Community Policing, Redefined

We need to redefine what we mean by “community policing”, because it can describe very different policing strategies. Building trust between the police and the community is the goal. How to best get there? For the past nine years, SLC has under former Chief Burbank adopted progressive and humanistic policies in regards to immigration, civil rights, and homelessness. The police department in a Garrott administration will continue in this direction.

Yet Luke’s policing philosophy will make changes in how much time police officers spend in neighborhoods. “Community-based policing” has to involve feet on the street, where walking (or biking) beats is a main activity for police in the patrol unit. The sight of police officers deters crime, and people feel safer with police in the area. The need for rapid response that has justified a policy of all-patrol-in-cars can still be met, while making sure that officers are based in neighborhoods and get to know the people who live and work there.

The recent disturbing revelations of the mayor and police chief failing to act on sexual harassment and retaliation findings in the police department evidence a need for a mayor who actually leads and stronger policies for department heads to act. The example set by the mayor and chief signal that sexual harassment will be tolerated in city departments. To the contrary, we need a close look at our city departments to make sure that equality and non-discrimination are included in their core mission and practices.

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