When I talk to urban youth, many of them are afraid of the police and do not see them as being there to protect them.
Instead, they view police as someone who will cause them harm. I once asked a group of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders what they would do if they saw a police car coming toward them.
They all said in unison: “RUN.”
That is a problem.
Some would suggest those students would run because of a predisposition for criminal behavior. That is an ignorant assessment. When young people are fearful and often times lack respect for police, we have to ask why?
Just as the community has a role to help repair the trust between police /community relations, the police department has an even greater role. If the relationship is going to heal, law enforcement needs to make some major efforts toward the healing.
If the police department was really serious, then they would first police themselves and show that professionalism is their number one priority. They would demonstrate that criminal behavior (right here, someone left out WILL NOT) be tolerated, whether it’s within the police department or community.
If police officers engage in criminal behavior or criminal misconduct while performing duties, it should not be tolerated from the highest levels. If this was a serious priority, the State’s Attorney’s office would not take a year to release an indictment, only because a judge ordered tapes to be released. It is very difficult to ask for respect for an organization when that organization illegally erases evidence or ensures it gets “lost” in collection.
Tonight on the news, a reporter stated 10% of Chicago Police Officers have ten or more complaints against them. How many of those complaints received further investigation? How many citizens received a phone call from the police department assuring them that their complaint would receive a phone call back from the police department within 30 to 45 days? These are examples of basic customer service.
Police are not above the law. When they break the same law they swear to serve, what are their consequences? This is what the community wants to know. If you want to really build trust, you must begin with an honest and truthful conversation, followed by deliberate actions and intelligent policies.
If the community wants to build trust with the police department, then we need to do a much better job as well. We must begin to train our children to respect authority. We must tell them to cooperate and comply with authority.
When there is criminal activity within our neighborhoods, instead of protecting the criminal by not “snitching,” we need to give that person up to law enforcement.
We can’t commit criminal acts and then cry when someone gets shot.
We can’t protest when a white officer kills one of the community members, then remain silent when we kill our own. That is hypocritical.
I believe police officers should be held accountable for their level of authority and training; however, the community must be held accountable as well. I’m not trying to take sides in the blame game. I want to take over the entire conversation, transforming it to proactive strategies for establishing positive police and community relations. I want to build safer communities. We are losing far too many precious lives.
Why do we allow a few criminals to terrorize our neighborhoods?
We allow drug dealers, thieves, pimps, child traffickers, murderers, and pedophiles to destroy our community, and we do not report them. That is the same craziness we complain about within the police department.
This Code of Silence must be broken on all fronts.
As long as the community believes the police will not honestly police themselves,and as long as the police know the community will not report criminal behavior and support their presence, trust between the two groups will never exists.
If there is never trust, there will never be progress.
We are losing far too many precious lives on both sides and it is costing our taxpayers billions of dollars paying for the unprofessional and reckless actions of police officers and criminals within our neighborhoods.
This was taken from Chapter 7 of The Stop: Improving Police & Community Relations.
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