There is something mightily awry with the state of police/community relations at various places around the U.S. – the latest example being the cordon New York City police created around the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting after protests erupted following a grand jury’s failure to indict a police officer who killed Eric Garner in a chokehold last July. Such holds are against NYPD policy.
Observers said the police barricades actually prevented a crowd from breaking up, even as officers “asked those without tickets to the Rockefeller Center show to disperse,” although they couldn’t.
We’re at a considerable remove from any of the police/community relations incidents of the past several months, but we pass along another link, this one to an appearance by New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison at a Southern University at New Orleans conference this week. “Speaking at a forum on interactions between black males and police officers,” says a Times-Picayune story, “Harrison (who is black) acknowledged the need for a cultural shift in the way police interact with the public.” Indeed.
In the same context, President Obama told the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference this week, “I want everybody to know here as well as everybody who may be viewing my remarks here today, we are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement. I say that as someone who believes law enforcement has an incredibly difficult job.”
Such difficulty, we’d say, should be eliciting effective relational training in police departments around the nation.
However, one retired New York City police sergeant thinks training alone isn't the answer, prosecution of an offending officer is necessary when training is violated.