Police-Community Relations What Works, What Doesn’t
How to improve interactions between local police and communities? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Scott Geller is an alumni distinguished professor at Virginia Tech. He and former police officer Bobby Kipper have co-authored a book called “Actively Caring for People Policing: Building Positive Relations between Citizens and Police Officers”. Geller says there are strategies that work and those that don’t work.
Geller: What doesn’t work and hasn’t worked — in Norfolk Virginia, police officers were stopping cars to give them ice cream. They say “I’m stopping you because you’re safe driver and here’s ice cream”. That doesn’t work, because people were stressed out with a blue light behind them pulling up. And by the way, the same thing happened in Philadelphia several years ago. They had good driving certificates and they were stopping cars and giving them a good driving certificate. Not recognizing in fact that the stress of being pulled over — So, they’re trying, they mean well but it doesn’t work. And that’s what our book attempts to teach them. How to do it right.
What does work are programs that promote positive police-citizen interactions.
Geller: When you help somebody, that boosts your own self-esteem. That boosts your sense of belonging, your sense of community.
Geller and Kipper came up with a project where they distributed blue wrist bands to participating police departments. The police were encouraged to reward the bands to local citizens who they see performing some good service for the community.
Geller: That’s part of the message is — learn how to thank somebody. You don’t have to have a wristband, but thank them for doing the right thing and then maybe help people look for what they need to see. And then help them feel confident and secure in saying something to a police officer. It’s that relationship building that we want between police and the citizens they serve.
I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.