Law enforcement officials want to prevent frustration over police shootings from escalating into violent protests nationwide or inspiring copycats of the targeted killing of officers in New York City last weekend, the Wall Street Journal reports. Many departments are rededicating themselves to “community policing” efforts, such as developing partnerships with faith-based and neighborhood groups, offering training courses on bias, and putting officers on beats for years rather than months.
In Greensboro, N.C., population 280,000, about 20 officers marched through a troubled neighborhood last week, shaking hands with residents and talking about their jobs. They paused for prayer with local preachers near the site of an unsolved double homicide this year. Critics of aggressive police tactics are unconvinced such efforts address the roots of the problem. The Rev. William Barber II, head of the North Carolina NAACP, said he appreciates Greensboro police reaching out, but that it isn't enough. “Those changes are going to take more than having a prayer march,” said Rev. Barber, who joined recent protests in North Carolina and Missouri against police violence. “What has to happen is not just a prayer march, but a prying open of the practices of how law enforcement engages the community.”