Roles of the Community Members in Promoting Good Police-Community Relations
Effective police-community relations cannot be improved by the police department alone; the members of the community also have roles to play in it.
The members of the community have to ensure that they communicate to the police about the rising problems in the region without any fear of the police or any kind of intimidations. They are also mandated to make regular follow ups concerning how the problems they raised to the police are being solved and the manner in which the cases are addresses (Williams, 2015).
Establishing active rosters and volunteers
Maintaining a continuous interest and participation of members of a community in neighborhood meetings with the police is one of the challenges that are hindering effective community and police relations. The police department has continuity in terms of delivering their services to the community but the members of the community are volunteers and they have to sacrifice and commit their spare time so as to be able to attend the community meetings. Due to tough economic times, many people resolve to working on more than one job, therefore they will lack the time for attending such meetings (Peak & Glensor, 2011). These events are therefore left for the elderly in the community, who might have retired, and they might not be vocal enough to address the real issues affecting the community. The other challenge is looking for volunteers, the community members have to ensure that they have volunteers who are willing to support the community in solving the existing problems, and that all communities are well represented, including the minority groups.
Identification and utilization of community assets
The members of the community can decide to survey on all the resources available in the community that can act as an added advantage in solving the problems facing the community. These could be financial and technical resources or the presence of personnel expertise like police officers. This process of developing records of assets in the community promotes unity in the community and enables members to know more about each other while at the same time learning from the different contributions made by the experts (Miller & Brasswell, 2014). The idea of mapping resources will also assist in starting negotiations with the police and the public about the available resources, what can be attained and the obligations needed.
Roles of The Police in Promoting Good Police-Community Relations
Incorporating transparency and accountability
It is the sole responsibility of the police department to make communities safe through the prevention of criminal activities and effective enforcement of the laws in place. They are mandated to exercise openness and transparency when dealing with members of the community and in describing crime eradication efforts. The authority of fighting crimes comes with the responsibility of respecting the rights of the members of the community, since the task can be effectively accomplished with the collaborations and support from the community. The police- community relations can be compromised if the police fail to respect the rights of the people in the region (Miller & Brasswell, 2014). Those who are found engaging in any kind of misconducts that violates the laws have to be held accountable irrespective of their positions in the government, academic backgrounds or religious status. This will promote fairness and equity in implementation of policies that prevent crimes and avoid any cases of civil unrests.
The lack of accountability and transparency by the police when rendering their services to the community can lead to distrust in the police departments. Police departments always have proved to be incompetent in handling misconduct complaints. Therefore, the Chief of Police should provide clear information to the public on how police officers should be held accountable for their misconduct while offering their services to the community. Apart from recounting the investigative and corrective measures, the police have to demonstrate in ways that assure the community that those individuals who fail to follow the rules provided in the department and the state laws are disciplined correctly (Gorman, 2011). The police department should also work proactively by educating the members of the community on accountability systems and what to expect from an investigation process conducted by the police. The community also has to be consulted on how they want to be governed and protected by the police, since the idea of consulting them with the aim of getting information concerning a crime case only can easily demotivate them from doing so the next time a similar incidence occurs.
The Chief of Police should create openings for educational interactions between the police and members of the community. An example is that of police departments hosting members of the public, with the aim of giving opportunities to understand clearly the various aspects pertaining the roles and responsibilities of police officers (Rebecca, 2014). During this process, the police offer educational advice to the community on the benefits of peaceful and harmonious coexistence in the community.
Creating citizen’s police academies
These are mainly meant to educate the members of the community about effective policing. It is a positive development in a community because it provides insights about police policies, trainings and specified tactics that can be used in handling crimes and other related events. The Chief of Police encourages the use of citizen police academies with the intention of providing an elaborated view of policing and the barriers that hinder police officers from successfully rendering their services to the communities. In this process, the police officers teach in the classes, with the assistance of professional trainers for specific sessions that need professional advice (Peak & Glensor, 2011). They also offer opportunities for the community members to see the various works done by the police departments, through the enlightenments on subjects like investigations of narcotics and other vices.
Since the trainings do not involve lectures only, the members of the community can get the opportunities for the practical trainings on matters including fingerprinting, use of firearms, precision path driving, defensive tactics, criminal investigations and processes in the crime scenes. Other beneficial interactions include field trips to other police related facilities like detention centers, special probing units, crime laboratories and crisis communication centers (Perez & Normore, 2014). The communities upon learning about effective policing and the roles of the police departments, they will develop positive attitude towards the police, the tendencies of fear of police will be reduced, and this will eventually lead to better police- community relations.
In order to promote the harmonious coexistences in the community, the Chief of Police should ensure that there are regular meetings in the neighborhood between the community members and the police. This will allow the community to point out their problems to the police, and on the other hand the police will get to understand the community better and come up with better solutions that will address the problems (Peak & Glensor, 2011). The community will also be engaged in a constructive and meaningful way, through the identification and prioritization of issues that bother the community, monitoring of changes in the needs of the community, and helping in solving of problems before they get out of control. The meetings also provides an effective means of communication between members of the public and the police, encouraging contributions from all members without any form of discriminations, promoting a sense of partnerships and collaborations in both parties.
Maintaining regular communications
The interaction between the police and the community can be enhanced through the regular meetings organized at the community levels. But there has to be other channels of communications that will encourage the community members to feel free when approaching the police with other issues that are not of emergency or crime related concerns. This might benefit the minority groups, like the immigrants in the community, who might not be at ease in raising issues publicly at the formal meetings. Apart from maintaining effective communications, the police officers should strive to make follow ups concerning the matters raised between the meetings and ensure that problems are solved in the right manner (Miller & Brasswell, 2014). The other modes of communications that can be used include conducting surveys on the satisfactions of the methods of policing used in the community, the use of internet with interactive websites and web conferencing targeting the communities, through video links, and providing information in languages that can be understood by the communities served by the police officers.
Policies and technologies that benefits the community
The Chief of Police has to organize special forums in which policies, strategies or technologies that are of concern to the community are discussed. The police officers may be using certain strategies which are of utmost importance to the members of the community, but without the awareness of such strategies by the community, it can lead to the whole process backfiring or the affected members resisting to accept the new changes in their environments. Therefore, before implementing new policies in the community, community forums should be organized so as to provide necessary information to the residents in that region (Williams, 2015). The residents should be given opportunities to express their opinions with regard to the technologies, strategies or policies to be enacted. For example, if the police department decides to purchase new kinds of weapons that will be used in reducing crime rates in a community, it should organize forums with the community and explain the reasons behind the idea, how the weapon will be used by the police officers, and why they chose it to be used in that specific community. The new weapon should be used by the police upon the acceptance by the members of the community.