The Los Angeles Police Department is working to repair one of the most tarnished, adversarial images of any police force in the country, says the Christian Science Monitor. By pushing officers out of squad cars and onto sidewalks, many police departments have tried to reestablish community ties. What’s new about the LAPD’s move is that it’s starting from the bottom up: training new recruits to walk the beat. The Community Interaction Program (CIP) – 50 graduate-ready recruits at a time who fan out across pedestrian-heavy crime areas – is a new twist on an old idea. The story behind it clarifies why many of law enforcement’s own brass feel police often go awry.
“Police work started out as a foot beat in which officers got to know everyone, and worked on crime from the inside out, proactively and preventively,” says Lt. Nick Zingo, of LAPD’s training division. “When [police] do nothing but respond to calls, everything the police see is negative and under high stress – suspects, witnesses, victims. This [program] allows the police to establish relationships.” In L.A., trainees spend four weeks of eight-hour shifts walking Hollywood Boulevard, getting to know residents and business owners – and making arrests, if necessary.