The high-profile police plan, withdrawn last week, to map Los Angeles’s Muslim population to pinpoint possible terror risks is an object lesson for law enforcement in the era after 9/11, policing experts tell the Christian Science Monitor. Even though the plan to map Muslim areas is viewed as a public relations blunder, the swift response to scrap it is evidence that police tactics are changing for the better, if only slowly. “This shows how deep a challenge it is for police leaders who are trying to balance the concerns of citizens about national security and the issue of terrorism,” says Hubert Williams, president of the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C. “Twenty years ago, you would have more likely seen a police department that would bully straight ahead with this over these heated objections.”
To some, the proposal shows how far law enforcement still has to go toward protecting individual rights. “If a police chief like William Bratton, who is considered one of America’s finest, had the naiveté to think this idea would work, we can’t say that community policing in America has come very far since the days of Rodney King,” says Mary Powers, president of the National Coalition on Police Accountability. “It shows that there still needs to be a lot more proactive interaction between police and the communities they serve.” She agreed with clerics and others who protested outside police headquarters last week, saying what was put forth amounted to profiling that is unconstitutional and hurtful to innocent Muslims. “This program  poisons the atmosphere,” said the Rev. Peter Laarman of Progressive Christians Uniting. “When people hear about the plan, they think that Muslims are bad.” Bratton and his brass said they would work out a more amenable plan for police and Muslims to build a partnership.