The function of law enforcement is to protect and serve the community by enforcing laws. In policing, there is an element of trust - a sort of social contract - between the police, city government and their communities.
Maintaining this level of trust between the police and their communities and upholding integrity at the agency level is at the center of transparency, and here’s why.
It’s important for the public to know most aspects of policing - from crime reports and arrests to procedure and org charts - so the public has access to what’s going on and how the police have responded to any given situation. The integrity of the agency is upheld by the data and reporting it can provide. That’s why technology in policing has been such a benefit for the community and the agency.
Law enforcement has high expectations to carry out their authority impartially and with integrity so that all citizens and situations are treated uniformly and with due process. Internal accountability mechanisms help leaders in law enforcement instill public trust and confidence in agency activities at every level.
Police and Government
We often forget about the historical relationship between policing and the governments they serve. Police chiefs typically answer to the mayor and are usually hired by the mayor. Sheriffs are elected officials themselves. But it’s not about politics; transparency at the highest level is about keeping the best interests of the public top of mind.
Catalyst for Change
Sometimes, there are negative outcomes even when the data shows all procedures are conducted correctly. Having transparency into an agency’s policies and procedures can help create a better system to evaluate whether current practices need to be adjusted and the best way to do so. Having insight into the process and outcomes can help an agency and city government optimize how they work together in the community's best interest.
In on-duty and off-duty details, having a well-informed community builds and maintains a higher level of confidence. This transparency strengthens the trust between police, the government and the communities they serve.