TACOMA, Wash. – When it comes to improving safety in Tacoma, the city’s police chief knows there is a right way and a wrong way to go about police business. This is especially true when it comes to race and its relevance, or lack thereof, in crime fighting.
The Tacoma Police Department is being called upon to clamp down on increasing crime in the city. In his continued efforts towards crime reduction, Chief Avery Moore is also looking to set the tone that racial profiling will not be tolerated. In his monthly community question and answer series called “Talks With the Chief,” he is at the forefront, setting his standard for officers.
“We make sure that racial profiling doesn’t happen by education. For example, we make sure our officers take courses like implicit bias, procedural justice, understanding of 21st century policing. And we also have checks and balances,” said Moore.
Regarding relations between community and police, some who live and work in Tacoma would say there is a divide.
“Tacoma definitely has a very, I would say, traumatic and hurtful history. Lots of examples of where the community has not felt supported by our local law enforcement,” said T’Wina Nobles, State Senator of Washington’s 28th Legislative District.
Nobles said she hears some concerns of racial profiling in the communities she represents. Some people are worried they could be the next person wrongfully suspected of a crime just because of the color of their skin.
“That is something I’m consistently thinking about driving my car as a Black woman who is a CEO, who is a Senator, who is all of these things—a positive contribution to the community, but I want to know that I’m safe and not going to be profiled,” said Nobles.
The Tacoma Urban League has been a partner of Chief Moore and his administration—helping to educate them and rebuild connections with the public. As president and CEO of the organization, Nobles said they also hold the police department accountable for doing what is right.
“If that data comes back and is letting us know that there is profiling happening, and especially if that profiling is by a specific officer, what are the consequences? How do you respond to community’s concerns with that type of data?” asked Nobles.
She believes holding those accountable for their actions is what could help bring some healing between the public and the police.
“Rebuild some of those relationships, rebuild the community’s trust in our local law enforcement and the notion that the job is to protect and serve us is actually what we see carried out in the community,” said Nobles.
“We’re going to get better as it relates to that because those are one of those things that you continue to do every day. You continue to make sure officers understand that we respond to bad behavior, not to ethnicity,” said Moore.
Tacoma Urban League said it is seeing a positive shift when it comes to police and service in the community this year. Members said they are encouraged to continue partnering with the police department to ensure everyone’s safety and protection.
“We want to address any issue in the community as a united team. So, until we see something otherwise, we are going to move forward as one, as partners to serve the community and we wish our chief the very best, we wish his team the very best and we’re just excited to see the positive outcomes in our community,” said Nobles.