I have recently been asked by some police officers as to what community members would like to hear from them regarding the present crisis surrounding the use of deadly force. They seem confused.
When policing is truly community-oriented rather than self or craft-oriented, this conversation would be part and parcel of the actual on-going relationship between police and their community residents. No confusion.
So here is my suggestion: I believe Americans need to hear the following from their police — (especially those citizens who are of color, who have teenagers, or loved ones with addictions, or those who struggle with mental illness).
It must be a conversation initiated by police with sincerity and from their heart.
The follow up is, however, the most important. Police must generously listen and effectively act and reduce the number of unarmed persons they kill. That’s the objective.
- From your police chief: “We hear you and share your concerns. We want you to know that we are committed to safeguarding and preserving every human life and will do everything possible to meet this commitment.
- “We will modify, improve, or change our policies, training methods, practices, attitudes, and/or approaches in our use of force in order to reflect our commitment to life and its sanctity.
- “Whenever possible in matters of conflict, we will seek first to dialogue and de-escalate the situation before we use force of any kind.
- “We affirm our role in the community as your Guardians and Protectors and re-commit to working closely with you to solve problems of crime and disorder in your neighborhoods.
- “We ask for and need your help as we improve these systems and the way in which we serve you.
- “Our goal is regain your trust and support and to build a better police department and city as we move forward together to build a community in which everyone feels safe, protected, and can trust and work together with their police.”
- Chief: If you have not already made this kind of statement, you need to do so and engage in a community-wide dialogue surrounding it.
- Elected Officials and Community members: If, for any reason, your chief of police cannot or will not begin this conversation you need to collectively act towards these ends.
- We, as a nation, have too much at stake not to receive this kind of pledge from our police and their engagement with us concerning the use of deadly force.