Readers write: Peaceful communities require efforts by police and citizens

Letters to the editor for the March 2, 2015, weekly magazine.

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
Chief George N. Turner stands with commanders in the Atlanta Police Department on January 15, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Regarding the Feb. 9 cover story, “How police can get it right”: Kudos for publishing a positive and informative article on two forward-looking police departments. It certainly helps the US conversation on modern policing by highlighting the efforts of Chiefs George Turner of Atlanta and Chris Burbank of Salt Lake City. They deserve praise for the changes they champion.

Yet police psychologists know that successful implementation of these innovations comes down to the officer on the beat. In your article, this is highlighted by the example of Atlanta Officer Neil McKay, who has found a way to achieve “work-life balance.” That is an area that needs more attention from police departments in their continuing training and education of officers, as they face increasingly difficult and dangerous work challenges.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police has made this a national aspiration, and it should be supported with appropriate resources in the 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies across the United States.
Edward C. Keane
Professor of psychology,
Housatonic Community College
Bridgeport, Conn.

Citizens have responsibilities, too

I applaud the efforts of the local police as described in the Feb. 9 issue to be more sensitive to the composition and needs of the community through training, the application of technology, and managerial expertise. However, citizens have an equal responsibility to comply with laws, exercise good judgment, and support restraint and the efforts of the police to preserve order and protect the safety of the community. It is the citizens’ responsibility to be part of the solution, not a contributor to the problem.

We, as a society, still have to pay the price of the actions of the few who bend and break the laws of their community. Many police departments may need to change their approach – but many citizens need to as well.
Stephen Kratz
Bainbridge Island, Wash.

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