Monday, April 2, 2012

Forums build community relationships

I want to thank everyone who came out to the community forum and met with police department staff and me on Saturday, March 31, at Paseo Academy. Residents of all ages came, from elementary school students to senior citizens. This was the second forum since my appointment as chief, and I plan to hold more such forums each quarter of this year.

Those who came were able to meet directly with officers and commanders for one-on-one problem solving. I also met personally with several people. Anyone who had a specific issue they wanted to see addressed had the opportunity to sign a “community contract.” It identifies issues and participants and outlines steps both the residents and police can take to address them. This contract also monitors progress and serves as an accountability instrument for both police and community members.

These community forums are a small step toward building trust with the citizens we serve. Increased interaction with police leads to greater trust, which leads to more cooperation. We need to become better at policing neighborhoods, and what better way to get to know who is in the neighborhoods than to meet with residents individually to get input? I realize not everyone is a member of groups that commonly interact with police, like community groups, business organizations or civic organizations. These forums afford everyone the opportunity to get their voice heard. I want to use these forums as an opportunity to solicit ideas, concerns and opinions as I refocus the department’s efforts on crime reduction.

The quarterly forums also demonstrate our department’s commitment to community policing, which involves problem-solving, partnerships, trust and accountability. My goal is for community policing to become an ingrained practice at KCPD. Community involvement is necessary to identify and reduce crimes. Ultimately, we hope these forums help reduce the level of fear and the level of crime in the metropolitan area.

This was not the police department’s forum; it was the community’s forum. We are the community, and it’s imperative that we work closely to make our community safe!

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