Op-Ed: To allow our police officers to operate safely and effectively we must build trust between law enforcement and the community

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As our city starts to come back to life after the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s an issue that I hear about from constituents often –  they are concerned about public safety. While overall crime is down, violent crime has increased leaving our residents unnerved.

I spoke with one woman who spent the night in her bathtub due to constant gunshots in her neighborhood, and another constituent sends me daily updates of the violence occurring in our city. It is evident that the status quo of governance in Brooklyn Park is not working.

In addition to the rise in violent crime in our city, we also are experiencing a disconcerting breakdown in trust between our police department and community members. I spoke with Brooklyn Park Police Chief Enevoldsen who shared concerns about officers’ ability to do their jobs properly given the tense environment in our city. Concerned citizens are overstepping the yellow tape to ensure that the police are not abusing their power. This distrust is a source of major concern – to create a more cohesive community and to allow our police officers to operate safely and effectively we must build trust between law enforcement and the community.

In order to build this trust, we must work toward community policing initiatives and invest more in community resources (e.g. mental health and drug addiction services for residents in need). Officers who walk the beat should know the constituents whom they have been entrusted to keep safe, and vice versa. Additionally, there must be continued dialogue between community members and law enforcement. Building relationships is the cornerstone to building trust.

Lastly, investing in youth programming that works in tandem with the police department is paramount. This investment creates relationships and trust between our youth and those sworn to protect them, and provides an opportunity for youth to learn vital life skills while limiting their free time to capitalize on teenage impulses (I am not so old, that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a teen).

Should I be fortunate enough to be elected Mayor of Brooklyn Park, I look forward to working in tandem with our community members and the BPPD. I will also look to Sheriff Hutchinson, who has endorsed our campaign, for insights as we navigate the months and years ahead. The status quo isn’t working right now – it’s time for a fresh voice dedicated to implementing evidence-based initiatives that will effectively reduce violent crime in our community and lead to a safer Brooklyn Park.

About Hollies J. Winston

Hollies J. Winston is a candidate for Mayor of Brooklyn Park in August 10, 2021 special election.

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