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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:01 pm 
"A well-functioning police department has the trust of the residents it protects, functions as a part of the community rather than insulated from it, and cultivates legitimacy when the public views it as engaging with them fairly and respecting the rule of law."
- US Justice Department, Civil Rights Division to the Mayor of Albuquerque, April 10, 2014

As we continue to talk infrastructure I'll again be using Silver City, Grant County County Seat as representative of the Gila Community Municipalities and Grant County itself as the structures are similar and human needs are the same. Though police, courts and jails are 3 separate entities they are strongly inter-related and compete for attention and dollars. Police have what sometimes seems a ubiquitous presence (until you need one) some would call pervasive and controversial presence in the community, they belong to the group that many love to hate. And though we expect a higher standard from the cops, judges and jailers they, like ourselves remain persistently human, some are angry, some are nice, polite, some are gregarious and outgoing some are shy and reserved, these are not jobs for just anybody.

Like a marriage gone bad and each becomes filled with suspicion and blame, unable to see good in the other what they once saw, the chasm grows wider as each hunkers into their position and soon we become an Albuquerque or a Ferguson each side armed to the teeth with attitude and all that follows.

Over the years Chief Reynolds and I have occasionally talked about the great divide between police and the rest of the community and he expressed great fear that we would have incidents like Albuquerque and watches his people for signs while encouraging, in his mind, a measured aggression (my words). The report on the Albuquerque PD in which the Justice Department (Civil Rights Division) talked a lot about training, both at the (state wide) police academy curriculum and subsequent "in house" ongoing training and other issues and both Chief Reynolds and Sheriff Villanueva have read at least parts of it, below is a link to it and is well worth the read.

Reversing a trend in militarization and bad feelings of both sides will be no easy task, but a noble, worthwhile endeavor, after all we are all neighbors and sometimes sons and daughters and like that marriage gone bad each side has to learn to "climb down".

Though I bring up Police Review Boards realizing that they can be contentious and unduly political I'm not advocating nor do I know if that is what we need in our community and the Justice Report had criticisms of the Albuquerque Board.

This series, rather than pointing fingers, seeks to explore not only issues but the potential rebirth of serious and productive community discussions and growth only occasionally visited in the past. Perhaps as far back as 10 years there was a discussion at Council about a Police Oversight Committee but the discussion died. And later, prompted by discussions here on Gila Community News/Forum about the lack of an independent committee for citizens to make complaints the issue was again dropped, never addressed other than "make a complaint to the PD about the PD", trust us. For a while a few years ago there was a Jail Review Committee, but was dissolved when, so the allegations go, the county in trying to micro-manage the committee became fearful of litigation and dissolved the committee.

Perhaps the Town, Silver City, is taking a serious, honest look at police and community interaction from both sides of the story to craft creative solutions before the situation erupts as it has in many places around the country. I do know from conversations with SCPD Chief Reynolds that he greatly fears an Albuquerque type scenario here. We, Chief Reynolds and I, have had a few discussions about the separation between the PD and the community and agreed we are all neighbors and fellow Town folk; the chief seemed genuinely concerned but offered no solution, nor did I.

When James Marshall begins his new job as Silver City Assistant Manager Monday, Oct 6, his first task will be to study ways to improve communication between the Town and the community it serves and more specifically between the SCPD and the community it serves, will attempt to define "Community Policing" and generally solve the problems that have been festering for a long time concerning the police as well as the Municipal Court and the Grant County Detention Center (GCDC), aka, the jail.

This photo was taken in 2009 at the first "National Night Out" to promote Neighborhood Watch Groups, it's Chief Reynolds and Councilwoman Bettison, Bettison gesturing saying who the hell is this taking our picture. Though Neighborhood Watch Groups can be both good and bad, it was an early attempted at something resembling Community Policing but never really gained much traction for a number of reasons. At this event and the next one a year or 2 later, one Neighborhood Watch Group attended each and sat in one area and the police set up their barbecue pit in another and everybody ate but didn't co-mingle and get to know each other and the event was a disappointment. So the Chief is not a good social organizer but the intent was good and had great potential but was never attempted again.

A note, though I know the chief to be basically a quiet, polite and reserved person most of the time, he is, as a cop, very much a product of his training in the dominate philosophy of policing but as I like to say, even old dogs can learn new tricks and the community also needs to reach out, meet halfway and become whole again.

Enough for now, more soon, but may this kick off communication leading to change and a better community.

Justice Dept Civil Rights Report On Albuquerque PD http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/do ... -10-14.pdf
"A well-functioning police department has the trust of the residents it protects, functions as a part of the community rather than insulated from it, and cultivates legitimacy when the public views it as engaging with them fairly and respecting the rule of law."

 Author: frankie26
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:47 pm 
Nice article! Seems like you were honest in your opinion but also open minded attempting to see both sides. It's tough to be a cop in todays world no matter how much you try. Lets support our law enforcement agencies and not be so quick to judge them, remember its easier to criticize them when your not in their shoes.

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