Last week Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the appointment of Philip Banks III as chief of the department. This appointment makes Chief Banks the highest ranking African-American in the NYPD and only the second African-American to hold this position.

A veteran of the police department for nearly 27 years, Banks brings years of experience and dedication to the role. In a sit-down meeting with the Amsterdam News, Chief Banks talked about his vision for the future of the NYPD and said that all of us play a significant role in the future of this city and police and community relations.

Banks understands the problems between the community and the police–at least to a point. Banks wants to see a stronger relationship between the cops on the beat and the people who they serve.

How to get there is the big question. But Banks has some answers, and I believe that it is our job to see if we can help. What Banks is hoping can happen is that the foot patrolman (and women) in our communities and community civilians can start a dialogue. We know that for many, the idea of even approaching a police officer can be scary. But it should be something easy and comfortable. Even though many see the police as the enemy, we need to change that paradigm. At least we can try.

A “hello” can go a long way in changing the way people interact with one another. Knowing the faces of the community is not a bad thing and actually can mean a complete change in the way a person is seen in the eyes of law enforcement. When we see police officers, we should be cordial and say hello. Maybe next time, they will be the ones saying hello to us.

The fact is that most police officers are good men and women. However, there are some who are truly bad and have made a bad name for the entire department.

We need to create positive relationships with the police. We need to be the best we can be and meet them at least part way. If we don’t improve police and community relations, then they will get even worse in this city.

Banks is trying to make a difference. Let’s try to be his partners in creating better NYPD relationships with our communities. Chief Banks, congratulations. We are counting on you.