CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - At a time when police and community relations are perhaps as strained as they’ve ever been, particularly in Black communities, there is a unique social media campaign that aims to change that.
And it’s happening one picture at a time. Or more specifically, one selfie at a time.
Now, those pictures are filling a Facebook page for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.
“It's really designed to support honorable and effective policing,” said Park Ridge Deputy Police Chief Lou Jogmen who started the page.
People like Shaquille O'Neal and Seth McFarlane have taken one for the Facebook page, but it was the one Jogmen took with Teresa Haley, the President of the Illinois NAACP, after a recent police conference that means the most to him.
“I kind of said to her, you know at some point maybe we can take a selfie together and she, without hesitation, said let's do it right now, smiled and said, let’s take one,” Jogmen said.
Haley, who sees police relations with the Black community as strained, with a lot of mistrust, took the selfie and said she was glad to do it.
“But you know what I find interesting is I asked my granddaughter who's a fifth grader, I said tell me one thing that police officers can do to make you think that they're friendly or more approachable. She says mama, they should just smile,” Haley said.
Haley also asked me to take a selfie after our skype interview, which I did. And Jogmen said we should take one too, so I obliged him too.
As police everywhere look to improve their performance and their relationship with those they serve, Jogman and Haley hope their picture makes a difference.
“It's a picture of hope, it's the seeds of trust, I mean that's what I see in this picture, and you know, they say a picture's worth a thousand words, to me this one's worth a million,” Jogmen said.
Haley believes every little bit helps.
“I think if the police department especially the police chief is taking the necessary steps to invite people in, hey, let's take a selfie, let’s talk about what are some of the problems and concerns that you have with my officers in my community, that begins to break down those necessary barriers and we can deal with the real issues that are impacting our community,” Haley said.