When discussing racial tensions and the recent shooting of Philando Castile, Ramsey County Sheriff Dr. Matt Bostrom points to the legacy of success of the Ramsey County Police Department.
“You have tens of thousands of traffic stops going on in all 17 cities. Stack on that thousands and thousands of what we call proactive stops, where you see something suspicious and you go out and you start talking to people. That’s been going on now for 167 years.”
Sheriff Bostrom questions whether this single case, in light of thousands of stops that will never make the headlines, is a sign of an entirely broken system.
“What’s been happening is that, despite all of these thousands of successful dispatches and proactive stops that go well and make the community safer, we’ve narrowed our focus onto just one, unclear case.”
Law enforcement agencies are taking the situation very seriously. Many are using the opportunity to review and refresh their policies and training.
“We’re asking that question: when was the last time we really talked about when you walk up to a car, how is that interaction going to be? What is it that you’re going to say? Do you introduce yourself? How do you talk to the person in the car and then what are some of the safety measures that we should be all considering? We’re doing a refresher on that.”
“The idea to say things need to be changed completely, we’re willing to do that. But if I’m a police officer, I need evidence to tell me what it is that I’m changing that’s broken because we have such a long track record of success.”
What needs to happen in America to calm the tensions between US law enforcement agencies and the black community?
“I believe this is a spiritual battle. I believe that police officers deeply love their communities and are earnestly seeking to be trusted by their communities. I think the community wants to trust their police department. So if you have both sides then wanting to do the same thing but it’s not happening, and they have perceptions about each other that are inaccurate, where is that coming from?”
The enemy thrives on chaos and hatred, which are both prominently taking hold of our nation’s situation and the hearts of many.
“So my prayer in all of this is to pray that the scales would come off their eyes and their ears would be opened. Fundamentally my appeal is for more and more churches, small churches, to start doing church plants in cities. What I have found is proportionally if you’re not a healthy community, it doesn’t have a lot to do with police officers, it has to do with healthy churches.”
As believers we have a responsibility to not just do mission work in urban areas, but also to plant churches in the communities around us.