Transparency and Mutual Respect

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FBI Director James Comey sparked a controversy recently when he suggested that law enforcement officials might be less aggressive in pursuing criminals because they fear they might be demonized on social media or YouTube.

Critics said that Comey was wrong to connect an increase in violent crime with the effort to make law enforcement more transparent, particularly without data to support that assertion.

Bronxites offered their views on the subject.

How have viral videos impacted the relationships between cops and the community?

“It has caused the trust to be lost between the two. The tension has increased, as well as the hostility, which has increased amongst different races.” – Emily Maldonado

“Viral videos have impacted the relationship between people and the police because we start reviewing the truth behind each cop and see a lot of the negative, but at time we see some of the positive.” – Edgard Toro

“I think it’s had a terrible effect. You see a couple of videos of bad cops doing a bad job and now all cops are labeled bad guys because no one ever records a cop doing a good job. You’re only really giving off the bad aspects.” – Henry Roman

“I think it’s broken the trust the public has had for the police. You are supposed to be able to trust the cops and call them if you have trouble. Now I feel people hesitate when it comes to calling the cops. Some people have more fear than relief when they are around the police and it should never be like that.” – Tyrin Bell

Do you believe there is less enforcement because of viral videos?

“Clearly not. For example, the child who was accused of building a bomb when in reality it was a clock. However, I do think some people take these videos and use it as an excuse to be disrespectful to cops.” – Emily Maldonado

“I think the fear of higher authority seeing the officers’ viral videos is affecting the way the police do their jobs. Officers are on the fence between using force and using too much force. They do not want to be reprimanded for doing not doing enough or doing too much” – Marisela Santiago

Have you experienced harassment from a police officer?

“One time my friends and I were walking crosstown through Central Park. The park was still open and we were simply walking. Literally when we reached the other end of the park, two cops pulled up in their vehicle and asked us what we were doing. It was about 1:05 AM. We were cooperating and I told them we were just walking crosstown. One officer said, ‘Okay just be safe.” My friends, (who were African American males and two other females) began making their way to the exit. We were reflecting on the night walking out. We shared some chuckles and I guess the cop took it as if the males were making fun of him. He stops the male and said, ‘What’s so funny? Do we have a comedian here?’ Then all of sudden we were all asked for our IDs and were going to get a citation for being in the park.” – Emily Maldonado

Do you think the behavior of police officers has changed in your community?

“They do appear more tense. They also feel they must always be extremely authoritative to stand their ground and make it known the power that they have, which I believe can be their best and worst quality. It can make or break them.” – Emily Maldonado

“Attitudes have changed because we see all the negative cops have been doing and we tend to see them in a negative light because of a couple officers.” – Edgard Toro

“I live in Brooklyn. I noticed since police officers know that people take pictures of them there has been less harassment in my neighborhood.” – Janet

“I live in the Bronx. I realize that if people are not taking pictures, a lot of police officers would get away without paying for their actions.” – Sandra

Do you feel police officers will be honest and uphold the law at all times?

“Definitely not, they are people just like anybody else capable of lying.” – Janet

“I live in the Bronx where most cops or either Latino or White. I’m Black. What do you think?” – Sandra

What are some steps we can take to reestablish trust between police officers and the community?

“Re-evaluating cops from a psychological perspective, perhaps every three to five years due to their job being quite the handful. Also I’d suggest more programs that involve both cops and maybe the younger generation to raise awareness of being a good citizen as well as the cops realizing the hardships citizens have to face; basically an empathetic activity to get the two parties to come to an understanding.” – Emily Maldonado

“Well the community should not be so quick to assume every cop out there is out to hurt them, but are there to actually help. A couple of bad apples shouldn’t ruin our opinion about them as a whole. Stereotypes can really ruin a group’s persona.” – Tyrin Bell

“I think the people who trust the cops already do, and those who don’t have been affected by police brutality or some sort of bad situation with the cops directly or know someone who has. It will be tough to restore trust there. The cops would probably have to interact with them, speak to them and put their minds at ease.” – Alexis Rodriguez

“We can try make more laws that protect the citizens from the police because every time there is an attack by a police officer, they don’t really get in too much trouble.” – Djenda

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