LIMA — For the NAACP and the Black Ministerial Association, bringing community-oriented policing back to Lima is the first of hopefully many steps in the right direction.
“As a whole, I believe it’s going to be beneficial for the community,” the Rev. Dennis Ward said. “It’s vital to the community that law enforcement establishes a rapport.”
The concept of community-oriented policing centers around having officers stationed in high-crime areas providing law enforcement as well as forming positive relationships with residents.
The Rev. Ron Fails, president of the Lima NAACP, wants to see data from the Lima Police Department showing how this model was previously effective.
“In terms of having anything negative to say about it, obviously I do not,” he said. “But it’s difficult for me to say that this is what we ought to be doing without having some data that supports this decision.”
Ward maintained that for this program to get off to a good start, there would have to be input from leaders in the black community as well as from law enforcement.
“We want to establish a dialogue between the police and the African-American leaders within the community,” he said. “I think we could offer some input, so we want to be at the table.”
For Fails, this program will not be effective unless the officers who take on this role work to integrate themselves into their neighborhoods.
“This is a step in the right direction so long as we utilize this as an opportunity to integrate into the community rather than just coming in to police it,” he said.
As far as other steps to be taken, Ward hopes that the Citizens Review Board will also be revived to keep local law enforcement accountable.
“If we’re going to move forward as a city, we have to put people on that board who have a vested interest in the community,” he said. “They have to have the right tools to be effective, including resources and authority.”
For Fails, having more black representation in law enforcement is essential, something he hopes may be a byproduct of this initiative.
“It is very important that we create a positive interaction between police and the community because it helps young children thinking of career choices,” he said. “It’s our desire to help our local government have more effective programs so we’re able to recruit a more diverse police force.”