City of Wilmington Hosts Building Communities of Trust Initiative Roundtable

Posted on  02/26/2014 10:38 am

On Tuesday, February 25th, the City of Wilmington hosted the Building Communities of Trust (BCOT) Initiative roundtable discussion, where local law enforcement agencies, members of the area federal fusion center and community members gathered to discuss effective strategies to better engage communities to support local police agencies.

The BCOT initiative began in mid-2009 as a pilot project with roundtable discussions with community members and representatives from law enforcement and fusion centers in Miami, Boston, Austin, and Seattle. The feedback from those sessions resulted in the development of guidance for local police agencies and fusion centers on building relationships with residents of culturally diverse neighborhoods that often do not have strong collaborative relationships with law enforcement.

“Forming trust-based relationships between the local community and law enforcement agencies is critical to the growth and development of our neighborhoods. Hosting this roundtable discussion with various federal agencies, local law enforcement and community members will hopefully foster new relationships that will lead to the building of strong neighborhoods throughout the City of Wilmington,” said Mayor Dennis P. Williams.

The knowledge about communities that comes from trust-based relationships between law enforcement and the local community is critical, because it allows law enforcement officers and analysts to distinguish between innocent cultural behaviors and behavior indicative of criminal activity.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in collaboration with the Office of the Program Manager, Information Sharing Environment; the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has been working to implement the BCOT initiative to help develop relationships of trust among police agencies, fusion centers, and the communities they serve, particularly immigrant and minority communities, so that the challenges of crime control and prevention of terrorism can be addressed.

To date, roundtables have been held in 15 major cities, which led to the development of a second guidance for community leaders, providing information on how they can better engage their communities to support the efforts of law enforcement. Additional roundtable sessions are currently being held throughout the country, and will include representatives from the community at large, as well as representation from local law enforcement agencies.

“As we work to build strong neighborhoods throughout the City of Wilmington I understand that strong relationships are the foundation on which strong neighborhoods are built. Information exchange is crucial in establishing trust and developing those relationships. I am excited to sit at the table with other law enforcement agencies and community leaders to begin this information sharing process that will strengthen our neighborhoods,” said Interim Chief of Police, Bobby Cummings.

This session was hosted jointly by the area fusion center and a local law enforcement agency. Civic association leaders and community activists were also invited to attend.