Walk a mile in their shoes

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, July 20, 2017

It seems like weekly, if not daily we hear about tension between local police and the very population that they are sworn to serve and protect.

In many cases this tension is the result of decades of conflict and misunderstandings, leading to often tragic results.

What if we could take just one step away from that?

What if we as a community could take a step toward better understanding between the LaGrange Police Department and the residents of LaGrange?

This September, the LPD will offer one small step in that direction with the Citizen’s Police Academy. The academy aims to provide answers to some of the fundamental misunderstandings that sometimes arise between police and citizens by training participants of the academy on the same procedures that LPD officers learned before becoming LPD officers.

That training will focus on both practical areas like what to do if there is an active shooter situation at a location where you work or are visiting, but it will also have some parts that just sound fun, like getting to drive a police car — even if it is only for a short distance on the practice course.

There is a more important aspect to this though than the training — the relationships.

Even with LPD involvement in local organizations and fundraisers, it is all too rare that average citizens get to have positive contact with law enforcement.

For many, the only time they have contact with law enforcement at all is either when a crime has been committed against them, or when they are facing the consequences of a crime — even one as seemingly inconsequential as a speeding ticket.

The citizen’s academy will give locals the chance to build a repertoire with the men and women in blue who patrol our city by speaking with them on law enforcement, but perhaps even about themselves as people.

Of course more than some training will be needed to repair relationships between police and citizens around the world or even within the U.S., but this small step toward stronger relationships and improved understanding in LaGrange can only be a good thing.

It is a small step, but by all appearances, a step in the right direction.