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Community, law enforcement relationship important

The Valley Times-News is prepared to release this year’s first-responder tab, where we’ll put a spotlight on the many local departments that serve our community daily.

In most communities, including the Greater Valley Area, the friction between the public and law enforcement has emerged as one of the premier topics.

There are a large group of people who believe that law enforcement officers target and profile people of color, which has led to the multiple cases of police brutality that have been broadcasted nationally.

West Point Capt. Kevin Carter said that the relationship between the community and the department has improved immensely from when he joined the department eight years ago. Carter attributed the better relationship with the community to the different events the department has held for citizens to meet with officers face-to-face.

There is a greater possibility of enforcing change in a calm and controlled environment like a community event as opposed to a more hostile-environment like a protest where everyone is yelling.

Getting to know the officers in your community is important because it helps you better understand them and helps them understand you more. The more the two sides understand and know each other, the less likely interactions between the two sides will turn into hectic situations.

If the only time a citizen encounters an officer is when they are kicking in doors and making arrests, then the perception of officers would be that they’re only aggressive figures. If officers only encounter a person of color when they are arresting them, then their perception would be that they are all criminals.

If both sides spoke to each other at a community event and found out that they had the same interests, rooted for the same football teams and have similar family memories, then both sides would see each other simply as people.

Next Wednesday, the West Point Police Department is hosting a National Coffee with a Cop Day event at West Point Tech Center from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m.

If you desire to bridge the gap, the work should be done before the next outrage occurs, not after.