Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Officer Involved Shootings and Use of Force: How to Rebuild Trust

    What is happening out in our streets??? After a life has been lost from police use of force, I think we all have questions… Racism? Abuse of power? Was the shot justified to protect the police officer and bystanders? What did the victim do?

    Regardless of how a person answers those questions, I think we all suffer when those sworn to protect and serve our communities take a life. Kareem Abdul Jabbar made an excellent point when he said:

“The problem is that we’re not all on the same page about what we’re outraged over and what changes we want to take place. Police critics will claim this is another example of systemic police racism. Police defenders will claim that this was just one bad apple. We will hear the same calls for more oversight, the same protests that civilians are interfering in matters they couldn’t possibly understand.” (Time Magazine)

As a society we need to change the relationship between the police and the communities they serve. We need to trust each other. We need to get on the same page.

    Community oriented policing may be a strategy for rebuilding trust and changing the relationship. The five key principles of community oriented policing emphasize change in organizational mission and increased stakeholder engagement. They are as follows:

§      Adopt community service as the organization’s philosophy.
§   Make an institutional commitment to community policing that is internalized throughout the organization.
§     Emphasize decentralized models of policing that are tailored to the needs of communities rather than an approach for the entire jurisdiction.
§  Empower citizens to partner with police on issues of crime and more broadly defined social problems.
§ Use problem-solving approaches that involve police personnel working with community members. (NCCP)

    Community oriented policing includes both internal and external strategies for building trust. Some examples of each:


§  Institute culture-changing policies, programs, and training to solidify the department’s core values and ethical principles.
§  Develop a comprehensive recruiting plan; recruit and hire people with a service orientation.  
§  Provide continuous training in ethics, integrity, and discretion to every officer from the time he or she enters the police academy through the time of retirement.  


§  Institute some form of community oriented policing program to better engage the community.  
§  Develop a citizen’s police academy.  
§  Hold workshops on subjects of interest to the community.  
§  Conduct a community survey to gauge and enhance public perception.  
§  Proactively involve the public. (NCCP)

         Rebuilding trust won’t happen overnight. The relationship between the police and the people within communities that have experienced questionable use of force that resulted in the loss of life will take time to heal. But maybe, if the police and the community can commit to work together to build safer communities and implement the strategies of community oriented policing, we can heal together.