A year ago this summer, the United States saw its largest civil rights protests in a generation, as the Black Lives Matter movement called for major police reform. Some people were even calling to defund police departments in the wake of multiple deaths of African Americans, while in police custody.
Meanwhile, shifts in the perception of what they do with the public they serve, has police departments facing hard questions. A Gallup poll conducted in June and July of last year found that Black Americans' confidence in policing had reached an all-time low, at 18%.
That number has recovered, but only slightly, to 27% according to a poll released this month. For White Americans, confidence is double that. 56% of those polled said they have a great deal of faith in the police. However, that number too, is below survey results taken before the summer of 2020, when the confidence score registered in the mid-60s.
In part due to the protests, and the perceptions, a great many departments find themselves having trouble recruiting and retaining officers.
The Cleveland Police Department said in May that it currently has 102 officers less than what it wants to field, and that new applicant turnout has been fairly low. The Columbus police department said that it lost 80 officers to retirement last year, nearly double the average number of retirements each of the previous five years.
As Governor DeWine said just last month while announcing the start of a new college to law enforcement pathway program in Ohio, "This is not an easy time to be in law enforcement."
So what can police departments do to rebuild trust with the citizenry, in order to protect and serve those communities?
One local unit, the Westlake Police Department, reached out for help from a customer service training consultancy. The Dijulius Group is known for working with big companies like Chick-fil-A, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Nordstrom, and Starbucks, but until now not the police. Westlake would be only their second department.
On the Sound of Ideas, we'll to talk about this new partnership, with a goal of improving how police officers interact with residents.
-Captain Jerry Vogel, Public Information Officer, Westlake Police Department
-John DiJulius, President, The DiJulius Group