I was in traffic the other day and passed by a police officer on a roadside traffic stop. I happened to glimpse his gun belt and couldn’t believe how much equipment was on there. It made me think of the past when most officers were only equipped with their duty weapon, spare ammunition, handcuffs, baton, and their common sense, good judgment, and communication skills. The equipment available to the street officer today is astounding. I’m not anti-technology and some tools have made the job safer and easier, however, I also believe that it has profoundly affected the interaction between police and the public. Take for example the stun gun. It was originally designed as a less-than-lethal tool but seems to have transmuted to a compliance tool. I believe that in some cases it became overused and replaced sound tactics and good communication skills. That of course led to the increased scrutiny of the device by the public and the media. All you have to do is access “You Tube” and you’ll find it replete with videos of alleged stun gun misuse and abuse. Again, I think technology has increased efficiency and safety in policing, but it has also created apathy and communication issues among officers in regard to public relations and community trust. Look, I get it. Everybody is busy, but at some point we have to look at what we’re doing and take more time to relate to each other. The payoff is big. The guy you spent a few extra minutes with talking into the back seat of your patrol vehicle versus increased time doing paperwork, supervisory scrutiny, and civil litigation because of a use-of-force incident. The scenarios are endless and obviously everything is situational. I’m certainly not implying that all police officers use poor judgment, have poor communication skills, or are apathetic. I do believe that many police departments need to increase training in communication skills and professional conduct, and hold their people accountable when there is a gross deviation from those standards. We need to bridge the gap between technology and human interaction if we are to foster respect and trust within our communities.