Sunday, August 14, 2011

Between a rock and a hard place - PM Cameron can't win with the London police

Prime Minister Cameron has called upon the American crime and specifically, gang expert, "supercop" Bill Bratton to be a consultant and advisor to aid the British police force in reducing crime and addressing the gang problem that plagues London and Britain presently.

While it is admirable that the PM is thinking out of the proverbial box, one cannot help but wonder how that will play to the thousands of police officers presently serving the country. Granted, their reaction time to the looting and subsequent lawlessness following the unfortunate shooting of Mark Duggan, an alleged known criminal, was poor to be sure, but in this instance, a coalition effort between community leaders, faith leaders, activists and the British Home Office would be a better plan.

During my interfaith and community outreach work in the United States, specifically, serving as an aide to the Salt Lake City mayor during the Olympics and thereafter, we were particularly concerned with any gang and other criminal activity that might affect the games. Rick Dinse, former Los Angeles police chief was the police chief of Salt Lake City at the time and made every attempt to ensure smooth games. You may recall that the games went off without incident.

Policing in America is vastly different than in the UK - not only because the police do not carry guns, but because community oriented policing is not something that is espoused, certainly not here in the London area according to my sources. There is an expression in the US - driving while black - that means a successful black person driving a high end vehicle is likely to be stopped by the police either in their community or traveling around elsewhere. Were community oriented policing in place here in London, police would not spend their time profiling successful black business people, rather they would know who those people are, as a result of spending time on their feet, patrolling the community.

I would certainly encourage PM Cameron to rethink bringing in an outsider to tell his police officers how and where and what to police - this is disrespectful and highly unprofessional and downright political. Shame on him!

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