“I started thinking, every time I go there, the voices are so friendly, the food is consistent and I leave there with a positive impression and a good feeling that I was valued as a customer,” Jennings explained. “And as I thought about that, I said, ‘Why can’t we duplicate some of that with our interactions with the public, from a police perspective?'”
The newest reform to come to Charlotte police, on Jennings’ behest, will focus on implementing classic customer service elements with the help of expert John DiJuluis, whose consulting firm has worked with the likes of Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, and Ritz Carlton.
According to ABC News, new and current officers are now expected to complete a 12-month curriculum that emphasizes empathetic interactions with the community and de-escalation strategies based on DiJuluis’ guidelines.
One example DiJuluis mentioned had to do with simple introductions.
“Instead of walking up to the car saying, ‘License and registration,’ they can walk up and, say, ‘Hello, ma’am. I’m Officer Smith. The reason why I pulled you over is …'” DiJuluis explained.
Jennings hopes that such a reform will help rebuild trust between the community and the police – a relationship that has deteriorated since the killing of George Floyd and the protests that ensued.
In the national conversation of policing, customer service is not usually mentioned, but Jennings believes it can bring value to the table.
“Let’s do something that is so different,” Jennings said. “Let’s do something unexpected and look at it a little bit differently from what we’ve been looking at in the past.
While the $60,000 reform training has been criticized by some, notably Rep. Braxton Winston, as a “waste of money,” Jennings said he expected there to be pushback against change.
“The resistance is fine because we are a profession that can be skeptical when it comes to change,” Jennings said. “The evaluations of our officers are going to be based on a lot more than what we have seen in the past. So, if there wasn’t any pushback, I would have to question the significance of what we’re trying to do.”