sWe’re at a pivotal moment in time where in 2016 black and brown bodies are too often devalued and underappreciated in many pockets of the U.S. The use video, advances in technology and social media puts the injustice that’s been a staple of modern history right in front of everyone to see. You can ignore the fact that young, unarmed black men and women are being gunned down or killed at the hand of law enforcement or you can step up and do something about it. The Delta Beta Executive Alumni Foundation seek to move the conversation forward and come up with concrete solutions to push community and police relations forward in a positive manner.
On Thursday, October 13th the DBEAF organization gathered in Harlem, New York to host a panel called, “The State of Police & Community Relations: Let’s Come up with Solutions”. The panel was free and open to the public and sought to move the narrative from anger in the community for law enforcement towards specific ideas to move better relations between police and communities of color.
There were about fifty community members in attendance for the event, free refreshments served and a dynamic group of individuals on the panel to shed light on the issues of the evening. Panelists included Charlene Wyands, a retired deputy inspector for the NYPD, Nigel L. Farinha, Chief of gang prosecution in New York City, Royce Russell, a Defense and Civil Rights Attorney and Guy Mitchell, a NY County Criminal Court Judge. The panel was moderated by Lamond Williams of WBLS.
Williams opened the panel by offering the panelists an opportunity to talk about the current state of police and community relations from each of their unique perspectives. All the panelists agreed that there were issues that plagued communities or color, but also acknowledged the tough roles of law enforcement. “It’s not as easy as most people think, “ Wyands said. “No cops wants to use their weapon, and in fact, most don’t discharge their gun their entire career.”
The conversation moved to how each of the panelists wants the community to understand the plight of both sides and think about how we can work better together if we understand one another. “Put yourself in the place of a cop going into some of these communities,” Farinha said. “They are doing the best job they can do. We need to call out those not doing their job in the right manner.”
Another idea discussed was talking about who should patrol what neighborhoods and what kind of qualifications an officer should have.
The middle portion of the evening hinged upon what police are doing now to improve relations.
After a Q&A portion from a number of those in the audience Williams summed up the group’s collection of how we can come together as a community to move forward.
The biggest takeaways as solutions were to join community groups who go door to door and come together and inform the public about their options for gaining jobs and getting involved with community initiatives. Another solution is amplifying small and minority owned businesses to come together to provide opportunities and event for the community to become engaged with. In general, the ideas that formed collectively tied together the idea of coming together and helping police one another before officials have to be involved.
By the panel’s conclusion it was evident that this conversation just began to address the wide-ranging issues of the community. It was an amazing program put together to talk about real issues and DBEAF has ensured this is just the beginning.
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