Communities rely on police departments to “protect and serve” and the police, in turn, rely on community support and cooperation, but the relationship is not always harmonious, according to RAND researchers.
Pew Research Center reports more than nine-in-ten police officers believe it is important for law enforcement to know the people, places, and culture in the areas where they work to be effective at their job. It is critical that officers and the people they serve understand they are on the same team, with a common goal to see their community thrive. To further this mission, the Community-Police Relations Foundation (CPR Foundation) has made great strides to close the gap and help strengthen these bonds.
The organization and its partners believe that a police officer is much more than a badge, a uniform, making arrests, or writing tickets. When an officer’s shift is over, they go home to their family just like everyone else. Those police officers largely return home to the neighborhoods they patrol, where there’s a vested interest for all to see the community rise and thrive.
“Our foundation drives are led by uniformed police officers, enhancing their social interactions with members of their communities and the perception of law enforcement as agents of goodwill,” according to Al Eskanazy, Chairman and CEO of the CPR Foundation.
Through the generosity of like-minded supporters, the CPR Foundation raises funds through memberships, corporate sponsorships, and grants, while also receiving in-kind donations, hands-on volunteer support, and the partnerships of companies who assist with much-needed programs. The organization aims to address neighborhood problems, support programs that reduce crime, and foster prosperous communities throughout the country.
Alongside contributions that support youth and families, the foundation strives to be at the forefront of helping to repair the lines of communication between law enforcement and the community. Hosting events that allow officers and neighborhood residents to mingle and get to know each other on a human level is a catalyst to create impactful change. Ongoing, meaningful dialogue can help everyone to better understand and relate to one another. Through charitable donations, educational and scholarship programs, clothing, and food drives, the foundation paves the way for productive communities with an action-based grassroots approach that unites everyone.
Additionally, the CPR Foundation remains committed to addressing social issues affecting communities and law enforcement nationwide, including mental health issues – a concern prevalent among officers today. To improve the alarming statistics of officers with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicidal ideation, the organization launched a post-traumatic growth mental wellness initiative in partnership with the Boulder Crest Foundation to facilitate mental health programs for law enforcement in South Florida.
Known as Struggle Well Training, the Boulder Crest program enables first responders to prepare, practice, and implement a plan for personal growth by transforming struggle into strength. Recognized as one of the foundation’s most important initiatives, this program remains a vital tool for police-public cooperation by helping officers perform their duties more efficiently and safely for their communities.
When law enforcement and the communities they serve work together, communities will undeniably flourish. Through the effort of the Community-Police Relations Foundation, neighborhood residents can get to know the person behind the uniform. And in turn, officers can better relate to and understand the ones they are sworn to protect and serve. “We must stop talking past each other and at each other and start understanding one another. This is the guiding force behind the Foundation’s work,” Al Eskanazy adds.
Melissa Moraes is a freelance writer covering startups, socially responsible brands, and the newest trends in the world around us. Based in South Florida, she enjoys sunny beach days and motorcycle rides in her spare time.
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