When do community members usually experience contact with police? Often, contact occurs when a criminal act or something traumatic has occurred. This tends to leave people emotionally vulnerable, needy, and thus impressionable – right where they live! Who, besides the police, have the opportunity to hear and respond to the voice of those who feel oppressed, and weak – at ground zero – where and when it really matters?
To explain this, let me use the term C.O.I.N. from the U.S. military. Put simply, C.O.I.N. means working to create a COunterInsurgency eNvironment. This means that the Army “fights” insurgents (those who oppose law and order) by building relationship with the community they are protecting. What a concept for policing!
Here are some thoughts on putting C.O.I.N. into circulation through police officers and police departments.
“C.O.I.N. Press” (officers must press C.O.I.N. upon themselves; they must become the bearers of the image they want to see replicated). Police officers should consider Ghandi’s advice and become the change they would see in the world. What do our most troubled communities need? The general need is for people with Humility to have empathic insight, Compassion for the plight of others, along with the courage and boldness to challenge the status quo. The specific need is for police officers who are skilled, conditioned and trained (this comes at a high cost of personal daily commitment few are willing to pay) to discharge their sacred public trust with effectiveness and vigor (the sanctioned use of force to secure safety and security in our communities).
Putting C.O.I.N. into circulation (don’t bother until C.O.I.N. is “pressed” upon you) – by inspiring our communities through passionate leadership - this stuff travels like a rampant, positive social virus:
• Courageously and relentlessly confront our own prejudices, biases and fears that prevent empathy in relationships
• Employing conversation to transform an angry person into a supporter, even a raving fan
• Making human connection that leaves the victim of a crime touched by heartfelt service
• Finding “wealth” and a sense of self-fulfillment in generosity – nothing is more satisfying or more contagious