Friday, August 15, 2014

Respect: The Heart of the Police Officer

Twenty years ago, I met a law enforcement professional from the Hackensack, N.J., Police Department. This began a partnership that led to countless community initiatives.

Sgt. Patrick Fay, who later retired as Lt. Fay, demonstrated law enforcement’s most effective community tool: respect.

Although he is a former U.S. Marine with a commanding presence, Fay’s greatest ability to prevent a crisis was the trust he inspired from respecting the community. Respect was his foundation for over 30 years of police service to a very diverse inner city. Fay had the respect of the community. The community knew he cared about their concerns.

Fay personified respect, the essential ingredient for all police officers. Respect and trust are indispensable requirements for all police professionals. Respect must be the heart of each and every police officer.

Police-Private Partnership
As a security professional responsible for numerous programs, I developed with Fay a unique police–private partnership. His insights as a police professional assisted my security responsibilities. My experiences assisted his community dedication.

Our partnership led to many initiatives including:
•personal safety presentations
•school violence prevention
•citizen police academies
•domestic violence awareness
•law enforcement leadership training
•workplace violence prevention
•crime prevention practitioner certifications
•community policing certifications
•senior citizen scam prevention
•national night out
•diversity training
•police–community conferences
•terrorism awareness and prevention

Aside from his responsibilities to the City of Hackensack, Fay was also president of the North Jersey Regional Crime Prevention Officers Association. In this capacity, he developed interagency partnerships with additional programs including:
•youth police academies
•neighborhood revitalization
•gang awareness and prevention
•police–citizen recognition events
•security officer certifications

Fay’s leadership inspired my own law enforcement, violence prevention, and crisis management presentations. These have now reached over 50,000 law enforcement, educators, community leaders, and students nationwide.

Police–Community Tensions
Due to the realities of the human condition, crisis is an ever-present concern in America’s communities.

To prevent and mitigate a crisis, the dedication of law enforcement professionals—who earn respect and trust within communities—is paramount.

An unbreakable bond between the police and public is only possible when respect is the foundation with community members.

The NYPD is currently experiencing a police–community crisis based on a recent “chokehold” death of a citizen while being taken into custody.

Continual developments are unfolding related to the NYPD tragedy, including an upcoming protest across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, an interfaith gathering hosted by the New York Roman Catholic Archbishop, and the Richmond County district attorney’s investigative results.

This tragedy has led to a commitment by Police Commissioner William Bratton for enhanced training of all 35,000 members of the NYPD. This program will include proper use of force as well as communication skills and likely last for years and cost millions.

In Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, there is another police–community crisis inflaming outrage.

This crisis includes conflicting reports over the death of an unarmed teen by a police officer.

One story reports the teenager surrendering to police with his hands in the air. Another story is the teen attacked an officer in his patrol vehicle attempting to take his service weapon. The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice are investigating the incident.

Emotionally charged civil unrest is escalating in Ferguson with vandalism, looting, protests, tear gas, and scores of arrests.

Cultivating Respect
The most influential characteristic of a police professional is the ability to inspire respect. Respect must be cultivated interdepartmentally and with all members of the community.

Hopefully, the example of law enforcement professionals like Lt. Patrick Fay and countless other dedicated police officials throughout America committed to their noble profession will shine in our communities.

The respect a police officer cultivates will be the catalyst of community relations, crime prevention, and reawakening the nation.

As published in Vincent's weekly "Reawakening the Nation" column in the Friday, August 15, 2014 edition of the Epoch Times.

1.Sgt. Patrick Fay, Rtd. of the Hackensack New Jersey Police Department and author Vincent J. Bove receive the 1998 North Jersey Regional Crime Prevention Officers Association awards for Police Officer and Citizen of the Year.
2.Author Vincent J. Bove shares opening remarks at the request of the Livingston New Jersey Police Department during National Night Out on Aug. 5, 2014.
3.Youth interaction with a police officer at the Summit New Jersey Police Department National Night Out on Aug. 5, 2014.(Vincent J. Bove)
4.A child speaks with police officers at the Livingston New Jersey Police Department National Night Out on Aug. 7, 2013.(Vincent J. Bove)

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