How can civilians best support their local cops?
A question posted recently on Quora asked, “What can I do to best support my local police officers who live in my neighborhood and patrol the beat here?” Several officers gave their professional opinions on the topic, below. Check them out and add your thoughts in the comments.
1. Obey the law. Don't be someone the cops have to be concerned about.
2. Avoid being a victim. Lock your car, lock your house, don't take needless risks or act recklessly.
3. Be vigilant. Get to know your neighbors, and become aware of what is normal and typical, and what isn't. When you see something that "just don't look right" and may be indicative of a crime, inquire if you can do so safely and without undue risk, and/or call the police.
4. See if your local law enforcement agency has any volunteer programs you can participate in. These vary from being a reserve police officer (requires considerable commitment) to helping with clerical duties at the police station. There may not be anything available that appeals to you, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If nothing else, ask, "How can I help you do your jobs?" Every community has its special needs.
5. If you become aware of information that could help to solve a crime, pick up the phone. Sometimes tips like these provide valuable investigative leads, sometimes not. 100 percent of the information the police don't hear about is useless.
6. If you're a parent, be a good one. Teach your children that life is full of choices and choices have consequences. Know where your kids are and have some idea of what they are up to.
7. You can go online and see if your local agency has a Police Officer's Association (POA), or Deputy Sheriff's Association (DSA), or Fraternal Order of Police Lodge (FOP). These associations sometimes allow some sort of citizen involvement in their functions. They also assist with charities and assist victims of crimes and other disasters.
There are a lot of civic organizations that have lots of police and firefighters in their ranks that include the Benevolent Order of the Elks and Rotary International.
8. It is perfectly alright for you to wave at the cops that drive by and simply say "thank you" for being there. We like getting the five finger wave as opposed to the one-finger salute we get after we drive by.