Recent events in the news have once again brought forth some common questions. What can we do to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community? How can we build trust? How can we work together for a safer community? How do we prevent the aftermath of a tragic event before it happens? How can we better ferret out the problems and multiply the positives?
There are many questions but there is really only one answer. We need to create a long-lasting bond with our communities that can withstand the most troubling events, and Community Policing is the key.
Unfortunately, Community Policing has many definitions and meanings, depending on how (or who) you ask. Some will say it means attending events and speaking to the community. Others will say it means early intervention in troubled neighborhoods. Many will tell you that Community Policing means identifying your most engaged officers and “hitting the streets” to build bonds with community leaders and members. None of these answers would be wrong and all of them should be encouraged. But, unfortunately most of them fail to offer a long lasting whole approach to the Community Policing model.
“We need to create a long-lasting bond with our communities that can withstand the most troubling events. Community Policing is the key. “
Meaningful Community Policing is hard to maintain during an event “here or there”. A visit once in a while. A meeting every quarter with leaders and motivated community members. All of these things are great, and those who engage this process should be commended because it takes a real commitment, by the truly committed, to maintain the schedule needed to make a true difference. This approach is time consuming and requires an immense amount of dedication. Most of our leaders are overwhelmed with so many other duties, that this level of discipline is nearly impossible to maintain. In addition, to truly engage your community, you must involve a large percentage of them. The above methods make this nearly impossible, no matter how hard you try.
In addition, one of the biggest issues with all of the above methods is that the results are, for the most part, temporary. Meetings end. “Visits” only last so long. They have great impact while they are happening, but they get lost pretty soon after the excitement wears off. Attendees and citizens head home, turn on the TV, visit social media and “tweet”. All of your hard work and effort soon get drowned out by the constant media narrative, those who wish to agitate and others who get their kicks out of creating division. No matter how hard good intentioned law enforcement and political leaders try, they cannot compete with the constant barrage of information in today’s 24 hour news and social media cycle. Or, can they?
In order to remain relevant, agencies and leaders need to shape the narrative. They need community partnership and transparency. They need agency to agency and officer to officer connection and free flowing information sharing. They need to truly embrace change, to connect – 360 degrees. Not every third Wednesday, but everyday.
Imagine a tool that allowed agencies to actually partner with their communities by leveraging technology to bring the community into the fold and work together, not just at special events, but each and every day. An interface in every home and pocket that instantly offered transparency in policing, instant sharing of information, immediate notification of critical information, open discussion of issues (the good and the not so good) and a truly invested 24/7 community partnership.
Imagine a tool that allowed agencies to instantly share information, trends, training, resources, community concerns and more among each other.
Imagine a tool that drastically improved the image of law enforcement and took back the mainstream and social media narrative, that mostly focuses on the negative (bad news sells), and highlighted the many positive things law enforcement does everyday.
Imagine a tool that actually created a partnership between law enforcement and the media themselves.
The OPS Network is that solution. From the very first piece of code that got laid down, OPS Network developers began working with law enforcement to do exactly that. Change the relationship and build a 360 degree partnership between our communities and law enforcement.
If we truly leverage today’s technology to build long lasting and unbreakable partnerships, law enforcement and our communities will be in a much better position to deal with negative events. Not as two separate and divided entities, but together as one great machine, built on the trust and positive relationships that have been forged every single day.