NAACP’s Rev. Anthony talks how to remedy the trust breakdown with police

Reverend Dr. Wendell Anthony (Photo Courtesy: Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony)

In the fifth weekly session of Talks With the Rev., rolling out continues the discussion with Detroit NAACP president Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony on his perspective on the relationship between the police and the Black community. This week, we get his expert advice on how the trust breakdown between the police and the Black and Brown communities can be remedied. Read below to hear Rev. Anthony’s viewpoint. We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think. Sound off in the comments section.

You can catch up with the entire series of the Talks with the Rev by clicking on the respective links. In the first article, we discussed Police Targeting 101 where the Anthony discussed the staggering number of Black and Brown people that were stopped by police over the years, some of whom were actually innocent. Policing the Black community was article number two, and the Rev. discussed the relationship between the local police force, the police chief, and the Black community. The third article  addressed what Black and Brown people should do when confronted by the police. To conclude, last week’s article dealt with what causes the Black and Brown communities to be terrorized by the police. This series is enlightening and very informative, do make sure you catch up now.

How can the breakdown in trust between the police and community be remedied?

This is obviously the bottom line in all of this. How do we move from mistrust to real trust? How can we bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community in which they serve? I think we must first be honest and open about what actually occurs in the thinking and the practice of law enforcement. Police departments must be more diverse in their composition, from the top to the bottom. Training must be not only made appropriate by those in law enforcement but should also involve persons from local communities. There must be an understanding of the values, traditions, and mores of the people the police are duty-bound to protect and serve.

Police officers who are in fact rogue officers must be exposed and identified by their own colleagues. The community is often called upon to turn in individuals who are guilty of crimes against the community. Police officers must also be called upon to turn in other officers who are guilty of crimes against the community. This is an important question. Until the community can see police officers actually being charged, going to jail, and serving time for the excessive use of force, and the abuse of certain citizens, the issue resulting in mistrust and conflict between law enforcement and the communities in which they serve will remain a constant barrier. The bar for such prosecution is currently too high. It must be adjusted to deal with the crisis at hand. There also needs to be an independent authority structured by the Department of Justice or the Federal Government, that deals with independent prosecutorial misbehaviors and investigations of homicide. For example, when there is a plane crash, the National Transportation Safety Board sends in a team to investigate the nature of the crash and to see what caused it. It is then determined what actions need to be taken. Perhaps there needs to be something like an FPA, a federal prosecutorial authority, not to replace the FBI, but to specifically address the homicide, its cause, and what corrective actions should occur. There must be an independent assessment when these cases are brought forward.

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