Current events in Kenosha, Wisc., exemplify the challenges confronting police departments. They must navigate the challenges of budget cuts due to the covid-19 pandemic as they work to restore and build trust in communities after massive demonstrations. It is of great importance to identify a strategy and guidepost that is grounded in moving police and community forward toward progressive change. Our suggested guidepost borrows from the late Yale sociologist Albert Reiss. It is “Constructing civility and trust.” As Reiss observed, civility requires “that police be accountable to civil authority and the citizens protected from police tyranny.” But he also observed that “[the] trust and confidence the police and public have in one another is also of utmost importance to civil society.”
What steps are necessary to construct civility and trust? Four are foundational: (1) Replacing the warrior model of policing with the sentinel model; (2) Creating civility and trust to have co-equal status with crime prevention; (3) Measuring at a micro-level community trust and rewarding officers and police executives who are successful in building trust and (4) Ensuring communities respond to fundamental changes in the form and style of policing with civility in their interactions with police.