Opinion | Communication, collaboration key in law enforcement | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Communication, collaboration key in law enforcement

Jaime FitzSimons, Summit County sheriff
Chief Jim Baird, Breckenridge Police Department
Chief Ahmet Susic, Blue River Police Department
Chief Mark Heminghous, Dillon Police Department
Chief Tom Wickman, Frisco Police Department
Chief John Minor, Silverthorne Police Department
Captain Jared Rapp, Colorado State Patrol

Recent national events have, again, highlighted a strained relationship between law enforcement and the communities they have sworn to serve and protect.  These events have naturally and appropriately led to questions about policing as a whole with conversations happening in all communities. These conversations are occurring in communities with an identified problem as well as communities that already prioritize holding law enforcement accountable. If anything positive can come out of recent events, it is that discussions about policing are universally occurring at all levels of government. These conversations will look different from one community to the next. Problems will be identified. Solutions will be offered. While this is happening, we felt it was important for you to hear from your law enforcement leaders directly. The purpose of this message is to reinforce who we are and what we believe. It is our goal to reassure the entire community of our commitment to all of you that we will police Summit County in a way that continues to build the trust that is necessary for all of our success.

The foundation of modern policing was laid by Sir Robert Peel, who in 1829 wrote the Peel Principles of Policing. We find two of these principles highly relevant in light of the national discussion:

  • “To recognize always that the power of the police to fulfill their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behavior, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.”
  • “To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police.”

Your Summit County law enforcement professionals fundamentally believe that we must police our community from a position of trust and mutual respect. We believe that we must continually earn that trust and respect through each and every interaction. We recognize that trust is built over time but can be lost in an instant. We believe in constitutional safeguards that protect you from any misuse of the authority you grant to us. We believe in your right to peaceably assemble, to protest and to be heard whether your voice is focused on issues elsewhere or in our own backyard. 

We care deeply about this community and this profession. Our shared values of compassion, respect, integrity, trust and professionalism guide us as we lead our teams. It is our unwavering expectation that our officers and deputies treat those we interact with as we would expect a fellow officer to treat our son, daughter, spouse, friend or parent. We try to ensure quality candidates are chosen to serve you. This occurs through a rigorous selection process. Our staffs receive extensive training that focuses on anti-bias, fair and impartial policing, de-escalation tactics, serving the mentally ill and community relations.

A foundation of Summit County is specifically our immigrant community. Throughout the last two decades, we have made a concerted effort to reassure our Latino community that they will be policed in a manner that demonstrates a mutual respect and that recognizes the undeniable way they contribute to our county. This has evolved from Citizen Police Academies to regular conversations over dinner.  We are thankful for the trust this community in particular has placed in us. 

We recognize that serving our community is a privilege. We do our best every day to serve with honor, integrity and respect. We will, at times, not meet your expectations. When that occurs, we are committed to listening to your concerns and communicating openly as we collaboratively come up with solutions. We know these are difficult times, and many of you may hesitate to trust our profession. However, we want to reassure you that we have not lost sight of what it means to serve our entire community impartially, without favor or malice. We are here for you and remain committed to rebuilding any trust that has been lost.

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