Building Bridges Between Law Enforcers And The Communities They Police
Is there a way to reduce the tensions between the police and communities where officers are more often seen as oppressors instead of defenders? That was the goal of a special conversation in Tallahassee this week.
The trainer for the all-day Equity in Policing session at the Capital City Country Club was former Illinois Police Commander Michael Nila. He told the group of more than 100 that law enforcement was sometimes its own worst enemy.
"Often historic practices and policies in policing have created unintentional - sometimes intentional but mostly unintentional - disparite impact and has had negative consequence on certain parts of our community."
On the discussion panel during the event was Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil. His take was that police always need to remember that their community function is to serve as well as protect.
"We want to make sure that our citizens hear what we're doing, that we hear from citizens their perspectives on what is equity."
"Equity" defined as ensuring everyone, regardless of the situation, is treated fairly. All this made a lot of sense to attendees like Tallahassee City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox.
"I am so pleased we have such a great mixture here today of faith-based, law enforcement, and community members, some community advocates and workers, so we can go back into our communities and do this good work."
Especially at a time when the gap between those communities and law enforcers sometimes seems wider than ever.