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Article Review of Law Enforcement Connecting with Kids by Michelle Perrin

Introduction

The magazine article, Law Enforcement Connecting with Kids, from the May 2012 issue of Officer.com, is a well-organized, informative piece that thoroughly covers an element of community-oriented policing that is often overlooked by police agencies, management, and individual officers. That key element to a successful department is a sincere, established relationship with the youth and children of the community in which they serve. The author paints a clear picture of the importance of initiating and maintaining healthy relationships by officers with the children in their patrol area.

The Analysis

The author expertly begins the article by showing the prevalence of children within the common patrol area of any give officer (Perin, 2012). With our neighborhoods and patrol routes being saturated with youth, it is easy to make the connection that they could be more valuable to law enforcement that maybe initially thought by new officers. The author goes on to illustrate how important daily interaction is for the children as well as the officers making the contact. The author shows how these seemingly routine contacts not only improve officer safety, but positively alter the lives of the children they interact with (Perin, 2012)

The author continues to break down the ways in which the contact between officers and children accomplish these goals as well as generate overall healthier community. The author breaks up the process into three individual phases. The first phase written about is how these routine contacts with children form the building blocks of developing a relationship. Only when a relationship is formed can trust be bolstered from the children. When a child sees an officer in other situations than arresting mom and dad, they will begin to understand that officers care about their well-being and they will begin to see officers as not just authority figures, but as a community friend who can be trusted (Perin, 2012). These relationships built on trust will extend to the child’s family, where community partnerships can be established and serve as an important factor to community oriented policing (Miller, Hess, & Orthmann, 2011). The author also identifies this trust building phase as an effective way to overcome the us versus them mentality commonly placed into children at an early age due to negative encounters with police officers (Perin, 2012).

The author next leads us into the second phase, which is described as educating about our role. These interactions serve as virtual classrooms where kids can see officers in a different light and where officers can answer questions or give explanations to our function and duties within the community (Perin, 2012). The article continues to show how children learn about officers from the people around them and in some cases that would mean no defense on the officer’s part. Officer interaction with children can go a long way to dispel rumors and negative myths about the role of officers in the neighborhood (Perin, 2012). The officer can be seen as an everyday person who has a family and loves sports just like the kids do.

The final phase discussed by the article, and in my opinion the most important, is the eventual gaining of an ally against crime because of the relationships built by officers with children (Perin, 2012). These children will take the relationships they have built with officers with them as they grow. A kid today will eventually grow up to be a citizen or community leader of tomorrow. When these children grow up they will be more willing to share information with an officer they have a relationship with than a nameless person with a badge. More importantly than sharing information, is the possibility that these kids who have been influenced by positive police interaction will be more likely to turn to a law enforcement officer in a time of need or when in trouble instead of turning the other direction into the arms of gangs and other unsavory aspects of their neighborhoods.

Summary

This article was a well-written, valid piece that went into great detail to prove the importance of forming relationships with children in the neighborhoods. Relationships are the cornerstone of community-oriented policing. The trust built form these relationships will not only foster information sharing, but will greatly improve not only officer safety, but community conditions as well. Many officers have seen children in their patrol areas and branded them as their future customers. It is a shame that they were not first seen as their next friend.

References

Miller, L. S., Hess, K. M., & Orthmann, C. H. (2011). Community policing: Partnerships for problem solving (6th ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning.

Perin, M. (2012, May). Law Enforcement Connecting with Kids. Officer.com. Retrieved July 30, 2012, from http://go.galegroup.com

Article Reviews | Law | Crime


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