One of the keys to engaging your community in crime prevention and crime solving is creating the sense of belonging and partnership with your citizens. Remember that aged old saying from Sir Robert Peel, the founder of modern policing, "The people are the police and the police are the people"? As corny as it may sound, truer words have rarely been spoken. For sworn members of law enforcement who are reading this article, I'm sure at some point in your career while you were off duty you had the occasion of calling 911 to report a crime in progress. If you didn't identify yourself as an officer when calling in, how did you feel your information was treated? Was it, "Thanks, we'll take it from here", CLICK, leaving you to wonder if anyone was really going to respond to your information? Or, did you feel as if the 911 operator was working with you as a partner to help get all the important information needed so units responding could take swift action regarding your call and catch the bad guys? If you've ever experienced the first example of, "Thanks, now go away and let the officers handle this", then you might have a small glimpse into what some citizens may be feeling when they look to your police agency for help, which is not what you want.
Engaging the citizens of your community one-on-one at events like Celebrate Safe Communities can open the door to dialogue to hear first hand their concerns and perhaps a few tips along the way. While doing so you may also make a few allies in the process so in the future you can truly celebrate a safer community and find safe harbor from a perfect storm within your own community!