How can we increase understanding between police and young people? The Dallas Police Department along with the Texas Leadership Forum, Safer Dallas Better Dallas, and the Rotary Club of Dallas found that open and honest discussion is the first step.
On January 8, 2017, these groups came together and participated in a panel discussion at the Dallas Police Headquarters that included police, community leaders, and high school students. Several topics were discussed including, what parents should be teaching their children at a home about interactions with police, how police should conduct themselves during an interaction, and how community policing helps build relationships between police and the communities they serve.
Interim Dallas Police Chief David Pughes opened the discussion with a few remarks about trust and leadership. Chief Pughes stressed to the crowd that police officers are people too, “we are more the same than we are different,” he said. Police officers are more than just a uniform and a job, they are individuals just like you. Chief Pughes acknowledged that trust has to be earned and that it is our job as police officers to constantly strive to build a strong relationship and solid trust with the community by engaging and communicating with the people we serve.
Students in the audience were able to ask the panelists questions and give their thoughts on the topics. This will be the first of many discussions between police and students and the department expects to participate in more of these positive interactions in the future.