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Relationship Building

Forging a strong connection between the police and the public

By Linda Currey Post

Winter 2019

Although Mayor Jim Strickland characterizes the relationship between citizens and city police in Memphis as generally good, he cautions that “as long as there are some Memphians—no matter how small the minority—with a distrust of the police, we need to address that.”

With that in mind, the city instituted a program to build trust between the police and the people they protect:

Awareness. Both the police academy classes and an annual refresher course emphasize sensitivity training and techniques. The city uses Oracle HCM Cloud to make sure officers are up to date with their training.

Experience. Although many major cities recruit police officers as young as 18, Memphis sets the minimum age at 21. And applicants must have completed two years of college, two years in the military, or five years of work in the private sector.

Engagement. Memphis has adopted “community policing,” which means that officers walk a beat and get to know neighborhood residents. Officers also visit local high schools and engage with teenagers in open discussions about their feelings toward police officers, and they work with younger kids in a police athletic league.

Opportunity. In a three-year employment opportunity called “Patrol Service Technician,” available to high school graduates under age 21, participants can work in the police department doing crowd control at events and helping at the scene of traffic accidents. They can attend community college free of charge, which prepares them to become commissioned police officers once they turn 21.

“We’re interacting with thousands of high school students,” says Mayor Strickland,“ so they can see the kind of people our officers are and the kind of job opportunities the department offers.”

Action Items

Safety First . . . and Fast

Photography by Paul S. Howell