WaPo | I’m afraid that incidents such as those of the past several days will reinforce a view that violence is not only justified but appropriate. That such incidents will drive police and the communities they serve further apart, dampening any interest in reconciliation.
But I’m also optimistic. Even relationships that have been undermined by a long history of distrust and anger can be repaired. We have seen some remarkable progress in truly challenging situations, including police departments in Richmond, Calif., and Camden, N.J., just to name a few.
We can learn from those successes, and from successes outside the United States. In Northern Ireland, for example, police and the Irish Republican Army were in a state approaching open warfare for years before establishing a tentative, then more lasting, relationship in the late 1990s. More recently, U.S. military personnel put community policing principles into practice with great effect in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If positive relationships can be established or repaired in those environments, surely we can do the same in the context of domestic policing. Surely we must.