As frustration grows all across the country with crazy social distancing mandates, police officers need to begin questioning the necessity of enforcing some of these tyrannical and perhaps even unconstitutional edicts.

Videos are emerging from coast to coast of law enforcement seemingly out of control in their efforts to disperse small gatherings and take dissidents into custody. The police are simply enforcing state and local mandates but they are becoming the heavies. Masked police officers in parks, at beaches, in church parking lots, and operating spy drones have become the new norm. The public doesn't like it and their relationship with the police will suffer for it.

Police work is tough. It requires trust. It takes a long time, and a lot of work, to establish trust between the police and the community and that trust is fragile. When police officers are used to enforce unfair and unpopular political mandates by public officials, it puts a tremendous strain on that trust.

When Americans see video of a lone surfer being chased and apprehended by law enforcement officials in a boat or a father being arrested for playing soccer with his daughter on an empty field, that trust is shattered.

To his credit, New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro has instructed his officers to take a more measured approach in enforcing such things as the mandatory face-covering order issued by Governor Charlie Baker. At last check, no fines had been issued locally for failure to comply. For that matter, all of our area police departments appear to be doing the job of enforcing COVID-19 mandates without feeling the need to be heavy-handed. That says a local for the local character.

When the coronavirus crisis is over, and things are back to normal, the relationship between police and the communities they patrol will get back to normal, too. Let's hope the relationship between our front line police officers and the communities they patrol stay strong through it all.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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