Smart Policing: An Example

Protestors carry a banner depicting Philando Castile on June 16, 2017, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests erupted in the state after Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Castile. Several programs have been created to help improve the lives of low-income residents in the Twin Cities region. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

[Ed. Note: I have to admit that some days I don’t think things are getting better with regard to improving police. Yesterday morning I viewed the El Paso video in which an officer callously interacts with (and even points a firearm at some pre-adolescent youths!). But then again there is the article below from the Washington Post and, once again, I get energized. In it, Roseville, MN police show some smart policing and how problem-solving works if we can only think outside the box which often traps us! Police must continue to ask: “What is our purpose and WHY do we do this work.”]

 The lights from the police car flash blue and red against the white minivan. An African American family of six sits inside the Nissan Quest in this first-ring suburb of St. Paul on a warm June evening. Mom’s at the wheel, grandma’s in the passenger seat, and four children, including a boy in a wheelchair, fill in the two rows in the back. The car tells a story of poverty: Plastic covers a broken window; rust lines the wheel wells.

Officer Erin Reski pulled the vehicle over for a burned-out taillight, a problem similar to the one that led an officer to stop Philando Castile in the Twin Cities two years ago. That incident rapidly escalated and ended with Castile fatally shot.

This situation ends very differently.

Reski walks back to the minivan after running a check of the driver’s license, insurance and registration. She hands over a sheet of paper and offers a brief explanation. The response is swift and emphatic.

“Oh, thank you!” the driver says.

“God bless you,” the grandmother says.

Scenes like this have been taking place across the Twin Cities thanks to the Lights On program, believed to be the first of its kind in the country. Instead of writing tickets for minor equipment problems, police officers are authorized to issue $50 coupons so motorists can have those problems fixed at area auto shops. Twenty participating police departments have given out approximately 660 coupons in a little more than a year.

The program is among several changes after Castile’s death that are aimed at improving the lives of low-income residents here and transforming how police interact with them.  [For the rest of the news article click HERE.]