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The African-American community and local police have historically had a tenuous relationship, rife with animosity. In recent years, the nation has begun to see the inherent distrust spill over onto our streets in the form of police violence and protests against officers’ use of excessive force.

When talking about community policing, the question arises: how do we bridge the gap between law enforcement and communities of color in an attempt to build a better working relationship between citizens and those sworn to protect them?

During Tuesday’s special edition of NewsOne Now, Roland Martin spoke with North Little Rock, Alabama, police officer Tommy Norman about his unique approach to community policing and what officers around the nation should do to ultimately ease tensions between cops and African-Americans.

Officer Norman, who has a massive following on social media, explained the key to his relationship with the community where he works is spending a considerable amount of time outside of his patrol car.

“Sitting in your car driving up and down the main thoroughfares – you’re not going to make a difference,” he said.

Norman suggested law enforcement officers should “get out of your car, walk the streets, sit on some front porches, get to know people.

“The more you get to know people, get to know their stories, what’s going on in their life, how the kids are doing, how’s work going, how’s school going,” it helps to build a relationship with the communities.

To be effective, Officer Norman told Martin, “You got to be out there every single day, you can’t skip a day. You have to stay committed and more importantly, it has to come from the heart.”

Watch Roland Martin, Officer Tommy Norman, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss community policing in the video clip above.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

Watch NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.

Subscribe to the NewsOne Now Audio Podcast on iTunes.

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