Why is there so much chaos between Police Officers and their Communities?
The relationship between police officers and their communities has drastically changed over the years. Due to the lack of accountability and transparency, people find it more and more difficult to trust the police to be fair and impartial with their tasks. In some cases, the citizens even feel more threatened by the law enforcers than the real criminals.
While the use of force is inherent in the line of work of the police officers, on occasion, the way they provide their services also tend to cause conflict between them and the citizens they serve. In fact, the number of cases filed relating to police-citizen encounters – such as police discourtesy, use of offensive language, and threats – have increased through the years.
Is there a way to address the conflict between Police Officers and their Communities?
Resolving the conflict between police officers and their communities requires a change in police culture. This entails a lot of training, the practice of accountability, and the modification of policies and practices. Most importantly, this needs strong leaders – who will advocate and model good leadership and transparency in the police department.
To change the policing culture is perhaps difficult but not impossible. If the goal is to really serve the public and prevent crimes from happening, then it is imperative to develop a good police-community relationship. And this can only be done if trust is being developed between the police and citizens.
Why Police Chiefs have to Change the Culture of Policing?
If the police department seriously wants to end this conflict between them and the community they serve, then the best mechanism that can be done is to produce lasting and systemic reforms in the police organization themselves. How to do this?
1. See from the citizen’s perspective.
More often, ‘rogue cops’ are blamed for cases of police brutality, not the organizational culture of the department. While this may be partly true, the problem lies when these officers tend to repeat their abusive behavior – and the higher-ups do not address these growing concerns.
This kind of system, when viewed from the community’s perspective, conveys a message that abusive behavior among law enforcers is okay.
2. Train officers in de-escalation skills.
It’s true that the nature of police work requires them to face threatening situations, but this does not give them the license to abuse their power over the citizens. On top of the quantitative performance metrics that include the number of crimes solved, arrests made, and tickets were written, law enforcers must also harness their de-escalation skills – to reduce the intensity of conflict between them and the community members.
3. Improving data collection and public transparency
To affirm the role of the community in law enforcement and show transparency in the public, some police departments that have already started adopting community policing and the use of community survey in gathering feedback from the community. But how reliable are these data? Are they valid? How were they implemented? How were these treated? And, was there a change of behavior or reform that was done right after?
These days, when things can be easily manipulated, it is best to use reliable means of gathering data from the public – say use of software that can build dynamic surveys based on the needs of the police department and community. Officer Survey is one of the trusted community surveying software that can be utilized in building transparency among the different stakeholders in the community.
With the use of technology, it is easier to gather data, analyze feedback, and transform this information into a course of action.
Change is always difficult. But to eliminate the chaos between Police Officers and their Communities the law enforcers must learn to understand and address the underlying issues that hinder learning and change in their department.
Power indeed comes with responsibilities. Therefore, the police must show that they are using their power to help address and prevent crimes in the neighborhood and not a threat to the citizens.