Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Police Officers are in the business of providing the cure, and often times, that cure is a temporary band aid for a problem that existed long before the police arrived.
The public has learned that police work is largely reactive. Can you see the headlines? “Police search for woman accused of attacking employees.” “Two men arrested, drugs and guns recovered.” “Police arrest two after lengthy pursuit.” More recently, a shadow has been cast over the profession, painting an extremely narrow picture of the daily activities of police officers.
The Dictionary says that police are an “organized civil force for maintaining order, preventing and detecting crime, and enforcing the laws.” If Officers are tasked with preventing crime, how do they carry this out in their day to day role as Officers? Enter Community Policing.
Community Policing simply means, “working in full-service.” An Officer does not need to be a “Community Service Officer” to take an interest in his/her community. Officers across the nation have learned, and are still practicing, ways to approach their positions through a lens of prevention. The ways in which my colleagues connect with their communities is most impressive (and often highly creative)!
When Officers engage with the community in a meaningful way, they provide a sustainable cure for the ailments of society.
Speaking from experience in my field, I’ve found it’s easy to get caught in the rut of our sometimes abysmal occupation. However, I, like many, choose optimism. Many years ago, I started approaching the more challenging calls for service with fierce curiosity. I learned that the majority of my calls involved people who lacked skills, such as emotional regulation and self-awareness, and/or had experienced trauma in their life.
It is through this realization that I discovered most adult mental health issues begin in childhood. This ignited the fire within me to protect and serve my community through awareness and prevention. I developed the L.E.A.P. Program to creatively provide communities with resources and skills for positive youth development. The formula is quite simple: when we work together as a community (police, parents, schools, coaches) we embody Ben Franklin’s concept of prevention.