UNDERSTANDING the other guy's perspective is not always easy, and last week's dialogue session between the Quincy Police Department and members of the community was an important step forward.
Sgt. Chad Scott hopes that bringing together seven officers and about 20 community members is a first step toward building more trust.
"It's getting both sides to understand -- us recognizing more where the community is coming from as far as how they view us when we are doing our jobs, and on our side of it, just making sure the community understands why we do what we do and making sure that we're treating people fairly and that they understand the system," Scott told The Herald-Whig.
The workshop titled "Procedural Justice for Communities: A Dialogue to Change" was held in partnership with the Center for Public Safety and Justice, a nationally known office headquartered at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The center has been providing training and technical assistance throughout the United States for more than 20 years.
The center teaches that fairness, voice, transparency and impartiality are the four pillars of a successful community policing program.
The Quincy Police Department has trained officers, civilian staff and supervisors in other procedural justice programs. Scott hopes more dialogue workshops will be held in the future, but he's still gathering information from the people who attended, to see whether they saw it as useful. "I don't know that in Quincy we have a big ‘us versus them' problem. Instead of waiting for those kind of problems to develop, we want to head off any future problems," Scott said.
Feedback sessions are win-win events. Citizens have a chance to voice concerns or get questions answered. Police have a chance to explain procedures. Both sides can debunk baseless rumors that drive a wedge between public safety officials and the people they serve.
Quincyans should engage in these sessions.
Bring concerns about your neighborhood. Share thoughts that can improve the community and halt contentious situations. Or thank those who are doing a good job.
For their part, police can connect with the public and get a better idea how their efforts are perceived.
Understanding the other guy and making sure he understands you is a worthy goal.