Having spent the weekend surveying social media and observing my mates’ reaction to the George Floyd protests, I felt this overwhelming urge to do the same, and post a tribute of some sort. But at the same time, I felt as though it would mean very little if I were just to retweet or re-post the corresponding links, photos, videos and even statements from activists.
I thought to myself “no, if you are going to do this, then do it properly.”
You see, I may not be somebody who understands what it’s like to live in fear of the police. I could never put myself in the shoes of individuals like George Floyd. But having spent time over the last few years reading various reports to do with knife crime in the UK, watching interviews about the trials and tribulations with stop and search rates. I feel as though now would be a good time to try and push for ways in which we can change communities relationships with local authorities.
Nothing I’m highlighting on today’s blog post is anything new, but I’m hoping it will maybe get some people thinking about ways in which we can introduce new ideas of policing into our communities.
All in all, the outcome I want is the same as anyone else. I want to look at how we can rebuild and restore hope in our society, creating a bridge between the people and the police.
As a society, we need to look forwards to how we combat crime as a collective rather than just become fixated on how many police numbers have been cut. The problem as we’ve seen isn’t about numbers themselves, but more about the approach of officers and their trust levels in our communities.
Below is a concept that I believe we should be looking to exercise in not just the UK, but in the States as well. I think it’s a fundamental means of trying to restore trust amongst communities that feel as though any trust has been lost. It’s about instilling role models and leaders in communities who people can connect with and don’t feel as though they are speaking to an alien authority figure.
The idea is not something I came up with, but a concept which, activist and community leader, Daniel Ogoloma conjured up.
Neighbourhood policing teams (NPT):
It’s about seeking to train, recruit and give policing powers to reformed gang members, rappers, community leaders, school teachers and activists who are knowledgeable in the community and know its residence.
Community leaders and volunteers who are willing to go above and beyond to make the community more unified with real passion now not just because it’s their day job.
Imagine officers who are so integrated within the community they become part of families. They can call parents, teenagers and teachers when they feel a child’s been behaving strangely; maybe this child’s been missing for a few days or has been skipping school, officers can call that child or visit them to find out if they’ve been recruited for county lines.
Or a mother with a son she overheard arguing about a so-called violation he received from another lad a school, she could pass her concerns on and get the NPT to intervene and proffer solutions to violence.
Now, this may seem extremely centred around the issues of knife-crime, that we’ve seen in the UK, but if you look past that and focus instead on the subject of trust in policing then maybe you’ll understand what I’m trying to get it.
As mentioned above, if we can get to a point in our society where we have officers that become ingrained in our local communities, and they become community officers, then maybe we will experience a different relationship between the people and the law.