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Police chiefs from around the nation meet in Phoenix to talk community engagement

In an effort to bridge law enforcement with the community, police from around the nation met in Phoenix Thursday for the second annual Bridge Forum.

“When you take a look at the state of police and community affairs across the country, it’s broken,” said Marchelle Franklin director of Police Community Affairs with Phoenix Police Department. “The only way you can start bridging the gap that exists is to bring people together.”

Communication was a common theme amongst many of the presenters at the event. Franklin said the Phoenix Police Department is ahead of the curve when it comes to listening to the community.

“But we’re also learning to acknowledge where we have men and women who have not honored the badge, and the patch that they wear that says ‘Phoenix Police Department,” she said, “That we have gotten even better at saying to those individuals, you don’t deserve to wear the uniform.”

It’s been a two-pronged approach that Phoenix Police does very well, Franklin said who is a civilian in her role as Director of Community Affairs.

“We communicate very well with our community,” she said. “We also try to do the things that create a level of transparency up to and including, when we have individuals that don’t treat our community the way they should that they’re no longer members of our department.”

Police departments also need to get better at sharing their successes, she said.

Kerwin Brown, CEO/President of the Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce which co-created the event along with the Checkered Flag Run Foundation, agrees.

“At last year’s conference the community was actually astounded, I think, at some of the things that some of these police departments are actually doing … because we don’t hear about that.”

Police in general need to be better about marketing themselves at what they do well, Brown said.

The all-day event featured police chiefs from several other departments across the nation sharing what’s working in their communities. The Bridge Forum then intends to compile the programs and techniques into a best practices e-book.

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