Training Helps Police Better Serve the Public
September 3, 2016
By Philip Sayblack
Rocky Mount police officers took part in a special two-day training course this week aimed at helping the department run better internally and externally.
The course, Procedural Justice for \ Law Enforcement Agencies: Organizational Change through Decision Making and Policy, centers on the idea of fairness in the processes that resolve disputes and allocate resources. That means it helps departments run better internally so that they will be able to better serve their communities.
That connection between internal operations and how those operations affect a department’s policing is a big reason that Police Chief James Moore said he wanted to make the course available for the department.
“It’s about everything we do — our protocol, our procedures, our policies and how we interact with the public,” Moore said. “It may be in our policy but in contemporary society it may be offensive, so we must modify these policies to determine our legitimacy with citizens.”
Police Lt. Henry King attended the course Thursday at the Imperial Centre. King, who was recently named president of the N.C. Internal Affairs Investigators Association, said maintaining legitimacy with the community is crucial for the department.
“It’s extremely important,” he said. “That’s because you never want to lose it.”
He echoed Moore’s statement, saying, “If the department works well internally, it will show in the way that the officers work with the people.”
This marks the second year taking the course for police Sgt. J. Scott Hale. He shared King’s sentiment about maintaining that legitimacy and working to be better as officers.
“You should always strive to be better,” he said. “You should always polish your skills. I think this training allows the public to trust us more, to know that we are legitimate in what we do because it refocuses us.”
Scott Barlow, assistant director of the Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy and one of the instructors for the course, said seeing the officers take in everything that he and fellow instructor Shaundra N. Cherry teach them is the real payoff for him.
“It makes the job worthwhile,” he said.
Barlow said he started working in the aerospace industry but eventually went into law enforcement because he felt it was an area in which he could make a difference.
“I got into it because I felt it was an honorable profession,” he said.
Cherry, a professor at Hampton University and councilwoman in Newport News, Va., said she got her start working with law enforcement while taking part in a citizen’s police academy. She said that experience gave her a lot of understanding about what police do.
“It gives you a much clearer view of community policing and why it is so important. It is so important that the community understand that law enforcement can’t do it all,” she said. “So part of the community’s policing is we have to be engaged in the process. When we talk about the pillars of policing, community partnership is the first pillar.”
Moore said that community partnership is a key issue that the department is addressing through this course.
“Community policing has become widely accepted in most communities. Unfortunately, it is deemed a program rather than a police and community philosophy of collaborative policing,” he said. “Rocky Mount police officers and citizens are working collaboratively and diligently to address the concerns of the residents of our most socio-economically challenged neighborhoods. We are attempting to instill the tenets of procedural justice and legitimacy into our organizational culture as a pathway for mitigating the historical mistrust between police and our African-American residents.”
King shared that sentiment.
“It’s about buying in,” he said. “If the officers buy into the importance of the department’s legitimacy, the people will, too.”