A Model of Law Enforcement That Creates Partnerships with the Community
Galveston community leaders hosted a forum for residents to voice their concerns and ask questions of an organization made up of local political candidates and activists. Concerns raised by the 150 participants included the need for psychiatric resources, police training and procedures for arresting people with mental illness, as well as guidelines for filing complaints against CPO officers. CRS shared information on CRS programs and services at the forum to reduce tensions and address their source. Following the community forum, Galveston City officials agreed to implement the SPCP program to restore community trust and partnership with the GPD. A SPCP planning group of five community members prepared to implement the program. CRS facilitated the planning meetings and trained the leaders of the meetings. In August 2019, after a community forum, city officials and the chief of police of the Galveston Police Department (GPD) in Galveston, Texas, agreed to participate in a CRS Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships (SPCP) program in the Gulf Coast city. Racial tensions in Galveston`s black community escalated after police officers riding horses arrested a black man and led him handcuffed to a rope behind their horses. The public compared the officers` actions to the patrols used to capture men and women who had fled slavery. Community members expressed distrust of the police department for its handling of the incident. In its simplest form, community policing creates a partnership between law enforcement agencies and local residents.
The more law enforcement works with the residents they have sworn to protect, the more residents can help law enforcement achieve their goals. What are the benefits of an effective community policing structure? Community policing is a law enforcement strategy that has existed in the United States since the early `80s. Most people in the field of public safety have probably heard this term before, but what does community policing really mean? Community policing is generally defined as a law enforcement philosophy that allows officers to continually operate in the same area in order to create a stronger bond with the citizens who live and work in that area. This allows public safety officials to connect with local residents and prevent crime, rather than responding to incidents after they have occurred. How does community policing differ from traditional policing? The initiative was founded on the premise that we must overcome our differences and work together to bridge the gap between community and police, reshape public safety, and build safer communities where we are all seen and heard. Based on their expertise as legal and compliance experts, the founders of The Initiative developed CENTRAL, an evidence-based visualization tool™ to assess and measure the effectiveness of policing in the United States in community policing. Essentially, CENTRAL measures an authority`s willingness to participate in community-based policing. In November 2019, CRS activated the SPCP program for approximately 100 participants, including representatives from a local university, a local school district, the NAACP, and a Spanish-American national civil rights organization. The remaining participants were GPD officers; young leaders; clergy; business owners; Black, Latino and white parishioners; and residents of Galveston`s East, Midtown and West End neighbourhoods. Participants worked in small, moderated groups to identify community strengths and problem areas. As a comprehensive group, participants prioritized key concerns of law enforcement and community groups, including negative perceptions of each other, lack of police training, and mental health, and identified possible solutions to these issues. During the program, program participants selected representatives from each small group to sit on a board to implement some of the identified solutions.
The initiative believes that greater efficiency in community policing will lead to better crime statistics. As another key advisor to the initiative, Jiles Ship, current president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officers – New Jersey (NOBLE NJ), stated, “There is no doubt that law enforcement agencies that effectively integrate community policing to improve trust in community members, are seeing an increase in their resolution rates and a decrease in crime.” The initiative firmly believes that all stakeholders must be seen and heard. As a result, the initiative is developing a community-based portal that will allow community stakeholders to assess the public safety of their communities, local police and other areas that impact community health. The results of these community dashboards would provide police and community leaders with important information about the needs of their communities.