Transparency in Law Enforcement: Re-establishing Public Trust

Date

2022-09

Authors

McCarver, Robert C.

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Abstract

The image of law enforcement in America has suffered greatly in the past decade, specifically from 2012 thru 2022. America has witnessed the death of several minority individuals during encounters with law enforcement as they were broadcast nationwide, often only a few minutes after the events occurred. Whether or not the actions of law enforcement were lawful or justified has little bearing on the public’s perception. Law enforcement has a staked interest in owning and participating in this narrative. As a profession, law enforcement has usually opted to offer very little, or no information at all when facing a major public relations incident. This is significant because law enforcement often fails to release information in their possession; even when it would be helpful in building public trust. Law enforcement should strive to be as transparent as possible while maintaining investigative integrity. Most law enforcement agencies in Texas have employed body worn cameras (BWC’s) that document much of their interactions with the public. Within the statutes of the law, and with cooperation from the local prosecutor, release of these recordings will most often reflect positively on law enforcement. Even when there are mistakes made, law enforcement is better served by owning those mistakes in the public forum. Using reason, it is well understood that negative actions only become worse in the public forum when there is a void in information. The information, good or bad, will come out at some point. Strategic early release will dissuade the media from reporting a narrative obtained from less than credible sources.

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Keywords

Police--Community Relations, Police Ethics

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