Law enforcement: Trust, transparency key to connecting with community

SACRAMENTO - It was three years ago that Sacramento County sheriff's Sgt. Cary Trzcinski realized he needed to do more.

"I knew we had to bring sports; we had to bring mentoring and the sheriff's department together," Trzcinski said.

The Sheriff's Activities League program, which started in 2011, has dedicated deputies working full-time to mentor kids and to win their trust.

"I was a gang detective, narcotics. I've been on both sides," Trzcinski said. "When times are bad, you can't just arrest everybody. We have to have a different approach."

His boss, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones agrees.

"It's critical. And it's not only critical for right now, for today, but it's setting up success for years to come," Jones said as he reflected on the violence in Ferguson, Mo.

The violence erupted after a Ferguson police officer shot and killed of an unarmed black teenager Saturday night, leading to three days of protests and clashes with police officers.

"You have to put in the time and have those relationships before something like that happens," Jones said.

In Stockton, Police Chief Eric Jones also agrees.

"We as a police department must be legitimate in the eyes of the community that we serve and so I want the community to have faith and trust the Stockton Police Department," Eric Jones said Thursday.

Reflecting on a recent shootout with bank robbers that left a hostage and two suspects dead, Jones said having the faith and support of the Stockton community helped police at their job.

"For us to better police. We get more information if the community trusts us," Eric Jones said.

Community-oriented policing, Eric Jones said, is about getting to know people.

"That's what community policing is, is they want to feel comfortable with the police department, feel like that have a voice with the police department," Eric Jones said. "Getting to know the community, stopping by at the park, getting out of the car, talking to the kids and the families."

In Sacramento, Sheriff Scott Jones said agencies and individual deputies will make mistakes, but they must acknowledge them and show the community they can learn from them. In his experience, it is better to get involved with youth early and build a bridge.

"Intuitively, in our hearts, we know that early intervention is the key," Scott Jones said. "We've touched thousands of young people's lives."


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