While police officers have body armor and fire arms, communication may be their most powerful asset. A senior officer recently said he'd like to think that his relationships with members of the community would prompt 9-1-1 calls or physical assistance if he was in trouble or getting "his behind whipped" by a suspect.
The importance of community policing isn't just feel-good psycho-babble. Those relationships could mean the difference between an officer working a beat in which he feels appreciated or a beat in which he feels like everyone has their crosshairs trained on him.
I'd ask fellow urban stakeholders to pretend for a moment that their color is blue. Inner-city duty means a sea of camera phones and witnesses loudly proclaiming that an officer has used undue force in their community. Those officers risk—depending on the political climate within their departments—their careers going up in smoke or becoming the latest poster boy for police brutality. Racial profiling is horrible. But imagine the weight of prejudice based upon the color of your uniform. It's possible that both police officers and urban stakeholders feel discriminated against. Our clashes make headlines and sometimes they force police departments to rethink their purpose and change their policies. Officers and the people they serve have every good reason to cultivate relationships. They have no good reason to avoid them.
Nadra Enzi; New Orleans
In violent climate, a call for cultivating cop relationships http://usat.ly/1MICsen