Police and community members encourage engagement during forum

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Police departments throughout Hampton Roads sent representatives to meet with community members on Saturday. This following rising tension between the African-American community and law enforcement across the country.

Mount Lebanon Baptist Church hosted a community forum to bring together law enforcement and residents in our area.

“I think we’ve started something special that can transform law enforcement in this community,” said Chesapeake Police Chief Kelvin L. Wright.

Wright was one of nine members of law enforcement who briefed audience members on what departments are doing for their communities. Audience members were able to ask questions to the speakers, most of them police chiefs, on issues ranging from use of force to traffic stop procedures.

Wright said he was surprised, yet encouraged, by some of the questions.

“I think as law enforcement, we have not been good communicators of what we do. We still have gaps in our outreach and we need to engage people a little more,” said Wright.

Bishop Kim Brown, who is pastor of Mount Lebanon, was pleased with the crowd and the message of the forum.

“One of the chiefs said we’re all human. I think something we fail to remember is everyone is concerned about our community,” said Brown.

The church plans to host another forum in six months as a way to keep up the conversation.

Members also want to start citizen academies held by police departments, and officers encouraged residents to apply for their department’s as a way to strengthen their relationship.

“Each of us has a responsibility in healing our community, transforming our community. Don’t believe everything. Take personal responsibility for your corner of the world to become better and more productive,” said Brown.

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