Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Community's Trust In The Police Has To Be Earned

Earlier this week, I posted about the reasons Sanford, Florida city officials hired Richard Myers to be the Interim Chief of Police of the Sanford Police Department. Sanford PD if you recall was roundly criticized for their handling of the shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white neighborhood watch volunteer. Officials in Sanford hope that Chief Myers strong community policing background and professional qualifications can help restore public confidence in Sanford Police.

There was a great quote from Chief Myers in an interview published in the Orlando Sentinel yesterday.

Q: How do you win over or build trust in a community like Sanford, where there is such a distrust of the police department because of history?

A: It sounds trite, but you really have to win them one heart at a time. Trust has to be earned — you can't buy it. Take the time to listen, to demonstrate that you care, to be honest and forthright about what you can and cannot do, and not to give false hope. ... In the short time I'm here, I'm hopeful that I personally, and we collectively as a police department, will be able to explore some of those disconnected and mistrusted relationships and find out what has been the historical basis for them. But at some point you have to ask people to be willing to let go of history and look forward.

I couldn't agree more.

What is your agency doing to earn the trust of the community you serve?

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