By Lee Ann Crosby, Contributing Writer
Community policing has become a hot topic in Tulsa since Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, was shot by a white Tulsa Police officer nine months ago.
Monday the officer who killed Crutcher, Betty Shelby, returned to work for the Tulsa Police Department. Just last week Shelby was on trial for first-degree manslaughter. And on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, after deliberating for nine hours, the jury found her “not guilty.”
Since the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Crutcher, and so many more who were lost to police violence, many cities across the United States have implemented community policing to foster relationships between communities, especially minority communities, and the police.
At the heart of community policing is the idea that it’s the job of the police to cope with problems not just respond to incidents.
According to a 2009 Harvard University meta-analysis of prejudice reduction programs, “diversity training” did not alter biased thinking that was learned from the environment and during early childhood. Studies have also shown that bias training can actually cause more harm by perpetuating stereotypes.
The Tulsa Police Department implemented community policing in Tulsa in January of 2017. In February 2017, the Department promoted Amley “Popsey” Floyd as its first and as-yet only Community Resource Officer to serve the Riverside community at 61st Street and Peoria Avenue.
What do Tulsans think of the new position?
Is it fair to Floyd to be the only officer promoted to this position?
How can one person reach all of the individuals in the Riverside community, let alone all of Tulsa?
Although Floyd is doing an excellent job, Tulsa needs more Community Resource Officers. The Department should recruit at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and participate in African-American community events such as Juneteenth, where citizens mingle and build relationships.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics, which tracks and analyzes national crime data, defines “community policing” as:
A philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques between the police and the community. These strategies proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.
You can find more information from the Department of Justice concerning community policing at Community Oriented Policing Services’ website.
On websites advocating community policing, I couldn’t find any reference to implicit bias, which is alarming for Tulsa. One multicultural class or online training session is not going to change the way a white police officer perceives and treats a person of color.
If training classes can’t correct police officer’s racial biases, then what will work?
Please take the time to check your subconscious racial biases by taking Harvard’s University’s Project Implicit tests. The Black Wall Street Times would love to hear your results and thoughts.
Lee Ann Crosby has a M.A. in Behavioral Counseling from the University of Tulsa.