Ran across the testimony of the Center for Court Innovation before the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing and was struck by this excerpt that emphasizes something we tend to forget in our regulation/process oriented times.
Greg Berman and Emily Gold LaGratt - Our operating projects have employed a variety of formal mechanisms to engage local residents and justice system actors in meaningful joint work—advisory boards, community service projects, “call-in” forums, police-teen dialogues, etc. Police departments that have not created such mechanisms should be encouraged to do so. As important as it is to establish formal vehicles for community input, feedback, and partnership, our experience suggests that creating opportunities for positive, informal interactions between justice professionals and community residents is just as, if not more, meaningful. For example, our operating programs have launched a variety of unconventional activities— holiday toy drives, little league baseball leagues, youth photography exhibits—where justice professionals have the chance to interact with local residents, particularly young people, in more informal settings. Informal interactions can help break down barriers, challenge misconceptions, and address tensions. Engaging police in these kinds of informal connections can go a long ways towards promoting healthier community relations and encouraging citizen involvement in the justice system (as witnesses, jurors, etc.).