Empty rhetoric doesn't cut it E-mail
We’ve talked a lot about getting back to basic in recent years. Most of our discussions have revolved around community policing. We have come to understand that all of the meetings, all of the out-of-state trainings, the memorandums, the grant applications, the talk, talk and more talk, don’t amount to a hill of beans if you don’t have the policy and infrastructure in place to accomplish your goals.

For several years, our department has gotten high marks for rhetoric and low marks for follow-through when it comes to community policing. Community policing isn’t new. It was invented by a beat officer years ago and expanded on by dedicated and innovative police officers ever since. Community policing is nothing more than good, effective police work.I still remember when I first came on the department, my FTO and all the veterans said the same thing. "Kid, get out of the car and introduce yourself to the people who live and work in your district every chance you get. They are there all the time, you’re there only eight hours a day. They’ll be your best resource in dealing with issues and fixing problems."

Training at that time encouraged community policing as well. One of the "shoot, don’t shoot" scenarios involved a patrol officer on routine foot patrol in a residential neighborhood encountering a home invasion robbery incident. The officer had logged out to walk through the neighborhood, something that can rarely be done now because of quick dispatch policies, low staffing, poor training and lack of equipment.

Several years ago, the chief here in Seattle created the Community Police Teams where officers were released from 911 response duties to work on problems in the neighborhood. The problem with the program was that it was limited to this special unit. The same resources need to be made available throughout patrol, but we don’t see that sort of commitment happening.

Until we have a change of policy and a willingness of those who control the budget to allocate resources for community policing, it will remain what it is now- just empty rhetoric.

Mike Edwards is president of the Seattle Police officers’ Guild.

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