Protests against law enforcement are at an all-time high and officials from Northeast Ohio’s police departments say they are hoping to change that. Lt. Mitch Houser of the Euclid Police Department’s Community Policing Unit believes that public perception is everything. “I think a lot of what the public feels about us has a lot to do with the last service experience they had with us. So, it just depends on who you’re asking,” he said. He added that it is difficult for one police department to combat the reputation of all police departments.
Houser also pointed out that unfortunately, good deeds done by police are forgotten at a much quicker rate than bad deeds. He stressed the importance of hiring officers who are able to withstand the job pressure and be respectful of everyone in the communities they serve. “It has to be driven by customer service,” he said.
Euclid Police Department hosts an annual National Night Out which allows law enforcement officers to gather with community members in a casual, fun atmosphere with grilled food, cotton candy and bounce houses for the kids. These events allow community members and law enforcement officers the opportunity to have an open dialogue about bad experiences.
Not far away in neighboring Mentor, Ohio, Chief Kevin Knight of the Mentor Police Department said that his department was inundated with lunches, dinners and other baked goods after the Dallas police shootings.
Like Houser, Knight believes law enforcement’s core duty is customer service. Knight has his lieutenants randomly follow-up with people who have had an interaction with one of his officers. He uses the follow-ups as a way to gauge community satisfaction.
Knight added that no call is too small for his department to handle. “We never say: ‘hey that’s not our problem.’”