In May of this year, the Ashland Police Department set out on a historic initiative to become the first Oregon police department to add PEACE OFFICER emblems to its entire fleet of patrol vehicles. Working closely with the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, Chief Tighe O’Meara and the entire police department team see this as a way to develop stronger community partnerships and community outreach. Becoming part of the growing trend toward PEACE OFFICER identity in law enforcement is one more example of the fact that people really do want to live in a world of peace.
Departments like Ashland and many others are willing to do something toward that goal and believe it will make a difference. Here at Police2Peace, what we do is show them how the words PEACE OFFICER are a great, untapped treasure right in front of everyone’s eyes. By educating the community and also the police as to their identity as a PEACE OFFICER, these departments are getting on board to be seen differently and then live up to that image. And so what is the definition of “PEACE OFFICER”? We believe it consists of four things: 1) to prevent conflict; 2) if there is conflict, help resolve it; 3) diffuse situations and 4) aid the defenseless. Because for almost every interaction between people, it’s not about what we say. It’s the quality of connection and understanding that we’re able to create with someone that determines the outcome of that interaction. This opens up in officers an awareness and compassion that shifts how they show up to situations in the community, changing the energy of the encounter. Their energy becomes less threatening to people in crisis, and that’s huge.