How To Build Bridges Between The Public And The Police

Aug 17, 2017

Tensions over high-profile police shooting deaths have led to ongoing conversations about bias, police culture and use of force.

The police reform advocate group Not This Time says 24 people have been shot and killed by law enforcement officers in Washington state.

Sue Rahr is the executive director of the Washington state Criminal Justice Training Commission. The former King County Sheriff sat down with KNKX to talk about how policing has changed and how to build trust between law enforcement and the public.

Interview Highlights

On race and policing...

"I think many police officers don't recognize how deep and how long that influence has lasted. Every institution in our society has problems with bad racial history, with current bias. It's not just the narrow swath of policing. The issue of bias and a sense of injustice are all around us."

On civilian frustration...

"I know in a forum-type setting, it is very difficult to have constructive conversation because people are upset. And I understand the human need to get a simple, straightforward answer, but there isn't a single simple answer. You know, why did the young man take the actions he did? Why did the police decide to use those particular tactics? You have to know lots and lots of details about the situation to be able to answer at least the tactical side of it."

On training...

"When you look at policing historically, in the 60s and 70s, there was a huge shift to go to what was called 'professional policing' -- I don't want to know too much about you personally, just tell me about the facts of the crime. We should be doing exactly the opposite of that because when people call the police, for the most part, they need help. They need some reassurance. And what they need is that human contact."