Law enforcement officials in Florida receive hundreds of complaints each year regarding the misconduct of police officers. These range from verbal abuse to racial profiling to inappropriate use of force. Communities across the nation are calling for change. And the Orlando Police Department appears to be making a good faith effort to join citizens in re-establishing the trust between its officers and the community.
Neighborhood patrol units
The Orlando Police Department created its neighborhood patrol units to foster a healthier connection between officers and the communities they serve. The belief is that more friendly contact with officers will allow citizens to see the officers as people and not just law enforcement representatives.
Each neighborhood patrol unit includes two officers responsible for a particular Orlando neighborhood. The first goal of the officers is to get to know people living in the areas they patrol. The officers also want to establish trust with citizens and make sure citizens know that officers are available to help with any problems they experience.
Many members of the community express optimism over the neighborhood patrol unit initiative established by OPD. One Orlando resident says she hopes to see the trust-building process work for both sides. The resident says she is sure that the officer patrolling her neighborhood will learn great people are living in her community.
Can the initiative succeed?
Law enforcement officials believe three things must happen to repair the relationship between officers and the community. First, officers must receive more training on procedural justice. The second step is reducing bias. Third, a better understanding between different races and cultures is necessary.
The Orlando Police Department believes its neighborhood policing initiative will prove beneficial to all three goals. Officials feel the program will become an integral part of a successful reconciliation between OPD officers and community members. Part of the funding for the initiative comes from a $1 million federal grant.
The relationship that exists between the police and citizens requires serious repair. Individuals who feel they suffer from unfair treatment by police officers may benefit from speaking with an attorney.