Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Professionalism And The Path To Regaining Community Trust

I normally shy away from “bad cop” stories here on the blog. The reason is that there are plenty of other sites out there that are ready to bludgeon an officer or police department when either the officer or the department screws up. In this post I am not going to depart from that policy.

There is likely few people who have not heard of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida. In the fallout of this high profile shooting, the police agency responsible for investigating the original shooting incident was roundly criticized for it’s handling of the incident. So much so, that their Chief of Police finally resigned. I’m not going to delve into any criticism of the department or their Chief but this USA Today story about the announcement of an interim Chief of Police has a couple of things I think are worth noting.

One is that Sanford mayor indicated that the new Chief’s community policing background was a major reason for their selection. Another reason, and one that I thought was interesting was this bit:
Myers has extensive credentialing experience. The Sanford police department has only state accreditation and none nationally. Myers is a commissioner/secretary at the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and will help the department adopt best practices and achieve national accreditation, Bonaparte said.
One important aspect of community policing is establishing a relationship with the community as a partnership to solve crime problems. This same relationship building should help to repair some of the fractures that developed when this incident happened.

Accreditation by Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) is an arduous process. If Chief Myers intends on bringing Sanford up to CALEA standards this process could show the community that their department has the highest professional standards. A community needs to have confidence that their police department is professional and transparent.

If your agency is a true partner with your community, and you are professional and transparent, they will continue to support you even when one of those unfortunate "bad cop" stories hits all too close to home.

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