How does the Sean Bell case rate for a police department that is attempting to build community relationships?
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This case is, to say the least, a disaster for any police department that is trying to build ties to the community in the style of community-oriented policing.
Relationships between the police and the community rest on the degree to which the community trusts the police and believe that the police have the community's best interests in mind. A case like the Sean Bell shooting makes it very hard for the community to do these things. This is true both because of the shooting itself and because the officers generally got off without being seriously punished. The shooting seemed to show little regard for the life of an African-American man. The way the department and the legal system treated the case seemed to confirm this. As one of the men shot with Bell said, "I don’t think a black or Hispanic man’s life means much in this city."
Whether or not his statement is in any way fair, it shows the kind of impact this incident had on the minority community in New York City.
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