A former Dallas police officer has written a book he hopes will improve what are now strained relations across the country between communities and cops.
Andy Harvey, now the police chief in Palestine, Texas, is the author of Excellence in Policing. He says community policing is the key to changing attitudes on both sides of the thin blue line.
“we need to better understand that human dynamic that occurs between the police and the citizens and when we have an understanding, we can manage those encounters a lot better and make decisions,” Harvey said.
The shooting death of Michael Brown and subsequent protests in Ferguson moved Harvey to write the book. In it, he considers three major areas of police/citizen encounter: contact, process and outcome.
“What the research says is that people are more interested in how they're treated more than the outcome. In other words, we can still enforce laws and still have a satisfactory experience with our citizens and that’s a very powerful thing,” Harvey said.
Harvey said what he discovered challenged his previous thoughts and lessons about policing.
“That was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me because I was thinking I thought people would be more interested in whether they received a warning rather than citation or being arrested,” Harvey said. “But no, its not. It’s not the case at all. They want to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect – it’s that simple. When we do that we're better for it. We can enforce laws, do it in a fair way and people are okay with that for the most part.”
Harvey said he’s taking what he discovered and working to share the message across the country.
“I think what we're missing in policing at times is we're expecting other people to speak on our behalf. What I found is and what I believe is that we're missing out on the importance of every single police citizen encounter and why that’s important to us.”
Harvey believes what he’s learned are the keys to de-escalation rather than escalating potential tense moments and that ultimately it makes most encounters with police safer for the citizen and the officer.