Dan Flannery and Mark Singer provide Police Assisted Referral Program as one solution to police community relations

The Begun Center’s Dan Flannery and Mark Singer recently co-authored an op-ed feature for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, citing the center’s Police Assisted Referral (PAR) program as an example of a means of better connecting officers with the communities they serve. The researchers wrote:

Ohio Suicide Prevention“Studies indicate that the majority of a police officer’s time (up to 90 percent) is spent in non-arrest situations, frequently referred to as service calls. Many of these calls involve citizens who are dealing with common day-to-day, noncriminal problems. The request for police assistance with these problems is often due to a lack of other resources, diminished coping skills, overwhelming frustration and/or feelings of hopelessness. The police department is often the first professional organization engaged by the family to address an acute or chronic difficulty for which there is no apparent solution. Thus, police officers regularly serve as first social responders. Interestingly, studies of police cadets suggest that they often want to be police officers for altruistic reasons, to help individuals and society; seemingly a good fit. Yet is it?…

“…The very nature of the majority of police work requires officers to be better equipped, not with military vehicles and heavy weaponry, but with the knowledge, skills and abilities to deal more effectively with the myriad problems faced by the citizens they serve. Even in their traditional roles, police officers are first social responders. Perhaps in a more proactive community-oriented policing model, they even serve as first recognizers of problem situations. We must provide officers with the ability to serve effectively by offering appropriate training and by facilitating their connections and referrals to social service agencies on a consistent and lasting basis.”

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