It is no secret that our city has very recently dealt with difficult and sometimes deadly interactions between police officers and civilians. People in all communities should be able to trust that their local police forces are watching them through a fair lens, and working with them for everyone to feel safe.
We all have biases, and we need to work to overcome them. Implicit bias training is effective - for people serving in our police force, and for community members as well.
Let’s recruit officers who better reflect the communities they serve, and with which they engage. Our citizens should feel comfortable interacting with the people who have sworn to protect them.
Let’s ensure that police staff continue to engage with community members in many positive ways. Officers and crime prevention staff need to be present in residents’ regular lives, and not only in confrontational situations. We can build on the city’s commitment to community crime prevention and safety.
As we work to remain fair to our community and our law enforcement, the need for further transparency becomes clear. We need to increase the use of body cameras throughout our city. If the technology is available, our residents deserve to know that their interactions with an officer can be revisited, while the rights of victims are protected.
But modern policing is more than modernizing technology. Police officers and community members must also remain savvy about contemporary crime issues such as sex trafficking. While the Super Bowl - coming to our ward in 2018 - and other major sporting events are notorious for these crimes, this activity is hurting people today, and we can do more now to prevent it. We need to supplement officer training to spot the warning signs of these horrid activities, and to handle these situations to prevent harm. We need to educate community members about how to help people vulnerable to sex trafficking.
Many of us will have to overcome fears in order to feel safe in our communities. However, I believe that if we manage our biases; train our officers; staff and community members, recruit representative police forces; and increase transparency with our communities, we will build trust among community members and local law enforcement, and together make our community safer for all.