Jamal’s Journal: Community policing in action | TheUnion.com

Jamal’s Journal: Community policing in action

Jamal Walker

What an amazing experience this has been so far! Greetings, my name is Jamal Walker, and I work for the city of Grass Valley as the community relations coordinator. I work closely with the Grass Valley Police Department, as well as the community.

Part of my focus is to learn about what community policing looks like in Grass Valley, based on my experiences with the officers, and to gather information from our local community in terms of what community policing looks like for them.

I have had the opportunity over the past several months to participate in ride-alongs with our officers to see just what their daily jobs look like. I have taken the opportunity, first and foremost, to get to know each officer as a person. We all have jobs to perform in our daily lives, and yet our jobs do not necessarily speak to who we are as human beings.

One of the first things I have learned is that I have my own biases about police, and police work in general. My basic idea was that police officers drive around town all day looking for people to ticket for breaking the law, and hauling people off to jail.

While this is certainly one facet of the job, I am learning that this is a small part of what they do. I have gotten to experience much more.

For starters, I have witnessed these officers in the field working hard at conflict resolution. Taking someone to jail is not necessarily the first course of action.

I have witnessed many situations where officers are trying to assess the needs of the person contacted on a call for service, trying to ascertain the best course of action. Is that person a threat to themselves or others? Does that person need medical attention? Does the person simply need housing? Is it possible that this person is suffering from mental illness? What is causing the reason that the police are getting called in the first place? What can the officer do to help improve that person’s (or others affected by it) life?

These are but a few questions the officers are trained to examine in order to follow up with the best course of action. I have learned we have many resources in our county that our department interfaces with to come up with the best possible solutions for the individual and the community at large. They do this to provide the best quality of service and to maintain quality of life for the entire community.

In my personal interactions with each officer, I have learned that each person has a different viewpoint on all of the major social issues we face today as a community. There is as much diversity of thought between all of these officers as there is within the community at large.

I feel it is important to notice this, as it is very easy to put different groups of people into one box and assume they are all the same. To the contrary, I have found them to be very engaged with social issues, having a variety of thoughts and ideas.

Many of them have also asked questions of me if they have felt there was something they wanted to understand differently or from my perspective. This has been very encouraging to see. Again, my own bias, though unconscious, had me believing that all officers operate with a “hive mind mentally.”

I am grateful for this opportunity to continue to learn more about how our local Grass Valley Police Department operates, their values are as an organization, and how they carry out the many tasks that their job requires.

I look forward to hearing from our community at large. What are some of the questions you have? What are areas of concern for you?

How can I help answer those questions and understand how local government can best serve those who live, work, and play right here in Grass Valley? Please feel free to email me at Jwalker@gvpd.net.

Jamal Walker is a 30-year resident of Grass Valley, co-founder of the local anti-bias group, Creating Communities Beyond Bias, and the community relations coordinator for the city of Grass Valley. He will file periodic reports on his observations. Email him at Jwalker@gvpd.net.

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