Thought Leaders Discuss Conditions Required to Build Trust between Police and the Community

Summit focused on how communities can implement recommendations outlined in report of The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Feb 03, 2016, 16:30 ET from ICMA

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- What does it take to restore trust in public institutions? According to a new report from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) on the future of local government, police, and community relations, conditions such as consistency, fairness, and procedural justice are essential to building foundations of trust and legitimacy. Important themes captured in the report include:

  • No single community entity has all the answers, and none has sufficient resources to effect comprehensive change. All of the community's available resources need to be brought to bear in a coordinated effort.
  • Success starts with reaching out to all segments of the community, giving voice to the underserved, listening, and building and maintaining collaborative relationships among all organizations that can contribute to making a stronger community.
  • Certain must-have conditions—i.e., openly acknowledging existing community trust and equity issues; recognizing racial, generational, gender, language, and other biases; and giving a voice to all stakeholders—are requisite to establishing trust between law enforcement and the community.
  • Workforce diversity, race relations, and serving the underrepresented are issues that must be tackled head on. Mental health and homelessness are two important social conditions that need to be addressed by the entire community, not just by police, whose expertise and resources are not designed to serve these groups or address these issues.
  • Assuming a strategic and genuine effort to improve police policies and practices and interactions with the public, an equally strong communications and branding initiative must be put in place simultaneously to shift the public's negative perception of police. Sometimes, however, it's the laws and policies that are behind the times and need to change.
  • Comprehensive police training is just as important as smart recruiting.

The "2015 Strategy Summit on Future Local Government, Police, and Community Relations," which is the source of the information contained in the report, included representatives from police departments, public interest groups (including the National Civic League and the National League of Cities as convening partners), and local governments throughout the U.S.

Robert J. O'Neill, Jr., executive director of ICMA, observed during the summit that "Rebuilding trust in community institutions will require a larger range of stakeholders to take part in ongoing, constructive conversations." O'Neill challenged the group to help develop new approaches to the issues identified in the President's task force report and suggest ways to widely communicate examples of approaches that are working.

ICMA President and Daly City, California, City Manager Patricia Martel noted that the local government manager's job is to "help police and policy makers convene community conversations [because] in the end, if people don't trust the police, they also don't trust local government or elected officials." That means, Martel emphasized, "we're in it together."

To read the entire Strategy Summit report, click here. To access an audio recording and transcript of a related telephonic media event on this topic titled "Police, the Community, and the Local Government Manager," click here.

About ICMA
ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, advances professional local government worldwide. The organization's mission is to create excellence in local governance by developing and fostering professional management to build sustainable communities that improve people's lives.

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