to be young is to be a bit Red) running from the cops, attacking the cops, mocking cops in the comments, etc.
We seem to need more options between nothing and deadly force. Tasers are an attempt at that.
Here’s an edgy thought. It appears the SCORPION unit in Memphis was effective in bringing down crime. Where do we draw the line? I said to a Green friend of mine that, as far as I was concerned, if someone pointed a gun a cop (or anybody else), they were dead. I would have no problem with the police shooting them. She said, “Couldn’t they just shoot them in the legs?” Too much, too little.
I listen to what is needed from cops and I think, “Where will we find such gods?”
Robocop comes to mind.


Trying to hack an Integral framework for policing (and by extension, other security-related matters like war and military) …

What I’m going to call the “color stack” (Magenta, Red, Amber, Orange, Green, Teal, etc) can be viewed both as cultural historical phases and as personal developmental tasks. On the personal level, we never outgrow any of it, we just add new perspectives and capabilities on top of. So Teal has more freedom and options than Green, and so on down the line.

Unfortunately, not all people make it all the way. So even though the leading edge of culture is currently shaded some gradient of Green/Teal, there are people running around in a very Red or Magenta way. My theory is for a person to reach the next level for them (like Red-to-Amber or Green-to-Teal), they need a social environment at the next level up to reinforce the change. For Red, that’s Amber. AKA the police. The police are needed to a) resist the physical impulses of the Red, and b) enmesh Red in a structured system of pro-social behavior. Which is Amber.

The challenge for any of the presumably second-tier readers of this post is, imagine if in some scenario or another, we all had to join forces to protect ourselves from physical attack at the Red level. To do it effectively, we would need to band together in an Amber way and adopt Amber behaviors. We would need to downshift our consciousness, center more in the heart and the belly, and rediscover what our ancestors of hundreds of years ago thought life was all about. That’s what we ask police officers to do every day of the week. Then we flame them because they are not green enough.


Agreed. You probably heard this in the discussion already, but for me a “full spectrum” approach to policing is one that allows the police force to remain healthy amber — but plugged into orange systems of accountability and oversight (tempered by green) in order to prevent that amber social holon from becoming unhealthy and even abusive, as unregulated amber social holons often do. In order to act as a stabilizing/upleveling force in society, the police need to be trusted by the entire value stack, which requires real and decisive accountability whenever a “bad apple” threatens to spoil the batch.

Of course this is complicated by the fact that green really tends to have strong allergies to amber — which may be why it so easily lapses into its own illiberal amber methods when trying to exert its influence.


:smile: Here’s an autobiographical take on Green acting like less than it claims to be …

Circa 1980, my values were largely Green. At least I talked a Green game. Even did some Green things. But my core behaviors under that were sort of a Magenta/Red stew pot, with plenty of scientific Orange day job stuff to cover it all up. Not very integrated. For the past several decades, I’ve focused mostly on Amber and Orange personal development, to work my way up to Green capabilities that are organically joined to the rest of my being.

Does that represent a generalizable experience? Love to hear perspectives on that. But let’s imagine it is generalizable. Then we might posit that “unhealthy” Green or the “regressive” left are basically people who have not done enough work at levels like Amber or Orange. So they unconsciously lapse into Amber or Orange action modes, all the while talking “diversity”, “tolerance”, and “pluralism”. Just because our culture celebrates Green does not mean everyone has really earned their Greenness. My experience is, that takes actual work.


I can see your point(s), Robert/Bob; thanks for sharing your autobiographical take.

This is such a tangled ball of yarn, very complex. Ethnocentrism being a trait of the Amber level, and that ethnocentrism generally centering around tribe in its various forms (e.g. race, gender, nation, religion, etc.), I think different groups within the (unhealthy/regressive) Green level have different relationships to the Amber stage.

For instance, people within the BLM movement are often also associated with the Black Church, a strong Amber ‘institution,’ with the Black Church having been around at least since slavery. Where the BLM folks basically lack a strong (healthy) Amber identity is around nation, it seems, given they don’t seem to feel (and in some cases, aren’t) treated equally under the nation’s laws and systems (and to throw in a little Orange-rationality, the telling of the nation’s history these days). Some indigenous people/groups feel likewise. Unhealthy (white) Amber, excluding the regressive (black, poc) Greens, is fairly obvious in our culture too, which of course sets up a feedback loop of provocations between the two.

It’s clear to me that when individuals do not feel they are treated as fully belonging, if they do not feel safe, they will join with others similar to themselves to lessen threat, even if this means regressing (as in your hypothetical example of us joining forces to protect ourselves from physical attack at the Red level).

The LGBTQ folks within the Green community is another example of this happening, although I do think, along with nation/the nation’s systems, religion is an issue for those who have regressed. I’ve heard and read many people in that community talk about not having left their church/religion, but feel excluded and stigmatized by the church/religion; feel the church deserted them. And again, there’s no lack of unhealthy religions at the Amber stage (and no lack of people within the Amber stage feeling threatened too).

Overall, I think it’s pretty hard to talk about unhealthy/regressive green without talking about the Amber stage itself, how it, along with being a pre-rational stage in and of itself, also has a good deal of ‘disease’ within it, without any of the green regressives.

My personal experience outgrowing a Green identity (to the extent that I have) was around the realization that the Green level almost by definition is about fragmentation, which has its purposes, but my own direction was onward, towards greater wholeness. Still have my eye on that.



@LaWanna, your excellent response underlines many substantive issues. It would take the thread in a million directions to go after the details, so I thought instead about methods. What is the right method to investigate your many questions and examples? Also, what is Integral-specific about such methods, beyond normal academic social science?

Here is an idea, for which I would welcome feedback. It occurred to me that a Four Quadrant approach must incorporate on some level an element of autobiography. If not, Quadrant I has been sidelined. This need not be the autobiography of the author of every study (although disclosure of that in a preface would be very welcome). Rather, it means before we bring the theories, the frameworks, the ideal types, etc., we need to listen to actual stories of real people. From there, we can work our way around the Quadrants.

In social science, this type of approach is sometimes called “grounded theory”. I’ve been leaning that way lately for my own reasons. It just now dawned on me that my own reasons were favoring holism anyway, and that the Quadrant model reinforces why those instincts are indeed holistic.


Yes, I agree, we could take this thread in a million directions, so to get back to the topic at hand and in response to your statement about the need to listen to the actual stories of real people (“grounded theory”), I think this episode was a small but very good example of that in that we heard a former police officer’s “take” on law enforcement based on her own experience. This was autobiographical to the extent she was able to share, and that’s always potent input, particularly when the person can engage in effective polarity thinking/management, has good self-observation skills, and is also integral!

While stories from the ground can overall be quite important and emotionally impactful, and can ‘move the needle,’ whether coming from the ones doing the policing or the ones being policed, we seem to be in a quick-byte world, in which polls and generalized surveys present us with the UL quadrant info, and reactionary thinking and action take precedence over more in-depth study, such as “grounded theory” may be, although I actually know little to nothing about it, other than what it sounds like. I do think autobiography in general has inherent flaws, in that it is self looking at and reporting on self, with various degrees of filtering, blind spots, etc. (and maybe the theory you’re talking about has in-built mechanisms that address this). Still, it provides sort of a raw information, a raw sense of things, that other methods may not be able to get at. When I have an appropriate opportunity to hear the actual story of a person(s) around a current issue, I often take it, knowing that in scheme of things, it is just anecdote.

I don’t know if I’m responding adequately to what you are trying to get at or not, but I’ve tried :slightly_smiling_face:


Hi @LaWanna, more than adequate! Much more!

This morning I was musing on a sort of spiral-pathway-through-quadrants model, in which one starts with UL (experience), moves to LL (shared communicative experience) to LR (systems reform) to UR (embodied training in improved processes). Or the other way around: UL (experience) to UR (embodied change modeling) to LR (systems reform) to LL (new values and symbols for how it should all work).

Either way, my main concern is getting experience and systems to play nice with each other. Doing police reform without talking to a lot of cops sounds empty to me. Likewise, police reform without talking to a lot of community members would be even more empty.


One huge problem here is the ability for anyone to “pierce the veil” from the outside is severely limited when there is a hidden code that the external observer does not know the rules for.

You can have a spokespersons from the police’s ranks, but there are two significant questions in every case:

  • Are they actually knowledgeable about the entirety of the “secret”
  • Are they presenting everything they know, or using an appearance of disclosure to hide the more “secret” and more pervasive problems?

Then add in a corollary that the individual speaking may not know the accurate answer to these questions themselves, and may themselves believe they know all about the topic and consciously believe they are being 100% forthright while their subconscious still blocks the roots of the issues.


For some reason I just decided to start watching this and finally noticed that Chris Orrey served with the Hayward Police Dept. Wow! I’m from Hayward. I spent the later half of my formative development in one of the roughest neighborhoods in the Eastbay(Hayward) called Palma Ceia living in a Section-8 apartment dealing with economic poverty, food insecurity, and violence and drugs. 20/20, the national news program, called my neighborhood in 1979 the PCP capital of America. I was 14 trying to navigate that environment which is where most of the experiences I had that left me with PTSD took place. Just reading the first paragraph and being reminded of Hayward has my nervous system feeling anxiety and that’s okay! My healing journey ultimately led me to Integral Life in ways I can’t explain. I know that Chris knows my former neighborhood well! I’m excited to listen to this all the way through and will definitely have something to say when I’m done. Just wanted to share my connection to Hayward for now.


This article seems very pertinent to the discussion:

Ex-LAPD Lieutenant Says Memphis PD Showed 'Blind Entitlement' (


Robert, that is a great idea. The “I” in all of us needs to be seen and heard. People can find themselves feeling invisible and irrelevant in the hustle and bustle of existence. When that is combined with a poorly developed sense of “We” disaster can result. I’ve spent some time over the years going out on the street and having conversations with people struggling with drugs or homelessness and I noticed that they can really light up if you just let them talk and don’t judge them. I think it’s truly therapeutic to some degree to let them feel seen and heard.


Thank you, Corey, Mark, and Chris for this important conversation and all of the ideas you brought up! One idea that I’ve been bringing up with people over the years is the fact that the majority of Law Enforcement officers don’t “live in” the communities they serve especially in cities. That puts them in a dynamic of “Going to work” somewhere other than the community they live in and may be raising their families in. I think that reinforces the sense of “I” over “other” instead of “I and other.”

I think that we should consider some kind of housing subsidy as well as increased income levels so that Police officers can actually live in and be part of the community they’re serving. I think that could also help the communities themselves began to feel that the police are not just outsiders invading their home turf.

Obviously, we have more complex developmental levels going on. We need to have a better educational system that is more expansive and integrated as well as something like a mandatory National program like mentioned. Another element is the nature of our current economic system. Capitalism despite the good aspects of it is tremendously toxic today and it ends up bringing out some of the worst qualities of people. We’ve become far too competitive and it really contributes to and “everyone for themselves” and “Me/mine” mindset. Many people will spend more time “Making money” and investing in their “economic well-being” than investing in their “personal development” and “community well-being.”

I’ve had good and bad experiences with the Police. Ultimately I always try to put myself in the shoes of another and I try to image what I would do if I were a cop. I think having a healthy Red energy is very important and Police officers should have some training that is like a Shaolin Monk sorta. I’ve studied a few Martial arts over the years and one thing that can come out of that is a healthier “Fight or Flight” response. I think that would help them be more calm in a dangerous situation.

Obviously, more extensive and ongoing Psychological/emotional training is crucial as well. I think as a society we need to “Up the standards” for becoming a police officer and that includes the citizens upping their respect for Law Enforcement officers! There’s a lot of work to do!



@Brian_Downey, that reminds me of something I heard from Rupert Spira, answering a question from one of his students. (Quick reference - Spira teaches Advaita direct path). The question had to do with the non-dual implications of handing a homeless person a 10 dollar bill. As I recall the answer, the gesture of handing the bill was Being recognizing itself in the homeless person. I venture to speculate the lights you see come on in street people are reflections of the light of your own awareness.


Yes! I see myself in others and others in myself! Sometimes I’m not sure where “I” ends and “other” begins. Perhaps we’re all the same being expressing itself in infinite ways?


Hi Brian, I would never claim to be a spiritual teacher, but it seems to me your insight lines up with many of the wisdom traditions. All the best!


That’s always been my favorite take — that consciousness is a singularity to which the plural is unknown, which means there is only one single “IAM” looking through every perspective, at itself. Which reminds me of Ken’s “lonely God” parable :slight_smile: