People are more likely to obey the law when they believe that those who are enforcing it have legitimate authority. The public confers legitimacy only on those they believe are acting in just ways. Building trust and legitimacy is not only the first pillar but also the foundational principle underlying the nature of relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Since the 1990s, policing has become more effective, better equipped and better organized to tackle crime. Despite this, polls show the public’s confidence in police work has remained flat, and in some cases, confidence has declined. Decades of research and practice support the premise that people are more likely to obey the law when they believe that those who are enforcing it have the legitimate authority to do so.
Law enforcement culture should embrace a guardian mindset to build public trust and legitimacy. Toward that end, police and sheriffs’ departments should adopt procedural justice as the guiding principle for internal and external policies and practices to guide their interactions with the citizens they serve.
Law enforcement agencies should acknowledge the role of policing in past and present injustice and discrimination and how it is a hurdle to the promotion of community trust.
Law enforcement agencies should establish a culture of transparency and accountability in order to build public trust and legitimacy. This will help ensure decision making is understood and in accord with stated policy.
Law enforcement agencies should promote legitimacy internally within the organization by applying the principles of procedural justice.
Law enforcement agencies should proactively promote public trust by initiating positive non-enforcement activities to engage communities that typically have high rates of investigative and enforcement involvement with government agencies.
Law enforcement agencies should consider the potential damage to public trust when implementing crime fighting strategies.
Law enforcement agencies should track the level of trust in police by their communities just as they measure changes in crime. Annual community surveys, ideally standardized across jurisdictions and with accepted sampling protocols, can measure how policing in that community affects public trust.
Law enforcement agencies should strive to create a workforce that contains a broad range of diversity including race, gender, language, life experience and cultural background to improve understanding and effectiveness in dealing with all communities.
Law enforcement agencies should build relationships based on trust with immigrant communities. This is central to overall public safety.
- Through joint efforts with the school district, the EPPD presents on policing to immigrant communities and in return, learn from them as well.
- The EPPD coordinates with the City’s Human Rights and Diversity Commission to help further build relationships with our immigrant community.
- The EPPD has a Somali Liaison officer who works closely with the Somali community in Eden Prairie.
- The EPPD utilizes the Language Line and bilingual staff to help community members who do not speak English.
- The department maintains up-to-date Directives and Procedure Manuals. We continually develop, maintain and improve our Department Policy Manual [PDF] based on current trends, technology, local, state and federal guidelines, and recommendations that meet the needs of the community and department staff. Regular reviews are conducted by staff and specialized units within the department in order to be compliant.
- The EPPD’s Training Unit monitors and develops training that is comprehensive and strives to meet the needs of the community, including Crisis Intervention Techniques, Verbal Judo, dealing with special needs within the community, Somali Culture Training, and responding to people with Autism and Parkinson’s.
- The EPPD holds our officers accountable and has a mechanism in place to review all use-of-force incidents. Results of those reviews can be used as a training tool for an individual officer or the department as a whole.
- The EPPD communicates with our residents through a variety of social media and other vehicles including the Police Department Blog and email/text notifications. We also provide weekly incident reports to local media and meet with reporters regularly.
- A Community Crime Map is available on the City’s website.
- The EPPD utilizes a restorative justice or diversion program for minor criminal offenses, typically for juveniles.
- The EPPD has a Labor Management Team consisting of officers, civilian staff, police supervisors, City human resources staff and the City Manager which meets monthly to discuss and address working conditions.
- EPPD community engagement events include: Pop-up Splash Pads, Kickin' it With the Cops, Coffee with the Cops, Safety Camp, Night to Unite, Citizens Academy, Senior Citizens Academy, Civilian Observer program, Police Department Open House, Shop with a Cop, Toys for Tots collection, Halloween on the Mall and Special Olympics events including the Polar Plunge, Torch Run and other fundraising activities.
- The EPPD has a school liaison officer program where we build relationships within the schools and with kids through classroom talks and presentations including CounterAct, a curriculum for 5th-grade students that focuses on good decision-making skills.
- The EPPD has policies against unreasonable force and provides training on verbal de-escalation techniques.
- Building community is part of our department’s stated philosophy and is incorporated into every aspect of our work.
- The City of Eden Prairie conducts biennial Quality of Life Surveys to gauge residents’ perceptions of City services, including the Police Department. The survey also compares Eden Prairie’s results to those of similar cities throughout the U.S. The survey results are shared with elected officials and the public, as well as department staff so they know where they stand within the community.
- The EPPD uses our Community Service Officer and Explorer programs to recruit diverse candidates. EPPD officers who are alumni at colleges in Minnesota go on campus visits and job fairs to recruit new talent.