Humane policing: A new approach to boost community relations
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Despite intense efforts in recent years, the relationship between police and the public hasn't improved much. Now, departments are looking at a new way to improve interaction between the law enforcement and citizens by introducing "humane policing."
The book by the same name, written by former Marine and law enforcement officer Darren Spencer, is the inspiration behind the movement. It stresses an individual approach to law enforcement instead of following antiquated rules. It also focuses on the individual in question as a human being instead of looking at statistics of previous offense or crime.
More department heads and local authorities are talking about making courteous, humane policing a top priority. Instead of high-handedness combined with wariness, policing should be impartial and objective at all times.
When asked why officers are not readily adopting this path and doing it on a regular basis, authorities are still unsure of what the answer could be. In the face of increasing assaults on the men in blue and the sagging morale of the police force, maintaining equilibrium in a tense situation can be hard.
Demoralization in the force and demonization of the force seem to go hand in hand.
Some agencies are trying to adopt community-style policing, an approach that allows dignity and time for both officers and offenders to make good choices. As Spencer put it, it is only with mutual respect that law enforcement and community groups can overcome the yawning gap between them.
While the news media and social media focus on how unfair and forceful police officers are, there also needs to be more recognition and appreciation for the service and sacrifices that these officers have made over the years.
Recently, Cumru Township Police in Pennsylvania made the news while exercising humane policing in the line of duty. At a community meeting, Police Chief Madison Winchester outlined his vision for a more courteous and reasonable team of officers.
Declaring so in a community gathering also reinforces the thought that the police are reaching out to the masses and expressing their aim to be friends and partners, instead of adversaries. At the same time, more officers must focus on finding common ground while doing their job.
The idea is to fight crime, not citizens. Over-reliance on authority and poor communication skills combined with the use of force have led to unfortunate encounters and impaired community relations so badly. While there is a national spotlight on high-profile killings of both citizens and police, police-community relations are strained, and public trust in the police is broken.
Other police chiefs like Winchester agree. This "us-versus-them" mentality must go, and officers should learn how to every handle situation calmly and with respect.
Officers not only have to empathize with people, listen calmly and then effectively communicate, they also must develop thick skins. The latter will prevent them from looking at ways to arrest individuals who disagree, have bad attitudes and are disrespectful to the officers.
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