After fatal police shootings in places like Ferguson, Missouri, New York and Cleveland, President Obama created a federal task force to look at ways to improve policing and build community trust. The report, released last year, identified six ‘pillars’ for reducing crime while building public trust and mutual respect between communities and police.
The six pillars are building trust and legitimacy; policy and oversight; technology and social media; community policing and crime reduction; officer training and education; and officer safety and wellness.
On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch singled out the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department as having a model program for helping officers deal with stress and trauma.
“What we’re talking about here is making sure you have the resources you need to maintain a clear mind, as well as a sound body,” Lynch said. “It’s also about making sure you know that you’re not alone as you deal with the pressures of law enforcement. And we think of it in terms of a question: as you go out into the community to take care of us, who is there to take care of you?”
Since she launched her six-city “Community Policing Tour” in February, Lynch has visited police departments from Portland, Oregon to Fayetteville, North Carolina, highlighting police agencies for their best practices that correspond to the report’s findings.
IMPD created its Office of Professional Development and Police Wellness in 2010. According to department data, their programs have led to a 40 percent drop in disciplinary referrals, and more officers are asking for help. Among other things, the department pairs police recruits with mentors, trains officers on the importance of managing trauma and stress, and offers early intervention.