The past years have seen an increase in distrust between communities and law enforcement. In some instances, communities don’t feel law enforcement supports or protects them. Members of some Black communities believe they are targets, based upon hatred, racism and bias, of the officers. While this can be seen as true, in some instances, we must still work to improve and eradicate the perception.
Five years ago I was one of the founders of the Communities of Trust Committee (www.communitiesoftrust.com) established to help improve relationships and build trust between public safety agencies and the communities they serve, with special emphasis on law enforcement. Five years and the trust level still isn’t where we would like or it should be. The continued killing of Black men, women and children hampers any positive forward movement in building trust.
It isn’t easy to build trust. There are too many factors that have lead to the distrust. For the Black the community, the trust was lost 400 years ago when slaves were brought to America. Building trust begins with the children at a very early age and is a continuous process. Their first impression of the police should not be a negative experience. The television should not be their reality. Law enforcement must become a part of the community helping to identify and resolve issues. They must become a part of and recognized as a part of the community, even if they don’t live in the community. Listening is also key to building trust. If you don’t listen and understand what you are being told, the community will think you don’t care, which goes inline with what they are already thinking. You don’t have to prove them right.
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