The U.S. Attorney's office in Pittsburgh hosted presentations today by two veteran police officers from Kansas City, Missouri. In their book, "Unleashing the Power of Unconditional Respect", Jack Colwell and Charles Huth contend that respecting the "personhood" of others and understanding that every human being has hopes, needs, fears and dreams not only reduces crime but also enhances the safety of police officers themselves. In this paradigm, the mission of law enforcement is to serve, and the method is to establish relationships of trust and respect with community members so that police officers and law-abiding citizens work together to eliminate crime.
Colwell calls their ideas "revolutionarily traditional" because they represent ancient principles from which many today may have diverged. Both men say there are individuals in every organization who instinctively treat others with respect, but their voices may not be the loudest.
Rashall Brackney, Zone 1 Commander in the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, said after the morning session that the ideas presented ring true to her experience and says community members with whom she's formed relationships have looked out for her safety on many occasions. When she was commander in Zone 5, she surveyed residents anonymously to see which three addresses they considered most problematic and found the results most helpful in improving public safety there.
Huth and Colwell spoke of specific incidents when listening to members of the community made people more willing to consider the police point of view. Huth says the West Side of Kansas City was very high crime until two police officers began forming relationships in the community and connecting to peoples' needs. Crime has gone down significantly, and the community cooperates with police.
Through their Unleashing Respect Project, Huth and Colwell are available for training and seminars around the country.