One of the reasons for distrust between police and communities stems from a lack of transparency that leaves citizens feeling uninformed about their local law enforcement. In order to improve relations, it’s essential for officers in uniform or working undercover always to identify themselves as members of law enforcement when interacting with civilians. It can help build trust while avoiding any confusion over whether an officer is actually partaking in a criminal activity instead.
The police are here to protect civilians. If they want to do their job correctly, they need to make fast decisions and spring into action. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it seems to make the hard call. Often, the decisions the police take may be unfavorable for the community. So, it is not unusual for there to be friction between the community and law enforcement. But, if we want society to progress harmoniously, these rifts need patching.
A community only thrives when all members of it work together for the common goal. So, it is essential that law enforcement makes the first move and changes the dynamics of the relationship. Through this article, we will walk you through what law enforcement can do to elevate their status. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Give Back To The Community More
The police can extend their support beyond showing up when crime happens. Police departments have resources and training that can help the community. It can include more fundraisers, educating the masses, or even supporting the community. One way they can do this is through social work. A police social worker can help vulnerable communities out of their current predicament, including domestic abuse. Help set up AA meetings for those suffering from alcoholism. They can even help people struggling with drugs to find a suitable and affordable rehab. It can help keep the community from submerging deeper into crime. Sometimes it is out of sheer desperation such as poverty and unemployment that leads people into these crimes.
2. Revise Training
Police work in highly stressful situations. These situations can put them under pressure and even instill fear in them. It is one of the reasons why police officers get trained to handle weaponry and take care of threats. While initial training gets offered in police academies, it is a good idea to revise them. Maybe some officers graduated years back and follow an outdated system. Police officers should learn how to disengage a situation without turning to their guns as much as possible. Officers can pick up new methods that further minimize casualties and even keep themselves safe. It can be better negotiation techniques, training civilians, and even better communication.
3. Keep Civilians In The Loop
Sometimes when the police are carrying out investigations, they keep civilians uninformed. Even when they dispatch information, it may not be enough. Civilians need to know what they’re up against. They need to know if there is something that they need to be aware of. While it’s understandable, withholding information is to make sure the investigation goes smoothly with no panic. However, keeping civilians in the dark makes them more agitated and even pushes them to be uncooperative. So while some information may be confidential, it is a good idea to share what you can with them. Don’t make them feel you are suspicious of them without any probable cause.
4. Have Diversity Within The Workforce
Diversity hiring should include people from ethnic minorities. A police force should always be welcoming to anyone who wants to contribute to the force. The force shouldn’t limit themselves to people who either come from privilege or police families. Ethnic minorities usually have limited resources and opportunities to expand their careers. If diversity hiring becomes more inclusive, there will also be more tolerance and acceptance within the police force. The community will also look towards law enforcement for moral cues and begin accepting each other more. Diversity also helps law enforcement to study each case from a different light. They learn about perspectives and probable causes that they never entertained previously.
5. Holding The Police Accountable
There are instances when the police make a mistake or mistreat a civilian. In such cases, the police departments must claim responsibility and show on record that they are aware of the incident. One of the reasons why the community is distrustful of law enforcement is because of a lack of accountability. If there are cases of police misconduct, they are never held responsible. In most cases, the incident gets buried. So, suppose the police officers at fault are tried and penalized for what they do. In that case, it will elevate their status in the community’s eyes.
6. Sharing Body Camera Footage Of Misconduct
There are incidents of misconduct that get disputed in court. The accused will insist they acted ethically and lawfully while civilians remember otherwise. The police shouldn’t actively try to hide if they behaved aggressively and unfairly. Instead, this footage should be available to the public with full disclosure. It is when there is no transparency between the police and the community that friction occurs. When the community feels lied to and cheated, they will refuse to work with the police. They will also distrust the police for any legal work and any society that doesn’t look good.
7. Partner With Other Alliances
During times of crisis, it is easy to forget safety measures and rush to save your life. For the police force, during any disaster assembling and dispatching a team takes too long. Partnering with other alliances is an excellent way to make sure the community is always safe. If there is a threat of a natural disaster or any public health crisis, they can immediately spring into action. It ensures that a vast population gets pushed to safety at once. When police forces act alone, it can take longer to rescue everyone. Alliances can also educate the community on different security measures. They can also be a voice for them and listen to their grievances to work out a solution.
8. Listen To The Community
Communication is a two-way street. While law enforcers may have the equipment to impose the law, they shouldn’t ignore civilians. Some community members experience racial profiling and get dismissed despite wanting help. This is not only unfair but also highly unjust. Unless a police officer has proof and evidence backing up their claim, no civilian should get unnecessarily treated like a criminal. Therefore, when a community comes forward, no matter what they look like or what status they occupy, the police should hear them. Every civilian has a right to ask for justice and get protection from law enforcement. So without drawing assumptions, an officer should listen to every case and make judgments accordingly.
Law enforcement has one crucial duty that is to take care of the community. This duty branches over various responsibilities. It is not enough to protect civilians from crimes but also to help criminals get better. Therefore, the police need to render both social and ethical services for the community. Police officers cannot abuse their power. While they may have the authority to arrest and abet a criminal, they can’t act in a disorderly fashion. If law enforcement wants to revive a relationship with the community, they also need accountability. Suppose an officer is getting away with an abrasive display of authority and penalize them as anyone would be. If such measures are in check, police officers may start revisiting how they carry out their job. They may show more acceptance and tolerance as well as better techniques to cater to the community. Ultimately, these attitude adjustments may pay off as a concrete relationship between civilians and the police.