No matter how big or small, a Law Enforcement Agency is similar to a sports team: it has a selection process, a mission and a motto. Our team also has a distinctive uniform. Both rely on dedicated support staff and approving community of admirers. Our motto is to Protect and Serve.
The community is a supportive group who are interested in every venture i.e. those we protect.
Law Enforcement requires similar efforts from staff and community support. The success and values of a team in life lies in its application and use of the available tools both on hand or acquired, as needs dictate. Community relies on trust.
Family support is a definite must to accomplish our goals and support our efforts. Without our families, we would see many more frustrations and much more dangerous behavior. This also includes a nod to the chaplains who provide understanding and support.
Community is family.
Our programs will only succeed and be win-win, if these group support our efforts.
THE CRITICAL COG IS THE STREET COP
The most important part of the equation is the street cop. The conduit to the community who’s actions, encounters and dealings will dictate the perception, acceptance or rejection of the Police Department are The Patrol officers on the front line.
In today’s real world, Police Officers no longer enjoy the role of being the protector, as previous officers have enjoyed. Rather they are currently being vilified as invaders and the enemy to any number of groups.
We must re-acquire the trust and support through our contact and perceptions. The badge and the uniform no longer commands the respect they have in former generations.
Unfortunately, with specialization, we lost the personal contact of the neighborhood street cop. The community was without its advocate. We were now only proactive in crime prevention programs and not in street crime prevention on the streets of the neighborhoods. 0ne on one, we have become the responders and no longer the advocates.
THE WISE OLD COP FADES INTO HISTORY
This period also marked a migration of the older street- wise veterans who were either not about to chance losing that pension or be overruled by a civilian. They were victims of that dreaded 6 letter word: CHANGE. As were the uniforms which had become more combat than dress, another reason for loss of respect.
Fortunately Community Policing afforded some re-connect and trust building with the community, to some extent we need to take back the neighborhood.
The new millennium brought a new crime wave. The new web of criminal anarchists with bombers, and shooters created a large scale response relying on large groups moving on groups based on information and intelligence supplied by reliable and unreliable sources creating another wedge between the officer and the community. Specialization once more creates isolation. Similar to the increase of the 70s, and 80s.
The wedge has been further driven into the community by political grand standing and misconception assisted by a negative press in larger metropolitan venues. We are easily pushed to create an ‘Us vs Them’ mentality.
HOW DO WE CHANGE PEOPLES’ HEARTS?
How do we salvage the pride and restore the trust we need in the hearts and minds of those whose support we need? This is still an open question we must ask ourselves how to return to the community we swore to Protect and Serve.
Community Policing is a philosophy encompassing a partnership of Government and the community. It relies on the cooperation of several elements of the community, not just the Public Safety. Several elements at all levels of community as well as the elected officials and appointed at levels of local government. Along with the level of cries of Police reform and suggestions of disbanding of Law Enforcement is the need to CHANGE in order to rebuild and re-establish.
While change is required, it must come from all parties. Both the Community and Law enforcement must move carefully and accept the Changes. The change must be positive to be acceptable by the community as a whole and not just the loudest group. For this is the foundation of future generations and the cornerstone of law and order to come.
PLANTING SEEDS OF THE FUTURE
Academies of the future must teach the new breed of Police Officer that while 3% will be rogues and naysayers, the other 97% are needed to represent the new positive change and to succeed in rehabbing this community respect for Law Enforcement the rebuilding program. It will require respect on the part of all parties involved.
Respect is earned not demanded. Command as well as patrol officers are asked for a greater understanding of new elements such as de-escalation, increased communication and disengagement. All incidents, no matter large or small need, to be discussed with lessons learned shared for future incidents. Building trust without and within.
Intelligence is just information until it is shared and acted upon. Trust, respect, and leadership requires communication and action shared by all persons – no matter their affiliation. All involved need to trust and accept the action taken.
The rebuilding effort will not be without criticism but, petty differences must be overcome to the benefit of the community. How we contribute to this trust and working together will decide the fate of our efforts. The ‘Us vs Them’ must become Community outreach if we are to be accepted in the future.
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
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