Law enforcement, at its most effective, relies on relationships. And like any relationship, there’s always room for improvement. As we start the new year, let’s make a concerted effort to get to know our local police and first responders.
Police departments across the country say they want to be invited into our lives during non-emergency times. They’re interested in engaging with their communities in casual and friendly settings. Here are 5 ways businesses can create opportunities to cultivate relationships with police and first responders:
- Invite them to your facility for meetings, presentations, drills, tours and especially volunteer days. In New Orleans, uniformed police officers partner with their communities to give back, serving food in shelters or planting trees.
- Host events, such as appreciation nights, cookouts, youth days, and midnight basketball. Charlotte, N.C., created a program called “Cops and Barbers” that allows police to regularly meet with local barbers, who understand the intricacies of their communities.
- Invite academy recruits for a meet ‘n greet. Creating a foundation of trust early in the recruits’ careers will hopefully carry over as they transition to officers.
- If there are specific community concerns, local businesses can create a consortium that partners with police so they can provide guidance. In Chesterfield County, Va., police helped businesses review building plans and offered advice on low-cost crime prevention through environmental design principles.
- Create a community panel that meets monthly with local law enforcement. The panel can even ask to participate in the police department’s hiring process. Garland, Texas, participates in overview boards as officers go through the recruiting process and meets every other month with the police chief.
The best way to build trust is with direct, face-to-face interactions. When groups meet in casual and friendly settings, where earnest conversations are encouraged, a lot can be achieved.