Ways to Improve inner City Law Enforcement

The inner city can be defined as the older, inner part of a city that deteriorates as it is abandoned for new land and outward expansion of an urban structure. But the term can apply to other neighborhoods. Inner cities go through periods of decline, then renewal as property becomes scarce and as investors decide to refurbish and rebuild, “gentrifying” and  bringing in more prosperous residents for a new cycle of occupancy.

As the inner cities and neighborhoods age and deteriorate, the cheaper rents make housing and community available for the problematic, the poor, for new immigrants and for those who do not want to leave their generational homes. The social and income levels of the renters declines and the quality of life declines. Eventually, city services, especially law enforcement, are directed to more prosperous and demanding parts of the city and the atmosphere of lawlessness becomes overwhelming.

Lawlessness becomes overwhelming because law enforcement does not make it a priority to respond to inner cities. Those who want to commit crimes know this and they become bold, while the highest levels of city and law enforcement management ignore the regular citizen’s demand for more law enforcement response.

So, the first area of improving law enforcement is to deploy law enforcement when it is needed to end the “lawless stages” in the declining inner city and neighborhoods.

After a time, the area becomes a no-man’s land that is ripe for the real estate investors and speculators, giving the suspicion that law enforcement neglect is part of an overall program of allowing declining neighborhoods to deteriorate to the point where property is driven to its lowest value and where restoration will profit investors and speculators.

Law enforcement can implement all of the “community outreach” programs that they want to, but until they incorporate members of the community into their ranks, and stop recruiting from outside of the region or city based on the color of skin, then law enforcement will never gain the trust or respect of any inner city residents who are fighting to stop the decline in their neighborhoods.

Racial discrimination prevents the residents of inner cities from having a say in how their communities are run and how the law is enforced. Even the city newspapers will bury both good and bad inner city news, favoring neighborhoods that are White or more prosperous. There is a corruption that comes from the power to convince society that every negative assumption or action in the inner city is justified. This leads to even more abuse of authority that goes unchallenged by the police system, the courts and the media.

Law enforcement would improve if the members of the community are treated with respect and included in the decision making and influence over the ways in which law enforcement hires, behaves, looks more like, knows, and relates to the residents. It does not do to have “racial sensitivity training” when hiring practices are anything but racially or ethnically sensitive. 

And this is what law enforcement needs to take care of. When law enforcers have no connection to the neighborhood, or are ignorant of and contemptuous toward the people of the neighborhood, then they are free to operate in an atmosphere that condones corruption, abuse of power and disrespect toward the residents. As a result, the inner city will never be able to trust or respect law enforcement and will not regard them as the service that they pay for and need in order to keep stability their community.

Requiring more law enforcers to live in or come from the communities that they work in would go a long way toward lowering crime, racism, poor attitudes, bad decisions and abuse of authority. A high school graduate who has never lived around a person of another race or ethnicity has no business being armed and operating in a neighborhood that he or she does not know, respect, value or understand.

Those who are entitled to the title of “professional” used to be required to police or sanction their own colleagues, rooting out the ones who violate their oaths, are incompetent, who misappropriate the community trust and who commit crimes. Law enforcement will improve in the inner city when people actually can trust that their city provides professional law enforcement.

In summary, there is no hope of improving law enforcement in inner city communities when law enforcement refuses to acknowledge that it has problems, bad reputations and bad conduct in hiring, training, policy and deployment of the wrong personnel to areas that have real people and real needs.