There is a crisis in policing in America. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis of trust. The crisis stems from perception. Whether right or wrong, there is a perception that officers are not serving the needs of the public. I realize that this is not always true based on the incredible and brave work I see every day by the men and women of our Department. That being said, I need you to continue to work every day to address these underlying issues that can affect the confidence in of those we serve. How does one police officer ensure confidence and trust?This is done in the same way you do in every relationship you have in your life. Relationships, both personally and professionally take continued effort, adaptation, and constant reevaluation. Everything you do affects this relationship – how you talk to each other and treat each other. Are you empathetic enough to understand another person’s point view, another person’s perspective, even when you don’t agree with it? The people you protect and serve come from more diverse backgrounds and have varied life experiences as do each of you. As police officers we hope people will understand why and what you do – why you are so careful during a traffic stop, the questions you ask and how you ask them. You must understand from the public’s point of view how they feel about what you do. Much of the issues that arise can often be mitigated with a few moments of explanation as to why you are doing what you are doing.
Just like in any relationship, it’s about communication. It’s about your ability to explain your actions, talk to people in a respectful way. We build relationships the same way we have always done it – one person at a time. You will come in contact with people who have had many, many conversations with Los Angeles police officers, and you must strive to be the best of all those conversations. You will meet people who have never had contact with a Los Angeles police officer and may never talk to another officer again. What will we leave these people with who may have only one lifetime experience with a Los Angeles Police Officer. By the very nature of your jobs, you may meet people on the worst day of their lives. Although it may be just another day for you, you have to remember what this interaction will mean for the person you are interacting with. You have to put yourself in their place, walk in their shoes, treat people with empathy. If you work on building relationships you will be successful at building trust in the City of Los Angeles.
Our profession has been through other historic and pivotal times when public sentiment might be against us. We must continue to show a way for our profession to work through this kind of crisis just as we always have. While we are proud members of The LAPD, we are affected by what happens in other jurisdictions around the country because that is the perception of some of the people that we serve. Dignity and respect are attributes that we all appreciate when interacting with people. Let’s continue to lead by example and provide the best community policing available.
Summer Night Lights Program
I encourage each of you to participate in this year’s Sumer Night Lights Program. Held at 32 sites across the city, this violence reduction program begins Wednesday June 24 and continues through Saturday August 29. City parks and recreation centers are kept open between the hours of 7:00 pm –11:00 pm throughout the summer months offering families sports clinics, meals, and workshop classes. Community member feedback has been very positive as they greatly enjoy having officers in their Zumba classes and sitting down to talk at cookouts.
Thank you for all you do and be safe,