The President’s College at the University of Hartford covered community policing at its annual symposium on Sunday.
Following some polarizing incidents like shootings across the country, the issues have generating enormous interest and media coverage, and police said they recognized that.
“We're deeply invested in the community policing, which is a little different than some of the suburbs and somewhat consistent with other cities our size,” said Chief James Rovella, Hartford Police Department.
Rovella, who was among the speakers, said it has been a tough year for the capital city. Hartford saw more than two dozen homicides in 2015.
He said recognition from the White House has shed light on how the department is reaching out to its community.
“When you're recognized by the White House as one in ten cities that have built a pipeline to make your Hartford kids police officers or when you're down there talking one in 30 cities, talking about what community policing is and what you're doing to develop it in your city,” Rovella said.
Criminal justice professor Al DiChiara said a new model of policing is slowly emerging and said it centers on knowing the people served.
“Police have to become members of the community,” DiChiara said. “They have to know people in the community. Some people are suggesting police officers live in the community that they work in."
DiChiara also said social media is really changing how departments police because now interactions between officers and civilians are playing out in front of millions of people.
"Social media has made it easier to follow the police,” he said. “And these kind of problematic interactions are not new, they're just being recorded for the first time."
He said police need to be seen more in non-emergency circumstances, like in New Haven where first year officers routinely walk a specific area.
"Policing can't be an internal army,” DiChiara said. “It has to be a partnership with the community and the whole community policing movement is designed to do that."
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