Transparency initiatives paramount as part of 'Police Data Initiative'
With trust between communities and their police forces of paramount importance these days, two Mt. Juliet police officials attended an invitation-only briefing at the White House Sept. 28.
The Mt. Juliet Police Department was specifically invited, with others across the nation, to participate in the "White House on 21st Century Policing" briefing on policing best practices.
Lt. Tyler Chandler and Cpl. James Christensen were chosen to represent the MJPD.
"I came out of the meeting knowing how important transparency is," Chandler said Wednesday. "We serve the community and tax dollars go toward this. In October will will be part of the police data initiative."
According to Chandler, President Obama launched the briefing event in 2014 designed to identify best practices and "assist police departments in strengthening trust and collaboration with their communities."
Already MJPD Chief James Hambrick concentrates on community policing with programs such as Coffee with a Cop and joining other local precincts in events like Night Out Against Crime, along with a highlighted presence at community events.
Last May the task force made public a report that had 59 recommendations for law enforcement agencies, said Chandler.
The series of briefings, hosted by the White House with the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, were made up of five topics:
building trust and legitimacy,
policy and oversight,
technology and social media,
community policing and crime reduction, and
officer safety and wellness.
Many experts were on hand at the briefing and focused on topics such as implicit bias, using social media, and other topics,
"I'm grateful that we had the opportunity to attend the briefing at the White House," Chandler said. "It is certainly important for our department to be innovative and stay on top of the best policies and practices in law enforcement so we can ensure we are serving the Mt. Juliet community as best as possible."
Hambrick said he's also reviewed the report by the task force.
"I plan on meeting with the department's leadership team soon to discuss the task force's recommendations and evaluate how they can be applied at our department," he said. "It appears that our department is already ahead with many of the recommendations."
Police data initiative first in Wilson
Chandler explained their department will soon be the first agency in the area to reveal data initiatives.
That means the MJPD will let the public know quarterly stats on such things as use of force and lower force, such as pepper spray, etc. There will also be a report made public on employee demographics and community engagement.
"This is when officers go above and beyond measures, such as Coffee with a Cop and solid service at community meetings, and more," he said.
And while both Chief Hambrick and Chandler said their department has hit many of the proposed initiatives reported at the summit, engagement is key.
"We serve the community," said Chandler. "We are deciding where we can do even better. It doesn't matter if you are a big city or a little city. We are trying to encourage the public trust."
To review the entire report go to cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/taskforce_finalreport.pdf
Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.