Before we begin talking about how to better protect our law enforcement officers and teach our communities to properly engage with them, we want to give a little background information on the history of police and civilian interactions. Often, when things turn south in a situation with a police officer, it is because they are not trusted by certain members of the public. A main reason being that someone has been witness to police brutality or experienced it themselves, so they form judgments based on a one-time incident and therefore whoever else happens to witness their encounter may also form the same thoughts and so forth. Another issue besides witnessing excessive force could be racial profiling. There has and, unfortunately, might always be an issue with racial profiling among not only certain police officers, but civilians as well. Racial profiling, by definition, is “a practice that targets people for suspicion of crime based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin” (Race, 2013).
There is research that shows how minorities show distrust in police more than whites. It is said that minorities feel singled-out by law enforcement because of their race/ethnicity. Creating this gap with many groups in societies can lead to an immense amount of trust issues with those whose main goal is to protect others. Having that lack of trust and decent communication between officers and civilians will never lead to any progress that is beneficial to both sides. A big deal that is talked about and trying to be implemented more is community policing. Community policing has three categories: neighborhood-oriented, problem-solving, and strategic policing. Neighborhood policing is an increase in communication between citizens and officers to help reduce crime and the fear of crime in neighborhoods. Problem solving policing involves “scanning, analysis, response, and assessment” (Oliver, 1992). Officers determine if a problem exists, diagnoses the problem and considers solutions, implementing those solutions, and assessing whether the problem was solved or not. Lastly, strategic policing involves pointing out specific police resources so to prioritize for maximum cost benefits.
Not only is it important to protect members of society but we also want to help protect those who lay their life on the line every day. It may seem a bit backwards when saying that we should watch out for those who help us, but if we don’t, then who will. Making sure our police officers feel at least a small amount of safety could be beneficial to society as they could change how they react to situations that do not normally have the best outcome. Our law enforcement officers face many challenges every day, and to aid in making their job less stressful, a lot of people could learn how to interact with them in a more proper manner. There are many ways in which we could provide safety for our officers, like decent equipment, proper roadside safety measures, reducing their stress levels, etc.
Police body armor, a major way in which helps keeps them protected, could be improved. It protects them against serious bodily injury and in many cases, even death. While clothing is not necessarily bulletproof, it can be bullet resistant, which “can protect against a significant number of types of handgun and rifle ammunition” (Wells, 2018). These vests primarily provide protection of the torso against bullets and there are some made for protection against knives as well. There is an option to have one vest that protects against both bullet wounds and stab wounds and police departments should take into consideration when purchasing armor, that they get what will shield their officers best. It is very rare that officers wear vests that only protect against stabbing and not bullets also. “In the United States, law enforcement officers are more likely to wear ballistic-resistant armor, whereas correctional officers are more likely to wear stab-resistant armor” (LaTourrette, 2010). Based on what role an officer is in, for example SWAT, the type of armor needed will vary.
Each year, more officers are fatally injured in traffic incidents than in shootings. Many of which occur roadside as an officer is trying to perform his/her duty. Roadside safety is a great concern and it should be known to drivers how to properly avoid any incidents with police officers. From 2007 to 2016, 73 law enforcement officers died due to roadside incidents. This is only a small number of the hundreds who have been greatly injured, but survived.