The recent mass shooting in Arizona is a good example of how valuable it can be to interact with members of the community. You want to foster an environment in which those close to people like Jared Loughner will share intelligence with cops before this kind of violent behavior takes place.
There is absolutely no guarantee you’ll get the information you need, but take a moment to consider whether you’re facilitating that kind of open communication with the citizens of your community. If someone had a concern about a particular individual — possibly a person they consider a friend or even a family member — are you viewed as an officer who is approachable and likely to help out? Do you come across as an officer who cares about the people you’re sworn to protect?
Or do you constantly project a hard, unapproachable, don’t-mess-with-me demeanor? Is it possible that you’re perceived as curt and unfriendly in the community?
Admittedly, it can be tough to maintain a positive, “officer friendly” image, especially during particularly challenging shifts. Sometimes “officer friendly” is NOT what you should even strive to be. With that said, projecting an approachable appearance can pay off big time when it comes to pursuing leads in the community and addressing trouble early in the game.