Steps for Police to Build Trust Within Their Communities

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Steps for Police to Build Trust Within Their Communities


It’s unfortunately true that many Americans don’t have trust in the legal system. This lack of trust is often targeted at law enforcement officers, with many Americans expressing explicit distrust towards police officers. In order for law enforcement to be effective, though, it’s imperative that communities trust the police who aim to protect them. How, then, can police rebuild broken trust and forge bonds with the members of their communities? There are many approaches that law enforcement can take, but the following are some of the most effective strategies for establishing trustful relationships between law enforcement and community residents.

Invest In the Community

One of the best ways for police to build trust in their communities is to invest in the people and programs that surround them. There are many charities and nonprofits that would love to have the support of their local police department, and these partnerships can go a long way to establish positive interactions between cops and community members. Departments can create these opportunities by reaching out to local organizations and strategizing ways to offer support. The police department may help facilitate supply drives and fundraisers, for example.

Spread Awareness of Services  

Many community members who distrust the police are unaware of the wide breadth of services they provide. Though police promise to “protect and serve,” what exactly does this look like in practice? There are many ways that law enforcement serves their communities that often go unnoticed. This includes many social services such as emergency assistance, which can account for as much as 50% of an officer’s job duties. Police officers can build trust in their communities by spreading awareness of these services and reminding residents that they do much more than hand out tickets.

Launch a Marketing Campaign

Poor relationships between law enforcement and their communities are often due to a public relations failure. Many people simply have the wrong impression of police, and rectifying those misconceptions can be hard without a deliberately designed campaign. A marketing campaign can actually be a great way to establish a positive image of law enforcement and mitigate a community’s misconceptions about what police do. Marketing campaigns can include billboards, flyers, and social media outreach that focus on the services and positive presence that law enforcement offers to their community.

Increase Positive Visibility

Finally, perhaps the most important aspect of building relationships within communities is establishing positive visibility. Most people see law enforcement when they’re getting pulled over or they’re in a moment of crisis. Few people see police in a positive or neutral context. It’s important for cops to change this and increase opportunities for positive visibility in their communities. This can be done with appearances and community events.

About PGUI

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