It is often said that the three best ways to keep officers safe is to get them to slow down when driving, buckle up, and ensure they wear their body armor. That advice seems to ring true for most officers, and it makes sense, given the amount of driving officers do each day and the protection body armor provides officers who face a spectrum of violent encounters. Fortunately, the conversation about officer safety doesn’t end there.
Sometimes, through no fault of anyone, police executives and front-line officers become entrenched in their law enforcement role. After all, isn’t the police’s mandate to protect and serve? This can lead law enforcement into an “us versus them” mentality: the good guys versus the bad guys. A common phrase heard in many police agencies across North America is, “Our job is to put bad guys in jail.” Although that rings true some of the time, it leaves out some important elements of the job. Don’t the police also have an obligation to help and support people and assist the community in building strong, vibrant, and healthy neighborhoods? After all, the public sees the police as community leaders and community ambassadors and expects the police to assume this important role, yet some agencies fall short of this expectation.