One day after the events that transpired in Dallas, our New Albany staff received an email asking what the New Albany Police Department was doing to keep our community and our officers safe.
One day after the events that transpired in Dallas, our New Albany staff received an email asking what the New Albany Police Department was doing to keep our community and our officers safe. The city was glad to respond, and, after doing so, I thought a more broad audience might also be interested in the information we shared.
Today, two weeks after the Dallas tragedy and days removed from the subsequent shootings of officers in Baton Rouge, it is clear that we all have a role to play in keeping our community safe. We must continually work to establish and maintain relationships that build trust and mutual respect.
Jobs in law enforcement are not easy. Officers often must react to incidents in an instant, knowing a mistake could be the difference between life and death. Still, the authority they have to maintain order comes with much responsibility to the public.
As mayor of New Albany, it has been heartening to witness the high level of support for our police department these past couple of weeks. Multiple officers were approached on duty by people thanking them for their service. Some residents wrote letters and emails. Some offered hugs. Some baked cookies and brought them to the police station. Some even came to the police department to show their support and pray with our officers. Your response has been uplifting.
The city of New Albany and the New Albany Police Department are committed to:
* Hiring qualified, professional police officers who are respectful to everyone they serve.
* Training our officers well.
* Instituting proper policies to guide their actions.
* Developing relationships through community outreach.
Of New Albany's 23 sworn officers expected on staff by the end of 2016, 18 have obtained college undergraduate degrees, four have master's degrees and four are military veterans. Law-enforcement professionals with degrees and/or military backgrounds often have more diverse experiences and better interpersonal engagement.
Gov. John Kasich's Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board recently issued standards expected of Ohio law-enforcement agencies related to recruitment, hiring, use of force and use of deadly force. Diversity training also now is part of the state curriculum, and New Albany's ongoing officer training far exceeds state standards.
Later this year, our police department will begin the process of becoming a nationally accredited police agency. This accreditation, which takes one to three years to accomplish, is considered the gold standard for law-enforcement agencies and ensures the institution of best practices locally to meet a national standard of excellence.
Moving forward, we can all make a difference one small action at a time. I encourage you to treat everyone you meet with the same respect and courtesy that you expect, whether a family member, a stranger on the street or an officer in blue. There is no telling how many people will be positively impacted by your small gestures of kindness and respect. Paying forward isn't a new concept here in central Ohio and it is something to which we can all commit to doing.
Our police department will continue its ongoing dialogue with other local, state and federal officials. Leaders also will work to maintain strong communitywide relationships and review city practices to help our officers be a positive force for good in our community.
Sloan Spalding is mayor of New Albany.