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Forging strong police/community bonds is essential

Arsons and assaults are up.

Homicides, robberies and thefts from vehicles are down.

And police officers are on foot patrol in city neighborhoods.

City Police Chief Damon Hagan recently briefed City Council’s public safety committee on criminal activity for the first half of the year, which includes the period in which the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in statewide stay-at-home orders.

But he cited another reason for the reduction in crime — a younger patrol officer corps doing community police work and engaging with youth on the streets.

That’s a positive sign in a time when police officers are getting a bad rap because of widespread media attention on a few officers abusing their power in unthinkable ways — we do not believe all need to be brought down because of the few.

Rather, we believe the number of honest policemen working within the law far outnumber those who have done grave harm to the profession.

The fact is, we need good law enforcement to maintain the order in our communities and to be there in times of crisis.

We need good relationships to be forged. The earlier in a youth’s life that a positive relationship with police is made, the better we all will be for it.

Community policing is among the best vehicles to forge this type of relationship.

It is far more than simply walking a beat. Problem solving is a critical element of community policing, which brings with it the expectation that officers will be proactive in not only addressing problems but finding solutions and preventing problems.

As Councilwoman Bonnie Katz suggested, the interaction of officers and youths leads to respect for law enforcement.

And a little respect can go a long way.

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