What we need is trust

Strengthening ties between the public, the press, and law enforcement

Prepared remarks for the Rocky River Citizen Police Academy
April 16, 2019
Rocky River, Ohio

Mayor Bobst, Chief Stillman, Academy Graduates, Family and Neighbors,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you on such a great day for our community.

Your commitment to this program is an investment in and celebration of civic life. You can choose to exercise citizenship in many ways, be it through politics, or faith-based outreach, or philanthropy, or through a multi-week program like this—demystifying police work a little, providing a space for education and discussion about some of the serious challenges our society faces, and more broadly encouraging communication and community.

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Listening to Our Land: a conversation about community policing

The best way to find out how people think about certain things is to talk to them, and listen. That may seem self-evident, especially when coming from a journalist, but it’s not.  One of the casualties of the technology race to social media is the ability to read someone’s presentation of themselves and believe you now know their perspective.  You don’t. Skimming a Twitter feed or Facebook page gives you nothing more than a snapshot of a moment in that person’s life.  If you want to better understand a person’s perspective, you need to connect in a different way.

I don’t want to move, it ain’t about moving.  It’s about change—trying to change it, so I won’t be a drive-by incident.

Ms. Kim Benefield in the ‘Our Land’ radio special

Cleveland has been mentioned among cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, and New York, in the national soul-searching over police-community relations.  Heated debates and efforts toward police reform have been spurred by cases like the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice who had a pellet gun; the death in police custody of Tanisha Anderson who was suffering from mental illness; and the verdict of Patrolman Michael Brelo for firing the final 15 of 137 shots fired by police at a car after a high-speed chase; among others.

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