What happened at Zacadoo’s Tuesday morning was important. 

Police Chief Leslie Manahan and Fire Chief Brian Boutwell took time out of their busy days to meet with the public. 

One of the people they talked to was Victor Marshall who hit the nail square on the head when he said, “It’s good for them to get out so people can see them. It humanizes them and lets people know they care.”

Manahan explained it this way, “It makes us more approachable. It tells them they can come and meet us. We hope it makes people more comfortable talking to us.”

We also like what Boutwell said when he added, “Our involvement in the community not only allows people to put a face to the name, but it gives them the chance to ask questions.” 

These kinds of events are important for our community, especially for law enforcement, and a big part of what effective community policing is all about. 

Positive interactions between police and people — especially young people — are crucial.

Mutual respect and communication are the keys between positive relationships between police and the community. 

That respect must be a two-way street.

When we show respect, we are more likely to receive respect. When we talk to people in positive ways, they will more than likely talk to us in the same kinds of ways.

Setting the right tone and environment begins at the top and the chief is right to express a commitment to being approachable and having a willingness to listen, even to critics.

It is a delicate balance but officers must be able to maintain authority while demonstrating humility in a profession where it can sometimes be dangerous to show vulnerability. Serving and protecting must be more than a slogan. It must be a mindset, a culture and an attitude that permeates a law-enforcement agency.

Sure, no one wants to be pulled over for speeding. No one wants to be arrested or questioned. Every interaction between police and the public is not going to turn out well. Police make mistakes. The public does too. 

There are times when police say and do the wrong things and that should not be denied or ignored. It is important that authorities be open, candid and completely transparent when those things do happen and the offenders be held accountable. 

Police do encounter violent people with bad intentions. They go to work each day putting themselves in harm’s way for our safety and security. That has to put an enormous amount of pressure on them every day. 

We think the public having respect for police and the police having respect for the people they encounter are equally important conversations that must take place simultaneously. 

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