Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor testified to an executive task force Monday morning in Washington, D.C. about ways to strengthen relationships with the community and keep police officers safe.
The task force was established in 2014 by President Barack Obama following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The panel focused Monday's discussion on officer safety and wellness.
Castor emphasized the importance of engaging with the community to combat crime while building relationships.
"Everyone has biases, and that it's critical for officers to recognize this and make every attempt to set them aside when serving the public," Castor said.
"The result will be two-fold, officers will develop positive relationships with the citizens, and they will be safer in their day-to-day activities."
Castor made recommendations including establishing ways for law enforcement to share information quickly. She says updating databases and using social media can be assets for developing better, faster communication with officers in the field.
She also shared some of the practices the Tampa Police Department already uses, including community 'role calls' where officers get to know people in the neighborhoods they patrol by meeting with them at their homes.
The police chief also talked about the importance of supporting the mental health of officers who experience trauma while on the job.
"The upside of policing is that you get to see things that nobody else gets to see. The downside is that you have to see things that nobody should have to see," Castor said.
"Most officers respond to these situations in the same way - they attempt to bury the memory and move on."
The 11-member panel will make recommendations to the president on better policing practices.