Mutual support between local communities and the law enforcement agencies that serve them is critical. Communities rely on their local police to protect and serve, and the officers need participation and cooperation in order to effectively maintain public safety. Building relationships within communities can help reduce tensions and conflict between citizens and police and can begin to build trust.
But building these relationships is complicated. Urban areas and even smaller single policing districts are often segregated by racial and economic factors, and huge disparities exist, not only in how these communities function but in how they may perceive the police. A long history of tensions in our country adds layers of suspicion and silence, making it even harder to build strong, positive relationships and holding communities and police in an us-versus-them stasis.
The relationship-building needs to be a two-way street and collaboration is key. Involving the community and bringing them inside the workings of law enforcement, to begin to understand what it is that the police do, can create collaboration and facilitate a positive working relationship.
Local and federal initiatives like Citizens Academies, youth leadership camps, and Bridging the Gap work to bring citizens and law enforcement together, to educate and reduce misinformation, and foster positive relationships. When local law enforcement agencies and the citizens they serve can have honest conversations and work through simulated scenarios together, safer outcomes for all participants can potentially occur.
Agencies embracing these collaborative efforts don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Incorporating research-based educational technology with real-life scenarios—all requiring fast thinking under pressure in order to de-escalate—MILO Range can help to empower agencies in their efforts to create community immersion experiences and foster relationship-building. It creates a collaborative space where people of all ages and backgrounds can learn together, not only to improve police outcomes but also to provide an immersive environment where participants can experience multiple perspectives and share their thoughts and any concerns. By working together, law enforcement, community members, and MILO Range can build safer living and working conditions for all stakeholders.