Several Citizens Participate in Focus Groups Surrounding LPD

There can be no doubt that one of the most difficult jobs in the world is law enforcement. Law enforcement officers see the worst in humanity each and every day. From murder, suicide, to gang violence and everything in between, these men and women see horrendous sights all the time. On top of that, public perception of officers has taken a big and unnecessary hit in the recent years through media corruption and protestors violence. While there are bad men and women in uniform that commit horrible crimes, their actions cost all officers in the long run. Here locally in LaGrange, the Police Department is taking steps to measure the relationship between law enforcement and the community as well as the idea of secondary stress on law enforcement officers.

Brian Williams is a principal investigator with the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia. Recently he and his team have embarked upon a new mission or study to find out how enforcement officer’s experience trauma in the work place law and how they react to this. Another aspect of this is how members of the community react to law enforcement and what steps can be taken to strengthen the understanding between the two entities to make sure that there is a mutual respect and understanding. Brian and his team have been traveling to different police departments and collecting data by interviewing various people, including civilians and community members about their experience with law enforcement. This past Wednesday afternoon, August 2nd, the team stopped by the LaGrange Police Department to interview several people from the community.

The program works simple enough. The participants of the research study are asked to list several different words or adjectives describing their local police department and how they feel about the trauma that these men and women experience. From these words, a dialogue is started and people are free to share their thoughts and feelings around the room. It was clear from the beginning of the conversation that the local police department is viewed in very high regard by many community leaders. There was much credit given to Chief of Police Lou Dekmar for the wonderful things the PD is accomplishing and credit was given to the many officers that work here and all that they do for the community. The group also delved into the trauma that these men and women experience and how they believe officers should interact with community members that are in distress. The data and themes will be collected from this and used in the research’s developments.

One thing is for sure to anyone that was able to participate in these research findings: very positive things are happening with law enforcement here in La-Grange. Some of the things that the department is doing and some of the measures that they are taking could very well have some national influence and their continued commitment to the citizens of LaGrange is apparent by their many activities that strive to bring law enforcement and community closer together. Along with community help and input, the La-Grange Police Department can continue their excellence in seeking justice and making LaGrange the safest city that it can be.