If you were granted a meeting with Donald Trump, what would you tell the President-elect?
Public policy lawyer and Los Angeles Police Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill would like to talk to him about building trust between police and the public. She says that while most police officers do their jobs honorably under difficult circumstances, the actions of some officers and persistent, systemic bias have eroded trust in law enforcement for many Americans. She’d like to tell President-elect Trump that the cost of ignoring the problems that breed mistrust are high, both for individual communities and the country as a whole.
Cynthia McClain-Hill: I’d like the president to understand that while law enforcement officers perform a vital and critical role in our society, and do it honorably every day, there remains serious concerns about individual and systemic police practices and that those concerns have to be addressed in a direct, and forth right way.
What do you think are the biggest issues that need to be addressed right now?
McClain-Hill: Both (substitutes?) and procedural fairness, equity, and issues related to public trust. We are asking police to deal with some of society’s toughest problems. Homelessness, and health issues, at the same time of course, issues related to officer involved shootings are critically important. Last but not least, and I do want to say this because it is important, issues related to officer moral are also acute.
What do you think this trust deficit stems from?
McClain-Hill: The trust deficit is rooted in both the history, long standing history, of policing and how policing has been used across this country when forced the unfair and unjust practices of society. It dates all the way back to that. In addition, it is related to current practices and activities rooted in sometimes explicit and often implicit bias. This is a risk that will require the considerable and consistent efforts of every member of the community, police and civilians alike, to heal and to move beyond. Yeah, I’m pretty passionate about it and committed to it and I frankly worry that our incoming president does not understand the critical nature and the devastating consequences of failure in this arena.
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(Photo: Robert Cudmore)