76°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Police officers and the urban community uniting

The idea of police officers going into the urban community to get to know the people of the community has always been talked about. Since the Ferguson incident, numerous other similar incidents have taken place, prompting talk about how we can prevent these types of incidents from happening.
I agree with the idea of police officers going into the urban community and getting to know the people, building relationships between the community and the force. However, I’m concerned about how exactly the officers plan on achieving this.
Recently, on Facebook, I saw a video of two police officers partaking in the Ice Bucket Challenge.
They went into the urban community to do this challenge; they had the people of the community present and participating in this video. One thing that struck me was the fact that it was the older and very young members of the community involved, with the current generation of young men and women conspicuously absent. The video represents a nice step in terms of the police trying to peacefully engage with their environment, but is it enough?
Coming around one time, making your face known, and having conversations with different people is not enough. Police officers of all races should make a point of going into different urban communities once or twice a week to get to know their people better, especially the 18- to 35-year-old crowd, as this is the demographic with the most distaste for law enforcement.
Reaching out to this generation will be the hardest. Having grown up in an urban community myself, I have seen young kids grow from wanting to become cops to feeling like the police are the enemy. It’s an unwritten law that urban kids have to learn to distrust the police.
There is not a real solution to this, other than officers taking part in the urban community’s activities regularly. I think that police officers should come into these communities as plain people, not as officers checking in on potential criminals.
Officers should come in wanting to partake in community activities: going into the neighborhood parks, playing basketball, swinging on swings, or just sitting on the sidelines talking with the people. If officers come into the community and show that they are actually trying to build relationships and gain the trust of the community, people will be open to developing that trusting relationship.
Some may still be skeptical as to how becoming acquainted with the people of their community will stop the police from the unacceptable killing of teens in the urban community. But consider this: when an officer is in the field dealing with a crime, the chances of the officer recognizing the potential offender as a member of their own community will be exponentially increased. This would undoubtedly lead to the officer’s trying to resolve the issue in a non-fatal fashion.
Hopefully, the police brutality will end in years to come. Children in the urban community will learn to trust and work together with the police instead of learning to fear and distrust them. Police officers coming into the urban community are taking the first step to make and keep that bond. Establishing this bond might help to limit the brutality, but the police force must honestly want to connect with their community.