Melvin L. Otey



The distressed state of police relations with African American communities has enraptured national and international attention recently. Demonstrations and protests have persisted while pundits and interested parties have debated the matter in public and private spheres. No one can deny that disturbing problems exist, and reasonable people recognize that contributing factors are stubborn and complex. This article briefly surveys the environmental circumstances that have given rise to recent troubles in New York City, New York; Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland, Ohio; and Baltimore, Maryland, because they are illustrative of similar troubles in many African American communities nationwide. The article then proffers five proactive initiatives local police departments should implement in order to improve the tenor and effectiveness of their relations with these communities, namely (1) provide comprehensive emotional and psychological training; (2) initiate intensive cultural competency education; (3) apologize for past transgressions; (4) broadly deploy body cameras; and (5) engage in cooperative crisis management planning with community leaders.

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Criminal Law Commons



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