Officers who have spent time just stopping to chat with children, getting to know them and allowing them to get to know you build a trust that develops into a relationship. This relationship promotes cooperation as the child grows. Children who trust police are more likely to cooperate with you when you need them to not only when they are still a child but when they grow into adulthood. This trusting relationship also encourages them to turn to you in times of trouble. Cooperation is one thing that is often hard to get from communities and is something that can make the difference in an investigation or even just maintaining community harmony. Trusting relationships help officers pursue and achieve goals in a community.
Children are a natural part of an officer’s environment. Connecting with this valuable resource is critical to pursuing law enforcement goals. Building trust and relationships aligns with community-orienting policing values. Developing cooperation increases officer safety. Although we work in a crisis-driven occupation, we have the ability to form community partnerships and promote prevention by taking the time to pull-over and chat with some neighborhood children. Get out and walk through the park. Stop at a neighborhood basketball court or a street hockey game. Get to know the kids around you and let them get to know you as an ally. Let them know we are in this together. By doing so, you are truly building a legacy and your influence will live on in the neighborhood you served long after you have hung up your gun belt.
About The Author:
Michelle Perin has been a freelance writer since 2000. Her credits include Law Enforcement Technology, Police, Law and Order, Police Times, Beyond the Badge, Michigan State Trooper, Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine and Chief of Police. She writes two columns a month for Officer.com. Michelle worked for the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department for almost eight years. In December 2010, she earned her Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Indiana State University. Currently, Michelle works as the Administrative Coordinator at Jasper Mountain a residential psychiatric facility for children. In her spare time, she enjoys being the fundraising coordinator for the Lane Area Ferret Shelter & Rescue, playing her bass, working on her young adult novel Desert Ice and raising her two sons in a small town in Oregon.