Police and Sheriff’s Departments are most effective and successful when protect and serve has police community engagement in-focus. Law enforcement agencies that are highly focused on engaging their community see almost every contact with the possibility of making a connection. When connections are being made at every turn, it provides opportunities to dispel a myth, change a perception, start a conversation or ask a question. Police Community Engagement as a priority works.
I’m realistic and understand that it’s challenging to think of police community engagement when officers and deputies are oftentimes dealing with unruly people, complicated and dangerous situations. It’s a bit of reprogramming and rethinking but it’s also a moment to take a step back… reprocess things from a community engagement perspective. We’re building something special, one brick at a time. It’s one thing to simultaneously protect and serve while engaging the community, there are creative ways to get it done.
True success in a police community engagement program often comes from the simplest of things. Photos of San Diego PD Officer holding his patrol car public address mic for 2 kids to give a shout out to their father on a passing ship make the point perfectly. It was the officer’s police community engagement moment. A simple gesture got the officer engaged in the community of two children by helping them connect with their father.
Law enforcement officers work hard, have normal lives, families, responsibilities like the rest of the world. Now more than ever, it’s important to highlight ways that police officers and sheriff’s deputies serve their communities, sacrifices they make, “everyday things” things that rare should be giving back to our communities. Police personnel can come together and take part in community events, creating a police presence in a different way.
Seeing the officer that gave you a speeding ticket enjoy messy spare ribs and a few laughs at a community barbecue tends to take the sting away a bit. In all seriousness, community members need to be reminded that police officers are members of several communites citizens of the same city, trying to live their lives like everyone else. Police community engagement can be handled in different ways. Officers can take things into their own hands, or they can look for opportunities presented by the police force within the community.
It could be a 1st grade graduation, church bake sale, Greek Festival, Perhaps there is a local festival to attend or some other community event on the calendar. Police officers must be aware of what is going on in the community in more ways than one. That is how they relate to the people living there, and this type of connection is how these officers better serve the community. The police in any city are part of the culture, and that is how they must carry themselves professionally. It’s a career that requires a serious investment in the well being of all members of the community, and this vision must be a focal point.