By Imani Wj Wright
Special to the AFRO
On Jan. 9, the National Law Enforcement Museum hosted “Coffee with a Cop”, an event which allowed the community to speak with local law enforcement, and former NYPD detective Alan Davis, in observance of National Law Enforcement Day.
All topics were open for discussion, including the appropriate and inappropriate times to use deadly force, the true objective of police work and increasing police presence in needed areas without being too militant.
When asked about the importance of police forces being transparent with the American community, Former NYPD detective Alan Davis responded: “There are challenges in police work that the public needs to be made aware of. They don’t face those challenges generally, and we do, so we need to inform them.”
“The public wants to know why we use some of the tactics and strategies that we do. But- they’re never given a platform where they can ask officers those kind of questions, we do that here,” Davis continued.
Davis is also the lead coordinator of the museum’s police simulator. This simulator puts participants in a variety of real life scenarios that officers deal with. These scenarios vary from routine traffic stops to active shooters. Davis took time to mention that even though most officers think about enforcing the law during life or death situations, there is a change happening, and police need to see communities through the lens of the public and the public needs the opportunity to see through the lens of officers.
Robyn Small, the museum’s head of PR said, “One of our core tenets of the museum is to provide this platform for dialogue between communities and the law enforcement officers who serve them. We think that safer communities, something we all want, result from better dialogue. Knowing who your officers are, them knowing you, knowing where everyone’s coming from, and finding that common ground is the first step to bridging those relationships.”
Small said the museum plans on covering the “tough issues” via their programming, such as the Restorative Justice program on Jan. 16, which will include an offender, a victim, and a police chief from Prince George’s County.
After being asked what he hopes attendees will take home from the event, Alan Davis responded: “It’s my hope this cracks the door open for us to have a more trusting relationship. I grew up as a young boy in Harlem, New York. There wasn’t a very trusting relationship. I never encountered officers unless there was something bad happening.
“No one dials 911 for a birthday party,” he jokingly added.
“My perspective was negative in terms of police, and to be very frank, my experiences were negative too. In order to change that, we have to create environments like this. Your first encounter with a police officer should not be in an enforcement role, it should be in a human to human, person to person role. We’re trying to enhance that communication and contact, and I think these types of appreciation days help to do that.”