Empathy will be key for improving relations with police officers

I am a former cop, but I am also an advocate for progressive criminal justice reform. This puts me in a unique position with the recent high profile cases in Ferguson and New York. Many social activists have used these cases as poster-children for racial inequality, police brutality, and all that is wrong with our justice system…..

Where is the constructive dialogue? Where is the path to progress? At this point, the details of each case do not matter. What matters is how do we move on from here?…

What if we stopped yelling and screaming at each other, and decided to proactively learn from each other? What if we seek out opportunities for dialogue between police officers and the citizens that they serve, outside of these confrontational moments?

What if officers could explain what an encounter feels like for them, how use of force works, how they perceive threats to their safety (e.g. a person who won’t take his hands out of his pockets)?

By Burke Brownfeld,