Executive Voice

David Singleton of Maplewood Interviewed: Constitutional Vs Community Policing

david a singleton mn

David Singleton of Maplewood is the Founder and CEO of the Minnesota Police Reserve Officers Association. This organization helps assist law enforcement with volunteering, crowd control, and search efforts. In 2017, David Singleton was appointed by the Maplewood City Council 2017 to the Police Use of Force Advisory Board.

In this article, David Singleton, Minnesota Police Reserve Officers Association Chairman, takes time to explain constitutional policing and community policing.

Constitutional Policing VS. Community Policing

Constitutional policing and Community policing go hand in hand. While they are not the same, the two policing methodologies are two sides of the same coin. Effective law enforcement agencies combine both.

However, due to the increasing lack of trust between the police and the public, and even as law enforcement leaders seek means to repair this trust, many have centered on constitutional policing and community policing.

david singleton maplewood

Constitutional policing 

Just as the name suggests, Constitutional policing is legal policing. It is that which operates within the limits set by the Constitution, court decisions, laws, and regulations.

“It is the policing that works in accordance with the US constitution and upholds the civil rights of people. Constitutional policing is in place to ensure impartiality and fairness in the way law enforcement officers treat people,” says David Singleton of Maplewood.

Because law enforcement has a delicate relationship with the communities they serve, establishing and maintaining trust becomes vital for effective policing.

If people feel that officers are more interested in public safety than civil rights, they won’t trust the police, and when people don’t trust the police, officers can’t discharge their duties effectively. 

However, constitutional policing is said to be the foundation of the trust needed for effective policing.

David Singleton explains, “Members of the public are likely to view police actions as legitimate if law enforcement agencies abide by the constitution. Communities will know that they can trust police officers to discharge their duties in ways that are appropriate, just, and respectful. This way, people will be more likely to cooperate with the police, and help to achieve goals like reducing crime.”

Nonetheless, the concept of true constitutional policing is one that should be on the minds of the police every single day.

“Such constitutional policing is one that goes beyond what is written in the law, to promote a keen awareness for civil liberties of the society,” explains David Singleton of Maplewood.

So the case here is that in true constitutional policing, police officers won’t keep asking what the law allows them to do but would be working actively to protect the civil rights of those they are policing. 

By seeking to protect the constitutional rights of people in every interaction, the police can significantly improve trust and community relations in the communities they serve.

Community policing

On the other hand, Community policing also has some valid points to it. This policing methodology takes a proactive approach to public safety. It is a full-service policing that is highly personal for the purpose of harnessing partnership with citizens.

According to David Singleton, it is essential to understand that policing methods and practices can’t be the same in every city. Since communities include diverse groups, the police need to recognize the makeup of the communities they are policing and consider the needs of every group therein.

“Community policing builds on the framework of constitutional policing and applies it to the needs and concerns of a particular community. It involves working with the residents of a particular community to identify problems and implement solutions that will yield significant results for the community,” Singleton added.

A community-policing philosophy stresses police relationships within communities.

“In Community policing, officers see themselves as guardians in the communities they are policing, and also maintain respect for citizens. Interestingly, if officers get out of their squad cars and interact with civilians on issues outside law enforcement interactions, they have good chances at building trust. In that case, civilians will begin to see police as allies and will be willing to collaborate with them,” says David Singleton.

Overall, both constitutional policing and Community policing play vital roles in maintaining trust between police and the communities. However, it’s not enough to simply implement a constitutional or community policing program in departments; it is also vital for department leaders to invest more in a culture that promotes citizens’ rights and dignity. 

“Officers should also be encouraged to get to know the people outside of policing, and in doing that, they can build trust and learn ways to serve such communities effectively,” David Singleton concluded.

About David A. Singleton

David Singleton founded the Minnesota Police Reserve Officers Association in Maplewood. This organization helped assist law enforcement with volunteering, crowd control, and search efforts. Allowing new jobs for veterans in the City of Maplewood through Community policing.

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