Letters to the Editor (February 2015)

Community policing should be standard reform

I applaud NASW for addressing the issue of police reform (NASW News, January 2015). The reforms reported in the article are excellent.

One reform not mentioned that can have major implications is community policing. The advantage of police becoming personally acquainted with the community to which they are assigned can have significant positive outcomes when they are called in to address a crime, or even in avoiding crimes.

Just walking down the streets, visits to schools and addressing students, dropping in to community meeting places or community meetings — all may make a difference to the officer and to members of the community when serious problems occur. Knowing key community leaders can add to this positive approach to policing.

Unfortunately, many locations have too few officers to permit real community policing. In these situations, police department volunteers, including social workers, may be recruited and trained to take on some of these community tasks and report back.

In any case, training or retraining in community policing should be required of all police officers, and a community policing department should be a standard in all jurisdictions.

Florence Moore Brownridge, MSW
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

Focus social justice action on vulnerable population

As a mother of a law enforcement son, I feel compelled to comment on “NASW calls for police reforms,” January 2015 News.

When my son, Matthew, completed his four years with the U.S Marine Corps, he came to mom and dad’s home with his wife and our newborn grandchild to seek police training. He was accepted by our community college and graduated, taking on a job in the sheriff’s office in Palm Beach County.

Matthew felt the higher income in South Florida would better help him with supporting his new family. I knew the higher dangers since I lived in South Florida before moving to Daytona Beach.

My point of concern is that NASW supports issues targeting police change, bias and racial profiling when dealing with people of color. Police officers have a very stressful and dangerous job. My son has been shot at several times in his patrol car (he refers to it as a “Death Box”) to help protect ALL of our citizens.

I feel NASW’s social justice action should be focused on our vulnerable population — not police reform. Professional social workers need to address issues to help people of color with intensive community services — poverty, family dysfunctions, crime, disabilities, jobs, behavioral and mental health — and be professional advocates as we are.

As we look at the recent news with the NYPD police officer killings, I believe focusing on the above supports for people of color can be instrumental for real peaceful social justice to improve relations with the good men and women who protect us every day.

Phyllis Ann LaVigna,LCSW
South Daytona, Fla.