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The importance of trust

Editor:

As one of the Longwood University criminal justice students who assisted in organizing the recent Community Discussion on Law Enforcement at the Moton Museum, it saddens me to read Peter Kapuscinski’s recent letter (“Preach respect and common sense,” Oct. 16.).

While Kapuscinski discussed respect and common sense, he neglected a multitude of other more important factors surrounding the significance of this event. Moreover, his letter overlooked the fact that common sense dictates that respect begets respect. Specifically, the police in a democratic society must respect citizens if they expect citizens to, in turn, respect them. Sadly, this is not always the case.

As the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recently noted, disrespectful language by the police toward citizens has a number of negative consequences that may, in fact, be contributing to the very lack of respect Kapuscinski mentions.

The basis of my letter is this: Efforts to alleviate the fear of the police some citizens experience are just as important, if not more important, than merely giving respect simply because someone is a police officer. Law enforcement officers are working in a time when trust toward police is at an all-time low. It seems to me that it would be common sense to give respect if it is to be expected in return.

It is unfortunate that respect appears to be more important than restoring trust in those who are sworn to protect and serve our community.

Matthew Ward

Farmville