Police officers often have a very complicated relationship with the communities they’ve been trusted to serve and protect. In some communities, this relationship can be healthy. This is demonstrated in the video, where police in Naperville, Illinois helped children with their charity lemonade stand. The children were raising money for Feeding America, an organization that fights food insecurity. At one point, someone stole the money they’d raised, which got the police involved. Instead of leaving the children to their own devices, officers stepped up and donated one hundred and seventy dollars to the cause. This, combined with the other profits, left the children with three hundred and fifty dollars for charity.
In the case of the Naperville police department, the officers’ actions were compassionate and within the law. But this is often not the case. Stories of police brutality and illegal action within departments are common throughout the United States. Protests and pushes for police reform regularly show up in the news. While there have been some compromises made, such as the body camera police are required to wear in some departments, the balance of power still swings heavily toward the police. They are able to get away with horrifying crimes with little to no consequence. So while stories like that of the Naperville lemonade stand show that that there are good police in the world, police behavior and their relationships with their communities vary widely throughout the country.
Many great minds have come together to try to solve the problem of police brutality and the departments’ relationships with their communities. Everything from the abolishment of police as an institution to government reform has been suggested and debated heavily. While body cameras have become more common, there are issues with officers turning them off or not wearing them. And communities have become so distrusting of their police that it makes productive discussion difficult to achieve.
Different communities have different needs. And police departments are staffed by individuals, all of whom have their own needs and flaws. Communities need to be able to trust that their police department has the community’s needs in mind as they perform the duties of their job. With stories of misconduct and brutality coming in from all over America, the police need to be able to gain their community’s trust in order to be effective. While this might include charitable action like that seen by the Naperville police, it also includes regular communication and compassion for all of the citizens they serve. Once this is established, then true progress can be made.