LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Building trust between police and the wider community is what the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation is aiming to do and a new report they commissioned shows the programs they fund can help public safety.
“I know what we need, and I can hold them accountable for what we need, and they can hold our community accountable as well and it’s just breaking barriers.
Robert Strawder is a community activist who runs youth programs to help at-risk kids, like hip hop entrepreneurship. He also partners with LVMPD to provide outreach to them.
“My community, we don’t trust police officers, and we have a reason to, but with the programs, we’re bridging respect. We’re bridging understanding,” he said.
A report commissioned by the LVMPD Foundation talks about the impact these programs have on building trust between police and the wider community, which in turn can help improve public safety.
“People in the community have an opportunity to partner with the police department to create a safer neighborhood for themselves.”
Executive director Tom Kovach says police foundations play a big role in funding community programs, but not many police departments have them. Of the hundreds of thousands of police departments across the nation, only about 250 have police foundations. Kovach says a successful baseball program it helped fund in the Bolden Area Command has created positive change.
“The second year after the introduction of that baseball league, there was an 86% drop in violent crime in the neighborhoods around where the games were being played,” he said.
Strawder says strained relations between police and the black community, in particular, can prevent the two sides from talking. He believes community programs like the one he runs can offer an opportunity to help find common ground and promote public safety.
“That’s where we first have to start it off that not all police officers are bad. Let’s give them a chance to prove themselves and if they do what they do like what we’re doing with our partnerships, we’re bridging a gap and building relationships,” he said.
The report also shows foundations contributing a lot of money to help the well-being of individual officers and de-escalation training.