SIDNEY — Law enforcement officials from across the United States met in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 17 to attend the White House’s Advancing 21st Century Policing Briefing session.
Sidney Police Chief Will Balling, along with Bellefontaine Police Chief Brandon Standley, were among 80 officials in attendance.
“It was a one-day event which talked about building police relationships with their communities,” said Balling. “The chiefs were invited by the White House staff to attend the meeting. The White House wants to improve each department’s transparency and develop a relationship with the police and community they serve.”
This is the fifth meeting hosted by the White House for the program. Police chiefs, or their representatives, are encouraged to attend one meeting. Other meetings are being planned for the rest of the year.
“We were the only two chiefs from Ohio,” said Balling. “The Los Angeles Police, New York Police and Houston Police departments all had someone there.”
The theme of the meeting was “Building Communications” between police and community members.
“We are fortunate to have a good relationship with the community,” said Balling. “During the last month, we have seen an outpouring of support for our officers.”
Police officers and community members, said Balling, must listen to one another and have trust in one another.
“I recently heard a quote, ‘It’s much better to know your community before you need to know your community,’” said Balling. “That’s very appropriate.”
Balling said, after listing to the speakers, feels the local police department is on the right path with the citizens of Sidney.
“I felt very good about the department and community,” said Balling. “It’s an ongoing process where you must listen to the community and the police department.”
Topics discussed Wednesday included police data initiatives, officer safety and wellness, implicit bias training and social media and the next steps.
“In the officer safety and wellness discussion, they talked about having yearly physicals and stress tests for officers, along with equipment that is needed for training,” said Balling. “We already do the physicals and stress tests. We want to make sure we have better officers and they have a better quality of life while they are here and after they retire.”
The training session was held at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office Building. After the program, the chiefs were given a tour of the White House.
“We were able to go into the restricted areas of the White House,” said Balling. “The Eisenhower Building is in a restricted area beside the White House. We were able to walk on the back lawn of the White House.”
Balling said he and Standley traveled to D.C. together.
“It was very nice to have another chief to bounce ideas off of each other. We talked about what works in Sidney and what works in Bellefontaine,” said Balling.
In 2014, President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The task force identified best practices and offered recommendations on how policing practices can promote crime reduction while building public trust.
The task force recommendations included building trust and legitimacy; policy and oversight; technology and social media; community policing and crime reduction; officer training and education; and officer safety and wellness.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.