Police men and woman occupy one of the most thankless, dangerous, and emotionally and physically exhaustive jobs in America, especially our servicemen and women who conduct nightly patrols to keep citizens safe. A police force is a basic component of civilization, yet in today’s world, some in the general public believe that police officers should be treated worse than they already are with calls to defund the police. I cannot imagine how it feels to be a police officer or their family members right now, in this toxic climate. Police officers, those on patrol, sacrifice their life and livelihoods to serve on the frontlines of the public good. How stressful is it for a husband or wife of a police officer to wonder each and every night if their husband or wife is involved in a violent encounter? How stressful is it in today’s climate for these spouses’ that now, in addition, must worry about whether or not their spouse will be prosecuted and vilified in the National Press for a mistake, or if their husband or wife harbors racist thoughts that could endanger his or her self at work, knowingly or unknowingly.
Now is the time to reform policing. Below is a list of four reforms that can radically improve the livelihoods of officers, while making it safer for them to conduct their daily business.
- Community Policing is a successful initiative occurring at the local level. The concept is simple, community members are more involved in a number of different ways in building relationships with the police department. This can include sports or extra-curricular events that involve police officers and their families. A more active approach to community policing is to stage intervention style meetings with at-risk youth. Police departments could add a new “rank” below officer of individuals who carry out community policing activities more formally, structured, and regularly to build bridges between officers and the general public.
- We should shift more of the burden on policing to the shoulder of technology. Patrol officers must have greater access to data both prior to their nightly patrol and during their nightly patrol. This data can include advanced building analytics and mapping equipment, currently at the startup stage in a number of different firms that specialize in providing visual mapping tools for first responders. Additional data services include ‘hot-spots’ of criminal activity, surveillance equipment to ensure officers can enter buildings safely, with appropriate public checks and balances of course, and robotics that can provide visuals during a response call.
- Officers should also be given more rest and relaxation and rotate between less intensive duties as nightly patrols. Many of our finest officers, often combat veterans, serve the most difficult patrol areas night after night because they are the most qualified to handle escalating tensions. This leads to burn-out, cynicism, and traumatic injury for many of these officers tasked with one of the hardest jobs in our Country. We must do a better job of rotating officers to less active duty so that officers remain fresh in the face of danger. Police Officers are humans, too. They have families and go through the same stressors in life that the rest of us go through. If we are going to hold our great Officers to an even higher standard, please, cut them and their families a break every once in a while. We must do an all-around better job of taking care of our police officers.
We must ultimately find more resources in municipal budgets for non-salaried resources for police officers. The above three reforms each require more municipal resources at a time when municipalities are experiencing budget shortfalls, and when many municipalities are already spending on generous salary and benefits for officers. Nevertheless, our men and women officers deserve it. One cannot imagine a more noble and admirable line of service, than to potentially lay down one’s life in service of their community and Nation.