Healthy Police and Community Relations

There is a widening divide in many cities between Police and Community Members. New York City has shown us the deep divide that can develop between even the Police Department and the Mayor. These social and political gaps point directly to a need that must be addressed by building healthy bridges between the Police and the Communities where they serve.

As Evangelicals, we take the theological position that humanity is broken, sinful, and in need of a Savior. This understanding of sin nature struggles to reconcile with the present social dynamic surrounding Ferguson, New York City, protests going on all over the country, and the political cable news narrative that is being painted of recent events. I affirm that it is possible to live in this tension. It is possible to be patriotic and believe that America is in need of Christ-centered transformation. In the same way, it is possible to not tolerate on any level the killing of police officers and also believe that the criminal justice system is broken. It is possible to have no tolerance for criminal activity, gang violence, Black on Black crime, or the glamorization of thug life and also have a deep love for urban, under-resourced, and predominantly Black and Brown communities and people. If you are not able to live within this social and theological hypo-static tension, it will be difficult to be a reconciler, bridge builder, and ambassador for the Kingdom of God.

The Church must become a force of reconciliation, bridge building, and transformation between police departments and under-resourced communities. This can only happen when the Church recognizes the potential to be held captive by the very forces and systems it seeks to dismantle and transform. When I served as a Youth Pastor and Senior Pastor in Minneapolis, I met with police officials, gang members, city council members, the mayor, youth, single parents, and the incarcerated on a regular basis. I didn’t see myself as a voice for extreme politics and cable news rhetoric, but as a servant and citizen of the Kingdom of God. When the beloved children of God operate in this way, we can work to build healthy relationships between police officers, mayors, and community members. I’ve been praying and working recently to be a bridge builder by being more intentional about meeting with police officers and local political officials in the community where I live. How will you join me in building bridges and seeking reconciliation in your own community?

Taken from Efrem Smith's blog: