Recent instances of police misconduct in communities around the country threaten to reflect poorly on all law enforcement officials, and some steps are being taken to try to combat that negative perception.
Public relations campaign
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, which represents thousands of officers throughout Minnesota, is planning to launch a public relations campaign to spread the word about the positive things police do in their communities, MPR News reports.
The head of the association, Dennis Flaherty, said the negative attention police were getting after misconduct cases in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore and other cities is a growing concern for officers in Minnesota. He told MPR News the negative press can be "demoralizing."
"Their whole desire is to make their communities a better place," Flaherty said. "I'm not sure the public understands that, so we're going to try to get that word out."
At least one critic takes issue with the plan for a public relations campaign. Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality says the police association should put its attention toward "holding their members accountable," so they can earn the trust of their communities, according to MPR News.
The campaign will include some level of paid advertising, but the association hasn't yet decided how big the budget will be, according to the Associated Press.
Meantime, a congregation in St. Paul gave police and other first responders a boost with a picnic in their honor Saturday night.
WCCO reports the "Love The Community" event celebrated the service of police, firefighters and other first responders. It was originally called "Love the Police," but some members of the protest group Black Lives Matter expressed their concern over the name. The group has staged demonstrations in the Twin Cities over what it believes is police misconduct.
So Pastor Joe Anderson said he agreed to change the name because his church is not about "making political statements," according to KSTP.
Police officers and firefighters came in squad cars and fire trucks, and shared a picnic meal with members of the parish.
"It was just a way for people to ... thank those in the community who serve, protect and go the extra mile for us," Anderson said.