Appreciated transparency in a clouded age

Published 6:23 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The discussion of public opinion on police has stayed consistently apparent in recent years. No two people share the same general view on police, their own coming from an amalgamation of media consumption, anecdotal perception and — especially — personal experience with officers of the law. The line between valid concerns and pointed fingers blurs daily, which is understandable with the level of variables that come when human individuals are given a set of strict expectations that they must swear to meet.

What one person or group of people think about police is purely subjective, but it seems that the objective aspect that all U.S. Citizens agree on and appreciate is the need for transparency in law enforcement. The women and men who wear a badge do so to protect us average citizens and do so by adhering to rules and regulations set by our highest governing body. To do this in an accountable way, they must be transparent, fully and completely displaying their actions on the job so that no foul play can slip through the cracks.

Technological advancements like body cameras and high-definition recording devices in the general population’s pockets have greatly improved this aspect of policing. They ensure that officers do what they need to do to keep the peace and stop there, unable to consider taking the law into their own hands.

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Even more helpful in the trek to transparency, though, is what the West Point Police Department is doing Thursday morning. At their Coffee with a Cop event, officers will welcome the public to the Virginia Cook Activity Center not for a speech or a lecture, but for simple conversation. As Chief Britt put it, they are being transparent by speaking with people about their concerns, sitting down as people rather than just officers.

Better than any camera could accomplish, this event and others like it makes police accountable before their accountability is even put under scrutiny. By opening themselves up to the public they are putting an emphasis on protecting and serving, rather than enforcing and punishing.

In an age where the public opinion of police is clouded for good reason, hats should be off to the WPPD for wearing their transparency on their sleeve.