Guest Blogger Sgt. David Miller Writes About Building Community Trust

In May 2015 The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report was Sgt Dave Millerpublished.  The Executive summary states: “Trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential in a democracy. It is key to the stability of our communi­ties, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.”

The task force identifies 6 pillars of policing:

  1. Building Trust and Legitimacy
  2. Policy and Oversight
  3. Technology
  4. Social Media
  5. Community Policing
  6. Officer Safety and Wellness

Pillar One: Building Trust and Legitimacy

“Building trust and nurturing legitimacy on both sides of the police/citizen divide is the foundational principle underlying the nature of relations between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Decades of research and practice support the premise that people are more likely to obey the law when they believe that those who are enforcing it have authority that is perceived as legitimate by those subject to the authority. The public confers legitimacy only on those whom they believe are acting in procedur­ally just ways. In addition, law enforcement cannot build community trust if it is seen as an occupying force coming in from outside to impose control on the community.” (The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing)

We have a long-standing mission to improve the safety and quality of life in our
community, we are a Community Oriented Police Department and are constantly working on building trust and nurturing legitimacy on both sides of the police/citizen divide.  I know you have heard the chief talking about these things.  It is important for us to be a procedurally just department. It’s important to continually work on our relationship with the public. Recently, the chief asked us again to think of some new ideas on how best to further our community partnerships.  We had some discussion and one of the ideas brought forward was to start building a stronger relationship with the faith based groups in and around Auburn Hills.

We already had a relationship with Pastor Cal Garcia and the Auburn Hills Christian Center that they had initiated.  He and his congregation have been very good to us.  They have honored us at their Memorial Day service, brought the members of our department lunch and gave gifts to everyone working on Christmas. We reached out to him to see what he thought of the idea of meeting with the faith based groups in an around our city.  Pastor Cal thought it was a great idea and he was very interested in participating if we could get it set up.

In the summer of 2015 we reached out to these groups asking how we can improve our


Faith based group meeting at River Church

service to them and their congregations.  We invited them to a meeting in December to discuss these things.  The meeting was attended by 11 representatives from 7 of the 16 churches located in and around Auburn Hills.  We have been meeting quarterly as a group and we talk about a whole host of topics; some personal and some professional.  This has lead us to Coffee with a Cop events at churches.  The Islamic Association of Greater Detroit is part of our group and Officer Farah Hilliker represented the chief at a Ramadan celebration this June. We have been invited to speak with congregations after Sunday service and talk about some crime prevention tips, what crime trends we are seeing and to answer whatever questions they have.

It takes time to build a relationship – it’s built on trust.  Trust is earned over time. It’s important to keep working on building relationships between us and our community. They want to know and have a relationship with law enforcement officers who serve them and it benefits the officers to know that community members value the difficult work they do.

If you have any ideas on how we can better get to know the people who work, live, pray and play in Auburn Hills please let me know.  Officer Haglund, Officer Skomski, Officer Brehmer, Officer Rice, Lt. Gagnon and Chief Olko have been instrumental with the success of our faith based group.  Thank you very much for supporting and participating in this program.