A national initiative to help Minnesota’s law enforcement officers increase trust in their communities as they reduce crime was delivered Thursday by one of President Obama’s top cops.
Ronald Davis, appointed by the president to run the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, told 150 police officials gathered at Minneapolis’ Central Library that there are practical and philosophical reasons they should embrace six pillars of policing put together by a diverse task force earlier this year.
The pillars range from building trust and legitimacy to improving officer wellness and safety. Obama put the task force together shortly after the Michael Brown killing and protests in Ferguson, Mo.
“I don’t want this to gather dust,” Davis said. “In my 30 years in policing, we have the best window of opportunity to engage and gain more trust, because there is a new civil rights movement in the U.S. But what roles will cops play?”
The chiefs of several of the state’s largest police department threw in their 2 cents about what’s worked and what needs to be improved.
St. Paul Chief Tom Smith praised a city “ambassador” program that has helped reduce violent juvenile crime in areas they patrol and work with officers.
Minneapolis Chief Janeé Harteau said her department already is practicing many of the recommendations. She cited programs that require officers to spend time out of their cars talking to residents.
Several community leaders said relationships they have built with police are helping to ease tensions over police brutality allegations or other hot-button issues.
“Community engagement works in suburban or urban areas,” said Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts. “You never know what your crisis of the day will be.”