I believe that law enforcement agencies and officers primary responsibility is to serve and protect. It is necessary to provide feedback to our local law enforcement agencies (LEAs).
It Is Necessary to Understand the Narratives:
I realize that law enforcement agencies and officers are frequently villainized for various reasons:
1. Criminals don’t want victims to report them, so they create narratives, where they vilify law enforcement agencies and officers. This is especially true in cases of domestic violence;
2 Interest groups want more money for their specific projects, so they sow seeds of distrust, and create narratives that officers and the agencies should not receive funding,.
3. Controlling parents and/or partners don’t want victims to feel safe without them, so they create narratives, that create doubt and/or fear and/or distrust in law enforcement agencies and officers. This is especially true in cases of domestic violence.
It Is Necessary to Change the Narrative
How do we change the narrative? We have transparency and build a relationship firmly between the community and law enforcement.
TPD has implemented programs such as
- Coffee with a Cop;
- Encouraging play between officers and teens and tweens, such as basketball at Boys and Girls Clubs;
- Not wearing riot gear to sports activities and community marches, but interacting with members of the community, and having a presence.
As a community member, I have invited officers to speak in my classrooms and most recently at my son’s PTO meeting, and the conversations have been good.
I also believe we should thank our officers when we appreciate the work they have done. This can be done online on the compliments page, or directly to an officer, squad, or division.
TPD, like others who provide customer service, has a wall in the Department that displays compliments from members of the community.
It Is Necessary to Have Community Responsibility
As a community, we must exercise our rights and responsibilities to our community. We must speak up.
A. We can change the narrative through education to our community:
- Keep McGruff the Crime Dog out in the community, and introduce everyday stories into the community that re-visit the purpose of law enforcement agencies;
- Share with the community ways they can help (not hinder) create and maintain safe neighborhoods;
B. We can change the narrative through education to our law enforcement agencies and officers:
- Help officers understand that domestic violence victims are frequently in a state of crisis, and may seem crazy or unreasonable, but that is a tool of the perpetrator;
- Create a process where officers automatically refer crime specific conplaints to crime soecific outreach services (e.g. domestic violence complaints to domestic violence outreach programs who follow up with the family/partners when they are not in crisis).
C. Have conversations, review processes and policies, update them as necessary. In Tucson, community members can become a member of CPARB (Citizen Police Advisory Review Board),
It Is Necessary to Have Accountability
- Sometimes we have “bad days”, and something comes out wrong.
- Sometimes, we have habits that are hard to break.
- Sometimes, we are out of line.
- Complaint Mediation Program