PHILADELPHIA, July 26, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Our colleagues across America — our brothers and sisters in blue — are doing the hardest job in the world. At the start of every shift, they go out without knowing what dangers await. And yet, there is a crisis — especially in the eyes of too many communities, particularly communities of color — a crisis of trust in police and the criminal justice system.
Crime rates have been falling for decades, but research shows that public trust in police is eroding in too many places. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "True peace is not the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice." Our communities are arguably far safer than ever. However, absent a sense of justice, less crime in your neighborhood is a hollow victory.
The controversial officer-involved shootings since Ferguson have created great tension between police and our communities. At the same time, throughout this nation, efforts are underway to improve relationships.
In Pittsburgh, we are doing this hard, but critical work. We have open lines of communication with our community partners. In our city, we recognize our interdependency, and are working closely together to reduce violence and make sure our residents feel safe and respected.
But things are fragile. Two police shootings on two consecutive days, in Minnesota and Louisiana, left many understandably outraged. And the assassination of eight police officers in 10 days have those of us in the law enforcement community rightly feeling under assault.
All of these concerns are real. Without question, the criminal justice system has a disparate impact on communities of color, and society is asking more of our police officers than ever before. Laid at the doorstep of police are declining economic opportunities, insufficient resources for mental health, and the lack of drug treatment options.
As a police officer that has served for more than 30 years, let me say this: We can respect and support our police officers while also pushing for important reforms. We can and must do both.
There are many more police leaders like me, who are committed to improving the integrity of our systems, but we will fail unless we come together with our communities.
We must each fight our natural tendency to hide inside our narrow world view, and instead seek common ground with the objective of creating an America that truly provides liberty and justice for all.