Assistant Chief (Ret.) Anthony Trevino
Much has been written regarding police reform and accountability, from use of force and racial profiling to the proliferation and promise of body worn cameras. One of the many challenges in present day law enforcement is how to meet the community’s demands for accountability. The needs and expectations of communities are varied and complex depending upon a multitude of factors, making law enforcement’s response to those expectations even more challenging.
The amount of scrutiny faced by officers can be overwhelming to the rank and file, yet they are oftentimes the first line of defense in a number of social issues. Officers are tasked with an immense range of responsibilities that reach beyond simply enforcing the law and keeping the peace. They often find themselves serving as impromptu social workers, mental health advocates, and child welfare proponents when they respond to calls. With higher expectations being placed on officers, the question then becomes: How can police departments protect local residents in dynamic ways and respond to calls for accountability, while still supporting and inspiring officers to do one of society’s most difficult jobs? Within the depths of these challenges there is hope – hope for better relations between officers and communities they serve. The hope lies in the delicate balance of trust communities have in their department.
Trust, accountability, and engagement are intertwined and form the foundation of positive police and community relationships. Police departments cannot take these relationships for granted, and the possibility of a durable relationship with the community is dependent upon ongoing work to maintain that trust. Police departments must foster and maintain trust with the community by assuring that they will respond to calls for accountability. This accountability is essential to change the common narrative that law enforcement agencies are guarded and self-contained institutions, disconnected from the daily needs and rights of community members. The building of trust begins with a daily commitment to accountability which translates to an essential aspect of community engagement.
Law enforcement leadership must leverage existing technologies to build bridges and engage with community members, even in the most difficult moments of crisis or concern. It is only through these ongoing efforts and thoughtful conversations that law enforcement agencies can do the hard work of responding to the ever-changing needs of the community. We cannot wait for the community to come forward with calls for accountability and reform to begin building a trusting relationship between police and the community. Instead, we must work proactively to create a sense of trust and facilitate engagement in every interaction – from minor traffic stops to large-scale critical incidents that might pose threats to local safety.
Truleo provides automated review and analysis of police body camera data. Truleo’s customer service metrics help agencies promote best practices, train new officers and mitigate risk. To learn more about Truleo’s mission to improve trust in the police with body camera analytics, visit www.truleo.co.