Nowadays, it is evident the public rightfully alarmed at numerous contradictions surrounding police officers. While some individuals have a distinctly negative attitude towards policemen, others empathize with officers and trust them. The climax of the tense relationship between the police and the public has been the tragic death of George Floyd, an African-American murdered by a police officer during apprehension.
The waves of protests have engulfed the United States in 2020, which significantly affected the confidence of Americans in law enforcement. The shift in attitude has been so drastic that the research pointed out Americans’ confidence in law enforcement dropped to a record low (Ortiz, 2020). Apart from Black Lives Matter, a number of other tragic high-profile killings of unarmed Black people between 2012 and 2018 became the focus of movements such as #SayHerName (Cooper, 2020). All of the initiatives harshly critiqued the institution of policing in the United States, citing its incompetence and prejudice.
This phenomenon in relation to the public perception of police is a subject of extreme curiosity primarily due to the fact that the attitude of Americans towards law enforcement has been positive for a long time. The purpose of this essay is to examine the negative trend in police respect and trustworthiness and extract practical insights as to how mutual respect can be beneficial for both police and the communities they are obliged to serve.
Police faces one of the most intricate crises possible, attempting to ward off media attacks and large scale political campaigns targeted at discrediting members of the law enforcement. Police abolition movement serves as a clear example of the public’s attitude towards the police force (Winston, 2021). Gallup published a survey, which revealed that “confidence in the police has fallen five points, to 48 percent” between July 2019 and June-July 2020 (Ortiz, 2020, para. 2). More than 1000 adults participated in a poll designed specifically to minimize the chances of a statistical error. Thus, it is evident that law enforcement is at a crossroads, which requires it to solve the challenge of building and strengthening a bridge between the police force and the public.
Establishing and sustaining mutual respect can potentially be a viable solution in this case. The police and the communities they are sworn to serve have to trust and understand one another. Respectful transactions need to go both ways. It is not enough for an officer to play his part acting and communicating in a respectful manner. Although the police force does have more of a responsibility simply because of the power dynamics, each member of a community has to understand the importance of mutual respect as well. While police officers have to be trained to prioritize respect in daily interactions with people, the public as a whole requires changes in the form of a systematic shift in culture.
In order to create such a shift and ensure that law enforcement agencies prioritize appropriate training, there is a need to articulate specific benefits of mutual respect in interactions between the police and the community. Firstly, strong relationships built on the notion of mutual respect between the police and the public are crucial to ensure the safety of communities. Secondly, mutual trust and understanding are both important factors contributing to the efficiency of policing. Police officers rely heavily on the members of the communities they serve to give them crucial insights in regards to existing criminal activities or the prospects of crimes in the area.
The efficiency of the force depends greatly on the level of cooperation individuals are willing to provide. Solutions to the community’s most prominent safety issues law enforcement is tasked with devising are reliant upon the respect community members have for police. Thus, if police officials treat individuals with respect and empathy, they are likely to reciprocate and provide the force with helpful insights. Their willingness to work with the police depends on whether they are sure of the fact that the actions of law enforcement reflect communal values and are aligned perfectly with the basic understanding of respect and understanding.
In the wake of the protests and movements targeted at criticizing and even abolishing the police, law enforcement agencies demonstrating effort to train officers to act according to the moral pillars of respect and compassion may be quite beneficial. This way, people will understand that the attempts at improving current practices are being made. Furthermore, such an effort will potentially increase the level of police trustworthiness among the communities they serve. It is imperative that police officials prioritize strategies of ensuring mutual respect in police-community interactions. Members of communities can clearly see that the positive changes are on the agenda, resulting in a more cooperative, understanding, and respectful community.
When it comes to the benefits of the community members acting and communicating more respectfully with the police officers, it is important to acknowledge the implications of respect. Once communities shift towards a more respectful attitude, the levels of trust in police and compassion towards the work of police officers will increase. In addition, respect implies understanding and willingness to assist, both of which are essential to ensure the police works efficiently and serves the interests of the community to their best ability.
Another advantage pertaining to the respect the community should have for its police officials is the demolition of the pervasive “us versus them” mentality. This notion that the police are actively out to get certain groups is especially relevant for the Black community, as well as the immigrant population (Vashakidze & Devall, 2021). If law enforcement shows respect by demonstrating in-depth knowledge and understanding of the community’s cultural traditions, history, and values, individuals will, in turn, develop respect for the police force. As a result, people of color (POC) communities will be much safer as members of such communities will have enough respect for and trust in police officials to accommodate their communal interests and act without prejudice.
In conclusion, it is evident that mutual respect is an integral part of police-community relations. Most importantly, mutual respect and understanding have numerous benefits to both sides. Law enforcement benefits greatly from prioritizing respect and compassion in interactions with community members. Acting and communicating in a respectful manner ensures that the community is cooperative and respectful in return. As for civilians, the primary advantage of treating officers with respect is reciprocation of such respect and the increase in the likelihood of law enforcement agencies to accommodate the needs of communities based on the insights they have gained. It is crucial to recognize that incorporating strategies for cultivating mutual respect might be a feasible solution to the current trust in police crisis..
Cooper, F. R. (2021). Cop fragility and Blue Lives Matter. University of Illinois Law Review, 2020(2), 621–662. Web.
Ortiz, A. (2020). Confidence in police is at a record low, Gallup study finds. The New York Times. Web.
Vashakidze, N., & Devall, J.. (2021). Creating a positive image of a police officer in the minds of children and adolescents in the United States. International Journal of Law, 7(2), 7–14. Web.
Winston, C. (2021). Black ground truths and police abolition. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 1–3. Web.