It seems that daily the public is bombarded with negative stories about law enforcement. Simultaneously positive stories are not presented or do not get significant coverage. That is just a fact of life and life in the public setting. The media handling of law enforcement is not restricted to just the police but is how public service is covered in general. I lived the life as a City Manager for 6 years and found that to be true in all facets of the government. Law enforcement, however, is such a dynamic profession and the possibility of a major incident looms around every corner every day. It’s part of the profession and it’s volatile as both sides of the equation, the public and the police are both human and subject to mistakes.
What I strongly agree with in the Presidents 21st Century Policing Task Force report that was published in May of 2015 is the need for developing community trust. It is not a new idea as many agencies have been developing those relationships for years prior to the report. The report does highlight the need, however, and there are several ways to accomplish that trust. I have always believed and practiced that community education about police processes is a useful tool for relationship building. Agencies for years have been utilizing programs such as Citizen Police Academies and outreach programs like Police Athletic Leagues.
Recently Danny Rosa from MCOLES took part in a discussion panel that outlined what students should do if stopped by the police. This discussion took place at Cass Tech High School in Detroit and Danny was joined by Judge Kenneth King of 36th District Court; Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Kim Miles; criminal defense lawyer Cliff Woodward; former Detroit police commission attorney and prosecutor Aliyah Sabree, as well as Black Lives Matter activist Angela Waters Austin. Danny discussed and demonstrated the reality of reaction time for officers when they encounter hostile situations to give the students an understanding of why the police train the way they do and react the way they do . The program was well received and was covered by the Detroit news;http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2016/04/08/black-lives-matter-detroit-students-police/82814604/.
Congratulations to Danny Rosa and all of the other panel participants for taking their time to educate these Students. Also congratulations go out to the 800 Cass Tech Students who attended and were very engaged in the practical demonstrations and discussion. As Danny stated to the audience, it takes everyone talking these issues out if we are to ever resolve them. Several months ago Danny, Mike Logghe and I all from MCOLES took part in a practical demonstration and discussion with the group, Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (APLACT) at the Washtenaw Police Academy. Members of the group were exposed to real life situations utilizing the digital firearms training system that police recruits are put through. We also had honest in-depth discussions about police/ community relations.
These are just a few examples of ways that law enforcement is engaging the public. It is a continual process and we cannot rest on previous accomplishments and be ever mindful of taking advantage of every opportunity to be open and honest with our public and seek every chance to exchange dialogue.