Trust needed between police, public

Friday, January 19, 2018

In the wake of recent acts of brutality as well as questionable shootings by police officers upon members of the public, civil unrest and a general distrust of the police has unfortunately spread across the nation.

As with any relationship, trust is crucial, and once broken it can be next to impossible to repair. This is especially true in the relationship between the police and the public. Though this relationship has been strained, especially recently, it is not beyond repair. Genuine effort to deploy community policing tactics is perhaps the most simple, but effective way police agencies can begin to build a relationship of trust back with their communities. Community policing is a broad term for actions police take toward strengthening their ties in the community in order to solve local issues. This is a proactive model; rather than just responding to calls, community policing models call for officers to use the relationships they build with members of the public to “get to the root” of issues and hopefully prevent future problems. Additionally, officers who understand the social dynamics in the areas they serve will have a huge advantage when faced with a problem.

Alongside this approach to policing being an important tool police can use, perhaps more importantly, community policing requires officers to seek to build positive relationships with citizens in the neighborhoods they protect. Mutual trust between law enforcement officials and the community is key to repairing this relationship. The beauty of community policing is that it is simple and can be cost effective.

Officers simply taking some extra time to have conversations with people and familiarize themselves with members of the community is all it takes. People who continually have positive contact with the police, and know they have a strong presence in their neighborhood will most likely be apt to trusting them. Trust is a two-way street. It takes effort from both parties for a mutual acceptance to occur; however in this instance, the police will have to make the first attempts at regaining trust in the community. Only then will doubtful citizens be willing to display trust.

Marcus Johansson