Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How Did It Go: Humanizing Our Citizen-Police Relations?

This article written in appreciation of the leadership and tireless devotion to community outreach of Frederick (Maryland) City Police Chief, Edward Hargis.

Almost flawless! Synergy was the most probable reason; the community dance we did was beautiful. 

To truly appreciate the music of it, one has to be observant as if from a helicopter or hot air balloon view. A distant perspective allows us to best see the richness and the textures interweaving. And the significance of our turning aside from fear and judgments to come just a little bit closer to citizens and police, sharing our humanity, building a team.
“…the police are the public and 
the public are the police…”
Be sure to read my manuscript in progress, “The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard,” for an introduction to what I mean by “synergy” and how it plays out in leaders, followers and did throughout our event. Then imagine how it might have looked in real time. 

Imagine the fingers of one hand all working together as the system they are intended to be. The quote of Sir Robert Peel, shown under the Police hat above, suggests this ideal for citizens and police, working together as a team.

The thumb might be identified as the leader. Just as the new Frederick City Police Chief, Ed Hargis, might have been, identifiably, the official leader at our Coffee House Conversation. Yet, as true leadership actually functions, “exceptional leaders” easily make room for the strengths and contributions of others.

What I experienced at our Saturday event was that our official leader, designated by our local Mayor and Alderman), showed not the slightest discomfort with the leadership that I, Anastasia, also took on as New Horizons’ Executive Director, additionally making respectful room for and including Police Officer Lieutenant Jason Keckler.

Admittedly we had an unusually small group to work with this time which might have made our task a bit easier, certainly less complicated. (Next time we will alter this small snag). 

Nonetheless, at only one point did a brief snag start to arise. Soon remedied by the meeting group, each and everyone doing their part.

That circumstance was brought about by an obvious antagonism on the part of one attendee. However, when I called a halt to the exchange and brought people back to referencing the “Dialogue versus Debate” contrast, the attendee immediately shifted herself to a less blaming, more affirming manner of bringing up her citizen-police concern and we were all right back on track.

She had started out with a bit of ill will. But when alerted by my intervention, she immediately shifted her stance to one that demonstrated being on the same team. Wow! 

Almost flawless!  We can all do this, if we are mindful.

Thus we wrapped up our Coffee House Conversation event in an atmosphere of mutual respect, a fulfilled intention of citizens and police leaning in to one another, resulting in, at least, a modicum of more trust and relationship building between citizens and police. 

Small steps became a starting place.

Most impressive for me was that some areas of distrust and fear were reversed, if not entirely, at least beginning was made.

As for me, personally, I came away proud and happy.  

Next time, Saturday, November 21, we will do even better.

I wish you could have been there. Maybe next time you will be.

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