Increasing community policing and introducing body cameras have emerged as popular solutions to officer-involved killings, with police departments in the Raleigh-Durham area pushing on both of these fronts.
In terms of community policing and getting community members to know their law enforcement officers, the Durham Police Department and Durham Parks and Recreation sponsor the Police Athletic League. This free-of-charge program brings together law enforcement and youth.
Durham and Fayetteville police departments both participated in the nationwide ‘Running Man Challenge,’ which typically involves police officers dancing with community members.
Local cities are also making moves toward body cameras. Chapel Hill’s police department started using body cameras this fall, and Raleigh approved body camera use in March.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent information shows the nationwide push for community policing training is gaining traction.
In 2013, 97 percent of training academies provided community policing training.
Similarly, the Department of Justice pledged $20 million to expand the use of body cameras in 2015, which is a part of a larger proposal by President Obama to spend $75 million over three years for the purchase of 50,000 body cameras for law enforcement officers.
In a press statement, Bureau of Justice Assistance Director Denise O’Donnell said, “Body-worn camera technology is a valuable tool for improving police-citizen relationships.”
And 32 percent of local police departments already used body cameras in 2013 before the push for widespread use started.
Despite these changes, controversial killings of African Americans continue to plaster news headlines fairly frequently.
With more than 45,000 officers entering basic training each year, the effect of these new approaches to policing remains to be seen.