It’s not that face-to-face meetings with police officers offer neighborhood residents a chance to offer tips on law enforcement to those who do it. But such meetings, as planned by the Raleigh Police Department in December and January, can give a community confidence that officers are in touch and interested in the day-to-day life in neighborhoods.
Residents also can offer points about where there might be high-crime areas, what sorts of trouble are on the streets for young people, how officers might prevent trouble rather than come to it after the fact.
Officers in Raleigh know much, of course. The city has for some time had a strong outreach program putting more police in neighborhood offices, out on the beat getting to know residents, having casual, nonconfrontational meetings with people. The city’s police seem to have a strong relationship with many neighborhoods.
Gang activity and drug sales and use and all the other problems that come with poverty and disjointed families complicate law enforcement. But officers here and in other cities have found that staying close, listening, meeting with crime victims and younger people who haven’t fallen into trouble can help. These community meetings should help even more.