Ideally, interactions between law enforcement and society members are integral to guaranteeing community safety and proper policing(COPS, 2020). Police officers must acknowledge the necessity of cooperating members of society, with the latter typically providing critical information on local crime. The relationship also makes it easier to construct reliable solutions to social evils. Nonetheless, building an efficient system isn’t a straightforward task. The US department of justice affirms that society only gains confidence in the policing system when the latter’s actions match community values and integrate procedural justice and legitimacy standards. Recent cases in the nation depict a complicated relationship between police and the community, making it necessary to assess how society can reestablish a healthy association. This paper presents a comparative analysis of four police departments, Ferguson, Phoenix, New York, and Seattle, identifying the positive and negative components of their relationships with the community. It also evaluates how the Christian worldview would enhance ethical decision-making and how best practices could enhance community police relationships.
Recent community-police conflicts have been predominated by the excessive use of force on individuals, particularly minorities, with activists and citizens calling for a nation-wide police department restructuring. The selected police departments have had positive and negative community relationships, with all receiving written complaints from members, specifically in the use of force during arrests. For instance, on July 4, 2020, a Phoenix law enforcement officer allegedly shot a male individual who sat in a parked vehicle(CityofPhoenix, 2020). Witness reports state that police officers surrounded the carand ended up shooting the individual. The officers claimed that the suspect pointed a gun at them, but there was no bodycam footage supporting the assertion. Likewise, police officers in New York demonstrated similar behaviorwhen apprehending Eric Garner, who supposedly resisted arrest. The police officers held Garner on an unlawful chokehold, resulting in a lethal asthma attack. Witnesses recorded the entire encounter on video, but the police officers didn’t face the law.
Over the years, the excessive use of force has been a significant issue in America that has utterly blemished the community-police relationship. The Ferguson, Seattle, and New York police departments continually receive numerous cases and reports tied to police brutality and discrimination. Specifically, the US Department of Justice points out that the excessive use of force reported in the three police departments was mainly inflicted on minorities. Nonetheless, both departments have tried to trump the blemish, each taking unique strategies to rebuild police-community interactions. For instance, the New York PD has gradually boosted community-based programs, including the 2019 community center dedicated to teaching kids(NYPD, 2019). It offers mentorship, art lessons, sports education, and wellness programs to better the youth. Likewise, Ferguson PD initiated the C.O.P.S system that nurtures a symbiotic community-police relationship(CityofFerguson, 2020).
Proper assessment of recent cases on the use of force can promote ethical decision making, ultimately building a healthy relationship between the police and the community. The Bible states that God is the overall law enforcer, but he also gives leeway to enforce the law to various people. He asks humanity to aid the weak, poor, and oppressed, saving them from the jaws of evil. In this context, God awards police the authority to protect communities, particularly those who lack self-defense capacity. Nonetheless, the past two years have seen significant police brutality and oppression cases, with minorities being the typical victims. The Bible also states that whoever strikes another to death should face a similar fate, but it hasn’t been the case in American society(Smith & Charles, 2010). Hundreds of minority suspects and innocent victims are deprived of court days and exposed to murders, igniting domestic and global cries for change. Integrating the Christian worldview into police training would give them a more profound understanding of each life’s value and why systematic discrimination and stereotyping should not be part of society. In such an environment, legal definitions of the excessive use of force wouldn’t be necessary, building healthy relationships between police and communities.
The use of excessive force by police officers has been a significant problem in America, and it’s still likely to be prevalent in the future. The US Department of Justice acknowledges reality and plays a supervisory role in assessing community-police interactions(DOJ, 2020). In truth, society is at a point where there is minimal public trust in the policing system, with minorities continuing to face the detrimental consequences of the use of force. Every unethical action from rogue police officers minimizes public trust, crippling the community’s capacity to work collaboratively. Consequently, minority communities are continually fighting for their rights per the American constitution. Ultimately, the antagonism between the police and communities can only be achieved through comprehensive training and integrating reliable external inputs like the Christian worldview.
The Ferguson Police Department is among the law enforcement agencies that have taken significant steps towards establishing healthy community-police relationships. They agreed to a de-escalation policy, entailing minimal use of force, streamlining training, enhancing reporting and review, and acknowledging racial and gender disparities in law enforcement. Recently, the installation of bodycams has encouraged transparency and accountability, specifically in handling suspects and implementing community policing in minority neighborhoods(Koslicki, 2019). According to the United States Department of Justice, the approach has enhanced community partnerships, individual assessments, supervision, crime prevention, and integrated problem-solving, ultimately promoting long-term community peace and harmony.
New York has faced persistent police brutality, discrimination, and excessive use of force cases, but encouraging individual accountability has delivered significant improvement. New York residents are gradually normalizing questioning police officers on the reasons for arrests or stops and asking for their identities, helping curb aggressive behavior from both parties. Nonetheless, establishing an efficient and safe system requires the state department to train officers extensively on approaching and handling unprecedented situations. Conclusively, establishing a healthy community-police relationship can’t be achieved simply by adjusting regulations. There have to be integrated changes across national, state, and local departments to protect citizens from rogue police officers. Most importantly, everyone, including American citizens, must acknowledge their role in the justice system, recognizing that society can only deliver change through integrated approaches.
CityofFerguson. (2020). Services & Programs. Retrieved from City of Ferguson: https://www.fergusoncity.com/94/Services-Programs
CityofPhoenix. (2020, July 6). Critical Incident Briefing: July 4 Officer Involved Shooting Details. Retrieved from City of Phoenix: https://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/police/1380
COPS. (2020). Community Partnerships. Retrieved from COPS: https://cops.usdoj.gov/communitypartnerships
DOJ. (2020). Law Enforcement. Retrieved from The United States Department of Justice: https://www.justice.gov/crs/our-stakeholders/law-enforcement
Koslicki, W. M. (2019). Accountability or Efficiency? Body-Worn Cameras as Replicative Technology. Criminal Justice Review, 44(3), 356-368.
NYPD. (2019). NYPD Community Center. Retrieved from NYPD: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/services/community/nypd-community-center.page
Smith, J., & Charles, G. L. (2010). The Relevance of Spirituality in Policing: A Dual Analysis. International Journal of Police Science and Management, 12(3), 320-338.