Letters to the Editor

Bridge gap between police and community

We’re facing a crisis of race and trust on our streets, sometimes infected by distant acts. This is neither an epiphany nor a new discussion for many. Now, alleged misconduct is not being hidden behind credibility battles, on either side, when a video surfaces.

U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz formed the Strengthening Police Community Relations Taskforce in Broward County to discuss the conditions which disrupt the necessary positive bond between law enforcement and the community. The Taskforce focused on what leads to negative police and community relations and how to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.

The result of these honest conversations was the recognition that there is no single solution. Instead, the entire community, law enforcement, social safety nets, government and neighborhoods must do better. The transcendent themes included improving hiring practices; better training; stronger communication strategies; methods to weed out the “bad apples.”

We must also recognize that there are zip codes where employment and educational dreams have been vanquished by social, government or familial inaction, with police often left to deal with the negative consequences.We must also acknowledge there are guns on the streets and that some will be used to attack police officers.

At the same time, my police officer friends, and their families, know officers’ lives are on the line each day and night, not just in Dallas. We ignore these perceptions or realities at our own risk.

Fortunately, we also know community police relations can be positively influenced by efforts of individual communities and departments working together.

Mike Ryan is the mayor of Sunrise and co-chair of the Communications Subcommittee of the Strengthening Police Community Relations Task Force