RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- Police and community members in Ridgewood will conduct a pilot program aimed at building genuine trust between them -- and, by doing so, stemming the backlash against law enforcement, Daily Voice has learned.
Local ministers and police chiefs from throughout Bergen County have expressed interest in the private/public community policing training partnership arranged by Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward with international performance-improvement consultants Franklin Covey.
"This is an opportunity to get communities and police together to build relationships -- or, where necessary, repair them," Ward said. "It's a way to stem the erosion of trust and move things in the other direction.
"It's for all those community members and police chiefs who are tired of hearing people complain about a problem without offering any solutions. We're looking for people who want to make a difference."
One of the greatest barriers to good community policing has been the lack of training or processes for those who want to improve things, the chief said.
The nation's first police/citizen Community Trust Leadership training program will be free for all participating citizens, he said.
Facilitators already enlisted include the Rev. Jan Philips of the Ridgewood/Glen Rock Community Relations Board and the Rev. Mack Brandon of Metropolitan AME Zion Church. Both are with the Ridgewood Interfaith Ministry Association.
Ward is hoping to raise $15,000 in the next week or so to cover the cost of attendance for 100 police officers from his department and throughout the county (CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org).
If more officers join, the individual price will go down.
"These courses ordinarily run up to $2,000 a person," said Ward, who hopes to have the first "trust training" going by late March or early April.
Policing is one of America's noblest professions, says Franklin Covey, which has a long history of partnering with law enforcement. At the same time, it says, "the actions of any police officer, in an instant, can impact an individual for life and even a community for generations.
"Before we can seek to solve the deep challenges facing communities and law enforcement, we must learn to understand each other, [and] develop trust and a common vision for our future," it says. "The goal of the core trust training programs is to provide law enforcement, public safety, community leaders and citizens to share learning and success in a safe environment."
The teachings center on core "foundational trainings" to build strong, lasting community policing programs.
They include a course based on the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" -- as well as one that's called "Policing at the Speed of Trust."
"Trust-related problems like redundancy, bureaucracy, fraud, and turnover put the skids on productivity, divert resources, squander opportunities, and chip away at trust within the community you serve," Franklin Covey writes.
"Instead of paying these outrageous 'trust taxes,' your organization can begin to realize 'trust dividends'," it says.
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