It’s not just a hot topic now, but has always been. So why not address it head on. The relationship between the police and the community can sometimes become a bit strained, so now more than ever we need to find ways to help improve the trust the community has in law enforcement.
Here are some quick ideas and tips to help you improve trust and communication with the communities you serve!
The more you interact with your community, the more trust you build. This also provides the opportunity to learn more about the challenges of different parts of your communities. Here are some examples of community outreach programs:
Police-Community Forums: Regular meetings between local police officers and community members to discuss public safety issues, crime trends and share information both ways with the community.
Ride-Along Programs: Allowing community members to accompany a police officer on patrol and observe the officer’s work firsthand is a great way to demonstrate the variety and complexity of the job.
Community Policing Centers: Set up temporary or permanent facilities in high-crime areas where police officers and community members can come together to discuss public safety issues and find solutions. Seeing a physical presence can also have a deterrent effect on crimes.
“Soft Skills” Training
Training doesn’t stop when an officer leaves the academy! Ongoing training can help officers maintain the “soft skills” needed to build trust with their communities. Even though all officers should be well trained in these areas, they can get forgotten or overlooked in their daily interactions with the public, so refresher courses can be helpful. Some examples include:
Cultural Training: This type of training helps officers understand and respect different cultures, ethnicities, and races to build trust and improve communication with different community members.
Implicit Bias Training: This type of training helps officers recognize and manage unconscious biases that could influence their interactions with members of the public.
De-escalation Techniques: Training that teaches officers how to defuse potentially violent situations and resolve conflicts through peaceful means.
Communication Skills: This type of training helps officers develop effective communication skills, including active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution, to improve their interactions with members of the public.
Transparency and Accountability
Transparency and accountability builds trust. The more you share with your community, the more they understand the challenges of your job! Here are some simple ways to provide this:
Release of Police Data and Statistics: Police departments can release data on arrests, use of force, and other relevant information to the public, allowing for transparency and accountability in their actions.
Regular Community Meetings: Police departments can hold regular meetings with community members to hear their concerns, answer questions, and provide updates on police operations.
Use of Data-Driven Strategies: This ties back to the old saying, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Tools like Geolitica allow you to share key information such as: Short-term and long-term crime trends Crime types the department is focusing on - i.e., missions Patrol coverage and patrol heatmaps Areas of the city chosen by the department for special focus to address specific challenges The use of targeted task forces to target problems such as traffic collisions, drunk drivers, catalytic convertor theft.