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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

May 2020 | Volume 13 | Issue 5

The officers in my department train regularly, go above and beyond the call of duty on many days, and try to ensure everyone in the community stays safe. Unfortunately, one incident can ruin, for generations, a community’s relationship with its police department. As a police chief, I must take proactive steps to build a partnership that is able to stand the test of tragedy in my community. NOBLE’s The Law and Your Community (TLYC) curriculum is a valuable proactive community policing program. When the NOBLE officers on my agency first implemented the program in January 2018, we used it as an opportunity to engage our youth in hopes of reducing our negative encounters. We quickly learned that the program helped the department engage not only the youth, but also parents, community leaders, and law enforcement supporters. NOBLE and the COPS Office emphasize the importance of community policing as a philosophy embedded into the DNA of a police agency. While we had done some proactive community relationship-building through outreach initiatives, we had never addressed some of the issues from the community’s perspective or had a heart-to-heart conversation around trust and transparency.

NOBLE members from the New Castle County (Delaware) Police Department used TLYC to provide an opportunity for community members and police to have open and honest dialogue about police tactics, policies, and procedures. We talked about keeping the community safe—and keeping their police officers safe, too. Officer safety was not lost on the community and, in fact, I was happy to hear that the community was equally concerned with the safety of officers as they were their own personal safety. Most importantly, we provided a chance for those in attendance to ask questions, get clear answers, and at times vent about their interactions with the police when things didn’t go the way we train our officers to interact with the community.

We found that much of the frustration has centered on the community simply not understanding police policies. While there is no research study on the effects of implementing this program, I know it has been effective in my community. I know this because I hear it from the community and my officers. The training has made a positive and lasting impact on those who participated. There is little doubt that the knowledge we impart on the community will make every interaction with a law enforcement officer safer for everyone involved.  Another advantage of this training is the opportunity to show our genuine concern for the community’s safety and our desire to improve the quality of life for all.

I encourage every chief to consider TLYC to help you build the fibers of trust in your community. As we look to build trust and respect for law enforcement, as agency leaders, we must find solutions to bridge communication gaps and draw on the common good that the police and community are seeking. I would also recommend that chiefs extend a personal invitation to attend to local politicians and clergy who live in the jurisdiction. It is important for these stakeholders to observe this powerful and dynamic presentation, with the hopes that they will be motivated to assist us with strengthening the police and community relationship. The media can drive the narrative with negative stories, or we can take the step to tell the story of the good relationships our departments are building across the country every day. TLYC can serve as the vessel to start open and honest dialogue with those we serve. Through all of us working as partners in public safety, I am confident we will have healthier and more trusting relationships.

Colonel Vaughn M. Bond, Jr.
Chief of Police
New Castle County Police Department

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