Building Trust: One Contact at a Time

A Note to the 600,000 Men and Women Who Police Our Nation

I was recently asked what I would do if I was again a street cop answering calls in a multi-racial environment? I have thought about it and I offer the following based on my 33-year police career.

The way forward is going to be achieved by one positive contact after another by you and your fellow officers. There is no “magic fix,” law or policy that will be able to achieve what you can individually, day in and day out. Many of you are already doing this and you are to be congratulated. But you and I both know there is much relational work that needs to be done.

As a patrol officer, I would contact as many people as I can on a daily basis in my district; preferably folks of color. No more waiting around for a call for service — i’m out and on foot. And this is what I would say.

Dear Member of the Community

“The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis shocked, saddened, and embarrassed me and most all of the men and women with whom I work. I want you to know that.

“I also want you to know that I am not a cop who will disabuse you. I will be accountable to you for my language and how I behave. That’s a promise!

“You can expect {and demand) that I will be fair, equitable and respectful at all times. I will act as I would want you to act if you were in my place (that old Golden Rule). I promise I will be that kind of police officer.

“If I have to use force after trying to de-escalate a situation, I will use force only to overcome resistance. I am committed to doing my work through persuasion, not force. Life is sacred — all lives.

“I am giving you my business card to show you my concern and availability. It has my personal cell phone number. You can call me at any time if you have a problem.

“This is my pledge to you. In return, I ask you to give me a chance to be the kind of police officer you desire me to be – a guardian and helper. I will work hard to gain your trust. Together, we can make this district and our city orderly and safe for you and your family.

“Thank you for listening. Do you have any questions for me?”

Can you do this?

Will you?

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Business Card

David C. Couper, Badge #616

Police Officer. District One

Current shift assignment: 3-11 pm.

Emergencies: dial 9-1-1

Non-emergency dispatcher: (xxx) xxx-xxxx

Personal cell phone: (xxx) xxx-xxxx

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