MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The events in Ferguson, Missouri and State Island, New York exposed rifts in the relationships between local police and the communities they protect.
In the Twin Cities, fatal police-involved shootings — like those of Terrence Franklin and Marcus Golden — have led to a growing distrust between officers and the public, especially among people of color. This distrust has groups like Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and St. Paul protesting in the streets.
President Obama signed an executive order in December of 2014 which established the “Task Force on 21st Century Policing.” Their mission was to examine ways of fostering strong, collaborative relationships between local law enforcement and their communities.
The task force released their report last May, citing six “pillars” that can help reduce crime and build public trust.
Law enforcement agencies from all over the Twin Cities metro and outlying areas gathered Thursday to hear details about the report.
“The issue of building trust and strengthening public safety has been a priority for the president since the beginning of his administration,” COPS Office (Community Oriented Policing Services) Director Ronald Davis said.
He says the Twin Cities is similar to many others in the nation where there is a growing distrust of local law enforcement. Davis says some of the distrust is generational and others cultural — and they are trying to change that.
“The need to strengthen relationships, the need to reach out to communities and make sure they trust the police, can engage the police, can only make the region safer, make the nation safer,” Davis said.
Some in attendance were hearing the report for the first time. Medina Police Chief Edgar Balland says he is always looking for ways to improve the relationship with the public, especially now.
“I feel the pressure every day,” Balland said. “The protesters, the events going on across this nation, we all feel it. Then you turn around and look at the number of officers that have been attacked and officers that have been feloniously killed and it can happen at any time.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau says she quickly began implanting the six pillars after reading the task force report.
“Over 90 percent of the recommendations — I don’t have the final tally — we’re already doing in some capacity,” Harteau said.
Davis says right now they have a very unique opportunity to change and reform policing and redefine public safety in the country.