Can PR Build a Bridge Between Police and the Community?
The Phoenix City Police recently took a proactive approach with the intent of mending and improving relations with the public. Over time, a great disconnect has developed between members of the public and police force in Phoenix. Of course, everyone knows about similar disconnects making their way into the news and social media regarding many different cities and their police officers’ relationships with the public.
But before all the recent fallout, the City of Phoenix Police Department used lessons learned from PR to reach out to the public asking for input and suggestions on ways to resolve and heal the divide.
Some suggestions from the force were that parents need to help children learn to relate to and approach the “Men in Blue.” This provoked a reaction by the 10 attending members of the public. However, it was pointed out that this suggestion actually came from the civilian committee by the community.
The community panel came up with 15 suggestions many of these are in the process of being addressed. Some ideas considered and discussed were to keep a record collecting information on any officer-involved shootings including deaths at crime scenes, injuries, and deaths in custody. The reports would be shared with the city council, the HR department, and any other departments, as well as the community. The positive Public Relations efforts are intended to show the public that nothing is being covered up, and the police want to build a bridge between them and the public with openness and trust.
Town hall meetings and chances to listen to each other
One great tool decided on by the group was to have the department set up and maintain community “listening” sessions at least twice yearly with the public, possibly in something like a town hall-type meeting format. An important part of this concept will allow them to reach out to the youth, not only by listening but by working closely with them. This is a great public relations opportunity allowing the younger members of Phoenix society and the police see each other as people and individuals who they admire, respect, or at least can develop common ground.
The publicity not only generates goodwill between the police and the community, but it also ensures that the people of the Phoenix and the department are both seen in the best light by all concerned.