But in central Brooklyn, the relationship has been solid, according to James Caldwell, president of the 77th Precinct Community Council.
Since he joined in 1992, Caldwell has always believed in keeping a “good working relationship” between the police and the community.
“We try to keep the doors of communication open to the police and the community,” he said, “to have a partnership to work together.”
Caldwell was elected to leadership 19 years ago, and his commitment has never wavered.
“I didn’t want to be a complainer, I wanted to be part of the solution,” he said. “The only way to be part of the solution is to get involved.
“More importantly, you have to keep your independence so you can be the voice for the community also,” he added.
In the three decades he’s lived in Prospect Heights, Caldwell said crime and public safety has changed in the city.
“I remember 20 to 25 years ago, you couldn’t even walk the streets,” he said. “Today, this neighborhood is very, very safe.”
One of the ways he’s tried to get the community involved is by bringing monthly meetings into the neighborhood. Rather than meeting at the local precinct, he’s taken the message of unity straight to the people.
“We came up with this because a lot of blacks initially did not trust the police,” Caldwell said. “We didn’t want them to think we were doing a sting operation at the precinct by inviting them in. But when we go to the community, it’s a totally different ball game.”
As he approaches two decades, Caldwell said he hopes to find younger leadership to pass on his knowledge and training.
“They’re the ones that have to carry the torch,” he said. “You got to believe in your community and in your police officers.”