During the school year, every day is an opportunity for school resources officers and police that work in school districts to connect with their community. But what about when school is out for summer? Maintaining relationships with students even after the school year ends is imperative even during the off season. There are summer programs, camps, sports, kids are our later than usual and have more free time. Police community engagement and non-enforcement community activities are one of the essential components of effective law enforcement.
To accomplish non-enforcement police community engagement, police departments have to look really at a neighborhood and try to identify and address the needs of that particular community and think outside the box. So, here are a few ways that officers can interact with their community outside their typical roles to make sure thy have positive interactions all year long.
Police Officers Take on New Roles in Their Community
One example of unique community engagement during the summer is the excellent programs that the Pawtucket police department of Rhode Island does for teens ages 13-16. Officers teach the teens about crime in areas which they are not usually exposed to, which gives them a broader view of their community and the police. Topics range from crime to building safe communities, to bullying and more. The program also consists of a “Community Action Project” portion where the group cleans up various sites throughout the city.
The team also gets to conduct a “Community Action Project” at a senior center. The teens read to the elderly, play games and keep them company. Projects like these teach children that they can make a difference in the community and how law enforcement in the community is positive.
Another example comes from the Evansville, Indiana Police Department’s approach to a community event. The annual Evansville Dust Bowl basketball tournament had become known for violence and ended a few years ago after a person was shot and killed at the event. The police department partnered with the group Young & Established to bring back the event. The officers and even the city prosecutor played in the tournament this year and had a productive and safe event.
Examples like this help to prevent problems but also enhance the trust of the community simply by having officers engage in a non-enforcement role.There are many other examples of how police officers around the United States have built trust and established ongoing community relationships in their towns. These trust-building non-enforcement activities go a long way. All you need to do is encourage your officers to step outside their typical roles and lend a hand. It’s important that police departments encourage their officers to establish community relationships or even become leaders.