When the police partner with their community, it helps to build trust and cooperation. They start to hold each other accountable and rely on one another. But this doesn’t happen overnight and there is not one single way to accomplish such a partnership. Most of the time, it just take an extra step to show that you care about the people and place within the community. People like the idea of having someone on their side, even where there isn’t an immediate crisis.
The police department becomes a stronger entity when they coordinate their offers and increase public awareness. Encouraging community engagement is key to their success. This occurs on so many levels and can be as simple as daily interactions with the people living in their community to attending community events and providing supports for those in need of specific services.
The first step in police partnering with community is to have better training that includes transparency, competency, bias training, and more. Positive interactions have momentum. Another area that needs attention is youth development. Having programs in schools, mentoring, and coaching kids allows them to develop positive relationships with officers. Through such program, kids learn valuable skills and start realizing that the police are people they can trust.
Another area where police officers can build trust within their communities is to provide resources to its residents. Being a resourceful person who can offer advice on where to go for help shows the community that the police care about them and they can be trusted. Offering resources for mental health, daycare needs, abuse, and low-income housing, for example, is an added value for residents.
Police can also help by being aware of problem areas within the neighborhoods, such as areas with poor lighting, parks in need of better care, missing street signage, as well as problem businesses. Looking at the neighborhood as a whole and making it better for the people who live there is a good way for police to partner with their communities to strengthen their trust.
Lastly, mingling with the members of the neighborhood is great for partnering with the community. Host a BBQ or police station open house, participate in bike patrols, attend various meetings, and visit churches, for example. All of these activities allow for conversation, recognition, and bonding. These are activities that help build trust between the officers and the community. It is the smile, the handshake, and the familiar face that make the difference. It is just that little extra on top of patrolling and protecting the neighborhood that can increase trust in the police and develop a sense of partnership between them and the community.