Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police
An African-American friend recently made the point that the police don’t know the people in the communities they’re serving. How can any relationship, let alone trust, be developed? He and I talked about this at length because years ago every cop seemed to know mostly everyone else, and vice versa.
Why isn’t this happening today?
Perhaps because Bethlehem cops all used to be Bethlehem residents. There were residency requirements for city employees up until 1989. A retired Bethlehem cop I spoke with also mentioned another reason for this happening. He feels our population is also more transient, so you don’t have time to develop any connections between law enforcement and residents.
In answer to your question, I think it depends on where you live in the city and what your experiences have been. That being said, I don’t think it’s as strong as it could be or needs to be. What is called community policing today isn’t as integrated into neighborhoods as the team policing of the past, nor as the prominence of sub-stations in various city neighborhoods used to be.
These community relationships need to be strengthened and that starts with honesty and openness, positive experiences between law enforcement and residents, and developing trust.