What does policing need to strengthen trust and build relationships in the communities we serve?
1. We Need the Right People
We need to better recruit and hire people with maturity, excellent communication skills, compassion, diverse life experience and background as well as a college education. Additionally, we need people who desire to make our neighborhoods better; not someone who sees their job as an occupying force,but a dedicated relationship builder who has a stake in our community’s success.
2. We Need the Right Training
Training of our officers continues to improve. Whether it is crisis intervention training for dealing with those who are mentally ill or de-escalization training or verbal skill enhancement, our officers have never been better trained. But we can do better, I recently heard of a study that found for every hour of extra in-service training an officer receives their use of force incidents drop 4%. That is a good return on your investment. Police involved shootings and improper use of force garner the most attention from our community, so we will continue to train on innovative practices to ensure our officers are trained well above national standards. We will work with all those we serve to build understanding and support for those rare instances when despite officers doing the right thing and for the right reason, things go wrong.
3. We Need Technology
Innovative technology will also help us reduce prevent and reduce crime as well as the need for police to use force. While privacy advocates and I share the same concerns about big government watching our citizen’s activities, there are occasions where emerging technology will prevent a police officer, innocent people or even a dangerous suspect from getting hurt. Innovations are occurring rapidly, so we must begin talking about technology and policing now because technology is often developing faster than good policies can be established. Technology used in policing must be shared openly with the public and vetted properly so there is a clear and legal understanding of when and how the technology can be used to keep our community safe.
4. Community Policing Needs Support
We must continue to embrace and build on community policing. My own career experience with community policing guides me today because I know how well it works. To do community policing right it requires putting the right people in the right places, having sufficient staffing, funding and training. When police build relationships with community members, community groups and our business community we solve problems and reduce crime; as well as improve our neighborhoods. I want our officers to know the business owners and employees as well as the residents in their beats. A serious use of force incident in our community recently showed strong trust and faith in our police department. This support and trust happened as a direct result of the relationships our officers have built with community members. This is what community policing is all about and it is what we will continue to build on in the years ahead.